Broker Check

Business Succession

Businesses are often major assets within an estate. They provide income and security. In many cases, they are part of what you, or your family, has created are part of your legacy. 

Simply owning a business presents many issues and questions to estate owners. Unless those issues are known and questions are addressed, there can be many problems. For example, if the business represents a major percentage of the value of the estate, how should it be addressed in the estate plan?

Who should run the business after you are no longer filling all the roles you now fill? Will it be a family member? Which one? Will there be more than one? What roles will they fill? How will they work together? Are some of your employees more capable and prepared than family members? What is best for your business, the family, and your customers or clients in the short and long runs?

How should ownership of the business be transferred? Should it occur before, or at the time of your death? If one or more of your children are involved in the business, and others are not, does it make sense to leave the business to all the children equally? While some see this as a way to give the family a common cause and facilitate family unity for generations, more often than not this arrangement creates conflicts of interests between those who are in the business and those who aren't. In many cases this arrangement has projected families into battle against each other. 

On the other hand, if the business is only left to the children who are working in the business, how do you treat the non-involved children fairly? Are other assets in the estate sufficient to equalize the inheritance among all family members? This is often difficult. Is equal always fair? Should interest in a business pass to family by inheritance, or through a buy-sell agreement? Should the business even stay in the family, or would it be better to sell the business and distribute the proceeds of the sale? If there is a buy-sell agreement, how should it be structured? What role should life insurance play in your plan?  

At Oxford Financial, we have guided many families through the minefield of business succession. Some mines are easy to see. Others are hidden in family issues, relationships, and taxes. When navigating a minefield, it helps to have an experienced guide, one who has been through the field many times and does not just point you in a direction and let you discover the consequences.