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In a co-own busienss, what happen if one of the partner suddenly incapacitated (death / critical illness / disable by accident)?
If your partner were suddenly incapacitated, who would take over his or her shares of the business? In many events, control might go to heirs with little, if any, working knowledge of the day-to-day operations of the company, or sold to some unknown bidder. Uncertainty can be dangerous to maintaining good relations with clients, employees and creditors. A buy-sell agreement between you and your partner is a legal framework that ensures a smooth transition in the event of the unexpected. The agreement provides cash for the business partner's shares at a pre-arranged price, providing stability to both you and your co-owner's heirs.
The buy-sell agreement can be funded in a number of ways. Upon the end of the partnership and the subsequent buyout, the surviving owner may use business or personal cash to purchase the shares at an arranged price. However, savings accumulate over time and unexpected expenses can arise. What if, at the buyout event, sufficient funds are not present? Also, there may be tax concerns associated with large accumulated savings accounts. Another option involves borrowing funds from a bank. This method has drawbacks as well, including the costs of borrowing and potential problems securing a loan.
Cross-purchase life insurance has become a common way to fund buy-sell agreements. With this funding mechanism, the business buys life insurance policies on the lives of the co-owners. In the event that an owner dies or is incapacitated, the remaining owner, as beneficiary, collects on the policy and uses the proceeds to buy his or her partner's shares from other heirs. There are many benefits to using life insurance to fund buy-sell agreements, including immediate access to the money when death or disability occurs, and the fact that in many instances, the life insurance proceeds used to buy the remaining shares are attained at a significant discount to the shares' value.
Detailed financial planning is important through all stages of a business' development, so talk to your partner about a buy-sell agreement if it hasn't been set up already. A financial planner can help you navigate through the various options to find a plan that's right for you, your partner and your family.