Business Owners

BUSINESS OWNERS

Two Brothers, One Business

I recall the case of two brothers who each owned 50% of a very profitable manufacturing business. Jim, age 58, was actively involved in the daily operations while Tom, age 65, had semi-retired and rarely came to work. Tom no longer drew a salary and was living off his income from his other assets and profit distributions from the business.

Jim also had two children, both working in the business. Tom’s kids, all grown, had no interest in working in the business. Ironically, their buy-sell agreement stated that if either of them died, the survivor would buy the other one’s stock. Obviously, that made perfect sense if Tom died first. But if Jim died first, why on earth would Tom want to buy his interest? Why would Jim want to sell his interest, especially with his kids working there? Further, their binding buy-sell agreement had a fixed price that grossly undervalued the business. Thus, their heirs were going to get far less than what they were expecting. On top of this mess, a review of their old buy-sell life insurance policies showed that they could replace them with new policies that offered over twice as much coverage for the same premium they were paying.

So, what did we do:

➢ We replaced the buy-sell agreement with a new one that uses a formula to value the business so that it would stay current and provide the heirs a fair price.

➢ The new agreement also requires the purchase of Tom’s interest no matter who dies first. That way, Jim’s wife and children get the business and Tom’s wife and children get bought out.

➢ We replaced their existing policies with new ones that had over twice as much coverage for the same cost.

Your business is most likely the most valuable thing you own. Let us help you protect it. Initially I will have more questions than answers, but those answers should help you to “cover your assets”.

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