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.  

If you didn’t think you had to plan- Get ready to in 2022!

Over the years I have observed the inability of many business owners to plan their business and personal estate effectively, for one reason or another. Any excuse doesn’t matter, the bottom line is many (great majority of business owners) don’t have adequate estate and business financial plans. I have often referred to them as “plan by default”, as opposed to a “designed plan”. Guy Baker is were I first heard the terms this way. Very adequate considering the subject.

As you can see in the illustration below, when you consider the exposure of $5 million estate after exemption credits are use, you have the additional loss of the stepped up cost basis. There is a tax ratio of 74% vs. 12% in 2022 if some of the proposals go forth.

Image the business owner who has a high value property which has deferred gain locked in, and the results of that property when at death it is passed to the children?

Here is one of the reasons why business owners should pay attention.

zoom in.

Critical Step Needed To Create An Exit Strategy! Part 1 

Some business owners think that selling their business is a matter of getting an appraisal and putting the business on the market hoping for a good offer.

Many business owners that I have worked with initially assumed they knew the value of their business and what they could sell it for.

Through our education process they realized there is much more to selling their business, then just the establishing a value and then going to market.     One of those factors or variables is whether the business owner needs the business value for their future retirement, most do!

Helping the owner figure out what they need for retirement is critical in establishing what they need to sell their business for, and what action is needed to increase the future value of the business (Value Drivers).  In this article I will cover two of the seven steps that  are the most critical when planning a future exit from the business.

Whether the sale is one year or ten years from now, these are the steps needed to sell  a business.

  1. Must identify the Exit Objectives (why, when, and in some cases who) 
  2. Identify Personal and business financial resources; (this is part of the future financial security of the business owner and their family).  
  3. Maximize and Protect Business Value
  4. Ownership Transfer to Third Parties
  5. Ownership Transfers to Insiders
  6. Business Continuity
  7. Personal Wealth and Estate planning

In this post I will cover steps 1-3, and cover steps 4-7 in the June issue.  

In comprehensive Exit planning, (when you break the process down it looks like this):

Your Exit Objectives

  • Building and preserving business value
  • Selling your company to a third party
  • Transferring your ownership to insiders

Your Business and Personal Financial Resources

  • Business Continuity
  • Personal wealth and estate planning

Owner’s goals and aspirations are

  • Financial Need
  • Overall Goals
  • Value based goals
  • Defining the owner’s goals and aspirations shows the client’s wants and needs and identifies what is  important to the business owner. By spending time collecting this information from the business owner we establish a strong relationship, while differentiating you, and allowing you to be the quarterback of the plan.

Accurate information from the owner is critical to planning.      Calculating what the GAP of resources the owner needs to have in order to supply their future retirement income is critical.  It is here where the measurement of their resources helps to decide what they need to sell their business for, to help fund the gap.    Continue reading “Critical Step Needed To Create An Exit Strategy! Part 1 “

Single Appraiser vs. Multiple Appraiser Choices

This month I wrote about multiple and single Appraiser choice.  My friend Ed Pratesi was nice enough to give me some of his thoughts, which I definitely respect due to his experience and training.   Ed, thank you for this contribution.

Ed Pratesi wrote:

I read with interest your comments on Single Appraiser vs. Multiple Appraiser choices that owners have for a BSA. I agree in part with your assessment that the single appraiser choice is preferred but I do have a number of caveats and suggest that before the number of appraisers needed is secondary to choices made before this decision. Let me explain my thoughts:

Firstly, the choice of number of appraisers almost always works, whether one, two or the three step approach – except when it doesn’t!

Prior to the determination of the number of appraisers needed is preceded by what I refer to as the education process that a business appraiser must take the owners through in order to develop an agreement and a process that will likely be triggered when an unanticipated or unfortunate event has occurred.

In never ceases to amaze me that owners will spend money on creating a business plan, invest in physical assets and talent and not spend enough time on one of the most important events that will occur in their lives – either their exit or a partners exit. My complaint is not pointed at the owners but at the appraiser called in to initially called in to assist in the valuation.

My point simply is the an appraiser needs to explain the valuation process, the valuation methods used to value a business, the applicability or not of the methods to the company, a discussion of the definition of value – (for example fair market value or fair value, more on this in a later discussion), a complete discussion of adjustments that appraiser consider in the valuation process, and what discounts could apply and the reasons for application of discounts.

This part of the valuation process is more consultative and sets the framework for the conduct of an initial appraisal and of the work product. Finally, once the appraisal is complete a meeting to discuss the results and the process is essential and should be prefeaced with scenario planning should a provision of the BSA be triggered.

The goal is to get buy-in on the process not just the number!

I hope I have addressed part of the discussion of the number of appraisers – more to follow if desired…

Ed Pratesi

Edward E. Pratesi, ASA, CM&AA, ABV, CVA

Managing Director | UHY Advisors N.E., LLC
6 Executive Drive, Farmington, CT  06032
D: 860 519 5648 | C: 860 558 0453 | F: 860 519 1982

epratesi@uhy-us.com |  www.uhyvaluation.com

www.linkedin.com/in/ed-pratesi-140b762

 

Single appraiser Buy and Sell Agreement!

