Rushing Through the Most Important Document in Your Business!

In my career I have experienced several business owners rushing through the implementation stages of designing their buy and sell agreement (BSA), probably one of the most important documents they will ever need, treating the process with little thought.   As Rodney Dangerfield would say, “No respect”.  When it was completed, it was very basic, doing more harm than good. 

In some cases, maybe more than I think, the document being used by the drafting attorney was a “hand me down” from another attorney.  While the “hand me down form” may have been useful in drafting another person’s situation and making it easier for the drafting attorney to do, it was not going to maximize my client’s planning situation.

In Paul Hood’s great book, “Buy And Sell Agreements, Last Will And Testament For Your Business”, he covers the consequences of not designing the right buy and sell agreement, and how important it is to spend the time and money preparing and designing this important document, with an experienced lawyer.  [i]

Paul specifically speaks about attorneys using a “hand me down agreement”, and how it may be more harmful by having it than not. 

The “Paul Hood Fire Drill”

He uses the idea of the “fire drill”. What happens when a “trigger happens? What will be the outcome and the consequences based on how your BSA is set up (or not set up), when you play it out. Like you were the leaving owner, and then again as the remaining owner.  On a personal note, the “fire drill” advocated by Paul is something I use all the time and has been instrumental helping my clients and their attorneys in drafting the proper strategies for their situations.  I have found that this has been a great way of helping my clients design the best BSA for themselves. It has allowed them to make it real and start developing questions and ideas that they can implement in their design. It keeps them involved with the process.

The “Fire Drill” strategy has put my clients in the “power seat” of knowledge, so when they discuss their BSA with their attorney, the elements and strategies that are being used are not foreign to them. This consequently helps them design a better BSA, reducing the time needed to spend with their attorney ($$$$$).    

Keep in mind, many business owners start the process of designing the BSA when there has been no experience of consequences with an owner or co-owner leaving the company. 

Everyone is Equal at the Start!

When owners design their BSA, they are all equal in status.  People that enter into agreements want the agreement to favor them when a triggering event happens, even if the agreement has not been updated in years or there is no reference to the triggering event. 

When are clients initially design their BSA, it probably will be one of the few times that all the partners will be negotiating with each other, because when there is a triggering event, chances are they will be negotiating with someone other than their co-owner.  

The representative of the departing co-owner will have a different perspective as to what they want out of the BSA!  Whether it is the spouse, their child, their law firm, whomever, they will be negotiating from a different point of interest.

Business relationships, and friendships are put aside.  It is at this point you would hope your BSA covers all the areas of concern that need to be covered.  The bottom line is the agreement must be exact as to what will specifically happen based on the triggering event.  There is no room for errors if the document is specific.  The best time to do this is when everyone is on equal ground. 

For this reason, owners designing their BSA with their attorney should take it very seriously because they are really pre-negotiating for the people, they love the most without any certainty of which trigger will occur and which side of the trigger they will be on, leaving or a remaining co-owner.

It is extremely important that the triggering events be identified and that you will understand what will occur with each trigger event.  

Paul Hood’s “fire drill” has made it easier for my clients to understand the importance of designing a solid BSA.  By posing questions to the scenario, the BSA becomes very real to them.  

Examples of how they would play out the “fire drill”  

·       What if you’re the first co-owner to leave?

·       What if you’re the last remaining original owner? 

·       What if you end up with a co-owner you don’t want to be owners with? 

·       What happens if one of your co-owners, dies, divorces, or goes bankrupt?  

      By implementing your “fire drill”, you will start to formulate different scenarios for your own situation creating your own buy and sell design.  

This is a critical document in keeping your business going should a trigger happen to any of the co-owners.  Unfortunately, you must deal with it in advance and before there is a triggering event. 

Risks when implementing your BSA:  

·       Using an attorney who is using a fill in the blank form.

·       Not planning the scenarios before designing the plan. 

·       Not having a BSA.

·       Not signing it. 

·       No dealing with how to fund such triggers.  

There are so many elements to the buy and sell agreement that need to be covered, the planning of this document can’t be taken lightly.  However, that is not to say you can’t have a great BSA.  Having experienced professionals to help guide you through the process will pay off great benefits in designing and implementing your BSA. 

We suggest you find competent counsel who has experience in designing the buy and sell agreements and discuss your goals and objectives with them. 

Again, my best advice is pick up Paul Hoods book (“Buy and Sell Agreements, last will and testament for your businesss”.) Read and study it. 

