Phase 6 - Estate Planning & Probate
Successful business people oftentimes plan well in respect to their business dealings but less so in respect to their personal matters. It is eminently clear that the old saying that "the only two (2) things that are certain are death and taxes" is all too true. While we have control over neither, appropriate planning is essential for a number of reasons:
Business Succession - Without appropriate estate planning, one's successful business can become seriously undermined by disputes between and among one's heirs. Who should run your business (or possibly sell it) as well as how business ventures will continue can be appropriately governed through the utilization of professionally drafted Wills and Trusts.
Taxation - Many of our extremely successful clients are shocked to learn that potentially as much as fifty-five (55%) percent of the value of their estate might be lost through payment of estate and inheritance taxes without proper planning. Likewise, tax obligations can be so cumbersome as to require the sale of your business or properties, but oftentimes can be avoided or deferred through proper estate planning and, in some cases, the purchase of insurance in order to fund tax obligations.
Utilization of Trusts - Through the use of trusts, business succession plans can be facilitated together with the avoidance or deferral of taxes. Both inter vivos trusts, i.e. those established in your lifetime, and trusts funded after your death can be appropriately tailored to allow for levels of control and distribution of assets best suited to your particular personal and business asset situation.
Gifting During Life - Through the utilization of gifts, you can commence distribution of stock and other business interests without immediate tax consequences. This is particularly beneficial as your business interests grow in value, as the value of the gift to children is that value at the time of gift rather than the increased value likely applicable at the time of death.
Powers of Attorney - Though the use of general or specific powers of attorney, you may designate individuals to act on your behalf in the event of disability or other circumstances suited for your particular personal and business needs.
Analysis of Assets - Much has been publicized about "avoiding probate" in respect to use of trusts and other documentation, particularly placing assets into joint and survivorship form such as homes, bank accounts, etc. In many cases involving those business persons who are successful, sometimes it is essentially impossible to truly avoid probate. Nonetheless, through appropriate estate planning, your estate can be subject to much easier administration while also saving significant taxes.
Our firm has a significant amount of information available as a courtesy to its clients, including a rather detailed Estate Planning Questionnaire which will allow us both to analyze your estate planning needs as well as allow you to properly categorize and recognize the extent of your assets and the resulting impact should you or a loved one pass away. Feel free to call upon us for a copy of our Estate Planning Questionnaire.
The above are only partial examples of benefits associated with proper estate planning. Utilized in conjunction with appropriate corporate shareholder agreements and the like, that which you have worked for throughout your years of business and real estate investments can be secured and will be subject to your wishes, even after your passing.
Our firm has worked with a number of trust departments and investment counselors who are capable of providing supplemental counsel and advise. Please feel free to call upon us for referrals of such professionals.
* You should further note that, through our relationship with financial planners, available to you at no cost are "Financial Fitness Profiles" and "Business Profiles" which, blended with our services, can provide you a global view of your business and personal needs and options available to you. Again, feel free to contact us so that we may appropriately refer you to those financial planners with whom we deal with regularly and who would be most willing to work in conjunction with us in conducting your business succession and estate planning review.