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As a business owner consumed with the daily tasks of running a business, it may be difficult to imagine a day when you won’t be around to lead the company you worked so hard to build. But that day will come, and the sooner you start planning for it, the better. This is where estate planning and succession planning come into play. Although they are not the same, they do tend to work in tandem. Both types of planning are critical if you want to avoid or minimize any negative financial outcomes for your business.
If you choose to keep your business in the family or sell it to employees, it will not only be important to address this from a business planning perspective, but also with your estate and gift plan in mind. So before you do anything else, make sure you have the basic estate plan documents in place, including a will, power of attorney and healthcare directive.
As you work through the details of the estate planning process, remember that tax laws affect many of the strategies you may choose to employ. That’s why it’s so important to work with an attorney, a tax professional and a financial advisor. Together they form a team of professionals who can guide you through what is often a complex process.
As a business owner, one of your key estate planning considerations may be what will happen to your business if you’re no longer around. You may plan to leave the business to one of your children, but they may not be interested. And it probably doesn’t make sense for your spouse to inherit it if they’ve never been involved in the business. Some businesses are more generational than others, such as restaurants or farming, but in most other situations, conversations with family members should take place long before you pass away or decide to retire.
If you don’t plan ahead for the future of your business, your family could be forced to quickly sell the company to liquidate assets, which could be valued well below market value. If this occurs, your heirs may not realize the true value of a company you devoted a big part of your life to. That’s probably not what you want for your family – or your business.
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize estate and inheritance taxes, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help. Insurance can also provide much-needed funds for everything from paying final expenses and business liabilities to helping ensure everyone in your estate is treated equitably, including family members who won’t receive part of the business.
At Edward Jones, we can help with your estate planning needs. For more information, contact your Edward Jones financial advisor.
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.