While sole-owned businesses continue to dominate, multi-owner businesses continue to increase by record numbers year after year. Business continuation is a vital part of any business succession plan, but with multiple owners and estates involved, it can be disastrous without proper planning. The surviving owners and the heirs of a deceased business owner have wants and needs that can be fulfilled by a well written business continuation plan.
When a business owner dies, the surviving owner(s) may want total control of the business without interference from the deceased owner’s heirs. They may want a prompt transfer of the deceased owner’s interest at a fair price. They may also want the loyalty and support of employees, customers and creditors during and after the transition in ownership.
The heirs may want ongoing financial security after the loss of the deceased owner’s salary and benefits. They may want a prompt settlement of the deceased owner’s estate, including proper tax-valuation of the business interest, if it is to be sold. They may also want retention of the business by family members or a prompt sale of the interest at an attractive price.
Without a written buy-sell agreement that spells out in detail what will happen when an owner dies, UNWANTED consequences may result. These include conflicts – and possibly litigation – between the deceased owner’s heirs and the surviving owners, delays in the transition to successor ownership and delays in settling the deceased owner’s estate. In addition, there could be potential loss of customers, employees, and creditor confidence that can damage the business and force liquidation.
Your clients could avoid these consequences and find many other advantages in creating a formal buy-sell agreement. This could be the first step in assuring an orderly and successful transition in business ownership following an owner’s death. It could assure a fair price for the business interest and terms of sale that are reasonable to all parties. It could help set a value for the business interest for estate tax purposes to help avoid estate settlement delays and IRS challenges. It could also create confidence in the ongoing vitality of the business in the eyes of customers, employees and creditors.
The Bottom Line: Creating a written buy-sell agreement can fulfill the wants and needs of surviving business owners and the heirs of the deceased business owner.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.