Financial planning for business owners: Four digital reminders you should have on your calendar
The life of a business owner is busy, chaotic, and exhilarating; but focusing on so many urgent matters doesn’t leave much time to address important formalities. Consistent planning with your advisory team — instead of waiting until a major life event occurs — is far less disruptive over time. It can be as simple as setting a recurring reminder in your calendar.
Governing documents — like operating agreements, partnership agreements, shareholder agreements and buy-sell agreements — should be reviewed and updated. This becomes especially important if the ownership of your company has changed. Schedule time with your attorney to discuss changes in your family and business life and have them revise your documents to keep pace with changes in the law. Remember to keep minutes regarding important company decisions, too!
3-year reminder: Check in with attorney to refresh corporate documents.
It is important to prepare an emergency succession plan and review it annually to ensure it still reflects who does what in the first 90 days after an unexpected death or disability. An attorney can help ensure that the terms of the governing documents and the emergency succession plan do not conflict. A long-term succession plan is a heavier lift and could take years to design. Setting aside time to consider what to do in retirement is an important annual exercise that you may find invigorates your goal setting for the year.
- Review emergency succession plan: Changes needed?
- Consider long-term succession plan and consult with advisers.
Insurance premiums are the price a business owner pays to keep things simple. In the event of an owner’s death or disability, well managed insurance policies create liquidity without diluting ownership. When a buy-sell agreement is in place, usually there is also a life insurance policy in place to fund that buy-sell, so it is important to periodically confirm that the policy size is appropriate considering the company’s growth. More growth may mean more estate planning problems, too. In addition to supporting a buy-sell agreement, life insurance can serve as an estate tax payment technique creating liquidity without diluting company ownership.
2-year reminder: Review insurance policies with insurance adviser.
Keep in mind that estate planning is not just for the ultra-rich and is especially important for business owners. If a closely-held business is administered through probate court, then the valuation report associated with that business will become a matter of public record open for competitors to review. Be sure to discuss the following questions with your estate planning attorney:
- How should assets — including the business and associated real estate — be titled?
- What creditor protection features can be added to my trust to ensure that the company stays in the family?
- Is my estate plan equitable?
- Are there tax planning opportunities? Changes in your family, your business, and the law are all reasons to make sure you understand your estate plan.
1-year reminder: Review beneficiary designations on insurance and retirement accounts.
3-to-5-year reminder: Review estate plan with adviser.
The primary function of reminders is that often they travel with you. There aren't many places anyone goes without a phone nowadays! Hopefully this quick guide helps you stay on track.
Terence L. Horan
President & Chief Executive Officer, HORAN Wealth
Andrea D. Costa
Vice President of Financial Planning, HORAN Wealth
About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.