First the good news: a recent survey found that 71% of small-business owners had set up a business-continuation plan to protect their companies in the event of their death. Now the bad: most plans depended on valuations done by owners themselves or other insiders instead of on independent assessments. With estate taxes running as high as 55%, that's simply too risky.

Who provided the company valuation included in your business-continuation plan? (by percentage of respondents)
Self/partner/colleagues 52%

Certified public accountant 37%

Lawyer 4%

Other 4%

Don't know 3%

Source: "Phoenix Home Life Fiscal Fitness Survey," Yankelovich Partners, Norwalk, Conn., 1994.

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