 If you would like our free Business Succession and Transition Planning Guide, click the link and we will send you a FREE WHITE PAPER to get you started. in your planning.   YOUR FREE GUIDE


[i] E. Paul Hood is a prolific technical author. He has published a number of books on planning and is one of the leaders in estate planning and business succession planning.  

The Easy Process To Identify and To Solve The Problems!

The Easy Process To Identify and To Solve The Problems!

Excerpts from My book, “Unlocking Your Business DNA”

The One Page Solution!

As we start the process of fixing the problems, they need to be identified. In chapter 1, I discussed how the business owner needs to find their “Business DNA”. Again, this is about focus and asking the right questions, and giving the business owners the amount of time, they need to think it through.

I break down the issues into two categories, BUSINESS GROWTH AND TRANSITION.

Business Growth: Focuses on the business itself such as the strategies needed to grow the business, the systems, the culture, and its employees. It is all about the business future.

Transition: Focuses on the categories that relate to the owners, and the changes they need to make in their personal life because the business is growing.

I keep these categories separate because the issues concerning the business growth are different than the owners transition issues. However, as the business growth changes, it affects the transition of the owners, and vice versa.

It is very important that the business owner is committed to fixing their problems.  If they are not, the first time they have a business roadblock, they will tend to put planning on the back burner.  This is a mistake, because most of the time it does not resurface until there is a crisis.

However, in our planning we do create action plans in small steps. Having a team of advisors working together creates the ability to complete the small steps needed to accomplish our goals.

An Example:

A perfect example was when a company we were working with had plateaued in growth and wanted to create more business growth. When we went through some of the planning questions, I realized the owner had spent no time systemizing their business.

The owner had no documentation of operational systems of his business, but instead it was all in his head. He would delegate the tasks to his employees like a drill sergeant.  He never even thought of the fact that there was no continuity in his business, consequently, if something happened to him, the business would have ended.

I asked him, “could you go on vacation for three months and not check in during that time”?

He looked at me and laughed, replying, “are you kidding this place would fold in seven days.”

I replied, at least you are real, the sad part however is you do not have a business, you have a job. You have a position, a paycheck, and a place to go, but you do not have a business.

He looked at me dazed! But he knew I was right.

The Process Using “One Page Solutions”, will keep everyone on track.

To uncover the issues and problems with the business owner we go over the main subjects called “ONE PAGE SOLUTIONS.”  On any subject there are always a few directions in which the business owner can go. We discuss them and analyze what are the most important subjects the business owner needs to deal with currently. “THE ONE PAGE SOLUTIONS” ARE LISTED BELOW.

Each Subject has a few sub-topics we review with the owners. As we DISCUSS the One Page Solutions, we find the strategies which will solve the issues. Once we are done with the subject, we move on to the next One Page Solution, if any.

THE FOCUS AREAS of the “One Page Solution” ARE:

1-Sale of Business (outside)/ Evaluation Methods/Timing

2- Inside Transition (Family, Co-Owners, or Key Employee/s)

3-Passive Ownership- Owner wants to still run the business, but take long trips

4-Retirement; defining and preparing

5-Wealth Accumulation & Asset Protection (both in and out of the business)

6-Premature Death- Consequences

7- Estate Distribution- updating

8- Life Insurance Contracts and Benefits

9-Legacy Planning / Management of Legacy

10-Disability and Illness, Medicare, and Medicaid

11-Key Employee Retention- and Creating A Culture

12-Key Employee Owner’s Manual- systematically creating company manual, business coaching, marketing proceedures

13-Corporate Benefits and Retirement- cost and efficiency

14-Qualified Plans and Personal Liabilities- Executive Compensation

15-Family Relationships/Employee Relationships/Human Resource

We helped a business owner recently with the problem of not having business growth over a prolonged period of time.  The solution was to put in place strategies that would create transferable values for the future.

They included things like creating key group, documentation, standard procedure, diversification, and growth strategies.

In this case we realized this will take some time to implement. The owner was under no delusion that this will be done in one year. Most importantly the owner started the process. A few years from now he will see the outcomes in all its glory. Because we have experts in our toolbox, we shared our professional advisors with our client for coaching purposes, and education.

Besides implementing a few systems, they will also do a business appraisal every two years. Over a period, this will help them evaluate the growth of their company by implementing the systems suggested.

By doing this the company could allow for better planning in the future, and adjust the path towards financial security, and business growth.

One of the key elements to helping Business owners solve problems is to also identify the roadblocks. This eliminates the surprise factor should our implementation strategy not go as planned. In one of our planning agendas, we discuss these roadblocks and try to define the subsequent issues and challenges in the future.

