Life Insurance Proceeds In Business Valuations

If life insurance proceeds are considered as the funding vehicle, then the proceeds of the policy received following the death of a shareholder would not be considered a corporate asset for valuation purposes.(1)

It would be recognized that it was purchased for a specific purpose of funding the buy-sell agreement (BSA). IF it were considered a corporate asset, it would offset the company’s liability to fund the purchase of shares, added back as a non- recurring expense.

Treatment 1: (used as a funding vehicle, not a company asset)

Example: A company with a $10m value, has two shareholders, owning 50% of the company. The company holds a $6m life insurance policy on each owner (assuming no alternative minimum tax issues).

RESULTS: At Shareholder #1’s death, the company collects $6m of life insurance benefits. The surviving partner will receive $10m company value, and $1m of net tax-free proceeds, a total of $11m value. The deceased stockholder receives the $5m for the business.

Treatment 2: (A corporate asset)

Treating the life insurance as corporate assets for valuation purposes.

The proceeds are treated as a non-operating asset of the company. This asset along with other net assets, would be available to fund the purchase the of shares the of a deceased shareholder. Keep in mind that the expense of the deceased stockholder might be added back into income as a nonrecurring expense.  (2)

The treatment type can have a significant effect on the net position of a company or selling shareholder. There is also an affect in the ability of the company to purchase the shares of the deceased stockholder, and impact of the position of the remaining shareholders.

Company $10m, before $6m of life insurance. When you add the $6m into the value, the company value is $16m. The deceased shareholder entitled to $8m, the company pays $6m in life insurance proceeds and takes out $2m in promissory note.

RESULTS: The surviving owner, owns a company with 8 million and a note of $2 million.

Which treatment is fair? One owner ends us with $11m while the deceased owner, ends up with $5m. In treatment 2, the surviving owner has to carry a $2m debt to purchase the business. Two dramatic differences. A good reason, why the discussion should take place with your advisors.

More importantly, all parties should understand the ramifications of adding the life insurance proceeds in the valuation or using the life insurance as a specific vehicle to fund the BSA.

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1. Mercer: buy and sell agreements for boomers

2. Non-reoccurring expenses: Non-reoccurring expenses can be somewhat more complex. These are expenses which is  specifically  designated on the company’s financial statements as an extra ordinary or one time expense.  The company does not expect to continue the expense overtime, at least not on a regular basis. Non-reoccurring expenses can be somewhat more complex. 

The Interplay Between the Funding Mechanism And the Valuation? 

What happens when life insurance proceeds are part of the funding vehicle of a buy and sell agreement (BSA).    

 Example 

 When a stockholder owner dies and life insurance payments are made, is the valuation of the stock being redeemed as part of the value of the company?   

The way life insurance benefits are treated in the buy and sell agreement (BSA), could lead to different estate treatment and income tax.    In both areas, the results can be dramatic.     

 Does the agreement tell the appraisers how to treat the life insurance benefits in their valuationDoes the agreement provide for the company to issue a promissory note to a deceased shareholder, and what are the terms? 

 Keep in mind, the agreement is no better than the ability of the parties and/or the company to fund any required purchases at the agreed upon price.    An agreement that is silent on this issue is like not having an agreement.  

 Life insurance  

 Generally, life insurance premiums are not deductible, and the pass through of non-deductibility can create pass-through income for the shareholders of S corporations, and the owners of partnerships and limited liability companies.  Knowing how to treat the life insurance premium for tax purposes would be important information for you.  We suggest you discuss this with your CPA.  

 Although the life insurance premium is not deductible, the death benefits generally are tax- free, notwithstanding the alternate minimum tax treatment for C corps.  

Keep in mind the funding mechanism is not actually necessary to define the engagement for valuation purposes and has nothing to do with appraisal standards or qualifications. It provides the funding for the company to afford the value, and to make sure the selling stockholder receives the value.  In essence, it’s the mechanism to fund the liability of the contract, or at least part of it.   

Wants and Needs of the Buyer and the Seller- The normal push and pull!  

The seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants the lowest price.   Without a doubt the best time to set the price would be prior to a triggering event, when both parties are in parity and neither is the subject of the trigger.  It is the best time when both parties will be the most reasonable in setting the rules of the agreements as they are both fair minded in the negotiations.   

