If there is one thing I've learned in my 24 years in this business, is that working with clients on end-of-life and estate planning issues is rarely easy. It's often highly emotional and, frequently, quite contentious. When you add the complex issue of succession planning for a family business, you have a volatile mix that can make the entire process quite difficult-that is, unless you as an advisor, have a plan, stick to it and remain impartial in the midst of the politics.

This point was driven home recently as I worked with Robert and Lucille. They were a nice couple from upstate New York with a son and a daughter. They also had a manufacturing business that was started by Lucille's grandparents and run by Robert for the last 32 years. The couple had been my investment clients for years.

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