Succession Planning

Monday, July 6, 2015

Business Succession Planning Tips

Business succession plans contemplate and instruct regarding any changes in future ownership and management of a business. Most business owners know they should think about succession planning, but few actually end up doing so. It is hard to think about not being in charge of the business you have built up, but a proper succession plan can ensure that your business continues long after you are there to run it, providing an enduring legacy.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you begin to think about putting a succession plan into place for your business.

  • Proper plans take time - often years - to develop and implement because there are many steps involved. It is really never too early to start thinking about how you want to hand off control of your business.

  • Succession plans are a waste of time unless they are more than a piece of paper. Involving attorneys, accountants and business advisors ensures that your plan is actually implemented.

  • There is no cookie-cutter succession plan that fits all businesses, and no one way to develop and implement a successful plan. Each business is unique, so each business needs a custom-made plan that fits the needs of all parties involved.

  • It may seem counterintuitive, but transferring a business between people who are familiar with the business - from one family member to another, or between business partners - is often more complicated than selling the business to a complete stranger. Emotional investments cannot be easily quantified, but their importance is real. Having a neutral party at the negotiating table can help everyone involved focus on what is best for the business and the people that are depending on it for their livelihood.

  • Once a succession plan has been established, it is critically important that the completed plan be continually reviewed and updated as circumstances change. This is one of the biggest reasons having an attorney on your succession planning team is important. Sound legal counsel can assist you in making periodic adjustments and maintaining an effective succession plan.

If you are ready to start thinking about succession planning, contact an experienced business law attorney today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Five Estate Planning Documents You Should Understand Part III

In addition to having a Health Care Power of Attorney you should also consider executing a Living Will and a “stand alone” HIPAA Medical Release.  A Living Will is a simple document in which you give instructions to your health care providers as to when and if to cease providing you with life prolonging measures. 

The North Carolina provides a statutory form that allows you to indicate the different scenarios where you do not want life support, as well as, whether you would like any exceptions such as artificial nutrition and hydration. This form is called an Advanced Directive for a Natural Death.  Also, in the wake of the Terri Schaivo case in Florida, the North Carolina Legislature had the forethought to provide the opportunity for your Health Care Power of Attorney to override the Living Will if you desire.  As with many statutory forms, you are free to draft a document of your own in consultation with your advisors.  Depending on your particular situation drafting a custom document may be the more prudent course.

A HIPAA Medical Release is a companion document to a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA).  Any recent HCPOA worth its salt will comply with HIPAA regulations giving the named persons access to your medical records.  Having a “stand alone” HIPAA document gives you greater flexibility, allowing you to grant access to your records to persons without granting them the decision making authority that accompanies the HCPOA. It’s great for keeping family members in the loop and for obtaining records on your behalf.  

In our next and last installment on this topic we will cover Trusts testamentary, living, revocable, irrevocable, etc.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Five Estate Planning Documents You Should Understand Part I

Part I


An Estate Plan can take many forms and it is up to you and your advisors to choose the best plan.  Your plan should fit your particular circumstances and accomplish your objectives whether they are to avoid probate, minimize taxes, or to protect assets from loss due to nursing home costs or other potential creditors.  


A good estate plan will, at the very least, appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions for you at times in your life when you cannot and then avoid probate after you pass away.  Thus, you should at least have a will and a power of attorney for both financial management and health care.  There are other documents that should be considered as well including trusts and various medical directives. 


When most people think about estate planning documents the first thing that pops into their head (after they wake back up) is usually a will.  Everyone has at least heard of a will even though they might not fully understand its function. 


A will is just a legally binding letter of direction to the world, and more importantly, the court/state, telling them who is supposed to get your “stuff” after you have passed away.  Your will must meet certain requirements set out by state law in order to be valid.  The most common is that it must be witnessed by two disinterested people and notarized by a notary public.  In addition to directing where your stuff goes, a will also appoints a person charged with carrying out your wishes.  This person is commonly referred to as an executor or personal representative.  In addition you can also appoint a person to take care of you minor children.


The important thing to remember regarding a will is that it does nothing until you pass away.  Up to that point you can change it every day if you would like.  One can change the terms of the will through what is called a “Codicil.” It is also important to keep in mind that the executor has no authority, duties or obligations until after you pass away.  Decisions concerning your person and your stuff during your lifetime are made by you and persons you appoint in your powers of attorney.


In Part II we will discuss Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Business Owners Should Review Their Buy-Sell Agreements

Buy-sell agreements are important part of succession/estate planning because they provide the framework to transfer ownership from one owner to the next, often from one generation to the next.  
There are many reasons to review the buy-sell agreement particularly if it is more than a few years old.  First, since the initial drafting of the agreement the value of the company may have changed or the agreement may not adequately describe a process for appraising the value correctly.
Second, depending on the laws of a particular state, the agreement may not adequately deal with the possibility of divorce by ignoring the spouse’s potential interest or claim on the company.  In addition to divorce, an agreement that focuses on just on death of an owner and doesn’t cover all other contingencies such as disability and dissolution may end up causing more problems and as a result not effectively transfer ownership of the company.
Finally, one of the most common mistakes is not properly funding the agreement.  An agreement may call for a large lump sum purchase to buy out a partner or surviving spouse.  How are the remaining owners going to pay it?  If the agreement is funded by a life insurance policy is it enough to cover a potential increase in the valuation of the company?  
If the agreement is more than a few years old it should be revisited so the client can be sure that it will serve its purpose when called upon.

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Based in Charlotte, NC the attorneys at Sanford Law Firm, PA assist clients throughout North Carolina including Charlotte, Monroe, Cornelius, Gastonia, Mecklenburg County, Cabarrus County, Lincoln County, Iredell County, Catawba County, Gaston County, Rowan County, Union County, Pineville, NC and Matthews, NC.

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