What Should Small Business Owners Know about Estate Planning?
Not having an estate plan can place business owners and entrepreneurs in jeopardy because they may face difficulties in keeping the business running, if they have to withdraw from the business at any point in time.
Legal Reader’s recent article entitled “What Small Business Owners Should Know about Doing Estate Planning” explains that estate planning is necessary to ensure business continuity. Think about who can take control when you’re no longer around to have the business continue according to your wishes contained in your estate plan. An experienced estate planning attorney can help business owners create a comprehensive estate plan, so things do not become chaotic for their family in the event of premature death or any permanent disability. Consider these steps when it comes to good estate planning for business owners.
Have a Buy-Sell Agreement in Place. A Buy-Sell Agreement is a agreement between the owners of the company arranging which owner will succeed to the other’s interest in the company if one dies. It is important becasue the surviving owners generally don’t want to be in a busienss arrangement with the spouse or children of teh deceased owner. Also, the deceased owner does not want his family’s income or assets of the business to be dicated by the surviving owner! A good buy out arrangement can be structured as financed over time through owner financing or through life insurance (or both). Lack of a Buy-Sell Agreement can create costly estate litigation for many years. This is a key component of what small business owners should know about estate planning.
Create an estate plan if you haven’t got one. A will is designed to detail your wishes about how you want the business to run and the manner of sharing your property at your death. A power of attorney allows an entrusted individual to undertake your business transactions and manage your finances, if you are incapacitated by injury or illness. A healthcare directive permits a trusted agent to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can’t do so yourself.
Plan for taxes. Tax planning is a major component of estate planning. Our tax laws keep changing frequently, so you have to stay in constant touch with your attorney to develop strategies for decreasing your tax liability, as well as creating a strategy for minimizing inheritance/estate taxes. Planing for taxes, including federal estate and gift taxes, is no doubt important when it comes to what small business owners need to know about in the context of estate planning.
Buy life and disability insurance. Small business owners should think about purchasing life insurance, so their families can have a source of income after their death.
Create a succession plan. In addition to estate planning, a business owner should have a succession plan that specifies exactly how your company, and your family will prepare for a transition of ownership. The purpose of a well thought out succession plan is to keep the business operating or to take steps to sell it. This plan also includes the organizational structure of the business in case of maintaining business continuity.
Finally, you should keep everyone impacted by your decisions apprised of your estate plan and your business succession plan.
Reference: Legal Reader (Aug. 26, 2021) “What Small Business Owners Should Know about Doing Estate Planning”