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Estate Planning When Not All of Your Kids are in the Family Business

Estate Planning When Not All of Your Kids are in the Family Business

Owning your own business can be a great endeavor that takes a lot of passion and drive. Many small business owners focus on the day-to-day management and growth of the business, rather than thinking about a time when he or she may not be in the business. This is a far too common mistake. Future plans for your enterprise are even more important when one child works in the business but the others do not. Keeping the peace among your children after you are no longer able to participate in the business requires careful balancing of your estate plan.

Planning Ahead

Before considering whether or not to pass your business to the next generation — as opposed to selling it to a third party — make sure at least one of your children is capable of (and willing to) running the company. Once that has been established, then early planning is the next step to ensuring the best outcome. Ideally, succession planning should start at least five years before you decide to retire. And because life is unpredictable — you may become incapacitated or pass away without warning — the best time to start planning is now. There are several things to consider when planning for your small business if not all of your children are involved. It is important to keep in mind that treating your children fairly does not necessarily mean you will treat them equally when it comes to your estate planning. For this reason, being proactive will make sure your desires will be followed even after you can no longer run your company.

Factors to Consider

First, minimizing the risk of conflict among your children once you are gone requires a mindful weighing of your estate, your successor trustee, and other aspects of your estate plan to ensure your wishes are recorded and can be easily followed.

Second, you must consider the value of the business as well as control and management issues. This can be done by clearly identifying the roles and responsibilities of your successor in a written plan.

Third, if you have a sizeable estate, there are financial strategies that a knowledgeable estate planning professional like myself can use to equalize distributions. This can also be done with other assets such as IRAs, 401(k)s, investment real estate, life insurance, as well as stocks, bonds, and/or mutual funds.

Finally, there must be an analysis of how the business is capitalized in order to ensure your estate plan is fair when it comes to your children — whatever you consider fair to be in your particular circumstance. Notably, how a person’s business is organized has a direct effect on how it is treated, taxed, and administered upon his or her death.

Don’t Leave It To Chance

Ignoring or delaying estate planning for your small business is not financially prudent. As a successful business owner who already has the next generation involved in the company, you must take charge of the future so that the fruit of your hard work can continue on. More important, clearly writing down your desires will help keep your family from bickering — a likely result if you just leave the business’s future to chance. As a Family Business Lawyer® Give me a call today, so we can craft an estate plan that will allow your business to continue to thrive for generations to come.

This article is a service of Tara Cheever, Family Business Lawyer®. I don’t just draft documents; I ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why I offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling my office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.  I also offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death.  As part of this service, I offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call me today to schedule.

Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths

Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths

Discussing death can be awkward, and many people would prefer just to ignore estate planning all together. However, ignoring—or even putting off—such planning can be a huge mistake, as these celebrity stories will highlight.

The next time one of your relatives tells you they don’t want to talk about estate planning, share these famous celebrities’ stories to get the conversation started. Such cautionary tales offer first-hand evidence of just how critical it is to engage in estate planning, even if it’s uncomfortable.

The Marley Family Battle
You would think that with millions of dollars in assets—including royalties offering revenue for the indefinite future—at stake, more famous musicians would at least have a will in place. But sadly, you’d be wrong. Legendary stars like Bob Marley, Prince, and Jimi Hendrix failed to write down their wishes on paper at all.

Not having an estate plan can be a nightmare for your surviving family. Indeed, Marley’s heirs are still battling one another in court three decades later. If you do nothing else before you die, at least be courteous enough to your loved one’s to document your wishes and keep them out of court and out of conflict.

Paul Walker Died Fast and Furious at Just 40
While Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker was just 40 when he died in a tragic car accident, he had enough forethought to implement some basic estate planning. His will left his $25 million estate to his teenage daughter in a trust and appointed his mother as her legal guardian until 18.

But isn’t 18 far too young for a child to receive an inheritance of any size? Walker would have been far better advised to leave his assets in an ongoing trust, with financial education built in to give his daughter her best shot at a life well lived, even without him in the picture.

Most inheritors, like lottery winners, are not properly educated about what to do after receiving an inheritance, so they often lose their inheritance within just a few years, even when it’s millions.

Indeed, none of us has any clue when we’ll die, only that it will happen, so no matter how young you are or how much money you have—and especially if you have any children—don’t put off estate planning for another day. You truly never know when it’ll be needed.

Heath Ledger Didn’t Update His Estate Planning
Even though actor Heath Ledger created a will shortly after becoming famous, he failed to update it for more than five years. The will left his entire fortune to his parents and sister, so when he died unexpectedly in 2008, his young daughter received nothing, as she hadn’t been added to the will. Fortunately, his parents made sure their granddaughter was provided for, but that might not always be the case.

Creating an estate planning strategy is just the start—be sure to regularly update your documents, especially following births, deaths, divorces, new marriages, acquiring new assets, or retiring. Many estate plans fail because most lawyers don’t have built-in systems for updating your estate plans, but we do—mostly because we don’t want this to happen to your family.

Paul Newman Cut Out His Daughters Too
Though it’s a good idea to regularly update your estate plan, be sure your heirs know exactly what your intentions are when making such updates, or your family might experience significant shock by not knowing why you did what you did.

The final update to Paul Newman’s will, which was made just a few months before his death in 2008, left his daughters with no ownership or control of Newman’s Own Foundation, his legendary charity associated with the Newman’s Own food brand. Prior versions of Newman’s will— and indeed his own personal assurances to his family—indicated they’d have membership on the foundation’s board following his death.

