Business Succession Planning: Common Mistakes Made By Business Owners

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

Despite having millions of small business operating in the United States, many of those small-business owners don’t have the faintest idea on how to formulate a proper business succession plan. This has easily become one of the major concerns of many owners; how to coordinate a proper transfer of their business to the next generation, or to their estate.

Taking the proper measures to ensure a smooth transition is vital for every business, however it is also commonly overlooked, or more often than not, it is commonly misapplied. The following are the four (4) most common mistakes business owners make when attempting to create a succession plan.

1. Failing to plan is planning to fail: Failure to plan: One of the primary reasons why many fail to have a plan is because of laziness. Most do not consider it important enough to take the time to complete. However, the effects of non-planning will prove to be burdensome when it comes time to retire, or upon your death. Take the time to sit down with a professional and discuss your options – it can even possibly save you money down the road.

2. Failing to incorporate the Estate and Business plan together: A common misconception with owners is that upon their demise, they feel the assets owned under the company would automatically be distributed to their surviving spouse. Although that may have been the wishes of the deceased, that is not how it works in reality. A carefully drafted business succession plan would include such concerns and ensure the wishes of the owner are fulfilled.

3. Failing to appraise the business: Similar to knowing the value of your home, it is just as important to know the value of your business. This is especially true if your succession plan involves the sale of your business, or if it is passing to your heirs, as the value would need to be noted for estate tax purposes.

4. Failing to create an Estate Plan: No business succession plan can be complete without having a proper estate plan. If it is your intent to have the funds of the company transferred to your heirs, the most efficient manner for it to occur is through your estate (i.e. Revocable Living Trust). Furthermore, it is equally important to have a contingent plan in place in the event you become disabled or unable to manage your business and/or financial affairs. Who would run the businesses, or make the decisions? Establishing a Power of Attorney to handle these affairs is necessary for your company to continue its operations.

It is widely acknowledged that business owners have a busy, compact, and hectic schedule. However, by not taking the proper steps of setting up an effective succession plan, business owners are simply hurting themselves personally, the business, and their heirs. Proper planning can take a few hours of an owner’s time, but it can save years of headaches afterwards. Always be sure to consult with a trusted professional who can assist and guide you through the process, and be better able to meet the goals you set out for your business.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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529 Plans

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq. 

The-Benefits-of-a-529-Savings-Account-Daniel-Stoica-Accounting-ProfessionalA major focus of many estate plans is reducing federal estate tax liability.  Currently, the federal estate tax imposes a 35% tax on any estate exceeding $5 million, or $10 million for married couples.  For example, if you are a single person and your estate is worth $6 million, $1 million of your estate is taxed at 35%.  Instead of your chosen beneficiaries enjoying the fruits of your labor, the government will enjoy $350,000 of your hard earned money.  This exemption amount may not be a problem now; however, many speculate that the limit will be reduced in the next few years from $5 million down to $1 million, causing many savvy individuals to plan ahead. 

How do you reduce the amount of your estate?

Fortunately, many tools exist for reducing the size of your estate.  One such tool is a 529 plan.  A 529 plan is a college savings plan that not only reduces the amount of your estate that will be subject to the federal estate tax but also provides a means of financing your children’s (or grandchildren’s) education. 

How do 529 plans work?

A 529 plan is an investment option whereby the funds that you place into the plan grow tax free and are managed by brokers and other investment professionals.  More importantly for estate tax purposes, a 529 plan can be frontloaded, i.e. five years’ worth of tax free gifts ($13,000 x 5 = $65,000) can be immediately placed into the plan without tax consequences.  However, if you frontload your plan, you may not put in anymore money (that will be tax deferred) for five years.  But because you are able to put $65,000 into the plan right away, waiting five years is rarely a problematic issue.  

529 plans are created for a limited purpose (i.e. college savings) and, as such, the plan’s funds may be used only for limited purposes (without being subject to tax consequences):  qualified educational expenses, such as tuition and room and board.  If you create a 529 plan for your child and they decide that college is not in their future, you may change the beneficiary (the person who is to benefit from creation of the plan) or you can withdrawal the money but you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount withdrawn.   The person who puts money into the plan controls the plan and may choose which state in which to create the plan—you do not have to live in the state where the plan is created. 

How is the amount of the plan removed from your estate?

The amount of the plan is removed from your estate when you place the 529 plan into a trust.  After placing the plan into the trust, for estate tax purposes, the amount of the plan is considered outside of your estate; even though the creator of the plan controls beneficiary designation and has the power to withdraw the funds.  Therefore, you’ll want to contribute as much as you can to these plans.  The higher the plan, the lower your estate tax liability and the more financially secure the future of your beneficiaries.  Plus, in this day in age, if you are going to succeed in this world, education is almost always necessary.  Create a 529 plan today for the well-being of your children tomorrow. 

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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