Business Owners Essential Planning Tools! Part 2!

Good planning can often begin with owners transferring ownership interest to family members, without giving up control of the business. This type of planning sets the stage for the future passing of the baton and can be highly effective.

The long-term plan of business transition can also focus on who can run the business operations once the senior guard leaves the business. Just because a family member has worked in the business, it does not mean they can run the business effectively.

Business Transition And Succession Planning requires many years to develop the right plan. It starts with finding the right employees to train for the job, and the right people to run the business (this includes family succession situations).  

I have found that “Passive Ownership” can be a particularly good possibility for many business owners. They stay in control and slowly give away the duties over time while running the business, but at the same time slowly disengaging from the business. It gives them time to help prepare the junior successor for the job.

The procedure for “Transition Planning” is critical for a long-lasting understanding amongst the family members, both in and out of the business. Without clear communication to the family members, conflict and bad feelings may occur. 

Business Succession Planning  (Click to receive full report and guide; R-1)

  • What would happen to the business if one of the partners died? 
    • Who will buy your interest in the business?
    • Will the company, shareholders, or the heirs keep the right to own the shares. Are the party’s mandated to buy your shares? 
    • Where will the capital to buy the shares come from? 
    • Do you want the deceased shareholders/beneficiaries to have the choice to run the business? 
    • What is the funding mechanism to buy the business? 
    • How is the life insurance structured to help fund the purchase price?
    • Is the same true for a disability? If so, what is the definition of a disability to trigger the sale. Is the disability funded?
    • What are the rules if a partner wants to sell to a 3rd party? 
    • Is there a “put” right; to have the company buy the shares of a disputed share holder? 
    • What are doing concerning incentives to key employees?
    • How are you supporting retirement through the company? 
    • What are you providing in executive compensation to the key people active owners, and officers of the business?

There are many more questions that need to be answered. The elements of your business succession plan will normally be in your business succession agreement and incorporated in the operating or stockholder’s agreement.

CLICK TO Request our Full White Paper and Business Guide Free request (R-1)

Operating Agreement:  

An agreement which regulates the company and manages the relationships between the members of the company.

Buy-Sell Agreement

An agreement between the business owners to buy and sell interest in the business at a specified price upon a “triggering event”, such as death, disability, divorce, voluntary withdrawal, non-voluntary withdrawal, bankruptcy, and retirement.

This document is important and serves to obtain a fair price for the stockholder and a path for a smooth transition for the parties involved.

Type of Buy and Sell agreements:

  • Cross purchase: This is between stockholders to buy departing stockholder’s shares
  • Redemption agreement:  The entity (business) buys the shares
  • Hybrid/ a combination of above: A “wait and see buy and sell[1]

Provisions in the buy and sell agreement

The sale price of the departing owners’ interest and how it will be paid

  • Installment
  • Sinking fund
  • Cash 
  • Life insurance[2]

Other Methods To Transfer Property:

Although the buy and sell agreement is an effective method to transfer property, other methods, such as ESOPs, compensation plans, and pension plans have a place in funding.

There are other areas and issues in your business planning that need to be addressed at some point and redefined over time.

The valuation of your company should be done by a qualified and certified appraiser. Business owners seem to think they know the value of their business, however, in more cases than not, they are incorrect.

Having A Team Of Financial Experts Will Help You Plan Your Business And Your Estate.

My suggestion is to create a team of advisors who can meet periodically and report on the status of the business to the “team”.

I have found this to be a valuable tool as everyone gets on the same page in the planning process and understands what the owner wishes to accomplish. 

Over the years I have created the team consisting of the CPA, attorney, banker, investment, insurance and other professionals who come together and review what the status of the planning is up to that point for the business owner. Normally, the team consists of the professionals who have a relationship with the business owner and are currently doing planning for them. Unfortunately, each professional has their own agenda, and rarely knows what the other professional are doing for the business owner.,

In most cases this is the first time the advisors have communicated with each other. I have always thought this was in the best interest of the business owner and was prudent to use these resources. Putting the business owners’ advisors in the same room once a year could be the best planning strategy, they can employ. 

The Bottom-Line Thought

The solutions and strategies are in abundance to solve the issues. The problem is defining what the owner wants in their plan.

CLICK TO Request our Full White Paper and Business Guide Free (CODE R-1)


[1] A combination of the redemption and the cross purchase. Usually, the stockholder or trust owns the life insurance on the partners.  Normally driven by tax issues and positioning.   

