Agenda 2009

  • Agenda 2009

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In this issue

  • Financial and estate planning: A two-step review process

    Business owners and people of wealth are often advised to review existing financial and estate plans every few years or as circumstances change, but what should those periodic reviews entail? Looking at your estate planning documents is certainly a good idea, but without a more holistic approach, you may not be getting as much as you can out of the process. Reviews that incorporate assessments of your overall financial condition—meaning an integrated analysis of net worth, cash flows and estate planning—tend to be most beneficial, especially during down markets.

  • Developing an estate plan that reflects the family's values

    Few people like to discuss their impending passing and many, regardless of the size of their estate, refuse to make appropriate plans. A main reason for this involves the need to overcome psychological roadblocks in order to face one’s own demise and the challenging tasks of determining one’s wishes, creating appropriate vehicles, choosing the best time to move substantial assets to the next generation and discussing all of these matters with loved ones.

  • Creating a plan for succession in the event of an emergency

    Family business leaders often neglect and avoid the issue of succession in their family company, particularly if they are the entrepreneurial founders. Some fear giving the impression that the patriarch or matriarch will be leaving the company. Others are concerned they’ll lose power or become a “lame duck.” What’s at stake, however, is much greater than individual reputation. Failing to plan for succession implies planning to fail as a business (Hakan Hillerstrom, “What, me worry about family business succession?” i-Biz Resources, September 2008).

  • Be aware of administration issues and plan your estate accordingly

    Much attention is devoted to estate planning strategies that aim to reduce a family business’s exposure to federal estate taxes and similar state levies. These strategies include such mechanisms as grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), family limited partnerships and limited liability companies. The focus of such discussions tends to center on the “transactional” aspects of the techniques and the associated financial projections.

  • A balanced approach to estate planning

    In our work over the years with family-owned enterprises, we have encountered a number of different philosophies and approaches to estate planning, which is one of the critical components of a successful transition from one generation to the next. In some cases, a concern with saving on estate taxes dominates the planning process and has excluded from consideration other factors, such as the impact of the plan on the family and the business.

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