What Would Happen to My Online Business if I Died?

This is a guest post by Chris Huntley, a good friend of mine who works in life insurance. We’ve had lunch together quite a few times and we usually discuss topics like blogging and the joy (and challenge) of being parents, but at one particular lunch we started talking about how more and more people are becoming solo entrepreneurs and that because it’s happening so fast, most of those business owners probably don’t have a “business continuation plan” that determines what would happen to their business if they were to die.

Although I have some of the basics in place, this discussion was a big wake up call for me, especially because my online businesses are the primary source of income for my family. After some back and forth, I decided to invite Chris to write a guest post for everyone here to share what we can do and what options are available to us. 

This is obviously a very touchy subject, so I apologize to anyone who isn’t very comfortable thinking or talking about death – but I think deep down that we all know that we have to plan ahead, especially when there is family involved.

I also want to mention that yes, Chris is in the life insurance business and does include a link and a phone number in the middle of the article for a life insurance quote, but I assure you that he’s not here for the purpose of generating new leads for his business. He was actually very concerned about including that information here at the risk of looking shady, but I insisted he keep them here because they are convenient if that option is right for you.

I also insisted that I do not earn a commission from any leads generated from this article. 

Before I hand it off to Chris, I have to mention that before you make any decisions, please seek the advice of a trusted professional and be sure to talk this out with those who may be involved in and around your business.

Thanks, and take it away Chris…

Business Continuation Essentials for the “Solo Entrepreneur”

Written for the friends of Pat Flynn and the Smart Passive Income community.

Handing off the Baton in Your Business

When people like Steve Jobs die, we expect large organizations to have a plan for their succession.

Apple did, making the transition from Jobs to Tim Cook as new CEO, seamless.

But what about business owners like Pat Flynn who have no partners or employees?

How can the “solo entrepreneur” plan for business continuation when no one is being groomed to take over the reins?

Great questions.

In this article, we’ll discuss why even a single man (or woman) operation needs a succession plan, and a few practical ways to create one.

I wrote this as a resource for Pat’s “solo entrepreneur” followers.  For our readers with larger businesses, please see Succession Planning for Businesses.

Reasons the “Solo Entrepreneur” Needs a Succession Plan

Consider this.  What would happen to your business in the event of your unexpected passing or a life altering disability?

Would your spouse or beneficiaries of your estate have any clue what to do with your business?

Would they suffer financially?  Do they have the knowledge to:

  • Take over your business,
  • Hire someone to take it over,
  • or sell it for fair market value?

And even if they did possess the know-how, would they want to take over your business?  (Perhaps your husband or wife already works at a full-time job!)

For the remainder of this article, we’ll assume that neither of the above is true.  Your successor is a spouse or family member who neither has the desire or know-how.

Which leads us to the question, “What can I do as a one-man-operation to plan for the unexpected and make sure my family’s financial future is secure?”

Option 1 – The Bare Minimum

At the very least, write your spouse or loved ones a detailed letter about what you’d like them to do with your business upon your passing or disability.

Components of your letter should include:

  • What you want to happen to your business – Should your heirs sell it, hire someone to run it, or assess and decide when the time comes?  My recommendation would be for your successor (see below) to assess your business and, with the input of your family, make the decision together.  Working together, your family can instruct the successor about their cash flow needs, and your successor can competently recommend what’s best for your business based on the market at that time.
  • Name a “Pat Flynn” as your Successor – If you have a competent friend who understands and/or could run your business, ask them if they would be willing to help out your family if something happened to you.  This should be a paid job.
  • Name a Contingent Successor – In case your first choice is no longer willing or able.
  • Provide essential details about your business – Imagine walking into a friend’s office, sitting down at their desk, and all they have to guide them is this letter.  What do they need to run your business?  Include:
    1. Essential Info for Keeping Your Business Going – Try not to teach them everything you know.  Think more along the lines of how to maintain your most important sources of income.  Also include key business expenses. (You don’t want your website to disappear because no one renewed your domain name.)
    2. Passwords – Computer passwords, website control panel login, etc.
    3. Key contacts – Make a list of who they can call for help with any question about your business.

A 10 minute screen capture showing where to find the essential files and programs on your computer would go a long way here.

In my case, I actually have a formal agreement with a partner to buy out my business, but I also took the time to write her a letter.  She’s not very computer literate, so for example, here’s a snippet from my letter to her.

Once you’ve written your letter, review it with your loved ones and tell them where they can find a copy.  Leave copies for them in multiple locations (in a safe, on your computer, etc.)

Option 1b – If writing a letter is too hard, please at least have a serious conversation with your spouse or loved ones discussing the points above.

Note: If you’re in a highly specialized profession (i.e. attorney, financial planner, sword swallower), have clients, or if your business is built around your personal brand (i.e. magician, sword swallower, public speaker) while some tips here will be helpful for your business, this information is really geared toward those earning affiliate commissions, Adsense income, doing lead generation, and generally following more of the passive income, internet marketing model.

Option 2 – Cover the Gap with Life Insurance

No matter how well you plan, it’s unlikely that anyone will run your business as well as you did or sell it for as much as you could have.

If your family depends on a certain level of income from your business that could be reduced upon your death, you should consider life insurance.

Life insurance protects your family from loss of income and other financial hardship by providing a lump sum benefit to the beneficiaries you name upon your passing.

The benefits for life insurance in business continuation are:

  • Family has access to quick liquid cash – The proceeds are usually paid out within 30 days of a claim being filed.
  • Buys your family time – With cash in hand, your heirs can take their time deciding what to do with your business and prevents a “fire sale”.
  • Makes up for Bad Planning – Even if you don’t take my advice from options 1 or 3, your business might still survive your death if your family has sufficient funds to bring in qualified professionals to deal with your business after your death.
  • Death benefit is *100% income tax free

Please feel free to visit our website for an Instant Life Insurance Quote, or call us at 877-443-9467.

*For non-U.S.-citizens who want U.S. insurance, click here.

One Last Twist of the Arm 

Options 1 and 2 are fairly easy to implement.  Option 3 is a bit more complex, so before we get there, please let me make one more important point.

The Passive Income Model Raises the Stakes

If you’re building a passive income stream like Pat, you have to realize you’re building a special business. Understand what’s at stake if you let your business die.

Most established businesses are valued at 3 to 5 times EBIT (Earnings Before Interest & Taxes).

Does that apply to us, though, the SPI fans with businesses earning passive earnings?

Here’s a quick example.

I own a life insurance website where I sell leads.  While it took me hundreds of hours to set up, now I probably work on it for a total of one hour per month.  An article writer on oDesk writes and posts the articles for me, while I sit back and watch it work on auto-pilot.

There’s no way I would let my wife sell that site for 3 to 5 times annual earnings upon my death.

First of all, she probably wouldn’t get fair market value for it (a distressed seller rarely does), but more importantly, I understand that with very little planning, that site could generate income for my family for 10 to 20 years… or more!

Do you want your family to miss out on years and years of passive income because you failed to plan for the unexpected?

Of course not!

Scrutiny from Life Insurance Colleagues

As a life insurance guy, I know that some of my peers will balk at this article.

They’ll say:

“Chris, why not just have the business owner take out a life insurance policy for the value of the business to ensure their families are taken care of?”

I would respond with two main reasons why it’s not that simple:

  1. I prefer my clients get every penny of value out of their business upon their passing, whether they own life insurance or not.
  2. Why pay for life insurance when a few simple steps could be taken to ensure the continuity of the business and avoid the need for insurance?

Option 3 – Put on Your Big Boy Pants… We’re Going to Set Up a Trust

Family Estate PlanningThe superior option would be to formalize your wishes for your business’ succession, and ensure your desires are adhered to in some sort of legal documentation.  After consulting with various attorneys on the subject, I’ve learned multiple ways to accomplish this.

My particular favorite, which I’ll lay out for you, is to “formalize your wishes” by setting up a trust.

“A trust is a document that spells out the rules that you want followed for property held in trust for your beneficiaries.”  www.dummies.com 

So in a nutshell, you spell out what you want to happen to your business in the trust, and those rules must be precisely followed by the person who you elect. (called the successor trustee)

Here’s one way you could set up the trust:

  • Have the trust own your business – This applies to you whether you are a sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.
  • Name yourself as the trustee – This means while you are living and sane, you call all the shots.
  • Name your spouse or loved one as successor trustee – This is the person who will make the decisions for the property held in trust (your business) upon your death.
  • Name a “Pat Flynn” as co-successor trustee (Optional) – If you have a friend who understands and/or could run your business, that’s the person you want in charge of administering your wishes as it pertains to your business.  This person would handle the business side of the trust after you’re gone, while the other co-successor trustee would handle the personal stuff.

Note – Just like in Option 1, be sure to ask for your friend’s permission first!

If you don’t have any friends capable of handling this job, and the same goes for your spouse/loved ones, then you might name a professional fiduciary as co-successor trustee.

  • Fund the Trust with Life Insurance (Optional) – By taking out a small policy on yourself for $50,000 to $100,000, and leaving the trust as beneficiary, the trust would have sufficient funds to pay your co-successor trustee for his or her time.  The funds could also be used for your family, if business income decreases while transitioning to a new business manager.

Here’s another reason to set up a trust – If you die without a trust, and have assets totaling more than $100k to $150k (in most states), your estate will have to go through probate, which could be disastrous for a business.    *Probate may be avoided if you’re married.

How to Set up a Trust

You’ll have to contact an attorney who specializes in business contracts or estate planning. Sorry. You won’t be able to set up this trust in LegalZoom, since it’s not a plain, cookie cutter trust.

Again, please understand there are many ways to legally formalize your business continuation wishes.  My setup above is just one example of how you could do it.  Please consult with your own legal counsel for the best setup in your particular circumstance.

Take Action Now

In closing, if you have not done so, please take the necessary steps to ensure your family’s financial future is secure upon your death.  Whether it’s a formal action like taking out a life insurance policy or setting up a trust, or simply writing a letter to your loved ones about your wishes, do something, and do it now!

*Huntley Wealth Insurance and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Information contained on this page simply reflects our understanding of the tax rules and regulations in effect at the time of publication. Please consult your personal tax and/or legal advisor regarding insurance and/or estate tax law as it applies to you.

  • http://websitebuddha.com David >> Website Buddha

    I’ve done the “bare minimum” in that I have a notebook of all my passwords and accounts that my family would have access too, as well as instructions because it has crossed my mind once how things would play out if something did happen That’s about it though. We never like to think of ourselves as potentially passing away untimely so setting up a trust seems over kill (pun not intended), but necessary particularly if you’re earning a couple thousand dollars a month or more.

    • http://www.inboundpro.net Hector Cuevas

      Hey David.. very smart move. I’m going to start working on mine..

      question.. since you’ve already started this process, would you ever consider drafting a post that would be published by a relative in the event something happens?

      .. this article really got me thinking – I don’t know if it’s creepy, but I think it would be kinda cool for my audience to read my final words.


      • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

        Hey Hector,
        Great idea. You could also leave an audio file, video, but a final blog post announcing your new successor would be powerful. (I don’t think weird.)

        • http://pagerankworld.com Brandon Bear

          Just need to point this out. (I don’t mean any offense with this).

          But your comment reminds me of those secret agent movies where the main character gets a VHS tape or DVD after one of their parents dies, where the parent reveals that they were living a double-life as a spy…

          Yeah, kinda random.

    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Hey David,
      You might also give your family instructions about how to retrieve your passwords if the passwords written in your notebook have been changed or don’t work. Seems like half the logins I use require that I change the password every 90 days. So annoying. In my letter to my business partner, I go so far as to tell her how to reset a password (again, she’s computer illiterate), and even give her the contact info for my computer guy, who I know could hack into my computer and give her anything she needs.

    • http://pagerankworld.com Brandon Bear

      I feel like the largest problem for me would be replacing ‘me.’ I don’t really know anyone that works online or does any sort of internet marketing, including the majority of my close friends, so even if someone was to try and take my place, it would end up taking them serious time to get everything up and rolling.

    • http://snitchim.com Eric

      Hey David,

      What amount of money would you feel would need a trust set up?

      Also, i will admit this is something that really gets the my mind turning with a lot of questions, what if, and what would really be needed.

      Just wondering,


      P.S. The pun was right on cue!

  • http://smartlifehacks.com/ charles

    Hi Chris,

    Great analogy, these issues never crossed my mind. Will definitely have a thought about what you wrote. Btw, nice website you got for generating insurance leads.


  • http://www.inboundpro.net Hector Cuevas

    Wow.. this is the sort of stuff we don’t really think about .. and the options make complete sense. The bare minimum is something we can do right now..

    I’m a big believer in planning ahead. I’m going to bookmark this article for future reference.

    Hmm.. who’s gonna take over InboundPro when I’m gone?

    … time to think and start writing my letter =)

  • http://xlmba.com/mba-admission-consultants-in-bangalore charles

    Hi Chris

    Nice analogy, Never thought about this before. My online businesses would definitely die if I was to die right now. Will have to think about succession plans!! BTW nice website you got for generating leads for insurance.


    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Thanks, Charles. As I said, at least do option 1. It’s so simple and FREE.

  • http://www.sunburned.net Edgar

    As much we all think it would never happen to use… it will sooner or later its part of life and we should all plan ahead.

    Great article.

  • http://www.smartresidualincome.com Sachin Bille

    Hello Chris,

    Thanks for the Insurance reminder, being a doctor I worked with some life insurance companies in past and I have closely seen many people suddenly passing away without having any Life Insurance! Such condition are terrific for the family of deceased.
    It always best option for any SELF EMPLOYED or a PASSIVE INCOME GENERATOR to get life Insurance for themselves as well as to get their business Insured. But I never had this thought to get a Life Insurance or get my business Insured, only because we all are little ignorant toward it and here on SPI you opened our eyes.
    Thanks a lot!!!

    • http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com Chris Huntley

      I’m glad you pointed out the “unexpected” passings you’ve seen. Especially for younger individuals, we all think we’re indestructible. So glad it was helpful.

    • http://www.simpleengineeringsolutions.com Michael

      Did you meant to say “terrifying?”

      • http://www.smartresidualincome.com Sachin Bille

        Yes Michael,

        Here in my comment I do meant ‘terrifying’. This happens specially when YOUNG people passes away.

  • http://stream-seo.com Servando Silva

    One thing I didn’t read (I quickly went over the article so I’m sorry if I missed it) is: what about leaving your business to your son/s?

    I know for most of us, we’re young entrepreneurs, and unless we had an accident, our children could later grow and learn about the business too. There’s a high possibility that they might not want to continue it, and selecting a trusty friend could be better, but there are some countries were most fathers actually want their sons to continua their legacy.

  • http://www.biorenewskincare.com Rick Rhoads

    Great article Chris! I never thought about the downside of letting your niche business sell at fair market value. It is best to keep it running, especially if the hard work has already been done.

    It’s not always pleasant to think about but very important to plan for.


    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Hey Rick,
      If you think it’s not pleasant to talk about, you probably wouldn’t like my job.

      I have to talk about this stuff every day!

      Makes for great conversations with my wife…

  • http://www.stumbleforward.com Chris @ Stumble Forward

    I would say I’ve done the bare minimum, I have a life insurance policy in place and I also have a will in place. The only thing I don’t have in place is a successor. However, if I had to choose one I would choose my brother since he is a techie minded person and can at the very least keep my site in good working order. The income from the site would still go to my family and kids kind of like handing off a pension to your spouse.

    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Yes, Chris, exactly like a pension. Well said. Now go make sure your brother and family know what you’d like to have done!

  • http://www.mywizardads.com Theresa Cahill

    Thanks to the eagle eye of @ticewrites I found your write up (via Twitter).

    This has been a huge concern of mine for quite a while. As the sole owner of my business, with a husband also self employed and a son finishing his degree, I’ve wanted someone to sit down with me to go over the basics of “this is what I do and you can, too.”

    As of this date, no luck.

    So thank you for the kick in the pants! No one expects anything to happen (and neither do I), but no plan means no money = holy crap! around here.

  • http://www.rootfin.com Jeff Root

    No scrutiny from this life insurance agent. Just as important as setting up your business is planning for it’s continuation when you’re gone. After all, it’s about what happens outside of work that really matters. Perfect advice for the solopreneur that is rarely talked about. Great article!

    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Thanks, Jeff.

      You know what I mean, though, right? Some life insurance agents are simply looking for a way to sell life insurance at every opportunity, when in truth, some people can take steps to avoid that expense and become “self insured”.

  • http://howtocreateawebsiteonline.com Vince @ How to Create a Website Online

    The thought of being dead is quite a scary one. I’m just going to plan on living forever..

  • http://www.autoprofitincome.com Greg Jeffries

    Excellent post. Such an important issue.

  • http://www.internetentrepreneurconnection.com Hector Avellaneda

    Pat – this is one of those posts that nobody wants to talk about but I definitely tip my hat to you and Chris for taking the lead on this article. I will say that this is the absolute first time I have read a post that relates to planning what will happen to your family and your business in the event that you may be called-up unexpectedly – so again, thanks for being leaders in this space.

    Like Jeff said above, this is just as important as setting up your business entity. I hadn’t thought about this before because I am not as profitable in my business yet but I do have everything in place on a more personal level should something happen to me. I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind however, when I am in the position to protect my family and business assets as a solo-preneur.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this post, Chris.

    • http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com Chris Huntley

      Thanks for the great compliments.

      Yeah, the problem online is all the succession planning or business continuation info out there is for people who have a business partner or employee. The idea is to leave them the business, and you can enter into a buy-sell agrement with them, usually funded by life insurance. This is what I have in place with my business, since i do have a partner. So if I die, my partner receives a lump sum of money. She can then use this money to buy my half of the business from my wife. Note: this agreement is for the transfer of my main site, http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com, which is a different site than the passive income generating site I mentioned in the article.

  • http://cheap-garden-sheds.com Ryan

    I have thought about it and already have a plan on what I want to do. My wife is doing is doing it with me and she has access ass well. Good topic!!

  • http://www.topbloggingcoach.com Theodore Nwangene

    Hi Chris,
    You’ve just got me thinking with this post of your, although I’ve thought about that some time ago but didn’t pay much attention to it.

    But you’ve just reignited the fire.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com Chris Huntley

      Yes!!! That’s exactly what I was hoping to do!

  • http://www.passiveproductive.com Sam Matla (Passive Productive)

    This has actually never crossed my mind, my blog isn’t that old at the moment so I’m not sure if there’d be much point in making plans for that kind of event. Definitely something to keep in mind for the future though!

    Thanks for the post

  • http://bloggerabroad.com Bryan Haines

    This is some great stuff. It’s nice to read some big picture, long-term-planning posts. Before we left Canada, we had everything setup. After having been in Ecuador for close to four years, we are finally getting things in order again – but this part is missing. Really appreciate the insights!

  • http://www.latenightim.com Mark Mason

    This is a GREAT article and all absolutely true. Thanks for writing it Chris.

    I agree that the Trust is a great way to go — however, this is all a HUGE pain in the butt and requires a ton of time, effort, lawyers, etc. I hate all the above. Sadly, I believe that most people will fail to go to all the effort. They will “plan to” and they will try — And some will get it done but they will get it wrong anyway.

    And then there is the cost of legal fees for the setup and for changes later (more children, divorce, different trustees, etc). And the time it takes.

    An alternative simple plan for busy (eluded to in the article) — buy a 20 year term life policy for more than your spouse/children will need. A $1M policy is cheaper than you think, especially if you are young.

    Save money — once you have enough money in the bank in 20 years (and no debt, kids at home, etc) – you won’t need insurance any more.

    Identify 3 people that would be willing to help your spouse or children sell the business. Record a 30 minute screen capture of logins and other information (great tip also in the article). Address the video to your spouse/children and the friend. Let them know your wishes. Give them the passwords. Then, let them handle it — after all, you are dead and they have a big check from the insurance company.

    The insurance turns a crisis situation into a windfall opportunity.

    Sometimes keeping things simple is the best option IMHO.

    Everyone should stop reading now and go buy some term life.

    Just my two cents — note that I am not an insurance pro like Chris, and I don’t play one on TV.


    • http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com Chris Huntley

      Hey Mark,
      Awesome comment. Thanks.

      I think for most people, a combination of options 1 and 2 will make a lot of sense.

      The idea of the post was to brainstorm on ways you can plan for the worst without pushing life insurance (that would be pretty self serving.)

      But for the person who won’t make any effort, I totally agree life insurance is the easiest of the options.

      • http://www.latenightim.com Chris Huntley

        Thanks Chris. And thanks again for the excellent article. If we could just get everyone to buy some term life insurance….

        Have a great day.


        • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

          Hey Mark,
          I just realized you are the famous Mark Mason, Pat’s first interviewee on his podcast, are you not?

          You were an inspiration to many in that podcast episode.

          I started my insurance business in a similar way, working LATE nights, writing articles, contributing on forums, etc.. It’s nice when you don’t have any friends in the internet marketing arena to hear stories you can identify with. Thanks.

          By the way, beautiful website.

    • http://www.YourMoneyHouse.com Tom Wachowski

      Mark, you are exactly right… everyone reading this should stop now and go get the right life insurance at the right price. (psst, day-jobbers… that life insurance at work is a rip off (unless it’s free) and you can get more for less with someone like Chris).

      Also, setting up a trust is not THAT big of a pain. A good lawyer makes the process simple. A business with significant assets deserves a trust to protect it’s value-succession. In other words, without the trust the business is at significant risk of being frozen in probate if the business wasn’t titled correctly. Meanwhile, the value is tied up and your family (the one’s you probably build the business for) may have a hard time accessing the cash in the business (wives not on the business bank account won’t get access to it, for example).

      Plus, with the trust, you know who gets the kids, who gets the assets, and who gets the cash… and you know when all this happens. Knowing where the kids are going (no family fighting over who gets the kids) is reason enough to set up a trust. Wills won’t work… they go through probate, where the court gets to dictate guardianship of everything. And, wills in probate are public information.

      The trust is like healthcare… pay now (eat healthy food) or pay later (pay for health problems). With the trust… pay now (get one) or pay later (in lawyer, executor, and court fees).

      No, I don’t sell trusts! :)

      Great post, Chris & Pat!

  • http://languagelearningdaily.com Chino

    This post deserves getting bookmarked. Very helpful tips once again and something useful for us who plan on having online businesses at some point or another. I’m learning about financial planning but the topic of online businesses was never even touched on. Few people talk about the succession planning aspect of online business and this need really needed to get addressed. Good thing someone finally did. Thank you Pat and Chris for this post!

    • http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com Chris Huntley

      Thanks for the awesome compliment!

      Glad it helped.

  • http://www.srsinc.com Tim Fuller

    Hi Chris,
    This is a fantastic article. I love how give three solutions to the problem at hand. If your time or money is tight you start with step 1; “The Bare Minimum” Now you have at least some protection. As your business grows you can move on to step 2; or go straight to step 3.
    Being in the life insurance industry and being very conservative, I take the approach of covering all of my bases. I feel that step 2 and 3 should go together. If you have a trust in place with a solid succession plan your family “should” be protected. But if you are not around the plan may fall apart. By combining steps 2-3 your family has no chance of suffering financially while they are suffering emotionally.


  • M Malik

    In my opinion, this guy got lucky with the site which he sold for $200,000 as mentioned here http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/selling-website-200000/

    That site is not worth $200,000, not even close.

    I think he got lucky because there is maybe a company which wants to promote an expensive product that will be ideal for that audience. So instead of paying for the traffic, why not use existing traffic? But as a standalone site, its no way near worth $200,000. The content on it is nothing special.

    • Pat Flynn

      A site is worth exactly what someone will pay for it.

  • http://Modernhealthmonk.com Alexander

    Wow, crazy important topic that I NEVER have thought about. I think it makes it a little more complicated when your brand (like smart passive income w/ Pat Flynn) revolves around you.

    No one can replace a person’s personality or their writing style, so that would be a very interesting transition I agree. An important topic for sure, one I’m going to have to think about a lot now.. haha.

    • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

      Hey Alexander,
      That’s a great point, and believe me, I thought about that A LOT while writing this article.

      I think a brand can definitely survive even when there’s only one star of the show, but it takes planning.

      Consider the parallel in show hosts.

      Look at transition on The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson to Jay Leno, or Live with Regis and whoever.

      In both cases, there’s a careful transition between hosts. It’s announced long in advance. The search for the new host is very publicly done to include the fans’ feedback. And ultimately, it can work.

      I’m not sure if Pat thought about this when he created his business and brand, but his site could easily one day become The Smart Passive Income Blog with ____________. Maybe one day that will be one of his children or someone else.

      No one expects the new host to be exactly like the old one. All they expect is that the same characteristics of the brand stay in tact.

      Anyway, the point of the article was more to plan for the unexpected, which is more of a business continuation and insurance strategy. What you’re talking about is more along the lines of succession planning, but still very interesting to me.

  • http://www.SergNotes.com sergio

    yo Chris,

    I already have term life insurance, but looking back over the years I have realized that I didn’t buy enough. I do want to increase it, however, I’m thinking of taking out an additional policy separate from the original.

    Will there be a conflict if there are two policies? Is it redundant? Should I cancel the original (after a new one is issued)? Dude, not going to lie. . .I’m not the stallion my wife once married, so paying a higher premium is also a concern.

  • http://www.mykabaddi.com Avtar Sidhu

    A wake up call indeed!
    This post reminds me of a book I read couple of years back called ” The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.
    I have always held this book very close to my heart since then. He was given six months to live and Randy wrote this book during those six months.
    Randy wrote this book for his kids as he wanted to leave something for them when they grow up. The central idea of this book was to give his kids a direction in life.
    I guess this is even more important than leaving passwords behind!

  • http://www.activateyourincome.com Randy Hollingsworth

    Great article. I think providing the details about how to operate your business, is something we all can and should do right away. Life insurance is a must also, no matter what line of work you do. The rest of the list is something I need to get busy on. Thanks for the great info.

  • http://persuasiontheory.com Matt Fox

    Hey Chris,
    As someone who’s spent half my life in the insurance industry, it’s nice to see these topics spoke of on a ‘make money’ site. Most people are so drawn into the big dream they forget what could happen when the big dream crashes.

    I just want to add one thing, there’s a great plugin for anyone using WordPress. It’s called WP Help (It’s here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-help/). I’m big on implementing and documenting systems so anyone can do the rote pieces. WP Help creates a way for you to create docs, only accessible in the Admin menu, so you can leave publishing tips, etc inside.

    I use it to document formatting and tracking code and this article just reminded me to add a few extra items, so my family can take care of things inside WP if/when something happens to me.

  • http://CashFlowsToo.com Monty Campbell

    I appreciate the article and the thought process behind creating a trust. I have been familiar with trust for a long time. Blind trust that manage limited trust to be specific that operate self directed trust with the blind trust as a beneficiary. You have sparked the interest in this for me as well.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.dreamnights.net/Designers Paul D. Mitchell @ designers dress

    It is really a very important thing. What would be my business future if I won’t alive? I have gone through the post and found the solution. Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    Designers dress

  • http://www.mycudjoe.com Kabenlah Cudjoe

    This is a question I’ve never thought about. i guess my blog is also going to die with me. Many don’t simply seem to understand how one can make money blogging. They view business mainly through the eyes of the world, an office with you sitting at a desk signing papers.
    With me for instance bed ridden and I make clear to my sister as to how to even sell my website, she will simply not be interested as she thinks no one is going to buy a website.

    My site dies with me!

  • http://michaeldcarroll.info/ Mike

    The way I see it is that I would rather my business just disappear. I don’t really trust anyone in my family to be able to know what to do with my incomes should I die or be otherwise incapacitated. I have a few different things that I do and that would be confusing for someone that was computer literate. Additionally, the only people that would be able to take over my web business would be the same individuals that would be willing gossip/back stab/etc you if it served their needs at the time. So, that poses an interesting question, why should I let my immediate family get the benefits of my hard work? (I am unmarried so no spouse or kids to worry about).