[2] Life insurance is normally the least expensive way of funding the death benefit when compared to alternatives. The life insurance can also play a role in providing funds to help stockholders purchase interest in the company. 

Business Owners Essential Part 1 Of 2

Introduction 

As professional planners, one of the most important services we can do for business owners, is to communicate to them the importance of the planning of their personal and business   assets in a coordinated effort.   My experienced is that business owners are so focused on running their businesses, they tend to neglect many parts of their personal financial objectives.     When you break it down, they have the same financial problems as individuals with the additional and complex areas of business transition and succession.    The purpose of this white paper is to discuss the various elements of their financial planning and highlight some of the critical areas.  “Key Essentials Elements” are financial areas which cannot be neglected. If the key essentials are neglected, owners are destined to financial failure, no matter how hard they work in their business, they will have a financial failure, with few exceptions.   

Many laws come out of Washington, which are relentless and never ending. There is no mercy for the taxpayer as the game keeps changing from one administration to another. Most tax policies change over time as new administrations are voted in. Consequently, taxpayers are always planning to maneuver around the tax changes to help avoid a financial disaster.  

A perfect example is the current estate and gift tax exemption which will sunset in 2025.   This will require more extensive planning, even though taxpayers have updated their estates and paid huge fees, when the exemptions were changed some years ago.  The reality is laws change all the time and taxpayers can either change with them or do nothing and face the consequences, leading to financial conundrum.     

A well-designed estate plan will consist of both the estate and business planning.   The business plan would not only consider business growth and distribution, but also, the ultimate transition and succession of the business, due to an event such as your death, disability, or retirement. 

Basic Planning documents:   

Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Disposition of Remains Appointment (DORA), and Will. 

The use of a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) can be used, as opposed to a Will, for estate disposition. The RLT is a valuable tool. Assets are transferred into the trust and titled in the name of the trust.  The Grantor creates the trust, and is normally a co-trustee, keeping asset control.   The trust creates successive trustees to manage the assets in the event of your incapacity.  

A Limited Liability Company is an additional tool which may be used, in the context of your business.  

Advanced Directives Business Powers of Attorney:  

These documents deal with the unexpected disability, illness, or incapacity. It only makes sense that you should have these documents in place since the odds are great that you could have a long-term disability before age 65, and the odds only increase after that age.  

Request our Full White Paper and Business Guide Free 

Power of attorney (POA):  

This document names an agent(s) to manage financial affairs if one becomes incapacitated. Fiduciaries act on your behalf. They are called an “Attorney in-Fact”, and they manage financial decisions and transact business on your behalf. It is possible to have two separate power of attorney documents. One for your business, and one for your personal property. You can also appoint different people for each POA document. This makes sense because your personal representative may not have the business sense and experience to deal with some of the tasks needed when dealing with your busines affairs.  

The POA can be effective all the time or can be effective only under certain situations. This is called a “Springing Power of Attorney”.  An example of this is when the POA only springs into effectiveness when a doctor signs off on your incapacity to deal with your affairs. The person in that role should be aware of this.  

The purpose of the POA is to avoid costly and complicated court appointed guardians which is the procedure when there is no POA, and when someone is considered incapacitated. Since it is in place when executed, there is no delay upon the incapacity of an individual.  

Health care Proxy (HCP)/ also referred to Living Will.  

This appoints someone to make health care decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. Disposition of Remains Appointment (DORA): Provides a way to appoint, in writing, someone who shall control one’s final arrangements.  

WILL:  

The Will is to provide instructions on how your assets are to be distributed amongst your beneficiaries. A Will does the following:  

  • Outlines your distribution wishes- specific gifts of tangible personal property 
  • How your business is to be continued or distributed 
  • Names executive(trix) or personal representative responsible for probate accounting and filing, tax liabilities and the payment of them, and the disposition of the balance of your assets 
  • Appoints guardianships 
  • Establishes trusts to protect assets 

The Will specifies instructions regarding your intentions of the business; sold, liquidated, continue.   If your intention is to continue the business, your Will has instructions to do so. It would refer to any operating or buy-sell agreement if they exist.  

Through your Will you can establish a Testamentary Trust that will direct that your assets are managed and distributed based on your specific wishes. Assets can be managed for family members and distributed at the times you specify.  