An alternative to the multiple appraiser agreement, is the single appraiser agreement (SAA).  There are two single appraisers’ processes. I

  1. Single appraiser, select now and value now
  2. Single appraiser, Select and Value at Trigger Event
  3. Single appraiser, Select Now and Value at trigger event

The preference is #1:

However, #2,3 are stopgap processes which can be used.  As mentioned in both of these types, the value is delayed to sometime in the future. 

Postponement of the appraiser selection and initial valuation create substantial uncertainties and potential for disagreements   or disputes.

The SINGLE APPRAISER, SELECT NOW AND VALUE NOW OPTION

In the BSA, the appraiser is named and is engaged to provide an initial appraisal for purposes of the agreement.

SELECT NOW: At the creation of the BSA, the appraiser is named. All parties have a voice and can exercise their choice as difficult as it may be.

VALUE NOW:  The chosen appraiser provides a baseline appraisal for the purpose of the agreement.  In this method, it is recommended that the value be presented in draft and give each party a time period for consideration before entering it in the final BSA. 

VALUE EACH YEAR (OR TWO) THEREAFTER:  This provides great advantages:[i]

  • Structure and process
  • Known to all parities
  • Selected appraiser is viewed as independent
  • Values are seen before triggering event
  • Since a draft will be provided to the participants, they can review for corrections to the mutual satisfaction
  • The appraiser’s conclusion in known up front and is the price until the next appraisal, or until a trigger event
  • Because the process is exercised at least once, it should go smoothly when employed at trigger events, less time consuming and less expensive than other alternatives

The single valuation process also helps the estate planning process with the annual reappraisals which will facilitate the estate planning objectives of the shareholders. For example, if the planning calls for minority discounts, the supplemental valuations at the not marketable minority level for gift and estate purposes.

[i] This type of valuation process will accommodate most small companies as for many reasons listed above. 

 

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.

——————————

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. 

Why Use Non-Compete Agreements!

Non-compete agreements (NCA) represent a separate agreement. They could be in an employment contract, or as a separate article in a buy and sell agreement. Sometimes they are referred to as Covenants not to complete. “

This is based on the possibility that an employee can do harm to a company upon termination.  They could know sensitive information about the company’s operation, owners and employee’s personal information, special operations, and proprietary information to a competing advantage, along with so much more.

Picture a very long-term employee working side by side with the owners, for many years, and then leaving to work for the owner’s competitor.  Certainly, there can be issues.

No compete agreements (NCA), can be used to retain employees also.   It would be very difficult to change jobs within an industry or profession when the leaving employee is limited to compete in a geographic and specific industry for a period of time.  However, non-compete agreements are hard to enforce, because in many instances the agreement has overreached and is very broad in the definition of industry and geographic coverage.

Continue reading “Why Use Non-Compete Agreements!”

The Major Reason Why Business Owners Don’t Plan For Maximizing Their Business’ Financial Potential Is Now Eliminated!

Many business owners spend the majority of their time running their businesses and inadvertently end up neglecting some of the more important aspects of their business. This is the time where all the details of the success of your business are planned. We call this “working ON your business”.

Business owners can be vulnerable to financial mistakes because of many factors.

One of the key details of a business owner is what happens to their business in the following scenarios:

  1. What happens if I die?
  2. What happens if I become ill, or have a long-term disability?
  3. What happens if I lost my key person, or my key group of employees?
  4. What happens if I can’t control cash flow, or just don’t want to run the business any longer?

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t spend the time working on their business for many reasons.  Many owners think it’s expensive, complicated and very time consuming.

The truth is that by not working on their business, should any of the above scenarios occur, the consequences would be much more expensive, time consuming and potentially devastating.

In our planning practice, we estimate the average time to create a business and estate financial plans for a business owner, is five to ten hours, not including time with attorneys and accountants who are a part of the team.

How does our process work?

Our system is built around planning with the least amount of time needed for the business owner’s time.  To do this we use technology in communication such as phone conferences, video conferences, and audio and video productions to explain our client’s situation.  This allows the business owner to eliminate using work hours for this project.  We can do this technologically with clarity and brevity.  Our plan is focused on brevity for the business owner.