What is extremely important in this process is that it makes the owner aware of any potential issues they must have to deal with in the future and stay ahead of the problem curve.

Over the years what has been extremely helpful has been the communication with the team. Again, these are the client’s advisors that may or may not have been in place before we started planning. Since we update the team regularly, we are often given new advice that has been helpful in forecasting future events in the business.

We normally would not have this knowledge if we did not have the team of advisors in communication. This is one of the biggest advantages of working with the team and having periodic reviews.

We have been successful helping business owners work on their business to get issues resolved and to focus on details. We use a One-Hour a month system for the business owner to do this.  This allows the business owner the brevity they want, but also, gives them quality time to organize the details of their business. Through our step-by-step system, we help business owner cover all the key issues that are needed to cover to run your business smoothly, take more time off, earn more money and just enjoy working and life much better.  

If you would like a FREE WHITE PAPER called “Your Business Essential” which will help you organize your business, CLICK THE LINK BELOW, download the white paper. This is a 128-page guide in business planning Your Free. When you click submit on the form, your file will immediately download.  Enjoy. 

Immediate Download  

You can purchase of “Unlocking Your Business DNA”, AT Amazon. All profits to to Wounded Warrior Foundation and other Veteran groups.

Consequences Of Not Creating A Buy and sell agreement!

Part 2 

BY Thomas J. Perrone, CLU, CIC 

S Corporations enjoy the advantages of limited liability, transferability of ownership and professional business operation and management. The S Corporation is taxed similarly to a partnership, as it is a pass through to the shareholders.  

The C Corporation is taxed at the Corporation level first. When the C Corporation is profitable and generates taxable profits. When profits are distributed to the individual shareholder it is taxed again when dividends are received by the shareholder.  

You will find S Corporations normally when the individual rates are lower than the Corporation rates. Also, losses in the S Corporation shareholders may benefit, by deduction, the losses on their individual tax returns.  

S Corporation requirement 

  • No more than 100 shareholders- members of family are considered one shareholder 
  • Must be a domestic corporation 
  • Only individuals, a decedent’s estate, estate of individuals in bankruptcy, and certain trusts are eligible shareholders of s Corporation 
  • No shareholder can be a nonresident alien 
  • One class of stock (different voting rights are allowed) 

Basis and S Corporation 

There is only one level of taxation in the S Corporation. That is at the shareholder’s level.  

If the shareholders basis exceeds the distribution, the shareholder usually will not be taxed when they receive the distribution.  

If the S Corporation has never filed as a C Corporation and has no retained earnings or profits, distributions received by an s Corporation shareholder are not subject to income tax if the distribution does not exceed the shareholder’s basis. Consequently, the larger the basis the greater amount of distribution can be taken tax-free.  

Quick overview of Basis 

  • nontaxable distributions of previously taxed income 
  • income distributed in the same year in which it was earned 
  • losses 
  • nondeductible expenditures such as life insurance expenses 

Keep in mind that the adjustments to shareholder basis is an ongoing procedure and will vary from their initial contribution to, or investment in, the Corporation. Usually, a service corporation will have a low basis because of the low initial investment made in these types of businesses.  

Life insurance to fund the Buy and Sell Agreement 

Life Insurance can have several advantages for S Corporations in a buy-sell agreement.  

A nondeductible expenditure such as life insurance premiums decreases a shareholders’ basis in an S Corporation. The cash value policy can help offset, eliminate, this adverse situation.  

Life insurance cash value helps offset the premium charged to the capital account. The cash value offsets the premium paid so that the decrease to the capital account is offset by the cash value of the policy.  

 As an example, if the premiums are $15,000 and the cash value increases by $12,000, then only $3,000 is charged to the capital account reducing the basis of the stockholder by $3,000. As opposed to having a term insurance policy with a premium of $4,000. The permanent coverage will have less effect on the basis reduction of the stockholder than the lower term insurance premium.  

Over a longer period, there will be in increase over the premium, consequently eliminating the basis reduction. In the term insurance scenario, the reduction of cost basis will continue. In some cases where the term must be renewed, or the term has an increasing premium, the lowering of the basis can be substantial.  

Death benefit and basis 

If the life insurance is set up as a redemption basis, it is possible to plan for an increase in basis for the remaining stockholders, by using a promissory note for the deceased stockholder before settling the life insurance claim. Since the death benefit is tax free income, it will increase the basis. Example:  there are three stockholders, A dies. Instead of making the claim on the life insurance, A is bought out using a short-term promissory note. Once completed, the death claim is filed, and proceeds will come in tax free for the remaining stockholders which will increase their basis. If the death benefit were used for the decedent, there would have been a wasting of the basis since the decedent’s estate would normally receive a stepped-up cost basis.  