For example, if you wanted certain property to go to certain members of your family, you can direct that. You can also preserve the principal of your assets for your children should your spouse remarry.  

Revocable Living Trust (RLT) 

A RLT can control your assets during your life and after your death. Once a RLT is set up you would transfer the title of your assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance, etc.) to the trust. You would then become of the trustee of the trust. This gives you complete control of the trust assets, and the trust. The RLT is not irrevocable until your death. You can change it anytime or collapse it if you wish. Property is not tied up in the trust, as you can change the title back to yourself in the future.  

At your death, there are no assets in your name, so, no probate. The successor trustee will gain control of your assets to distribute them according to your exact instructions. At your death assets will go directly to your heirs. No probate, so, lower estate administration costs, and no court delay in distributing your assets to your heirs.  

Along with the issue of distribution, the trustee will ensure continuity of assets management during a period of incapacity.  

Limited Liability Company.  

There are several advantages to using an LLC in the context of estate planning. 

  • Enables you to preserve significant control and management while reducing your estate costs 
  • Ability to transfer assets to family members, tax efficiently 
  • Can create significant valuation discounts using limited liability interests 
  • More income tax savings compared to estates and the double taxation of a C corporation 
  • No limit of number of shareholders   
  • No limit on the types of entities the interest of the LLC can hold 

Business Succession Planning  

The challenge of a business transition upon the death, disability, or retirement of the owner(s), is will the business survive?  This requires long term constant planning. Admittedly, transition planning is one of the of the most complex challenges in business and estate planning.  

Objectives:  

  1. Income for business owner’s retirement 
  1. Maximum but fair price for share of business 
  1. Smooth Transition 
  1. Could include compensation for family members in and out of the business  

Major Challenges 

  • Retirement for owners/income 
  • Reduction and payment of estate/State taxes 
  • Creating liquidity for the transition and new ownership 
  • Creating a formal business succession plan 
  • Family ownership and non-family ownership needs, communicated 

To be continued in Part 2 

Request our Full White Paper and Business Guide Free 

Life Insurance USES For Business Owners! The Uses of Permanent and Term Life Insurance!

In my very long career as a professional advisor and insurance agent, there were many occasions when I worked with CPA’s, and attorneys that were misinformed about the type of life insurance that would be appropriate in certain situations in a business arrangement.  

Many times, I found that the advisors were basing their opinions more on their personal feelings rather than the actual case fact pattern.  In most cases, when I explained to them the long-term nature of the need, or even the short-term nature, they had a better understanding of the situation, excepting my suggestion of the type of coverage to be used.    

I do believe in term insurance and that it has a place. I have used it over the years in situations where we felt the insurance benefit was only needed for an ascertainable period.   An example would be to fund a liability in a company where the company is new and does not have the cash flow to pay the larger permanent coverage.   

Another area would be when the need is temporary, such as a short-term bank loan, or an outstanding company loan.     

I have experienced clients purchasing term insurance because the premiums were very low, at least for that time frame.  I have had clients tell me they would buy term and invest the difference.  They don’t invest the difference.  They wake up one morning only to realize the term insurance started to increase in premium at an unsustainable rate to pay, and the client still needs the coverage.  Oh, yea, they didn’t invest the difference. Trust me on this, they never do.   

As a side: Term insurance was designed not to be in force when the insured dies. Insurance companies make a lot of money on term insurance because they know the policy will not be in force when the insured dies (based on their mortality data).   

Term insurance was designed to do one thing. Cover the capital liability for the period which the liability will exist.  

Now that that is out of the way, let me review some areas where permanent insurance works, and in many cases works better than any other financial vehicle.   

Business Succession:   

Many times, when I review the Business Succession Document, I find that the life insurance does not correspond to what the agreement says. Either the life insurance is underfunded, lapsed, or will be terminating soon, as it was term insurance.   

In this case permanent life insurance would have been the best solution as it has double duty dollars.  It would fund the death of an owner, help fund the retirement of an owner, or help should the owner become ill, help with income when needed.   Until the business owner transitions his position; the insurance would be needed.  This could be for many years. 

Example:  Sole Proprietor 

Many sole proprietors will tell you they don’t have a market for their business.  In essence they have a job, not a business.  However, through insurance planning, they could create a market.  For the cost of 1-3% of what the business owner feels their business is worth, there is a ready market.  At the owner’s death, the life insurance company (for 1-3% of capital), will step in and pay the family the value of the business, with tax-free dollars.   

