For every business, changes in leadership or ownership are simultaneously exciting and difficult. For family-owned and other closely held businesses, however, such transitions can be particularly challenging, given the complex mix of personal relationships, business goals and financial pressures.
Our private client lawyers help clients balance short- and long-term individual, family and business objectives, often identifying and resolving issues that might be overlooked by experienced counsel focused solely on commercial matters. We provide full-spectrum business succession counsel that can help ensure the current and future viability of a company or holding company, preserve value, and create predictability across generations—whether the transition is part of a planned retirement or sale of stock, or the result of the unexpected death or disability of an owner or senior executive.
Effective succession planning for closely held businesses should begin at the formation of a company and continue as the enterprise evolves. At the launch of a new business, we counsel clients on the various legal structures available to them, including S corporations, family limited partnerships (FLPs), limited liability companies (LLCs) and other entities, review the various tax and other advantages of these types of companies, and consider the potential challenges that may arise when owners, family members or shareholders seek to liquidate their interests or transfer ownership of the business.
As a business matures, we counsel clients on appropriate procedures and effective operations of entities, prepare required tax filings and other reports, and handle routine administration. As senior leadership prepares to shift ownership and executive responsibilities to the next generation, we help develop provisions for disposition or transfer of stock, negotiate buy-sell agreements, identify exit strategies, conduct appropriate valuations of business interest, and recommend strategies—including the establishment of trusts, private annuities and lifetime gifting arrangements—that maximize tax burdens and minimize the likelihood of disputes.