Two popular and time-tested methods of wealth transfer are the trust account and limited liability company. While both of these options can provide an excellent vehicle for the transfer of assets, it is important that the creator consider all the related details. One such detail that must be addressed is insurance.
Without addressing insurance considerations while forming a trust or limited liability company, a person may face an unexpected and catastrophic loss of insurance coverage. All insurance policies, no matter what type, are written to provide the owner or titleholder of an asset with coverage. Problems may occur, therefore, when assets are transferred to a trust or LLC.
For example, a person may transfer ownership in their home to a trust fund, LLC for various reasons including estate planning, tax considerations, or protection from creditors. Upon making such a transfer, the homeowner must be sure to change the homeowner’s insurance policy to reflect the fact that the home is now owned by the trust or LLC. Should the previous homeowner fail to make this change and the home is damaged, the insurance company may question the ownership change. Without making the appropriate changes, therefore, a homeowner could become potentially liable to pay any arising damages out-of-pocket.
A succession plan is an important tool for any business owner who wishes his or her business to continue on after his or her death. Essentially, a succession plan allows a business owner to dictate who will take over the business and under what terms after his or her death. A recent article discusses one major mistake that many business owners make in this process.
In the process of succession planning, the current business owner must consider the ownership and management of the business. These two areas are “different, but inextricably linked.” The mistake that many business owners make is that they attempt to deal with both ownership and management simultaneously. This decision to deal with these two facets combined often proves to be risky.
There are a multitude of reasons why ownership and management should be dealt with separately. First, changes in both areas may become quite complex. There may be many internal and external stakeholders with expectations for each role, which would be easier to manage on an individual basis. Secondly, dealing with these areas separately reduces decision-making pressure on all parties. Moreover, it allows you to address each separately, with more clarity and objectivity.
Considering ownership and management separately allows a business owner to create workable solutions for a successful transition.
After nearly a decade in flux, there is finally a permanent federal estate tax. In 2013, however, a mere 3,800 estates will be required to pay the tax. Moreover, the total amount paid by this small number of estates will only amount to $14 billion, which is a mere half of the total revenue from five years ago.
Prior to passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), the federal estate tax was in a state of constant flux. In 2001, the effective exemption was $675,000. The exemption amount jumped to $3.5 million in 2009. The ATRA has created the first permanent estate and gift tax in over a decade. As a result of this, wealthy Americans will be able to spend less time arranging gifts in anticipation of changing laws.
With the current exemption of $5.25 million, most estates – approximately 99.9 percent – will pass to beneficiaries tax-free. Large estates, however, now face a significant tax bill. For example, a $100 million estate will have to shell out approximately $5 million more in federal taxes.
As Forbes explains, the most important part of the ATRA is not the details of the taxes, but the fact that Congress has made the tax permanent. Although wealthy families are still likely to hire estate planning attorneys and financial advisors to create personalized estates that avoid taxes, the professionals that they hire will not have to face the challenges of a constantly changing rate.
As the economy tip-toes back in the right correction, businesses must still be sure to implement contingency plans in the event of another economic recession. As a recent article in Forbes explains, a recession can cause a business not only sales and profits, but time as well.
The first step of contingency planning is to make a list of the major decision-making areas that will be subject to short-run change during any recession. Although all companies are different and will therefore create different lists, some areas that most companies will include are prices and terms, labor, materials and inventory, capital spending, and financing.
The next step in contingency planning is to create plans for each decision-making area for mild, moderate, and extreme economic downturn. In the area of prices and terms, for example, it is often wise to tighten credit terms during a mild recession. Although sales representatives may wish to offer eased credit terms to consumers during harsh economic times, it is important to ensure that your accounts payable do not turn into write-offs.
In a moderate recession, it may be necessary to lay off workers and cancel expensive projects. If the economic situation becomes extreme, your company must enter survival mode. In this final category, it is most important that the company survives. Often, extreme measures are necessary.
The advantage of having three levels of contingency plans in place is that, should there be an economic downturn, you will be able to act quickly to reduce losses.