Business & Succession Planning
Proactive business and succession planning is an essential part of a well-managed privately held or family-owned businesses. Our attorneys counsel clients in all aspects of business preservation and succession strategies, helping them assure the ongoing viability of the business and preserve value for their beneficiaries.
Our attorneys work with clients to develop buy-sell agreements that enable family members and others who are actively engaged in the business to acquire the interests of other family members or shareholders seeking to liquidate their interests. We represent clients throughout the negotiation process, creating effective exit strategies, minimizing the likelihood of shareholder or valuation disputes, and helping them balance their tax, business and other financial considerations with those of existing and future shareholders.
S-corporation status offers certain tax advantages to owners of privately held businesses; however, it can also present unique challenges when transferring the ownership of the business. We work with clients to develop appropriate provisions for the retention or disposition of their S-corporation stock, and assure compliance with the complex tax rules that govern ownership and taxation.
FLPs and LLCs
Family limited partnerships (FLPs) and limited liability companies (LLCs) may be used to achieve a wide variety of estate and business planning goals, including asset preservation, gift facilitation, shifting income and assets to family members as part of lifetime gifts, and enabling clients to make gifts and transfer assets at beneficial transfer tax valuations. Given the complex tax issues surrounding these legal structures, FLPs and LLCs require careful analysis to determine if they are appropriate strategies for a client's situation. Our attorneys regularly assist in the formation of these entities; counsel clients on appropriate procedures and operations of the entities; prepare required filings; and handle the routine administration of FLPs and LLCs.
Valuations of business interests can have a significant effect on the estate taxes that may be assessed upon an owner's death. These valuations can also affect the magnitude of distributions from the business and the value of the interests for purposes of sale or lifetime gifting. We work closely with business-valuation experts to ensure that our clients' business interests are properly valued, and represent clients before taxing authorities, when necessary.
Business Succession Strategies
Passing the family business from one generation to the next can present significant hurdles. We frequently counsel clients on the succession of their business, and recommend strategies to transfer ownership to descendants in a manner that minimizes transfer taxation. To achieve this objective, we regularly employ outright transfer and transfers in trust for the benefit of descendants, as well as more sophisticated techniques such as Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, Sales to Grantor Trusts, and the use of installment notes, private annuities and self-canceling installment notes, among other strategies.