Our Process: 

  1. Viewpoint Meeting: Define what are some of the areas of concern using our Viewpoint System.  This is a 30 minutes conversation.  Our business owners need about ten minutes to prepare using this aid.
  2. “The Selection Meeting”. Once we define the areas of concern, we dig deeper with a 45-minute Selection Meeting. This is where we discuss all of the possible areas where the client may have problems and concerns.
  3. “The Planning Stage” is the longest meeting. This is about 1½ hours.  Prior to the meeting, we send our client material which they can review and prepare on their own time.  This takes them about 20-30 minutes to complete.
  4. The Discovery Meeting is about one hour where we bring together our findings based on their personal situation and discuss which issues and direction of implementation the client may wish to go. Again, our client receives the information to review prior to our Discovery Meeting[i].
  5. Implementation Session: This is where we start implementation needed to solve the issues.  This is the time when all of the client’s advisors work together to get the planning completed.  For example, our findings are discussed with the professional team and look for their advice and suggestions.    Also, this process brings everyone on the team up to date on the business owners’ situation.  This process breeds new ideas and strategies (earlier in the process, I would have been in touch with these advisors between the Discovery and Implementation Meeting). This may be the first time the client has had all of their advisors working together and sharing knowledge about the business owner! 
  6. Semi-Annual or Annual Review:  This is where we move on to the next area of concern; One concern at a time (in some cases, there may be overlapping of concerns and they can be bundled in the planning).  If there are no additional concerns, we review what has been implemented. This is an automatic process, so we are always adjusting as the business situation changes.

For business owners who realize that they need work  on their business, our process can maximize their business’ potential profit, organize them in a timely fashion, and fine-tune them in the future, so they can maximize their “business potential value” when they exit from their business.

[i] We plan for this time, but do not limit this session to a time schedule.

Critical Questions That You Need To Answer If You Own A Business!

Building a business is hard work. Protecting and preserving it is even harder and overlooked by business owners.

While many owners expect family members to take over the business (69%), very few have actually made plans to make sure their wishes are accomplished (26%), even though they realize the importance of estate and succession planning as is an integrated part of that planning.[i]

A succession plan is complex, time consuming and involves attention to details along with many hard questions which need to be answered for a comprehensive and effective succession plan.  It is also the key element in maximizing the return on the investment of your business. This is the big financial payout, the sale of your business.[ii]

SOME MAJOR QUESTIONS AND ISSUES TO ASK YOURSELF!

What if a shareholder wants to sell their interests?

  • Is there a right of refusal for the other owners?
  • What are the financing arrangements?
  • What are the recourses if you fund the buyout especially if the funding is over a long period of time?
  • What is the arrangement if the business fails, how will you get your money if you financed the sale?

 Who steps in your shoes if you want out? 

Not everyone has the luxury of leaving a business when and how they want to.  Things like death, disability, and situations are uncontrollable.

  • What are your contingency plans when a trigger occurs (death, health, non-voluntary situations)?
  • Do other members of the firm have access and authorization to use funds to keep the business going if there is such an event?
  • Does your family take on personal obligations for financial notes and loans you have signed personally to fund your business operation?
  • Do you have estate documents and health care directives, should you have a disability or become incapacitated?

Taxes- and the planning for them Continue reading “Critical Questions That You Need To Answer If You Own A Business!”

The Story! The Cost of Funding Your Buy and Sell Agreement! Options!

The Story! 

The Cost of Funding Your Buy and Sell Agreement! Options!

Over many years I have experienced many business owners in total denial about the cost of funding their buy and sell agreements, thinking they can come up with the liability when the trigger of death occurs.

The four listed ways are compared below.

  1. Cash
  2. Borrow
  3. Sinking Fund
  4. Life Insurance

Let’s take the one by one.

Cash: This is assuming the company has the cash at hand, idle. Rarely is this an option. Growing companies reinvest in their company and only keep enough cash reserve as needed.

Borrow: A company just lost a valuable member of the company. Most bankers would probably want to see how the company will fair after the death of a key person and would want to know how the liability which has just been created will affect the cash flow of the company before loaning more money. There probably is a good chance that outstanding line be pulled in by the bank (probably a covenant in the loan agreement).

Sinking Fund: Mostly just theory! In 48 years, I have never seen a company try to develop a sinking fund. If the company was putting money in the sinking fun, they are losing the opportunities this money could create by investing in the business rather than on the sidelines. Not reasonable as the actual amount of money needed is available should death occur prior to the target date of accumulation. The least appropriate method.

Life Insurance: At its simplest benefits, it is immediate, tax free and the funding level is immediately known. Also, the cost is only 17 cents on a dollar rather than the much higher costs of the other three options.

Summary: While we don’t know when a death or disabilitymay occur, the company should at least be prepared for this trigger. Today the price of life insurance is low-cost. There is no reason not to purchase at least temporary life insurance (10-30 years), such as term insurance. The cost of life insurance in the example is using cash value life insurance.  Increased Sales To Fund Cost: Another measure of effectiveness of funding the buy and sell is to measure how much more in sales the company has to do to pay for the funding method.

Costs:  Funding over 15 years. 

Cash; 1,039,464 Loan: 1,306,085. Sinking Fund: 901,613 Life Insurance:  171,512

Also, what do you need to have in sales to pay for the method: 

Example, with Life Insurance Cost, @20% profit, sales would be $857,560

With Cash: There would have to be $5,197,320

 

 

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