EDWARDSVILLE – Todd Sivia, of Sivia Business & Legal Services, has become the first attorney to become a certified exit planner in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Although there are other individuals in the area who possess the exit planner ertification, all are accountants or financial planners.

Sivia, who received the certification late last month told the Madison County Record that he is happy that his firm is now a one-stop resource for exit planning which can provide clients with specialized advice from a legal perspective.

“For me, getting the CExP certification seemed like a natural step in providing the best possible services to my clients and business owners,” Sivia said in a press release. “Planning for an exit does not always mean retirement.  Exit planning is about ensuring that you have a plan in case of death, disability or transferring the business to the next generation and making sure that next generation or key group of employees are ready for the transfer.”

For example, Sivia said he sat down with a client the other day who just wanted to sit back and watch his business run its course, but Sivia recommended that he either keep a hands-on approach or put someone at the top who will.

“I had to stop him and say ‘well, if you stop growing and you’re just at that level then we’re at a point where we need to sell it today, not five years from now,” he said. “Because no one is going to want a business that is straight-lined, not growing at all. Buyers want a growing company, so we’re working on strategies of maybe relinquishing some of his responsibility.”

It took about a year total for Sivia to gain the certification, during which he participated in a 10-session class and completed a couple draft plans which were evaluated by a board.

Although Sivia said that he hopes this certification will bolster his volume of business and he looks forward to the opportunity to provide yet another service, his firm will continue to serve the St. Louis metropolitan area in matters of business law.

Furthermore, exit planning is something that Sivia believes should be a more serious concern for more people and he said that the fact that only between 70 and 80 percent of Americans have estate planning, should be indicative of how we treat exit planning.

“If we’re really bad at having an estate plan, hardly anyone has any exit plans … Everybody is really worried about their retirements, but they’re never thinking that they’re going to die.”

Sivia said that at the end of the day, the certification process was difficult, but worth it. He added that he is excited to have the opportunity to further help his clients while expanding his client base.

“The certification just increases our abilities to provide services. It just gives us additional tools in the toolbox. In our planning, we’ve always had the same general strategy with regards to the planning.”

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