The more people who know about your plan, the more help you’ll have. Sharing a succession plan brings your most important stakeholders – like family and advisors – into the inner circle. They’ll feel a part of the plan which almost always means fewer issues for you to deal with along the way.

Share the plan as widely as makes sense. The main groups you’ll share it with are family and advisors. Here’s why:

Family. We’ve said it time and again – keeping the lines of communication open with family members is how you avoid conflict and drama. Keeping a succession plan a secret forces others to guess at what’s in it. And the truth is almost always less scary than a guess. A family who knows the plan and can discuss it will avoid a lot of heartache down the road. Sharing your plan with family builds trust and unity.

Tip: Consider sharing the succession plan with all of the family members that have some interest in the farm – children, siblings, parents, even trusted, long-term employees who feel more like family than not.

Tip: If you’re worried that there might be something in the plan that will bother someone, edit the plan slightly before providing it. Save the file under a name that shows it is the copy you provided them specifically (eg. Succession_plan_Evelyn).

Here’s the benefit of sharing your plan with advisors:

Advisors. When an advisor knows the plan, s/he can better structure their recommendations and advice to fit that big picture. You’ll get better, more informed advice that is customized to your circumstances. Sharing the plan with advisors also builds trust, which is pretty important when your business is on the line.

Tip: If you’re worried that details might fall into the wrong hands (like a competitor), you might get your advisor to sign a simple non-disclosure agreement.

Action Point

Share your plan now. If you're not ready make sure to put a reminder in your calendar to share your plan as soon as you can.