Preparing Yourself and the Best People to Replace You

business owner

Gregory Lambourne, Esq.

Senior Planning Consultant


Plato observed that “Nothing ever is, but is always becoming.” We begin dying the day we are born. A bleak sentiment for sure, but useful if you allow it to focus and move you. Life is fragile and life is short; it’s over before we know it. But if we live right, once is enough, and we are ready when the time comes.

Business owners, are you ready?

Our firm counsels many self-made, multi-millionaire business owners.  They are remarkable people with sharp minds and often hard personalities, but also quite soft in the underbelly when you get to know them and what is important to them. They often have another common feature: When we ask them who will take their place in the event of accident, illness, or incapacity, they almost invariably say, “No one. No one can take my place. No one else can do what I do.”

Given our experience, we are not surprised by that answer. These people are doers; they accomplish monumental feats through unique vision, tenacity, and by keeping their eyes on the work and their hand to the grindstone. They truly have unique skill. Still, aversion to the realities of mortality and need for succession is dangerous; and where willfully blind or fearfully delayed, quite foolish.

If they are correct that they are the only person who can do what they do, what does that bode for the enterprise when they are suddenly unable to do it?  Immediately, the enterprise loses significant if not total value. What does that mean for their family, estate, employees, and clients? It’s not pretty.

For the wise, all it takes is pointing this out and exploring options, some they’ve never thought of. There are conversations to be had, motives to explore, goals and priorities to set, agreements and options to draft, and yes, tax and estate planning to be done.

The tax and estate planning is easy with the right counselors. It largely involves objective rules and numbers. The hardest part is the business, succession, and legacy planning. That’s personal and relational, and requires great commitment to the planning and succession process. It should be center point of a business owner’s entire planning.

An old Army manual says, “Full respect is given only to him who at all times is willing to yield his space to a worthy successor, because of an ingrained confidence that he can succeed as greatly in some other sphere.” A sphere perhaps as a mentor, guide, and foundation for the future beyond your time. Is that what you are becoming? What does death bring for you, your family, your business, and your legacy?

Business owners, are you ready?


Wright Ford Young & Co. is headquartered in Irvine, CA and is the largest single office CPA firm in Orange County. WFY is a full service corporate accounting firm offering audit, tax, estate and trust, and business consulting services to closely held company and family business owners. More information about our Firm can be found at