Sudden Death Checklist

If you suddenly die, will your business be in disarray?
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The Checklist in a nutshell

Overview, Process and Key Contacts

The purpose of this manual is to integrate a business owner’s corporate strategy with the personal and business Succession and Estate Planning.

Wills, Trusts, and Important Documents

How to organize and store all of the business owner’s important documents regarding the distribution of the business and its assets.

Money, Finance and Physical Assets

Access to income information, insurance coverage, bank account information, outstanding loans or debts, and all other physical assets of the business.

Regarding the Company

Company contacts, insurance policies, succession plans, stocks, and governing issues.

Personal Document Folders

Keep all of the personal information and documents for the business in one secure and easy to find place. Easy access is important during times of high stress or crisis.

Financial Documents

Keep all business, bank, credit and loan statements all in one easy to access area for the business owner’s and successor’s convenience.

Take a peek inside the Sudden Death Checklist:

A limited preview of the book

Front cover


Table of contents




Introduction & purpose


Obituary template, 1


Obituary template, 2


Sudden Death Checklist - one stop for all your crucial information

Our Sudden Death Checklist is a comprehensive information storehouse that keeps all of the business owner’s crucial personal and business information in one place, in case of a sudden death or incapacitation. Jack Veale developed this checklist over decades of working with closely held, family owned businesses. Jack’s checklist started out as a 3 page spreadsheet integrated with the company’s long range plan and succession plan; gradually expanding the check list items to cover 100 pages! For example, 15 years ago, having logins and passwords on bank accounts, social media, and other websites was not on the list. IPhones and Android software did not exist. The most important value for this process is to engage the business owner’s spouse, family and key advisors to help the owner create a plan that minimizes the family’s emotional and financial stress typically found during a funeral of a loved one.


From Jack’s view, business owners typically don’t plan for their early departure, and when decisions are left to their spouses and survivors, it usually impacts or harms the owner’s family and their employees negatively. How many times have you heard of a successful company decline into trouble when the owner suddenly dies? When a business owner and their spouse completely fills out our Sudden Death Checklist, their family, employees and/or trusted advisors can follow the decease’s intentions and quickly take the reins of the funeral and estate settlement process. By following the checklist, the surviving family leaders can stabilize the business and avoid concerns of business continuity and family harmony. We typically find the cost of probate fees, especially in states like California, are far more expensive than the fees found working with trusted advisors in this process.


Our Sudden Death Checklist for Business Owners, Their Families & Employees is designed for estate planners and other key advisors to use our checklist to facilitate the discussions in an organized and thoughtful way. From Jack’s view,the owner’s key advisors work in isolation and don’t coordinate well with the business owner’s other advisors.He developed this checklist to engage other advisors as part of his strategy process, and to develop a comprehensive business succession plan. Our checklist helps trusted advisors coordinatewith other advisors, and the owner’s family, to customize the estate planning process. The goal is for business owners to engage their advisors to develop a carefully and thoughtfully prepared funeral and succession plan,to reduce the family’s emotional and financial stress in difficult times. It also designed to minimize the surviving family’s suffering during the funeral’s complex processes, and help their business retain the owner’s business and community legacy. When fully and correctly completed, this book should minimize the family’s emotional struggles with the hundreds of decisions and legal obligations required by the probate court and funeral process; as well as providing stability and peace of mind to the owner’s company and its employees. And more importantly for the business owner, it should ensure that his or her legacy continues without missing a beat; allowing for a smooth transition as he or she has planned.

Estate planners, including lawyers, wealth managers, accountants & other professionals: private-label our Sudden Death Checklist for your clients

A number of financial advisors, accountants and other professionals have already used the Checklist as an invaluable tool to help their clients plan for the unthinkable. Order the Checklist for your own practice and benefit your clients, as well!

Copyright note

Copyright © 2011, 2015, 2016 PTCFO, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except where permitted as indicated on individual pages in Sections 5 and 6), recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without expressed permission in writing from the publisher.

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About the Author

Jack Veale, CMC, is an internationally recognized consultant, who advises closely held, family owned companies, including ESOPs, on business succession, ownership strategy and leadership development. Jack uses a number of tools to assess the organization on culture, leadership, and operating performance. Over the last 25 plus years, Jack has assisted hundreds of companies in many industries and countries, offering solutions covering strategic planning, succession planning, corporate governance, team training and crisis management.

Jack has authored or co-authored a number of books, including “Creating Strategic Innovation,” “Don’t Do That!” and “Sudden Death Checklist for Business Owners and Their Families/Employees.” Jack has spoken on a number of topics at national conferences, Family Business conferences, and regional association events.

Jack’s consulting career started in the late 80’s offering Part Time CFO services, and incorporated PTCFO, Inc in the early 90’s. By the mid 90’s Jack found he was not offering Part Time CFO services, so, he renamed PTCFO to Professionalizing The Corporate and Family Organizations, to reflect his help with ownership and management succession. By teaching how to identify value drivers, how to measure the company’s ownership culture, how to form teams, and to develop leadership through team empowerment, his client’s success increased. The one challenge with succession planning was dealing with the CEO’s sudden death which would cause havoc with the company’s strategy and family harmony. Over the years, Jack’s checklist started with a couple of pages and expanded the checklist to over 100 pages by the need to broaden the advisory team to solve complex ownership and estate plans.

Jack earned his BS in Business Administration from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and his MBA from Boise State University, in Boise, Idaho. Jack is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with IMCUSA, and a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute.Jack is a nationally known speaker on privately held, ESOP, or family business issues, speaking specifically to the challenges their businesses face in this highly competitive business environment.

A partial list of Jack’s family of websites includes:

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