Stock Redemption in S Corporation 

The buy and sell agreement are between the stockholders and the Corporation. The S Corporation owns the policy on the stockholders and is the beneficiary of the policy. Death proceeds to the Corporation are tax free and increase the basis of the stockholders. A big advantage to arranging the buy and sell agreement under an S Corporation is avoiding the alternative minimum taxes and the loss of basis found in a C Corporation.  

Cross Purchase buy and sell in s Corporation  

The arrangement all owners of a business agree upon in advance to purchase proportionate shares of the decedent shareholder’s interest. Each stockholder would own life insurance on the other stockholder(s) and be the beneficiary.  

  • Life insurance premium is a nondeductible personal expense 
  • Shareholders receive the death benefit federal income tax-free 
  • The surviving stockholder uses the funds to purchase the stock, which will increase the basis of their holdings, by the amount purchased.  

Some key issues:  

Section 318 Attribution Rules  

In a C Corporation, attributions can be avoided for tax purposes by arranging the buy and sell agreement under a Cross Purchase. Since the Corporation is not redeeming the stock, and it is the stockholder, attribution and the treatment of the redemption being treated like a dividend distribution is avoided.  

In an S Corporation, if the S Corporation does not have retained earnings or profits , it will have the same tax result as if the shares were sold or exchanged, allowing the shareholder to recover their basis tax-free, with any amounts exceeding. Basis being treated as capital gains.  

 A poorly structured buy-sell agreement could result in the loss of S Corporation status, as well as the possibility of increasing the surviving shareholder’s tax burden on future distributions from, or on, the sale of the S Corporation. However, there are some great advantages of setting up a proper buy-sell agreement which can be even greater advantages than those available to C Corporations.  

FREE REPORT “Jones Business Planning and Succession Report” ASK FOR REPORT R3 

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Conclusion: 

The S corporation can be a great tool for many business owners as a corporate structure. A Buy and Sell Agreement must be carefully considered and drafted with consideration of avoiding the loss of an S Corporation Election.  

The Key To Creating Value in Your The Key To Creating Value in Your Company

In Chapter 4 of my book, “Unlocking Your Business DNA”, I discuss your key group. I discussed the up side  and the downside of having a key group. 

First, the upside is nothing but good stuff.  Having a key person or group is one of the value drivers which add great value to your business, add profits, frees up your time, and allows you to enjoy your business life more.  Also, they can become the future purchaser of your company. 

The key person or group only becomes bad when the owners don’t pay attention.  They don’t protect themselves from the possibility of being held hostage in the future.  The case study is worth reading as it happens all the time to unsuspecting owners.  

In the case discussed, I pointed out the problems, but also gave some possible solutions where everyone is happy.  

This is a key chapter to read to make sure you don’t make the mistake our client did.  

   If you wish to discuss creating a “Destiny Plan” with me, or discuss general questions about your business’ Key Business and Financial Elements, CLICK  BELOW to arrange a mutually convenient 15 minute discussion.       LET’S DISCUSS “DESTINY PLANNING”  ALSO, if you would like to email me your questions, please do;  tperrone@necgginc.comsubject:  QUESTION 

How The Buy-Sell Agreement Fits Within the Scope of An S Corporation!  

Part 1 

BY Thomas J. Perrone, CLU, CIC 

Normally, a business makes up a substantial portion of the owners’ net worth. Many business owners do not think about what will happen to their business in the event of their death or a life changing event (trigger).  

This article will focus on why a buy and sell is an important document, one of the most important you will need. 

We will also discuss the buy and sell agreement in the context of an S Corporation since S Corporations are extremely popular. 1 

Consequences of not creating a buy-sell Plan.  

