The law firm of Bernard Dane Stein, PA, focuses its practice on Estate Planning and Business Succession Planning. In providing these services to clients, the firm implements certain philosophies which clients understand and appreciate.
Estate planning involves creating documents, titling of assets, and taking various other steps which will provide individuals with the opportunity to accomplish several objectives for themselves and their families. Each estate plan and its documents are tailored to the needs and wishes of each of our clients and their families. These include:
Distributing assets in a manner consistent with a person’s wishes; often, families want the surviving spouse to enjoy the benefit of the assets while alive, with whatever is left going to children, grandchildren, etc.
Avoiding the interference of local courts in the disposition of those assets; the probate process is such that whatever assets are titled in an individual’s name alone are usually subject to the jurisdiction and control of the probate court. This often results in the requirement to obtain court approval, creating an otherwise avoidable delay in transferring and distributing assets.
Protecting beneficiaries from themselves and potential creditors. It is not uncommon for children to have issues with spouses, ex-spouses, creditors, and others who seek to have access to a child’s inheritance. A properly instituted plan can provide significant protection against these unwanted contingencies.
Of course, it is important to satisfy the client’s objectives in a tax-efficient manner. “Tax Efficiency” depends on a number of variables, including the nature and extent of an individual’s assets; the tax rates in effect either upon death or when a gift is made; and the individual’s comfort level with the plan. As a general rule, it is important not to let the “tax tail” wag the entire “disposition dog.”
BUSINESS SUCCESSION PLANNING
There may be several different situations when the client will require the well thought out and effectively implemented business succession plan. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
A client who owns a business intended for transfer to the next generation will want to use a structure which will provide the seamless and efficient transfer of a family business from one generation to the next, and the secure and tax efficient disposition to one or more future purchasers. Options include using a voting and non voting capital structure which enables the senior generation to maintain limited control while enabling the junior generation to participate in the growth of the business.
A client who owns a business intended for sale will want to structure the business in such a way which will provide a "stream of cash" while selling the bulk of the business. Options include selling the business while retaining title to the underlying real estate.
A client who wishes to share a business with the same generation, or entities or non familial individuals will require documentation sufficient to accomplish the sharing of revenue while retaining control of the entity.
In all cases, the client will require the desired objectives to be accomplished in a thoughtful and efficient manner.