Succession Plans Collect Dust for Ultra-HNW Business Owners

Ultra-high-net-worth business owners might have succession and estate plans, but fail to implement or update them, a study says.

A study by the U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, which provides succession planning services, found that, although a large majority of owners of ultra-high-net-worth family businesses have wealth transfer plans in place, most of these plans—both professional and personal—have lapsed.

The study, Protecting the Family Fortune, said only 15% of family-owned companies by the ultra-high-net-worth last past the second generation. More than three quarters (76%) of the surveyed business owners have succession plans, but only 38% implement them, according to a press release from Bank of America.

Estate plans are not much better off, as the majority of owners do not update their plan enough. More than three quarters (78%) of owners have personal estate plans; however, 89% have not updated them after a life-changing event, rendering it obsolete.

Most surveyed business owners (73%) do not have asset protection plans in place at all, which the release notes could be because owners have not been educated about them. Yet, almost nine out of 10 (89%) business owners were “very” or “extremely concerned” about protecting the family’s wealth.

Conducted by Prince & Associates, Inc., and Campden Research, the study surveyed 242 second- to third-generation business owners with interests valued at a minimum of $300 million, and mean value approaching $730 million.

More information about purchasing the study is available at