  • Stress on the business’ cash flow or credit line having to purchase the decedents owner’s interest  
  • Unqualified and instability with employees running the company 
  • Disagreements and conflict among heirs increasing administration time and costs 
  • Lack of a market for business which may potentially represent a significant value in the estate 
  • Suppressed value much below fair market value to raise cash for estate needs 
  • Termination of the business 
  • Instability amount employees and creditors 
  • Lack of liquidity to pay estate taxes and other administration costs 
  • Stream of income to remaining family members from the business is lost 
  • Valuation disagreements and IRS litigation 
  • Nightmares of not having a Buy and Sell agreement in a S Corporation! Loss of eligibility as a S Corporation resulting in involuntary termination of the S. Corporation status 
  • Most transfers to entities such as partnership, Corporation and most trusts are prohibited transfers 
  • A termination of S Corporation status will cause the Corporation to be taxed as a C Corporation as of the day of termination creating income tax consequences to the shareholders.  
  • Corporation, which is terminated, must wait five years before making a new S Corporation election, resulting in Corporation being taxed on its net profits for five years.  
  • The surviving shareholder could face additional tax burdens on future ongoing Corporation distribution and on those made upon the sale of the Corporation 

Funding the buy and sell agreement is always a challenge to companies, because it comes down to four ways of funding a triggering event 

  1. Borrowing money from the bank 
  1. Using cash flow out of the business 
  1. Life insurance death benefit 
  1. Cash  

When you compare the costs of funding the buy and sell agreement, life insurance will be the least expensive by a long shot, in most cases, especially, based on a death trigger.  

Other triggers, like divorce, sudden removal from the firm, voluntary and non-voluntary removal from the firm, bankruptcy, and disability are triggers where there is not a death benefit being paid, but money is needed. In these cases, a promissory note may be used in conjunction with a term payout, or installment loan payout.  

However, the cash buildup of a life insurance policy could be used as a funding vehicle especially if the policy has been in force for many years.  

In Part 2 we will investigate how the buy and sell agreement fits within the scope of an S Corporation.  

FREE REPORT “Jones Business Planning and Succession Report” ASK FOR REPORT R3 

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The Six Most Costly Financial Mistakes Business Owners Make Costing Them to Owe Huge Taxes!

Many business owners are unaware of the opportunities they have in creating wealth through their business.  Many owners put too much wealth in their business, where it can be tied up or hard to get out.  It also prevents them from accumulating outside retirement funds.

There are several ways to create wealth through your business on a tax-efficient basis which many owners are not aware of.  

I would like to share with you the six mistakes that prevent owners from creating more wealth by utilizing the business cash flow. 

  1. NOT IMPLEMENTING A CEEP: (Corporate Executive Equity Plan) for themselves.  This is one of the most tax effective methods of creating personal wealth using corporate cash flow.  The cost of providing this wealth creating account costs the owner about 30% of the tax cost.  Example: if the company bonused $20,000 to the owner for a personal retirement plan, the tax cost would be $6,000 each year.  However, under a CEEP arrangement, the cost would only be a $60 the first year, and about $1,200 the 20th year. This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in executive compensation by attorneys, insurance professionals and CPA’S.  Consequently, it might be considered under used.  However, the executive compensation specialist understands how the plans work and how it can be of great value for the business owner in shifting income from the company to the personal side of the owner. 
  2. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SECTION 412(e)(1): which allows the owner to make a substantial number of tax-deductible contributions into a retirement plan skewed towards the higher paid owner.  Example, the owner aged 50 can deposit up to $213,905 fully tax-deductible.  Great for good cash flow companies.
  3. NOT USING THE “SAFE HARBOR RETIREMENT PLAN”: where a substantial amount of the tax-deductible contributions can be allocated to the higher paid participants.  Also, included in this arrangement is the “Cash Balance Plan”.  These plans create greater tax-deductions for higher paid employees.   
  4. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF   A RESTRICTED BENEFIT PLANS (RBP): which is a discriminatory and tax-deductible plan.  It can be used to provide valuable benefits to retain key people.  The business owner keeps the forfeitures if the employee leaves before vested. This can lock your key group to your company.  
  5. NOT CREATING A DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN:  This is a flexible, separate, and discretionary retirement benefit that can also become a mechanism for funding the sale of your business in the future and create retirement income. The pot is sweetened when you add a DBO (Death Benefit Only) to the planning. 
  6. NOT CREATING AND NOT FUNDING YOUR BUY AND SELL AGREEMENTS: A disability, long term illness, or death may occur long before the owner planned to exit their business, creating a path to financial disaster not only for the owner, but their family, partners, and employees.  This is one of the most egregious mistakes I see business owners make.  Many times, it goes unnoticed by the advisors.  This is one of the reasons why I am an advocate of check-off lists, “fire drills”, and annual reviews.[i]

Simply Put!  By Utilizing These Common Benefits, Owners Can Maximize Their Fullest Potential Business Value! 

To help you understand some of the ways to utilize your business cash flow to create more wealth for you and your family, I put together this FREE WHITE PAPER, CALLED “A TAX -FREE LIFESTYLE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS”, AND I would like to GIVE this FREE WHITE PAPER TO YOU.  