 Funding Methods 

  1. Life InsuranceIn most cases life insurance will be the most inexpensive method for funding the death benefit part of the agreement, when comparing, self funding, and loans (including corporate promissory notes) to fund the liability, notwithstanding the ability to get a funding loan from a loaning institution.    In most of the comparisons I have done over the years, life insurance is the least expensive, most guaranteed, and the easiest method of funding for death benefit purposes. 
  1. Corporate Assets: They would have to be accumulated for this purpose, and would likely be included in the valuation, and also would be subjected to taxes during the accumulation stageWhat if the death of the stockholder occurred early after the agreement?  Would there be funds available to fund the liability of the agreement, as there would be a lack of time to accumulate the necessary net profits for the funding?   
  1. External borrowing: Depending on the company’s financial position, it may be possible to fund the purchase price by borrowing.  However, this should be negotiated in advance and before its needed.  Remember, the time to requests funds from an institution is when you don’t need them.  Also, on the other side of this funding element, is the possibility the loan covenant requesting the outstanding note balanced to be called in when there is a dramatic change in ownership and management.    The lending institution may be questioning the ability of the company’s future financial position and the ability to stay profitable.   
  1. Promissory Notes:  If this is going to be used, the terms of the notes should be in the agreement.  Although cash payments are preferable to the seller.   
  1. Combination of cash and promissory notes: Important to note:  Anytime capital is being used by the corporation, it is important not to unreasonably impair the capital of the business. Many state laws prohibit transactions that could impair capital and raise the question of insolvency.  

Without the mention of what funding mechanism is being used in the agreement to repurchase shares, lessens the value of the agreement.  Also, with stated funding, the economic or present value of the redemption price set by the agreement can significantly be reduced, because of inadequate interest or excessive risk leveled on the selling shareholder.   

  

Weak terms in the agreement of the funding mechanism diminishes the value of the agreement from the sellers prospective. However, terms that are too strong can taint the future transactions. What is clear is that it is essential for the parties to discuss the funding mechanism for the triggers of a BSA, keeping in mind both the sellers value position and the purchaser’s ability to fund the costs. 

Creating Cash Flow In Your Business

Selling your business to a key employee, or a group of employees.

Assuming that all of the purchase price is to come from the key employee (s), you can help the purchase, by (a) using a stock dividend distribution, or (b) bonus of money to the employ, such as a bonus executive program.  (See Restricted bonus agreement). 

It is important that the company have consistent cash flow, (discretionary cash flow;) to use for this purpose.  (This is the cash generated by the company which is not needed to run the operations, for debt service or capitalization of the business).

Planning for the sale of the stock to insiders, and cash flow; 

It is important to have a accurate idea of the yearly cash flow.  For example, if the discretionary cash flow is $1 million a year. You might commit 10% of the company, or $100,000 a year to help pay for stock.  Continue reading “Creating Cash Flow In Your Business”

Key group wants to buy your business, but do they have skin in the game?

When considering the transfer of stock to a key employee, or a group of key employees, (referred to Key group), you need to determine how much they want to be involved in the company, and the risk they are willing to take in the future of the company.

In Tier One of the purchase, the key group will purchase stock.  They purchase stock from future salary, financing, or from future cash flow in the form of dividend payouts.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for the owner to want to see the purchasing employee put some skin in the game.  Seeing the employee be committed allows the employer to consider future financial programs to help the employee purchase the balance of the stock under Tier 2 (the selling of the balance of the stock). 

The owner in most cases will look at the bottom line what they want in the end and the financial capabilities of the key employee.  Smaller employees will try to make it easier for the key person to purchase the stock.  Using a bonus plan to help them buy the stock can be a very useful tool for both parties.  The employer gets a tax deduction, while the employee has additional funds to purchase equity in the company.

Using lower valuation for a better cash flow when business is sold Continue reading “Key group wants to buy your business, but do they have skin in the game?”

The Small Issues Which Business Owners Need To Know About!

The Small Issues Which Business Owners Need To Know About!

When working with business owners, it is important to communicate many of the overlooked issues which may blindside them and cause disaster in their financial future.

Small issues turn into major problems bringing with them costly consequences. Many of them are obvious, and can be game changers in your future.

Whether you are an advisor or a business owner, some of the ideas I put forth will help you communicate these overlooked issues.

Estate Planning

I am sure if you asked 10 people to describe what estate planning is in one sentence, you would get 10 different answers.

At one time most advisors and business owners  would suggest that estate planning is about reducing taxes.  However, I would disagree that estate planning is just  about paying death taxes and mitigating estate costs.

To me, estate planning consists of three phases, creation, preservation, and distribution.  Each of the phases is distinct in and of themselves.

Creation is the concept of money, and accumulating.  Implementing strategies, which allow estate owners to create wealth, and avoid losing wealth by making financial mistakes.

Preservation is about protecting what you have from, inflation, lawsuits, expenses, and taxes. 

Distribution is the orderly distribution to your heirs.  It also is   a phase where the estate owner can distribute wealth to certain beneficiaries, at the least cost possible.

