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Estate planning for the business owner

With the baby boomer generation at or near retirement age, the time to consider a business succession plan is here. Estate planning for business owners in Florida is a more complex matter than for a lifelong employee or wage earner because unique issues must be taken into consideration.

These issues are fostered out of the business owner's personal desires, the goals of the business, and the present company structure. These issues need to be resolved before an estate plan can be developed. As with most estate planning, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

One of the first questions the owner must determine is whether a family member will be operating the business as a successor. If children or other family members have no interest in the business or are not capable doing so, the dynamics of the plan could change.

The business owner's desire to continue day-to-day operation rather than opting to retire is another consideration. If retirement is a preference, is the present sale of the business the best option? Market considerations as well as tax consequences must be weighed.

In terms of charitable giving, some business owners prefer to begin charitable gifts while living and others prefer it as a function of their estate. Estate planning tools are available that can be effective in securing tax advantages and ensuring that the owner's desires are met.

Finally, an issue common to all seeking an estate plan is an assessment of the heirs and the ability to handle finances. If a potential heir is in financial trouble or has demonstrated spendthrift habits, some planning tools will lessen the risk of a squandered inheritance.

When meeting with a business law attorney for estate planning, the client should have a rough idea of his or her last wishes. During the meeting, the attorney may explain options that will both meet their desires and prove to be effective in maintaining the success of the business.

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