Instead, the final version of his will left control of the foundation to his business partner Robert Forrester. Some allege that during his final months, when Newman was mentally unstable, he was secretly persuaded to change his estate plan to leave control of the Newman’s Own brand and foundation to Forrester. Newman’s daughters are currently fighting Forrester in court over the rights they believe they’re entitled to receive.

While changes to your estate plan may seem perfectly clear to you, make sure your family is on the same page by clearly communicating your intentions. In fact, if you are making significant changes to your plan, and your children are adults, we often recommend a full family meeting to go over everything with all impacted parties, and we often facilitate such meetings for our clients.

Muhammad Ali Made His Wishes Clear
Boxing great Muhammad Ali wanted multi-day festivities to be held in his honor, including a large festival, an Islamic funeral, and a dazzling public memorial at the KFC headquarters in Louisville, KY. Given such elaborate plans, he worked with his lawyers for years, ensuring his wishes would be properly carried out.

While you probably won’t need a multi-day festivity to celebrate your life, you may have wishes regarding how your life should be memorialized when you pass or how your care should be handled if you’re incapacitated. If you eat a special diet or want certain friends by your side while incapacitated, you have to make these wishes clearly known in writing or they very well might not happen. At the same time, you should spell out exactly how you want your remains cared for and what kind of memorial service, if any, you prefer.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help ensure your final wishes are carried out exactly how you want. But more importantly, we’ll help protect your family and keep them out of conflict and out of court in the event of your death or incapacitation. With a Personal Family Lawyer® on your side, you’ll have access to the exact same estate planning strategies and protections that A-List celebrities use, so don’t wait another day—contact us now to get started!

This article is a service of Tara Cheever, Personal Family Lawyer®. I don’t just draft documents; I ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why I offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling my office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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Business Conflict: Tips for Settling Business Disputes Part 2

Business Conflict: Tips for Settling Business Disputes Part 2

In part 1, I discussed the importance of knowing how to negotiate business deals and mitigate conflict whenever possible. Besides being a financial drain, business disputes can also create conflicts that require precious time and energy to resolve. Setting clear boundaries and realistic expectations when making professional agreements is essential in setting yourself up for positive outcomes.

Although avoiding conflict is preferred in professional matters, it is imperative to be prepared to handle business disputes properly when the need arises. Following these valuable tips will increase your chances of a positive outcome when business disputes must be settled.

Clarify the Actual Dispute: Ensure you understand what the desired outcome the other party seeks for resolution. It is equally important to clarify your own desired outcome. It can be challenging to see what’s actually going on when emotions are high. Speak with a trusted advisor to help you get clarity.

Offers Without Prejudice: Once you are in the dispute resolution process, be mindful when making offers for resolution. Ensure that you state that your offer is “without prejudice” and with no admission of guilt, so that if you do end up having to go to court, the offer cannot prejudice your case.

Use Alternative Dispute Resolution Models: Going to court is a lose/lose scenario for everyone involved. Be sure you have mediation and arbitration provisions built into every agreement you sign. Resolve matters outside of court, whenever possible.

Don’t Rely Solely on Your Legal Rights: If you want to avoid going to court—and it’s usually in your best interest to do so— put a good faith effort into finding a mutually beneficial solution on which to agree while still invoking your rights. I can help you with that as we focus on finding resolve in every conflict, by seeking to identify where the respective parties’ needs can be met and matched up as part of your conflict resolution process.

Watch Your Wording: Settlement offers can be complicated. The way an agreement is worded or structured can affect the outcome, especially if that outcome is a financial judgment. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions in any settlement offer. And never make a settlement offer without having me strategize and review the wording with you first.

Most importantly, get legal advice from a dedicated and trusted business lawyer. A lawyer can help you avoid all of the above mistakes and will protect your best interests during settlement negotiations.

This article is a service of Tara Cheever, Family Business Lawyer®. I offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. I also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call me today to schedule.

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Business Conflict: Tips for Settling Business Disputes Part 1

Business Conflict: Tips for Settling Business Disputes Part 1

A large part of being a successful business owner is knowing how to make deals and facilitate conflict when it arises.

When in a dispute over a deal or an agreement that has been made, the potential costs are endless. The potential cost of litigation, the potential cost of loss of reputation, the potential cost of the energetic drain from the conflict.

What do you need to know about conflict to mitigate these costs?

First and foremost, remember that costly conflict most often arises because the agreement process was not properly handled to begin with.

The ideal time to surface conflicts is in the beginning of a relationship by creating clear boundaries and expectations, using the agreement process.

The best agreement process will support both parties to share the parts of themselves they may typically hide while making an agreement, while at the same time, asking the hard questions they may not ask.

It’s often difficult to see the things we are hiding when making agreements, or to ask the challenging questions, and that’s why it’s so helpful to have a trusted advisor support you each time you are entering into an agreement with anyone, whether it be a new team member, a business partner, or a strategic partner.

When the agreement process is used to create each of your agreements, and before you ever finalize a deal of any type, the number of expensive business disputes you will have will be greatly diminished, if not eliminated completely.

But what happens if there is a conflict?

In Part 2, we will cover what to do once a conflict has happened. Look for that next week.

No one wants to end up in a dispute. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of conflict in the future. To start, find a trusted legal professional who will help you put protective measures in place to avoid the most common mistakes businesses make. That’s why a Family Business Lawyer® is there to help you face the challenges of owning a business.

I help small business owners negotiate settlements and channel their time and energy toward growth and potential instead of putting out fires. I’ll begin by sitting down to discuss how you can implement a robust legal, insurance, financial and tax system that will streamline your business operations and minimize your risk of encountering contract disputes.

This article is a service of Tara Cheever, Family Business Lawyer®. I offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. I also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call me today to schedule.