The family also can sell the business assets without a fire sale.  Even if they sell it for pennies on the dollar, they made out better than without having the life insurance.  In this way, the business owner can keep the family in the lifestyle they have become accustomed too.  

If set up correctly, the sole proprietor could have paid the premiums through the business check book. Depending on the business structure, the premiums would be taxable to the owner, however, the cash flow comes from the business.  If the sole owner was a C Corp, they could have used split dollar and paid the taxes on the economic benefit, or the taxes on the loan regime. Either way it would have been a less expensive way of providing the market value for the company, while making sure the family received the business value, tax-free.   

This is an example of where permanent coverage is the best.  The owner of the business can also have a plan that will pay them a retirement income from the policy, while they are trying to sell the business.  An example of double duty dollars.    

The life insurance also has triple duty dollars as it can be used to help fund the costs of estate taxes, probate and settlement costs at the business owner’s death.  

PROFIT  PROTECTION 

 Most profitable organizations have key persons and key groups.  They are the people who if they didn’t come to work tomorrow, would have a negative effect on the earnings of the company.   

Once you define them, insuring them will protect your profit center.  Not only will you protect you earning and profits, but the insurance would also create new tax-free dollars at a key person’s death.  

The benefit will help the owner:  

  •  Find a replacement for your key person 
  • Fund the “usually the first one doesn’t work cost”, search for the key position and person 
  • Absorb the period where no profits are being generated by the new key person(s), for the period of the learning and adjustment period 
  • Create benefit where you can lower or eliminate turnover with your key person group 

There are “double duty dollars” using permanent life insurance.  Not only are you protecting your profits from a loss, and the cost of capital to replace, but you can also use the life insurance as an executive benefit to keep the key person from leaving the company.  The cash values of the policy can create a very rich tax-effective retirement benefit on top of the normal retirement plan.   

You can create a benefit with vesting schedules and restrictions which give the owner control over the cash values and create a benefit where you are rewarding the key person(s) with a very high retirement benefit if they stay.  This type of benefit is very effective in lowering turnover of your key people.  A salary, bonus is forgotten and expected, however, a special key person benefit is substantial and hard to walk away from.   

This again is another area where permanent life insurance works, and where term does not. 

Golden Handcuffs 

In many small companies there are key groups that are the major reason for the profits.   They know the company, know how things work, and in many cases act like an owner of the company.  They are the group that create the profits, allow the owner to live a nice lifestyle and allow the owner to come and go as they wish.   

These are the people you want to keep for life!  However, they are well known. The competition knows them very well.  Not surprisingly, the competition makes it a point to meet them when they can, such as at trade shows, industry meeting, and gatherings, hoping to test the waters to see if they can sway them away with some type of financial offer.   

They are that good, and if your competition could sweep them away from you, the owners world would change overnight.   

 THE GOLDEND HANDCUFFS  

To keep this key person or group, you need to create something they can’t afford to walk away from. A benefit so good, that even your competition would find it hard to offer to them. This is all possible by using the proper permanent life insurance policy, and the combination of well-established tax law.   

Over the years I have done many comparisons using mutual funds, annuities, stock, and company earnings, but nothing compares to the combination of a permanent life insurance policy and the tax law which allow this type of benefit.   

Using “Golden Handcuff” programs allow you to write the rules, have a vesting schedule, recover your costs, take tax deductions, and other design flexibilities.    

 By using the leverage of the tax code, and life insurance tax code, you can create a non-walkaway benefit for your profit center.   

Example:  We just finished a plan, where the key person will walk away with a substantial income at retirement.  The employee’s cost was less than $266 a year.  The employee received a large deduction and had complete control of the funds until the employee retired.  The employee would have to make over 40% ROI on his contribution to the plan in order to receive the benefits he will be receiving.   

Not only will the employee have a great retirement benefit, if he died prior to retirement, his family would have received $74,500 tax free for the next 10 years.   

As you can see, there are some very good uses of permanent life insurance, and in many cases the best and most economical solution.   

A Tax-deductible Life Insurance Plan 

One area that many small business owners are not aware of is section 412(I), where owners can design having a life insurance policy with 100% tax deductible premiums.  Normally, this is a plan that works very well with small companies and a few employees.  Again, another area where permanent life insurance works the best.