Retiring is challenging for almost everyone. But if you’re a small-business owner, preparing to hand your company to your children can create an even bigger knot of anxiety — worries about financial security, the legacy of your life’s work, and the prospects for your offspring.

The process can touch everything from spreadsheet-driven company valuations to awkward talks about your children’s limitations. It can demand the technical knowledge of a C.P.A. and the soft skills of a psychologist. “One of the first questions you have to ask yourself is, ‘Do I have financial security if my kids run this business into the ground?’” said Kelly A. LeCouvie, a Toronto-based consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group. “It’s a possibility. You may have enormous faith in your children, and often that perception reflects reality, but sometimes it doesn’t.”

More business owners may soon be faced with such uncomfortable questions. In a 2007 report, the United States Census Bureau found that a third of small-business owners were 55 years or older and that about a quarter of small businesses were family-owned.

Source: New York Times

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