Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
- Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ****
- Instructional documentation and help system ***
- Carries out the goal of the product as advertised ****
- Overall usefulness ****
Legacy By Design, LLC offers eLegacyConnect, a web-based service providing succession solutions for farm families. For a fee, this website provides farm and ranch owner/operators with a step-by-step analysis of succession planning, including a primer on the succession process, suggestions for intra family communication, action plans and how to review and refine the succession plan. The site includes a Community Forum discussing various estate planning and succession topics. A Resource Center provides a variety of articles. A 14 day free trial is available.
The steps suggested may provide a useful framework for professional planners, as well as for educating the family. While this site specifically offers itself to farm and ranch operators, the techniques it employs in analyzing the succession process would be useful to any family business operation.
What’s It All About?
The eLegacyConnect site addresses its goal of assisting with family enterprise succession planning through: (1) a compilation of resources, both textual and video, that address various topics related to succession planning; (2) a Succession Blog with advice and suggestions from staff on starting and maintaining successful succession planning; (3) the Community Connect blog of comments from eLegacyConnect members; (4) connection to advisors in areas affecting succession planning; and (5) an Action Plan that walks you through seven steps of succession planning, with detailed questions, worksheets, informative materials and videos.
How it Works
Planning with eLegacyConnect proceeds through a series of steps in which you are walked through analyses of your objectives and personal attributes related to succession planning. In each step, a list of objectives appears on the left hand side of the screen and a series of questions and educational statements appears on the right side of the screen.
Step 1: The Fundamentals
The objectives of this step are to learn the basics of the succession process and prepare to discuss succession with family members and other interested persons. You are asked to read and check off a series of questions (such as an assessment of how you make decisions and how much you are willing to involve others in the succession decisions) and instructional materials about succession planning. The instructional materials include a primer on succession planning, a podcast of how much you can realistically do on your own and a video on what families may expect from the succession process. You are then given a series of materials on common concerns in the succession process, including communicating effectively, a review of family goal setting and the fundamentals of good family meetings.
Step 2: Communication is Key
Using text and videos, this step takes you through outlining your family communication policy, defining your decision-making strategy and meeting behavior guidelines (with suggestions), creating an agenda for the family meeting, planning meeting logistics and locations, verbalizing your succession concerns and soliciting the input of others. Analytic questionnaires are included to help you analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a communicator.
Step 3: eLegacyConnect Resources
This step walks you through the resources (including worksheets and videos of the experiences of others) available on eLegacyConnect for defining your succession planning goals, how to go about convening a family meeting for clarifying those goals, defining the personal goals of the individuals involved in the succession plan, avoiding procrastination and communicating the value of a succession plan and the comprehensive succession solution of proper planning and good standards.
Step 4: Strategies, Tools and Techniques
This section covers exploring succession strategies, transition tips for both aspiring and retiring participants, the transfer of ownership to family business entities and other creative family transition solutions, options for professional development (suggestions and techniques for developing management skills), budgeting, preparing a cash-flow statement, alternatives to financial security and retirement, techniques for estate tax control as part of the succession plan and how best to share your thoughts in a family meeting.
Step 5: The Miracle of Commitment
This step offers materials on looking for shared concerns and areas of conflict (reconciling family and business concerns and interests), dealing with news, trends and fashions that may affect the succession plan, selecting and relying on advisors and working with key employees in the succession process.
Step 6: Action and Implementation
This section stresses implementing the final succession plan as it relates to ownership transition, financial security, leadership development and tax planning, as well as setting times for future review of the implementation. (The publisher indicates that resource items for this step are in the process of being prepared.)
Step 7: Review and Refine
The final step emphasizes the need to periodically review the progress to date against the plan objectives, check that all tax, legal, financial and leadership elements are being implemented and refine the plan as experience dictates.
eLegacyConnect also includes: a list linking to all the resources on the site by category (Orientation, Business Planning, Ownership Transition, Financial Security, Leadership Development, Estate Tax Provisions and Annual Review); connections to advisors in all fields related to succession planning; events being conducted by the publisher (including webinars and live events); CommunityConnect (comments and questions by subscribers on a variety of succession-related topics); and a Staff Blog on the operation of the website and various other topics.
What About Help and Support?
This website offers a Welcome Guide that explains the functionality and features of the site.
Where Do You Get This Facility?
eLegacyConnect is available from:
Legacy by Design, LLC2550 Lakewest Drive, Suite 10
Phone: 877 523 7411 or 530 345 7474
Email: [email protected]
Free trial at
Pricing: Based on a periodic fee. eLegacyConnect subscription retail rates are $24.95/month or $240.00/annually. After the free trial, you’re asked to select a pricing plan, which may be monthly or yearly.
The eLegacyConnect service supplies a comprehensive walk through for your farm and ranch clients as to the ins and outs of succession planning, including educating them in both the personal and legal aspects of succession. It’s a valuable tool well worth introducing your client to and may provide valuable information and discipline for the professional planner.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected].