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Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

When you manage a small business, you have a lot of power at your fingertips–even after death. That’s why it’s so important to plan for the future. What will your friends and family receive when you pass away, and how can you implement the right retirement plan to make the transition more efficient, less time-consuming, and less expensive over the long-term? It might not sound easy, and it shouldn’t. This is your legacy, and you need to fight to keep it intact after you’re no longer around to help sustain it or help it grow bigger.

In a Manta survey of 2,000 small business owners, 34 percent were working without a clear retirement plan in place. That means any heirs might have to fight tooth and nail to keep the business running, and in many cases, they might fail to do so. Most of those owners surveyed believed the revenue from their businesses wasn’t enough to justify saving for retirement. Among those without any savings at all, 18 percent wanted to sell the business in order to generate the resources that would be needed for retirement.

As common as it is among small business owners, that’s an extremely unstable and risky retirement plan–primarily because it isn’t really much of a plan at all. Businesses must thrive to survive, and saleable businesses must do the same. If you can’t find the profits needed to save for retirement, then your business isn’t worth enough to provide for you when it comes time to sell. Business succession planning is therefore of paramount importance.

Part of this planning stage will help you determine whether or not the business will be sold after you’re gone. Whether it is or isn’t, who are your heirs and will they get a piece of the business? The right attorney will help establish a plan to help your heirs pay off taxes over an extended period of time if the business is to remain operational. In many cases where owners did not go through the proper channels, businesses had to be sold in order to pay off estate taxes–even when that wasn’t the intention of the owner.

As for yourself, you might consider a personal IRA if you haven’t begun to save for retirement yet. This can be a good way to grow your earnings over a longer period of time, and you can find free financial planning resources to help you determine how much you might want to contribute.