By Christy F. “Chris”  Harris, Of Counsel
Fri, Apr 01, 2022 at 2:00PM


After years of assisting clients who wanted “estate planning” or “business planning”, I have often wondered why so few realize the important relationship between the two and the need for a well thought out “estate and business plan”.

As a brief example, the sole proprietor of a successful business will often ask for estate planning advice, but seldom ask for advice regarding succession planning, disability or death or the disposition planning for the business on retirement or death, which is often the potentially the most valuable and income productive asset of his or her family.  Sadly, successful business owners often suffer disability or pass away without combined estate and business planning and thereby devalue their largest asset or prevent its successful continuation for the benefit of surviving family members and/or loyal employees.

As a client or potential client of our firm, who has interest in integrated estate and business planning or review of an existing estate and/or business plan and integrating your existing plan for better results, please consider your need for one or more of the following estate or business planning concepts and documents:

  • Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate Designation Forms
  • Living Will
  • Revocable, Irrevocable, Charitable or other specialty Trusts utilized for family estate, business and tax planning
  • Business Entity Selection and Ownership Options (while maintaining control of management)
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Business Buy/Sell Agreement (for family members or loyal and knowledgeable employees)
  • Corporate Stockholder Agreement (containing succession or buy-sell terms)
  • Limited Liability Company Operating Agreement (containing succession or buy-sell terms)
  • Partnership or Joint Venture (containing succession or buy-sell terms)
  • Stock or Membership Equity Voting Trust Agreement (for maintaining control during lifetime ownership and succession planning changes)
  • Avoidance or Minimization of Personal Liability Through Careful Management and Control
  • Insurance Planning for disability, death and the resulting loss of business and personal income (I personally benefitted from this planning years ago, when I suffered a devastating stroke)

When set-up properly and properly integrated, these concepts and documents can ensure continuing value and income, as well as tax savings, for you and your family.

I am also writing this to remind you that the above estate and business planning tools and your personal and business plans and assets are generally not static in nature and changes in their value, method of ownership, business purpose or the like should be reviewed at least every few years, and may need to be updated from time to time.  The same applies to estate and business tax planning.

Changes in your business and/or personal situation, such as a divorce, second marriage, births, deaths, disability, health issues, addition of a business partner, impending retirement, the need for business succession planning or changes in the value of your personal and/or business assets or their method of ownership (joint or individual), can also affect your estate and/or business plan, and you should consider providing for these changes in your estate and/or business planning documents.

There have also been several changes in the estate and income tax laws in the last few years that may affect the disposition and taxation of your assets and income, both before and after death.

Please take the time to think about your current estate and business plan, to re-calculate the value of your assets (remembering to include life insurance benefits on policies you own or have control over, IRA’s and Profit Sharing, Pension or 401K plans), and determine your current circumstances and whether they may have changed since the preparation of your estate and/or business plan.  If you have any questions regarding your estate or business plan or any general legal questions, or if you need to review or update your existing documents, please call our firm for assistance or for a counselling session on any of these issues.

Upon request, we can also provide an estate and business planning questionnaire to assist you in your review.

If you need assistance with Estate or Business Planning, please contact our office at 386-252-1561.

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