The vast majority of financial planning professionals expect retiring baby boomers to accelerate the demand for business succession planning, according to a new survey.

The sixth annual Industry Trends Survey, released Monday by WealthCounsel and Trusts & Estates magazine, found 37% of respondents predicting a significant increase and 57% expecting at least some increase.

“Professionals in the planning industry are certainly aware of the opportunities that this generational shift presents,” WealthCounsel’s CEO, Matthew McClintock, said in a statement.

“More importantly, attorneys and advisors know how important small businesses are to the owners, their employees and to the economy at large. Considering the strong connection between business planning and estate planning, professionals who have a balanced practice will be best positioned for growth in the years ahead.”

The survey drew some 1,500 respondents comprising primarily practicing attorneys (61%) and financial planners (27%), as well as bank trust officers, CPAs and insurance professionals.

Other key findings from the 2012 survey include:

  • 97% of respondents expected taxes to increase because of the budget deficit
  • 71% experienced growth in their practices in 2012, compared with 59% in 2011, and 94% expected growth over the next five years, compared with 89% a year earlier
  • 57% said their clients had engaged in planning primarily to avoid chaos and discord among heirs
  • 50% of estate planning clients were 50 to 69 years old
  • 26% of respondents reported that clients had taken advantage of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption as of Oct. 19, when the survey closed; of those, most had a net worth of $10 million or more.