[IMGCAP(1)]While at lunch the other day with a couple of very cool sole practitioner grandpa CPAs, I learned one very interesting tidbit—succession planning doesn’t seem to be a priority (at least not within my focus group of two that day). Now, to be sure proper respect is applied here, the term “grandpa” is used only in reference to experience and is not proposed to be insulting in any way. After all, grandfathers in general are kindly thought of as wise and insightful. I know I certainly feel that way about my own father (who has reached the grandpa CPA level). And while being wise is certainly a laudable quality, let it be respectfully said that even the wisest of professionals sometimes require a bit of insight themselves.

So back to lunch…the “tidbit” I picked up after speaking with my experienced colleagues was that neither of them had spent much time on succession planning, and didn’t necessarily view it as a priority. In fact, many of the older CPAs I’ve talked to have made little to no preparation for firm succession.

There is something very wrong with this picture. Planning for retirement is one thing, but what if you suddenly take ill, or worse, pass away? What will your employees do? What will happen to your clients? What will your family do? And trust me, simply talking to your spouse about who they should call in the event of such an emergency is not a plan.

Think about it. In the event of an unexpected tragedy, your family can’t begin to deal with transitioning your business—mourning and grief tend to override everything else. What would your family do with your 200,000-plus book of business? How would they manage staff, transition responsibility, keep the firm operational? This is where a solid transition plan can take away these pain points.

I will also tell you that I know firsthand the harm that comes from not having a plan in place. Just last year I was deeply involved in a firm where the owner had suddenly passed away. With no formal plan, the firm quickly began to fall apart. It was hard to watch and has left a lasting impression on me. Eventually, I moved on. It all could have been avoided with proper planning.

I am a professional interested in helping others successfully plan their transitions, and I have some fresh new alternatives in mind. If you want to hear more, shoot me an email at Jody@newvisioncpagroup.com. I would love to discuss my new ideas with you and hear your thoughts on this critical subject as well.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.