Just as the separation of church and state is an age-old concept in government, it’s common for folks to separate their business and estate. At Strauss Attorneys, we focus primarily on estate planning, which means we work intimately with our clients to plan a complete and accurate asset profile. Surprisingly, with our clients who own businesses, that asset profile includes, first and foremost, the business itself. Planning for one’s business is absolutely part of planning one’s estate.
As our clients with businesses approach the idea of retirement and succession, pondering how to leave a legacy for those who come next, we find that a majority have not devoted the necessary time or planning regarding how the business might continue after they exit stage left. The reasons for this are myriad, from pure procrastination to a shortage of time (after all, it’s understandable to feel unwilling to redirect time to planning strategies for the future that would otherwise be spent making a profit today).
It’s important to realize that this area of estate planning requires particularized, special skills in order to address the many elements of business succession. To put it simply: it’s complicated. Straight and simple sales to third parties are rare (at least sales involving a continuation of a business as opposed to a fire sales of assets). It’s not just a cut and dry sale—this is your life’s work, and it’s close to your heart; you naturally feel the need to handle it with care. That also means that many people overestimate their province; they have ideas of their business’s valuation that will never be recognized on the open market. It’s also normal to dream of family or key employees taking the helm, but that’s just another piece in the complex puzzle. The common problem we encounter with inside sales is that often the buyers do not have the money to adequately provide our client a comfortable retirement.
These are problems with solutions, and easy ones at that, solutions that don’t require you to spend too much time away from your business. Strauss Attorneys has formed a strategic alliance with a number of area financial planners, business valuators, business consultants, and certified public accountants, and also joined Business Enterprise Institute (BEI) to hone a true team approach to best, and most efficiently, implement business succession strategies. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation that ensures your stable estate—business and all.
It’s important to customize each plan to the client with a step-by-step approach that simplifies the process, yet keeps an eye on the client’s specific goals for the business post-exit. The result? A highly specific plan that minimizes waste and duplication across the spectrum of advisors, and maximizes cost control, tax savings and time management.