Family businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their future success is critical. Over the years, many successful family business owners have told us that they have not completed a proper succession and estate plan. They could be just too busy with their business and their families, confused by inconsistent advice and opinions, unsure where to start, worried about the costs, still having essential conversations with family and key employees, jaded by past experiences, or simply not ready to let go.
Furthermore, legal agreements such as shareholder agreements, buy-sell agreements, wills and powers or attorney are often drafted with good intentions and based on the circumstances at the time they where drafted, but then they are stored in the back of a filing cabinet or the bottom of a desk drawer. Invariably, circumstances, business values, tax laws, business structures and the people involved-to name a few-change over time!
What is Business Succession Planning?
Making plans for the future is important, and succession planning is a key component of a solid business strategy. Good succession planning is a wonderful tool that not only selects business successors, but also helps build consensus, strengthens relationships, and provides an important overview of the company while ensuring its future continuance.
What is Estate Planning?
A good estate plan reflects your wishes and gives careful attention to tax considerations after death. It gives purpose to what you have accomplished in your life, while conserving assets, offering adequate support for dependants, providing the appropriate liquidity at time of death, and ensuring fair and equitable distribution of your estate to loved ones.
Why Should I Do This Planning?
Everyone wants to transfer their business and overall estate on their own terms, but a solid plan can also minimize taxes on the eventual transfer of your business and your overall estate. Finally, having a plan in place will minimize disputes between beneficiaries of your estate and keep the government at bay.
The fact is that inter-generational transition only comes along once a generation. Therefore, most family businesses don’t have a track record in terms of succession planning to get them started. They don’t know what to do, what problems might arise, how to resolve delicate issues, and have no experience with family business best practices.
If it was simply an operations issue, most experienced family business leaders could deal with the process and get on with things. But since succession issues come along so infrequently, what worked for dad or grandpa may no longer be relevant today. Owners don’t know where to start their succession planning, and so they just don’t start at all.
What is our Approach here at Capital Wealth Partners?
After many years of working closely with business owners, their accountants, and their lawyers, we have developed an effective and comprehensive approach to Business Succession and Estate Planning. The process is tailored to your situation, and the engagement process is offered as part of our services.
The end result of this process is a plan as unique as you, your family, and your business. We have been successful in designing and implementing these plans for many Ottawa-area business owners.
There is no quick and easy answer or solution. However, in most successful inter-generational transitions or sales to a third party, owners have taken the necessary business succession and estate planning steps to minimize conflicts, minimize estate and income taxes, and ensure that the business is in the right hands to maximize the chances of its future success.
Engaging a professional for comprehensive business succession and estate planning is the best way to improve the odds that your company will continue after you are gone. Moreover, if a family member is not going to run the business when you are gone, then plans must be made for the family business to be sold to a third party, either when you exit your business or in the event of your death.
This information is general in nature. To learn more about this and other planning strategies please feel free contact us for more information.
Written by Shawn Ryan