Succession Planning for Family-Owned and Other Privately Held Businesses

It takes years, sometimes a lifetime, to build a business.  Along the way, every business owner makes huge investments of time, capital, energy and vision to grow and sustain the enterprise.  For business owners with a substantial portion of their net worth tied up in the business, it is never too soon or too late to develop an exit strategy.  That strategy should maximize the value you receive from the business and minimize the tax bite.  An exit strategy involves developing a plan for passing on responsibility for running the business, transferring ownership, and extracting your investment.  Because a stable business is worth more than an unstable one, creating a seamless transition is essential to maximizing value.  This requires planning while the company is in good economic health and management is in place.  We can explore with you alternative strategies used to provide exit for business owners and assist you in determining which is appropriate for your business now and as it may evolve.
Establishing a succession plan to ensure your business survives the transition to the next generation of leadership and management is a crucial step in the life of every business.  The investment in a strong strategic plan demonstrates to your clients, employees, lenders, suppliers, and co-shareholders that the survival and continued growth of your business is a top priority.  The benefits that a strong vision for the future inspires can’t be overstated, and shouldn’t get overlooked.

Our firm has been advising owners of family and privately held businesses for over 20 years.  We pride ourselves on developing deep relationships with our clients by taking time to understand their businesses and goals so that we can provide personalized, practical and effective advice to address each company’s unique challenges, objectives and needs.  Our transactional, finance, employment, tax and estate planning practice groups bring a depth of knowledge, insight and experience to the complex issues and concerns which are central to establishing a comprehensive and cost-effective succession plan to safeguard the future of the business you worked so hard to build.   

Our attorneys work closely with owners, family members and key employees to identify intergenerational issues and conflicts which threaten successful transitions in leadership business continuity.  Our business succession team is adept at assisting all relevant parties through the necessary steps of conflict resolution, consensus building and amicable compromise which are crucial in transition planning.  

We have extensive experience with all variations of succession planning, including intrafamily transfers via straight gifts, intrafamily sales via the use of grantor retained annuity trusts, defective grantor trusts, and similar mechanisms.  Similarly, we frequently implement plans that involve transfers to management via traditional management buyouts, issuance of ownership interests as compensation (e.g., stock bonus plans, nonqualified stock options, partnership/LLC profits interests), and employee buyouts via Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

In some succession planning cases, it is necessary to look outside the family and outside the business for ownership and management succession.  In such a case, it is important to take appropriate steps maximize the value of the business at the time of the sale.  Assistance of legal counsel is essential for purposes of  (i) the corporate housekeeping often required prior to initiating third party sale efforts, (ii) the search and selection of the right strategic buyer, and (iii) the negotiation of favorable terms in the sale of assets or equity.
AMM’s Succession Planning Services Include:

•  Evaluation of the business to assess its profitability, financial health, business objectives and
    prospective successors;
•  Assessment of alternative transition structures to maximize tax and cash flow objectives for
    both existing and    projected leadership/ownership;
•  Assistance to owners in obtaining valuation information in order to draft equitable buy/sell
    and similar valid    succession agreements;
•  Development of estate planning documents which provide for ownership transfers;
•  Identification of possible conflicts and issues when not every family member is involved in the
    business, and coordination of the discussion and resolution of issues that may arise during
•  Facilitation of conflict resolution procedures in relation to future management of the

Representative Business Succession Planning Experience:

Our attorneys have created succession plans for a wide range of business sectors including:

  • Medical Providers
  • Construction, Engineering and Architectural   Firms
  • Accounting Firms
  • Law Firms


  • Manufacturing Companies
  • Software and Information Technology Firms
  • Marine Suppliers
  • Insurance Agencies
  • Retail Businesses