Business Succession Planning Can Save Your Company From the Unexpected

If you are a small business owner, you may have already given some thought to long-term business succession planning.  But what if something happens to you tomorrow?  Is your business protected? 

An illness or accident that causes you to be suddenly absent from your business can create havoc if there are no plans in place for this possibility.

There are a number of options that can help you ensure your business runs smoothly in the event you become incapacitated:

Guardianship – you can appoint a guardian to assume your business responsibilities.

Power of Attorney – executing a power of attorney appoints someone as your agent to take over your business affairs.  You can decide on the scope of their authority as well as the circumstances under which they would take over.

Trust – by placing your business in a trust, you are able to name a successor trustee to manage the assets of the trust (the business) in your absence.  A business trust can also allow you to specify how the assets of the company are distributed upon your death.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today at (303) 255-3588 to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit with a Creative Business Lawyer™.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive half of that fee.

Estate Planning Tools to Protect Family and Business

By Brett Lee Shelton, SSRS-Law

No one likes to think about dying, much less planning for it.  But if you care about your family and leaving a legacy of love rather than pain and confusion, estate planning is a must. 

Designed to preserve your wishes and protect your loved ones, the estate planning process puts a variety of helpful legal tools at your disposal:

Will – a will spells out your personal wishes about the disposition of your assets.   Without it, the state will decide.

Trusts – you can avoid probate through the establishment of trusts and assignment of asset ownership.

Tax Planning – there are legal alternatives available to reduce or avert federal taxes on your estate.

Trust Administration – an experienced trust attorney can help you navigate through the state’s trust administration process, saving you and your family from stress and potentially expensive errors.

Guardianship – appointing a guardian ensures a minor child’s person and/or property and other assets are fully protected.

Charitable Gift Planning – designating gifts to charity can help you reduce federal estate taxes as well as lower income capital gains taxes.

Family Business Succession Planning – developing a plan for a successful transfer that won’t adversely impact the business or important family relationships.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today at 303-255-3588 to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.

Planned Giving Show Oct 24 with NARF

 Free Estate Planning Help
Please join us the evening of Wednesday, October 24 for an informational webinar with the Native American Rights Fund’s Director of Development Morgan O’Brien and Donald Ragona, founding partner at Smith, Shelton, Ragona, & Salazar. We will
be answering questions and covering a variety of topics related to wills and other estate planning topics. For more information and to register, visit our registration page.

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/314055582

10 Questions to Ask Your Estate Planning Attorney

Ten key things you should ask before engaging an estate planning lawyer to help you plan for the well-being of your money, your family and your life:

  1. Do you prepare a comprehensive plan for my kids’ care if something happens to me, like the Kids Protection Plan ™that names short and long-term guardians and gives specific instructions to all of the guardians and my caregivers?  What about an ID card for my wallet listing the short-term guardians with their contact information?
  2. Are all of your fees flat fees?  What about for ongoing work after the initial completion of my estate plan documents?  What happens when I call with legal questions 2 years after my planning documents were completed?  What if the questions are about something other than my estate plan?  What if my family needs help when I am incapacitated or gone?
  3. Do you stay informed on developments in estate planning law over time?
  4. What happens if I need to get a quick question answered and you are not available?
  5. Do you make sure my assets are titled in the right way? How?
  6. What happens when things change in my life?  Do you notify me about changes in the law?  How often do you communicate with me?
  7. Does my planning fee include a regular review of my plan?  What if I want to make changes to my plan?
  8. Do you have any sort of an estate planning maintenance program or membership program for ongoing service and, if so, what does that include?
  9. Do you have a process for helping me capture and pass on my intangible wealth, such as my intellectual, spiritual and human assets, who I am as a whole person and what’s important to me?
  1. Can you structure my estate plan so that whatever I leave to my kids will be protected from a lawsuit or divorce?  How often do you build that kind of planning into client’s plans?

Getting answers to these questions before you engage an estate planning lawyer will ensure you put in place an estate plan for you and your family that will really work when your family needs it most, and won’t end up just a pile of worthless paper after you are gone.

Using a Family Limited Partnership to Protect and Control Business Assets

Using a Family Limited Partnership to Protect and Control Business Assets

By Brett Lee Shelton

Owners of family businesses that wish to keep the business viable for future generations would be wise to investigate establishing a family limited partnership to both protect and maintain control over their business assets.

When you establish a family limited partnership (FLP), business assets are transferred into the partnership and swapped for shares.  As owner, you would keep the general partner shares, and then gives limited partnership shares to children over time, which removes the value of those gifted shares from the estate. 

As general partner, the business owner controls how the assets are managed, how the partnership operates and decides whether or not to distribute any income.  Limited partners do not participate in the management of the partnership, and owners can stipulate whether or not shares can be transferred or sold without their approval. 

Since there is no market for FLP shares, a business owner is able to transfer assets to heirs and remove them from the estate at a discounted rate.  In addition, assets enjoy some protection from children’s potential creditors or legal judgments.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit with a Creative Business Lawyer.

What To Do When Your Customer Stops Paying

From Creative Business Lawyer(tm) Brett Lee Shelton:

Giving credit to customers is a necessary part of almost every business, and with credit comes the business of collections.  Being a creditor is no problem if customers pay on time – but what happens when a customer stops paying on time or altogether?

Your first step in granting a new customer credit is to have them fill out a credit application and credit agreement.  These documents protect you, and make it easier for you to collect if legal action ever becomes necessary.

Writing off a certain amount of bad debt is fairly standard practice in every business, and you should balance the amount of bad debt with the total accounts receivable to determine if a certain debt is worth pursuing.  If it is, and you have already taken the routine measures of sending follow-up notices with no response, then you should consider engaging a Creative Business Lawyer™ to write demand letters to your bad accounts, demanding that they fulfill their contractual obligations to pay what is owed. 

A Creative Business Lawyer™ can often resolve bad debt issues for you without litigation, or at least help you determine if pursuing a deadbeat customer in court will be worth it in the long run.

We love helping small and mid-size business owners make their dreams come true.  If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today at (303) 255-3588 to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.

How to Protect Your Assets Through Estate Planning

from Brett Lee Shelton

How to Protect Your Assets Through Estate Planning
If you need to transfer assets to or from an estate, retirement fund, bank account, or other property/accounts for any reason, there are a few intelligent places to transfer to, with the help of a Personal Family Lawyer®.
Certain places that you can transfer money to–both in and out of your estate–are protected, including:
1. Family Foundation: in this protected entity, a single family sets up a foundation wherein money can be transferred. Typically, the foundation will generally be private, and often (but not always) members of the family will serve as board members or officers of the foundation.
2. Closely Held Corporation: your Personal Family Lawyer® can help you set up a closely held corporation, which is simply a private company owned by the members of a family (usually) who act as the shareholders. Because it is an entity and not a living person, this entity is separate from the family members in that it has its own rights and privileges regarding the assets it holds.
3. Offshore Trust: This is a protected entity operated by a trustee (usually an officer of the offshore bank or the bank itself) in which assets can be placed. Again, because it is not a living person, the offshore trust has legal rights that separate it from members of the family. And while a trustee manages the trust, any decisions regarding the assets it holds can be made by the grantor of the estate of which the trust is part.
There are many other protected entities in addition to those already mentioned. If you have an interest in transferring your assets to or from a trust into any other protected entity, contact your Personal Family Lawyer®.
If you’d like to learn more about asset protection or have other estate planning questions, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. Call 303-255-3588 today and mention this article!