Leave Your Business to Your Family - Not the Government Successfully passing a family business to the family upon death of the owner is not an easy task. Most business owners fail to realize the importance of a sound business succession plan. As a result, only about half of all family businesses are transferred to the next generation. A significant number are forced to look elsewhere for capital and management expertise. Without the benefits of a succession plan, grieving loved ones are forced into a business they know little about and can adversely affect the financial stability of the business and the financial security of your family. Not only should management succession be addressed in the business succession plan, but transfer of ownership and estate planning issues as well. Choosing the successor is one of the biggest challenges in business succession planning. Appraise the individual's strengths and weaknesses and ensure that the individual has the leadership skills and drive to meet the goals of the business. The needs of the business should be your foremost consideration and not the desires of family members. It is imperative that a plan is developed in the early stages so that whomever you choose can benefit from your experience and knowledge. Other crucial elements of a sound business succession plan is transfer of ownership and estate planning. Buy-sell agreements, stock gifting, trusts and wills are some of the ways to transfer ownership. Each of these means of transfer have specific legal and tax ramifications and should be considered in conjunction with proper estate planning.