THIS REPORT will help you understand how you can use your business to take advantage of discriminatory benefits   plans for yourself, family members, and key employees.    The Tax-Free Lifestyle REPORT is strictly for small business owners who want to grow their business while creating more wealth outside of their business.   I designed this white paper to help business owners avoid the COMMON MISTAKES made by other business owners which forced them to work more years, save less retirement, pay more in taxes, and tied up too much wealth in their business, creating more stress, and had no free time for themselves! 

You’ll also discover in the TAX-FREE REPORT:

  • One simple concept allowing you to retire with more wealth or retire years sooner.  (This one simple financial principle is rarely ever talked about on “pop news” financial TV shows or by other so-called “financial planners”. 
  •  2 proven strategies to increase cash flow and reduce expenses if you really want to sleep at night!
  • 3 secret ways to have your business build a tax-free wealth account for your personal and business use!
  • Your Business DNA” Understanding this key allows you to double your savings and retirement investing without making a single dollar more in income or investing in more capital equipment and labor.
  •  5 value drivers to prepare your business for a sale, even 20 years in advance!
  • How a simple inexpensive benefit plan can keep your key people! 
  • How creating a Deferred Compensation plan can help finance the future sale of your business.
  • How having a benefit plan for you in the future can lower your cost to sell your business?
  • Misleading and incorrect “old wives’ tales” about creating wealth in your business. 
  • Tax saving strategies that 9 out of 10 business owners don’t use and end up paying more taxes
  • Much more…

TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE   NO OBLIGATION WHITE PAPER Called: 

The Tax-Free Lifestyle for Business Owners”

To request your free white paper 

CLICK SUBMIT:     Wealth Without Taxes Report

Once you submit your email address, you will receive your report immediately! Enjoy!

Now you may be asking…Why would I spend my own money to send you this FREE WHITE PAPER? Think of it as my personal introduction… a way for you to get to know me better.  Nothing more than that! 

Often enough, when business owners learn the information in this guide, they decide they want to know more about what we do, and possibly do business with us so they can have our business owner expertise and in-depth knowledge of how business owners think.  I know, I am one of them. I know what you think because I think about it all the time.  Let’s say 24/7 to be safe! Just as you value the expertise in your business field, I believe working with a financial expert who knows what it is to run a business and knows the business world is critical to your financial health.

That’s it!  Let me send you “The Tax-Free Lifestyle for Business Owners”.   Do with it what you want. Maybe you’ll want to talk to us further, maybe you won’t.   There is no obligation to do so.

Either way, I think you’ll find the information in this report will be immensely valuable to helping deal with the “what if’s, grow your business value, enjoy it more, and create more time for you and your family while creating an almost “stress-free” life with tremendous financial freedom in the future.  Oh yes! NO TAXES EITHER!    Visit www.yourbusinessworth.com  to learn more! 

FOR A 7 MINUTE VIDEO


[i] Paul Hood: “Buy and Sell Agreements- the last will and testament for business owners”.  Paul discusses his check off list, and his “fire drill”.  I am an advocate for these systems to make sure the buy and sell agreement is a perfect of a fit to the entity and owners as possible. 

Issues Of A Growing Company

This is a case study about   a company that did not have a buy and sell agreement in place.  The business has grown substantially.  The owners were concerned about the growth of the company, sacrificing larger salaries to invest and grow their business. 

The accountant recognized that there was a problem if there was a termination of a partner, and referred me to his clients to help educate  them on estate and business planning, and also to help them design a buy and sell agreement.   

Scenario:  

Bill and Sam started a very successful manufacturing company.  They produced the assemblies for hard drives. 

They are a C corporation and have scaled tahe business from four full time workers to about 34 employees. Their client base has grown from just a few to a few dozen over the years. 

One Page Issue(s) (With our team we identified these issues)

  1. The business has never been appraised so there is a question of the value of the company and estate.  
  2. Both partners have families and larger personal liabilities than when they started. 
  3. They have invested their earnings into the business and don’t have a retirement plan.
  4. They don’t have a binding buy and sell agreement, nor a method of funding the liability. 
  5. The owners are expecting the exemption credit to lower which will expose them to death taxes.
  6. Neither partner has done any estate planning, other than simple wills. 
  7. Retaining the key person in the firm who has the relationship with the customers, vendors and key contacts. Because he basically runs the company, the owners take a lot of time off.  They are concerned that the competition may try to recruit him.  If lost, it would have a major impact on the company.