    • http://www.michaelcharalambous.com/ Michael Charalambous

      Seems a rather shadowed view on the whole thing. Surely if you die, you don’t want all your hard work and business to have benefited nobody but yourself?

      I know if i can’t reap the rewards of my success (because i’m dead) then I’d want my brother, and other family members to enjoy it. Whether they deserve or worked hard for it or not…

      Or, you could even put in your trust for your family to take it and sell it, and then give some or all of it to charity.

  • http://www.thetopblogger.com Taswir Haider

    Excellent post. Such an important issue.Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://infowland.com/hire-me/ Daniel Adetunji


    Nice post….

    This is something I never thought of.

    Thanks and God bless


  • http://damnspeakenglish.com JohnTito

    that was amazing article Pat, to take a plan for our business in the future. Creating any possible action instill keeping our business life.
    We can sell our website, give to heirs or paid a friend or members of family, but I think we can take an insurance for our website for now Pat, yeah that’s the logic thing :)
    very inspiring actually.

  • Mark Huntley

    Full disclosure: I am Chris Huntley’s older and better looking brother. I am also a practicing attorney.

    By reading the comments, it sounds like there is a lot of apprehension about the Trust option. Generally, legal trusts are fairly straight forward and can be completed quickly by your attorney for a reasonable fee. I would suggest you discuss this option with your attorney and see if a trust would be a good solution.

    We have in the past worked very effectively with financial planners to put together very sound succession plans. Don’t hesitate to involve your financial planner in the trust process as they tend to have a better grasp on your financial situation than your attorney and usually add good practical advice.

  • http://www.contentwritingkenya.com Julie

    Never even crossed my mind that I should do something like this. I guess this is one of those posts that you cannot find in many places. I like the fact that you included a step by step guide for what to do. Totally helpful to beginners like me.

    Though I have to admit that the thought of having to write down my passwords and leave them in diffeferent places sounds too risky to me as someone else can access them while I am still alive. I think the password reset option is a better idea, as it means the succesor will only need to know passwords to emails only.

  • http://www.droidbond.com/ Raj

    Chirs this one is an awesome article and must read for every self proclaimed or solo entrepreneur.. this also includes must follow steps for everyone like “estate planning”, setting up a will to continue the legacy..

  • http://ebizdame.com Dita from ebizdame.com

    Hi Pat,

    This is certainly a topic I have never seen discussed by an internet marketer before. We seem to deny the possibility of something happening to us and leaving our online business float somewhere in the cyberspace and disappearing into oblivion.

    All the work we have put into it and the residual income that follows our hard work, all lost because we did not take the important steps to ensure that that someone will take over our online business .

    You have touched a raw chord, as most of us think we are invincible. Your article, put me in a place of reality and I certainly have a lot of work to do to make sure that, should something happen to me, all my work was not in vain.

    Thanks Pat,


  • http://natesmarketingsolutions.com Nate

    I was just looking at my business spreadsheets, my websites, and my autoresponder and was thinking, wow, my wife would not be able to handle this at all. It would be overwhelming for her.

    Your post gives great steps and points people in the right direction should something happen. I really appreciate this post, thank you.

  • Don Deasy

    Looks like I am a couple of years behind the ‘curve’ here. We work with individuals in all states to help them when it comes to the documents i.e. Trust, etc. Check it out, http://anestateplanforyou.com

  • http://www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com Chris Huntley

    Hello Taswir,
    See my comment to Alexander above about the brand revolving around you.

    Also, perhaps you don’t have a close personal friend who knows anything about your business (I don’t either), but what about a connection you’ve made online?

    For example, I’m sure Pat could ask someone like Chris Ducker or Derek Halpern to be his successor.

    If you literally don’t know anyone, you should leave instructions for your family to chose a professional fiduciary to handle this for them.

    Also, do I smell a business opportunity here? Professional trustee services for internet marketing business owners…