DORIS DAY:  THE EXAMPLE

Doris Day’s husband died in his 60’s.  He had taken care of all the financial areas of their life.    After his death, Doris Day did not know what she had, or what she owed.  The net result was she ended up owing a fortune to the IRS, in income and estate taxes.

Business owners not only have needs as business owners, but also have needs as individuals. Consequently, it’s not only the business planning that needs attention, but also a coordination of their personal situation.     In many situations, the owner’s planning is more complex because of the business ownership.

Continue reading “The Small Issues Which Business Owners Need To Know About!”

Transferring A Business To Insiders

Selling your business is an important financial transaction that requires a well developed exit strategy. Many owners view their business as much more than an asset. They’ve poured their hearts and souls into it. Maintaining the established business culture motivates them to sell to insiders. In fact, 95% of all sale transactions involve insiders, who may include co-owners, family members, managers and key employees. The insider group that is buying the business is called a key employee group (KEG).

There are four ways to transfer a business to insiders: Continue reading “Transferring A Business To Insiders”

What If I Want to Recruit a Key Employee?

The objectives of recruiting a key executive from the marketplace are to make your business more profitable, to grow the company and / or to bring talent to your business that does not currently exist. You must design incentive plans that achieve those goals.

You will always be a slave to your business unless you have capable management in place to run the business when you are not there. If you someday hope to sell your business to an outside buyer, you will need to have solid managers in place to get serious consideration from an outside buyer. As is the case with most companies, the management team could someday become your buyers. If you want to transfer your business to your children, you will need key employees in place to assist them with the transition.

In order to attract the right person to your company, you must offer them an incentive plan that rewards them for efforts that increase the value / profitability of your business.

You should pay a key employee for projects that they initiate. This could be an additional six percent or more of their base pay. When this key employee has a positive effect on the rest of the management team, pay them a bonus based upon that influence. This could be 10 – 20 percent of their base.

When hiring for key management, we find that most compensation packages combine base and incentives. Determine the incentive on the company’s growth once that employee joins you. Decide how much you are willing to pay the right employee and then back into that figure.

Continue reading “What If I Want to Recruit a Key Employee?”

What If I Want A No-Sell Buy / Sell!

There are business partners who at their death, want their family to continue to own their shares even though the family member will not be actively involved with the business.   We see this with businesses that are expected to grow significantly. Each owner wants their family to share in the future growth even if they should die prematurely.

A no-sell buy/sell agreement has a fairly simple structure. The management and the voting stock all remain with the surviving owner. The deceased’s ownership interest remains with his family. We take each owner’s interest in the business and divide into voting and nonvoting stock. Upon the death of one of the owners, the deceased’s voting interest is bought by the surviving owner per the terms of the buy/sell agreement. The non-voting interest of the deceased owner remains with his family. This way, if the business does grow significantly, the family of the deceased will share in the growth. The control of the business remains in the hands of the surviving owner. The family of the deceased owner has non-voting interest in the business only and cannot expect to see any money out of the deal unless, and until, the business is sold. Continue reading “What If I Want A No-Sell Buy / Sell!”

Passive Ownership! My Cake And Eat It Too!

 

One of the options a business owner has to exit their business is to use a Passive Ownership Method.  This allows the business owner to stick around and be involved with the business, but to step away in the daily running of the business.  When done correctly and with planning in advance the owner is fundamentally self-sustaining and does not have to head up the company.  The owner is there to overlook the financial part of the company, much like a mentor. Key people are the self-sustaining element.

Divulge the culture values; sharing the same values as you, and what formed your foundation.  By communicating with your employees what you did in all the areas of growing your business, they will feel a part of it and continue with the same traditions, habits, and ideas which became the business owner’s foundation of success.  This will build a good foundation which will allow the business owner to delegate more of the tasks to others, allowing a self-sustaining company, with a growing management team.  This is the framework that attracts investors to the company, knowing that the traditions and the culture can continue.

Improve cash flow; By increasing cash flow, you create options and markets to buy your business.  For the outside investor, they see a cash flow that will continue without the owner, for the inside buyer, they have the cash flow to purchase the business owner out and complete the purchase of the business over time.  For the passive owner, a good cash flow allows the business to sustain itself, as you enjoy the role of a passive owner; taking out a good salary, paying the key people good salaries, and enjoying life by being a passive owner.  So, how do you create and improve cash flow.  The best way is move cash flow up to the front of the line as a priority.  Having cash flow meetings weekly with your management team will help you with the ideas you need to either increase cash flow through sales, or through expenses attrition. In any event by putting this topic in the front and getting feedback from your management team regularly, you will be able to come up with great ideas to increase cash flow and profits.  Continue reading “Passive Ownership! My Cake And Eat It Too!”