Major issues and immediate concerns: 

  1. Potential fire sale of the firm if there is not a “planned design for buyout
  2. Uncertainty and instability for the employees, especially the key people in the firm.
  3. The possibility of the deceased partners family running the business with the surviving partner, leading to inexperienced leadership. 
  4. Lack of liquity to pay the taxes assessed on the value of the business and other administration costs. Without the valuation, it was a best guess estimate, jeopardizing accurate estate planning. 
  5. Business valuation disagreements, especially IRS litigation. 
  6. Lack of market for the business.
  7. The loss of income for the family.
  8. Lending from the banks could be cut off after the death of one of the owners. No  assurances that loans would be immediately available upon an owners termination. A concern that any new loans in the future may have convenants that credit lines would be redeemed upon a partners termination unless there was a valid buy and sell agreement. 
  9. Stress on the business’ cash flow or credit line  as a result of the surviving owner trying to purchase the deceased partner’s share. 
  10. The possibility of losing their key person to a competitor would be a significant loss to the firm.

One Page Solution

The most critical issues to solve now : 

  • Complete a Buy and Sell Agreement with funding/ both life insurance and disability insurance
  • A Certified appraisal to be done
  • Create strategies to keep the key person with the company
  • Start the process of personal estate planning for each partner

 There were other issues, but we all felt the buy and sell agreement was the most important at this point. 

One Page Solutions For Buy and Sell Agreement: 

  • Cross purchase buy and sell agreement funded with cross owned permanent life insurance
  • The insureds were about the same age
  • They were  both in great health
  • Premiums were about equal in cost, and the corporation would bonus the premium to the owners
  • Since the owners willl sell in the future, having the increased stepped up in basis would save taxes, as the partners plan on selling in the future.
  • Also wanted the insurance company to define full disability through the contract definition.

One Page Solution FOR KEY PERSON:  

A CEEP for the key person (Corporate Executive Equity Plan); For Key Person

  • Cash Equity for retirement
  • Tax free death benefit for family
  • Limited contribution by employee-basically paid in full by employer
  • Tax-free income at retirement- Will create about $200,000 tax free for 20 years at 66

There was a vesting schedule designed for the employee for 10 years. If he stayed he would have a much richer benefit than his 401k would provide

  • Non-compete, Non-recruiting  and solicitation of  employees of the firm,  and Non-disclosure agreement to be executed by key person

Estate Planning: 

Currently, working with the attorney on new wills, trusts, and an irrevocable trust for life insurance. There are some other things we are considering with real estate owned outside the state, such as LLC, AND inter vious trusts.

Triggers:  In the agreement we established the major triggers: death, disability, termination, retirement, divorce, bankruptcy.  We decided to use a disability income policy to fund that part of the plan.  We also wanted to have the definition of disability decided by the insurance company. 

As we move forward we are reviewing other issues yearly.  Also, forming the team with the attorney, CPA, and others was instrumental in accomplishing the results.  

Receive your Free Business Kit Guide. A Great guide to help you understand some of the business planning issues. CLICK HERE

Reasons They Do Not Have A Transition Plan That Will Be Efficient – Part 2

Over the years, my experience with many owners I have found a major conflict with owners is the working in their business vs. working on their business. It is extremely hard for many business owners to make changes and spend the necessary time. I have a book called “Unlocking Your Business DNA”, which discusses the personal tragedy of not having the proper planning.  

FOR A FREE EBOOK; REQUEST UNLOCKING YOUR BUSINESS DNA 

I have heard the stories from “I will live a long life”- “I need to work and won’t retire” “No one can do this like I can”   

Four possibilities of leaving your business:  

  1. Death (that includes dropping dead at your desk) 
  1. Disability 
  1. Retirement 
  1. Cannot do it any longer 

By not planning, the owner may find themselves receiving much less for the business, walking away without any value, or just die working at their “bench.” 

Because of this one reason, we developed the two hour a month planning process, called:  THE ONE PAGE PLANNING PROGRAM.   

The Owner AND Their Issues:  What is important for the owner is to have a personal retirement and estate plan to define their future needs. Do they want to stay active in the business even when retired? Will they have enough money for retirement? Will they have estate tax exposure. Do they have the proper estate documents? Do they have someone to sell the business too? How much will they have to sell their business for to net the amount of assets needed to provide their financial security? 

Owner Issues 

  • Financial Security 
  • Wealth Preservation and transferring the business with as little taxes as possible.  

