Strong leadership is necessary for the success and legacy of any business. But “life happens,” and changes in leadership are inevitable. Company owners, shareholders, family members, and other key personnel retire, experience a decline in health, and sometimes pass away unexpectedly. Without a business succession plan, these kinds of changes can mean the end of  a company. Business success planning increases the chances for the survival of one’s business upon disability, retirement or death of current owners. Organizations that are prepared with a carefully thought-out succession plan in place can weather unforeseen events or retirement of the owners while maximizing the company’s value, minimizing tax exposure, and continuing to thrive.

At Pierro, Connor & Strauss, we offer a full range of legal services to business owners. We help our clients understand their business succession planning options and tailor a plan that serves their goals.

Business Succession Planning Team
Louis W. Pierro
Theresa M. Skaine
Hanna Dameron

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First steps in business succession planning

Ideally, business owners have an eye toward succession at the initial stage of businesses formation. Among other things, their choice of entity impacts an owner’s personal liability for the business’s operations, how many individuals or entities can be owners, how the business and owners are taxed, and how an owner’s estate planning impacts the business.

Whether you are just starting your business or are implementing a business succession plan during operations, an experienced New York business planning attorney will take inventory of your goals and use business and estate planning tools to design a succession plan. Some factors include:

  • Which kinds of your assets are tied up in the business?
  • Do you intend to eventually sell the business or keep it in the family?
  • If you intend to keep the business in the family, who will run it?

For many family-owned business, owners avoid succession planning to delay uncomfortable family conversations and because thinking about an unknown future can simply be unpleasant. However, proactive planning with the assistance of business succession planning attorneys allows owners to identify points of vulnerability, groom rising talent internally, prepare an alternative exit strategy, and tailor individual estate plans that fit within the interests of business succession.

Business succession considerations in estate planning

An owner’s interest in his or her business may simply be passed down to heirs, partners, shareholders, or any person or entity designated by legally enforceable documents. Thoughtfully applied state planning tools can minimize the negative effects of a sudden change in leadership.

An experienced attorney can help you decide which tools are right for you. Options include:

  • Trusts to hold business interests and assets
  • A will or another tool to address how children with different roles regarding the business will be treated as beneficiaries
  • Insurance products to facilitate buy-outs by co-owners and provide for beneficiaries
  • Buy-sell agreements addressing continuity of operations and addressing questions like valuation of stock and rights of first refusal
  • Tools to address incentives for key employees for their continued contributions
  • Foundations that can steer a company’s future and nurture future leaders while minimizing tax impacts

If you own a business and do not have estate plans in place, it is wise to discuss them. If you already have estate plans that address your business interests, take a look at when they were written. It may be time to review and revise your will and trust documents, buy-sell agreements, business organizational documents, and other documents that can impact the business’s continuity.

Let Pierro, Connor & Strauss plan your business succession

A successful business succession plan requires in-depth experience in both business planning and estate planning. No two plans are the same; a sole proprietor’s estate plan will look much different from an LLC, C-Corp or S-Corp succession planning strategy. The attorneys at Pierro, Connor & Strauss are committed to providing individualized attention. We work hand-in-hand with clients to ensure that their business plans are custom-tailored to their needs and goals.

Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC provides legal services to clients in ten locations that include Albany and the Capital Region, New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Hudson, Utica, Lake Placid, Clark, NJ, Falmouth, MA, and Clearwater, FL. We provide services in estate and trust planning, business planning, and tax planning to ensure our client’s succession planning needs are covered. Even if you already have a plan in place, call us today to speak with an attorney about drafting or reviewing and revising a business succession plan.

Life Happens…..Are You Prepared?

Contact us today for a FREE consultation and we’ll be happy to help take the worry out of tomorrow so you can live today.

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