By Whittier Trust, Private Wealth Management

We’ve all heard horror stories of bad things that happened to a business that didn’t plan for succession. An owner suddenly falls ill, and the company has trouble meeting its obligations to clients, who are forced to go elsewhere to get what they need. Then there’s the scenario where the founder dies, and a sudden vacuum of leadership breaks the momentum of an otherwise healthy company. Or, a capable new owner takes over after the founder dies but without adequate communication, which results in questions from employees whether the new owner can “fill the shoes” of the original owner.

Lack of clarity, purpose, or confidence around ownership transitions can take a toll on your company’s culture, results, and revenue. A family’s long-term financial wealth and relational harmony may be at stake as well.

Whittier helps to mitigate unnecessary taxes. It helps founders identify less-than-obvious funding sources to make it possible to transition a business within the family. It prepares heirs for the responsibility that accompanies their new-found wealth.

Engaging in comprehensive planning is why Whittier Trust is successful – helping generations of families steward significant wealth in various family and business scenarios. The Whittier Trust model for succession planning is geared toward customization, so your family and your business are sustainable for the next generation.

What steps can a proactive owner take to achieve the exit outcomes he/she wants?

  1. Start planning early
  2. Assemble an advisory team
  3. Fine-tune your Contingency Plan
  4. ID your ideal successor
  5. Plan for your lifestyle after you step away from the business
  6. Update your tax and estate plan
  7. Get the business ready
  8. Prepare your personal finances for the transition
  9. Prepare the family
  10. Consider legacy

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Whittier Trust Company is the largest multi-family office headquartered on the West Coast. As an independent wealth management company serving ultra-high net worth families, individuals, and foundations across the United States, we offer a wide array of capabilities to address the full spectrum of wealth management needs.

From our roots as a single-family office in 1935, we have been helping highly affluent individuals and families accomplish what’s important to them. With offices in South Pasadena, West Los Angeles, Newport Beach, San Francisco, Reno, Portland, and Seattle, Whittier Trust aims to enrich and enhance our clients’ lives by providing expert guidance, superior investment performance, and exceptionally tailored white-glove service. We provide unrivaled investment, wealth management, fiduciary and philanthropic services within the personalized structure of a family office. At Whittier Trust, our mission is to consistently protect and grow wealth — one client at a time, from one generation to the next.

For more information, or to speak with an advisor today, you can call 800.971.3660, email us at, or visit our website

Family Enterprise USA promotes generationally owned family business creation, growth, viability, and sustainability by advocating for family businesses and their lifetime of savings with Congress in Washington DC.  Since 2007, Family Enterprise USA has represented and celebrated all sizes, professions and industries of family-owned enterprises and multi-generational employers. It is a bi-partisan 501.c3 organization. Family foundations can donate.

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The need for fact-based reporting of issues important to multi generational businesses and protecting a lifetime of savings has never been greater. Now more than ever, multi generational businesses and family businesses are under fire. That's why Family Enterprise USA is passionately working to increase the awareness of issues important to generationally-owned family businesses built on hard work, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC include high income tax rates, possible elimination of valuation discounts, increase in capital gains tax, enactment of a wealth tax, and the continued burden of the gift tax, estate tax and generation skipping tax.

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