Entrepreneurs spend years building their businesses, while retirement looms on the horizon. It is important to have a plan, so that your business will survive without you.
Closely held businesses create a unique estate planning challenge. They often rely on the continued efforts of the owners, and they can be worth a lot of money on paper, despite limited liquidity. This makes transitioning the ownership and control of the business difficult. The best way to deal with a difficult but inevitable situation is with a comprehensive plan.
Future control of a business is mostly relevant for business owners wishing to pass the company on to the next generation of their own families. In this situation, it makes sense to train the future executives over time, so that the transition will be minimal. If the next generation is not interested in running the business, then it probably makes sense to sell the company, either to a third party, to one or more key employees, or even to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
If the business is to transition within the family, then the owner must also address the change of ownership. Wealth transfers are subject to gift and estate taxes, which can be particularly hard hitting on illiquid businesses. Through proper corporate structuring, other legal entities such as Trusts, and appurtenant documents like Shareholder Agreements and Installment Notes, we can create a system that allows us to transfer control and ownership separately, while achieving optimal tax results.
These sophisticated techniques are especially important when not all members of the following generation are interested in the business, but the current generation wishes to provide for them all equally.