By now, most of us understand how harmful stress can be to the body. It affects your heart health, breathing, muscles and even your brain function. But, according to the American Psychological Association, 26 percent of U.S. adults report feeling stressed about money most or all the time. And, for the average business owner, the stats around stress are even more surprising. Small business owners report that managing their business is at least 4 times more stressful than raising children.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from stress is to take a more proactive approach to your long-term planning. It’s been said that procrastination breeds stress and when it comes to finances, that’s certainly true. To help minimize stress, it’s essential to think about the long term.
Step 1 – Get a Trust-Based Estate Plan for Business Owners
As a business owner, you’ll have unique needs when it comes to estate planning. Proper estate planning is important in order to:
- Provide continuity for the business, its other owners, and employees
- Ensure adequate liquidity to enable transitions due to disability or death
- Minimize transfer, gift, estate and income taxes
- Reduce costs and burdens associated with settling affairs
- Provide protection for the Business Owner’s spouse and family
- Maximize likelihood that intended legacy is achieved
If you do not currently have an estate plan, or you simply have a will, you will need to take action. To protect your business and your own best interest, it’s important that you get a trust-based plan. Your will indicates who you want to have access to your assets, and how you want your assets distributed, but it does not keep your family out of Court. No one wants to go through Probate if they can avoid it. A trust-based plan allows your family to access your assets in the event you become incapacitated or pass away.
Step 2 – Get a Valuation
Understanding the value of your business is critical for proper business planning and achieving personal goals. Completing a Valuation on a regular basis allows you to manage and measure value growth. A quality report will also list your value drivers – the items on which you should focus to achieve value growth. Even if you’re not considering exiting your business for years, knowing that the value of your business is the amount someone will pay for your business, will keep your end goal in mind.
Step 3 – Get a Succession Plan
Business succession planning is necessary for any business owner, especially those close to retirement. And, it is something you don’t want to put off. Planning ahead can help ensure you don’t leave money on the table. The vast majority of small business owners in the United States are never able to monetize the value of their business. In other words, they are never able to “transition” their business successfully. Business owners can help avoid this problem with a well-designed business succession plan.
Step 4 – Consider a Business Succession Trust
If you have a transferable business with value, you will want to consider a Business Succession Trust. One of the key benefits of trusts is tax avoidance, specifically the federal estate tax. Another important benefit is creditor protection. Trusts can be used to shield the family and spouse from creditors or business-related debt.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s a good way to think about financial planning for the business owner. If you take some time to think about your long-term financial goals and your legacy now, you can avoid complications, like probate, in the future.
For more information, call Epiphany Law at 920-996-000 and we can set up a time to assist you with the estate planning process. Or, contact us here.
About the Author
Kevin L. Eismann brings a unique, multi-point perspective to his clients because he is a business owner, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, as well as an attorney. Kevin enjoys building comprehensive strategies with his clients that allow them to reach their personal and business goals. Kevin has provided business owners practical, cost-effective solutions for over 20 years.