The business interest is often the single largest asset of a closely-held business owner’s estate. It’s often responsible for the majority of current income for you and your family and will be looked to as a source of wealth at retirement. Businesses can transition expectedly or unexpectedly whether because of death, disability, retirement, or even a global pandemic. That’s why it’s important to plot a course toward protecting your business and minimizing the impact a change in ownership could have on those who depend on the business most.
If your expectation is to receive full value for the business when the time comes to leave then you should put as much effort into protecting it as you did building it. And perhaps the most important step of all is to document and communicate your plans.
Many business owners have started the process of planning for succession of the business, but few have seen it through. According to BEI’s 2019 Business Owner Study, 79 percent of business owners don’t have a written plan in place for the future ownership of the business, and only about half have discussed their plans with family (54 percent) and internal stakeholders (45 percent).
Succession plans, buy-sell agreements, and estate plans are all critical tools to help ensure the business — and your wealth — transition in the manner you choose. Yet, according to the 2018 MassMutual Business Owner Perspectives Study, many don’t have these written documents in place, and thus, may not be able to exit the business on their terms.
- Will: 74 percent
- Estate Plan: 60 percent
- Succession Plan: 57 percent
- Formal business valuation: 51 percent
- Buy-Sell Agreement: 46 percent
Listen to Estate and Business Planning attorneys Greg Matalon and Leslie Marenco discuss how having documented plans, procedures and agreements in place can help play a role in protecting your business for the long-term.
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