NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- On Sunday, news broke that

Lazard

(LAZ) - Get Report

CEO Bruce Wasserstein was in the hospital with what was termed then as an "irregular heartbeat," though it was also reported that he was recovering.

Afterwards, several outlets began speculating on what Wasserstein's near-term absence might mean to the firm. For instance, he was actively engaged as a lead advisor in

Kraft's

(KFT)

attempts for British candy maker

Cadbury

(CBY)

.

In that vein, we put out a poll earlier in the week asking

TheStreet

readers which company was most tied to the well-being of its own CEO.

But by Wednesday, things took an unexpected turn when it was announced that Wasserstein, 61, had passed away.

Media coverage of the passing of Wasserstein -- a dealmaking legend whose merger and acquisition exploits are renowned -- immediately began speculating on succession plans and the future for the bank. Lazard's Board of Directors named Vice Chairman Steven Golub as the interim CEO, but Lazard shares have fallen a little over 3% since Wednesday's close. On Friday, a report from

Bloomberg

said Lazard's directors plan to meet within the next two weeks to discuss a permanent replacement for the legend.

Still, it's clear Wasserstein's death will take a toll on Lazard in the weeks and months ahead. "The loss of Mr. Wasserstein will harm Lazard," Rochdale Securities's Richard Bove wrote in a note to investors. As a leading force in Lazard's recent resurrection, Bove also wrote that Wasserstein's "long history of success in the investment banking sector allowed him to build a clientele list that it will be hard for Lazard to maintain."

Succession issues, however macabre they may be, are a legitimate consideration in the business world -- and for investors. And in light of the stunning passing and the assorted issues that his death presents for Lazard, the admittedly uncomfortable poll may still offer some insight of others.

According to the results,

TheStreet

readers believe that the CEO's of

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

(50%) and

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.B) - Get Report

(32%) are the companies most tied to their own CEOs. The fact that the two topped the five choices offered isn't terribly surprising, considering that the succession plans and health of both Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett have been in the news over the last few months and years.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

CEO Larry Ellison (8%),

DryShips

(DRYS) - Get Report

head George Economou (6%), and

News Corp

(NWSA) - Get Report

chief Rupert Murdoch (3%) rounded out the five.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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