The Family: What is the status of the family relationships in the business? Do any of the family members depend on the business for income?  Do they own stock? Are they in agreement with the proposed succession?  Are their careers involved with the business? 

Key Issues for family  

  • Compensation among family members in the business?  
  • Inheritance among family members?  
  • Management of family business, who is involved?  

The Company. 

  • What are the assets in the business? What is the value of the assets? What is the value of the business?  
  • Has the company been appraised in the last few years? 
  • Is the buy and sell agreement in force-signed and dated?  
  • Does there need to be more formality in the governance of the structure? 
  • Has there been a systematic attempt to enhance business value drivers over the years? 
  • What is the structure to get earnings out on a tax advantage structure?  
  • Who will be the leader of the company, and will there be a change in ownership? 

The Succession Plan 

  • Business Situation and questions when thinking about succession. 
  • How are you getting earnings out of the company on a tax advantaged structure?  
  • Have you considered the leadership and owner issues to be addressed?  
  • Each entity structure has advantages and disadvantages, and each should be looked at carefully when considering your future status as you transition? 

FOR A FREE EBOOK; REQUEST UNLOCKING YOUR BUSINESS DNA 

The Challenges Of Developing A Transition Plan For Small Business Owners- Part 1 of 2!

Many small business owners do not have a plan for the transition of their business. A survey taken a few years ago suggested that only 30% of the small business owners had a transition plan. Out of the 30%, only 50% had a plan in writing. Of those plans, there is no way of telling if they were set up correctly, outdated, or even funded, considering the changing of the business status.  

 Options available for business owners for the transition of their business:  

A structured succession plan would enable the business owner to achieve their personal financial goals as its primary function, which would be to create a satisfactory income, and security for their future. 

A second goal would be to maximize the greatest potential value for the business, which would help the owner with their financial needs in the future, such as retirement.  

Another goal would be the long-term growth and the survival of the business to support family members for the future, key employees, or if the owner wishes to remain attached to the business, as a passive owner.  

One of the key issues is to make sure the business owner has control of the process and has defined the timing of any transition in the future.  

For example, if the owner wants to retire in five years, they must make sure they have implemented proper value drivers to maximize the company value.  Some value drivers take longer than others, such as building the next level management key group. This is the group that may wish to purchase the business at some point or run it for the owner.  

By not implementing this strategy early, the owner may be forced to delay the sale of the business until the strategy is developed, consequently jeopardizing their retirement plans.    

If the business is to be sold outright, there needs to be other quality value drivers working for the business owner to maximize the potential sales price.  

Overall, by not having a succession plan, and awareness of what value drivers need to be implemented, the owner risks not achieving the highest potential value for the business while weakening the ability to time and control their transition from the business.   

 Problems of not having a solid transition plan:  

  • Family equity issues 
  • Income and estate tax exposure 
  • Risk not creating the culture of retaining key persons and family members 
  • Uncertainty for people who have a stake in the company (investors, family members, long-term employee, as an example) 

For small privately help businesses, a succession plan is very personal, and cannot be a template program, as every company is unique, and the owners’ situations are very different. 

The key to a successful transition is having a solid plan which has an orderly process and is tax efficient.   

LEARN THE FOUR WHAT IF QUESTIONS EACH BUSINESS OWNER HAS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM BY REQUESTING THE WHITE PAPER:  CHAOS-THE BIG STORY; REPORT #4.  

10 Questions Every Business Owner Should Know Know!

  1. What strategies are you using to make sure you will grow your business to the maximum value it can grow to.  
  1. What are you doing to make sure you have a key group, culture, and a method to keep them with you for the future?  
  1. What makes you think you are taking advantage of all the benefits available to use in your company that would help, you, your company, and your family on a tax-effective basis.  
  1. How will you extract the greatest potential value of your business upon your death, disability, or retirement (the three major reasons you will have to leave your business)?  
  1. What ideas and strategies have your accountants and attorneys given you in the last three years that has made a significant difference in your growth of the business? 
  1. If you died tonight, who would own your business? And are you sure that is true? 
  1. Make makes you sure that your key people will not leave you? And if they do, what makes you think that they will not go to your competitor, start their own business, and/or reveal your business secrets the competition. 
  1. What makes you believe your key people would not steal your employees, and clients, if they decided to set up shop across the street from you? 
  1. When was the last time “all your advisors” sat in the same room for the morning and talked about your goals, and what is the best advice they could give you to create more growth and better business? 
  1. How would your spouse know what all the passwords needed to open your computer accounts, would she know where the key to the front door of your office is, if you died last night?  

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