Transferring assets, values and purpose to your intended beneficiaries Featured

9:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
Transferring assets, values and purpose to your intended beneficiaries

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work you go; a lot of things on your plate to get done this week.

Habitually, each day you take your life for granted. As you review your daily to-dos, you may tend to gravitate to those less stressful tasks, such as going to a meeting, doing the laundry, cleaning out the garage, and so on. As human beings, we shy away from those issues relating to our mortality and/or morbidity. You convince yourself that you’ll “get around to it.” We’ll review our legal and estate documents (i.e. wills, trust, powers of attorney, living will and others) when we get through this challenging phase of our business cycle. You want to get your files in order, and next year you’ll get your taxes done on time and not file another extension. You have made so many promises to yourself that you begin doubting your own resourcefulness. If someone made you the many promises that you have made to yourself, how long would you continue to believe in that “friend”? This negative self-talk may start to undermine your confidence level.

Let’s reflect upon the third question, from last months article — This time, your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What dreams will be left unfulfilled? What do I wish I had finished or done? What did I miss?[i]

What steps should be taken to make the transfer of your life’s work-purpose happen?

If you only had 24 hours to live, truly what do you wish you would have done? Take the time to reflect on that question and your answers, and document all those “wish-list” items. Include those missing pieces in all aspects of your life — social, physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, family, community, personal and business-related. The answers to this last question should change your entire outlook on how you approach all aspects of you life’s purpose. A new set of priorities and motivations may appear. How do you deal with this new information about yourself? Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” How will this new knowledge and new level of consciousness assist you in your journey toward significance? What would you have done differently, reflecting upon our previous discussion on philanthropy and making an impact on people’s lives?

So, let me give you the “get out of jail” card. You have longer than one day to get your life in balance. Where do you begin in the context of business continuation and succession planning?

You could focus on the marketing and business development plan. You could discuss “organic” growth, recruiting the next generation of leadership, finding the “heirs apparent,” consider mergers and acquisitions, and so on. You feel there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to expand your business in spite of the volatility of the business cycle. Truly, the “glass is half full” in your vision.

Are you putting the cart before the horse? Have you laid the foundation within your own company to be prepared for future growth? Does your business and personal financial plan address what is needed as the foundation within your current company structure to create a successful business growth and continuation plan?

What are some steps to consider doing as you expand your business and personal financial plan to now incorporate a continuation plan?

  • Communication. Do your current employees understand where you are going and how they fit into the overall picture of the company’s expansion? What role can the entire staff take in leveraging your growth? Change often triggers fear in most people, so how can you assist your employees in embracing and adapting to change?

  • Financials and valuation of your business. Have you had a comprehensive valuation done of your business? Do you know the market and book value of your company, and have you done scenarios projecting how a merger/acquisition will impact the bottom line?

  • Culture identification. Numbers alone are not the only criterion for a smooth joint venture. What detail have you undertaken to identify your culture and to interview/screen for a similar culture fit in merger candidates?

  • Infrastructure. What forecasts have you done and decision have you made to put into place the technology, work space and talent to take you to that next level?

So with all three previous questions imprinted on your mind, and having accumulated all of your responses and answers to those three scenarios, what do you do differently in your business continuation and succession planning? I trust that this process is setting the stage for a truly innovative and more in-depth business and personal financial plan. For sure, you don’t want to be asking yourself: What dreams will be left unfulfilled? What do I wish I had finished or done? What did I miss?

Convert those dreams into daily realities.

Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, CEO and Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC, can be reached at

[i] These questions are taken from the book “Lighting the Torch: The Kinder Method(TM) of Life Planning” by George Kinder and Susan E Galvan.