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Business Succession Planning

Seminar focuses on continuing family businesses and options for charitable giving

These issues were the topic of the Professional Seminar Series presented this spring by Communities Foundation of Texas and SMU Dedman School of Law. Daniel L. Daniels and David T. Leibell, partners in the trusts and estates department of Wiggin and Dana LLP of Stamford, Conn., led a discussion of business succession planning for professional advisors who work with clients who own closely held businesses.

One of the defining characteristics of a closely held business is the need for control, Mr. Daniels and Mr. Leibell said. “The desire to maintain control over the business prevents many business owners from undertaking strategies to efficiently transfer the business to the next generation.”

Understanding and being sensitive to the family dynamics can be just as important to the estate planning process in order to ensure the future success of a business, the speakers said. The program focused on the legal, financial and family dynamics issues that may play a role in passing on the business to the next generation in an efficient way. Done correctly, a good succession plan can ensure that the business passes on to the intended family members, that the business owner retains adequate control and cash flow for as long as desired, that all members of the family are treated fairly, and that the business survives, and even or generations to come. 

The speakers also focused on exploring the role of charitable planning in a comprehensive business succession plan. “Testamentary charitable strategies can help efficiently pass on the business from one generation to the next,” Mr. Daniels and Mr. Leibell said. “In the right circumstances, testamentary charitable planning can keep the next generation of family members in control of the business, while also minimizing or eliminating estate taxes.”

“Dan and David did a great job of melding the technical and charitable aspects of business succession planning,” said Cary Clayborn, principal, Bernstein Global Wealth Management. “As we work with our clients, we know that CFT is equipped to offer solutions to help them achieve their philanthropic goals.”

Representatives from Dallas-area family businesses found the presentation relevant to their own succession planning.

“Our family is deeply involved in discussions regarding the family business and working with successive generations,” said Blake Woodall, whose family business is Vent-A-Hood, a 75-year-old company based in Richardson, Texas. “It was helpful to hear from two nationally known experts on business succession planning and to know we can rely on CFT as a great resource.”

If you would like to learn more about how charitable planning can play a role in your business succession plan, please call external affairs at (214) 750-4226.

Special thanks to Bank of America, our lead sponsor the Professional Seminar Series

The late Miles Woodall, Jr. (third from right) served as Vent-A-Hood’s president and CEO until the mid-1990s. From left are his sons, Blake, Kirk, Tim, Miles “Skip” III and Blair. Vent-A-Hood is a third-generation family-owned business.