In the first part of our two-part series on business loan insurance solutions, we introduced the concept of these life insurance plans and how they can provide advantages to businesses of many types. We contrasted unincorporated versus corporate business interests, went over the financial hardships that may be experienced in a business owner’s untimely death, and talked about the many benefits such a plan provides.
In this article, we will delve into the mechanics of a business loan insurance plan and how they work to protect both business and personal assets. Finally, we will provide both a summary and a checklist to give business owners the information they need to make sound financial decisions. As with any business insurance plan, it is important to seek out the expertise of a qualified insurer to find the plan options that meet the specific needs of each individual business interest.
How Do Business Loan Insurance Plans Work?
Business loan insurance policies are economical and efficient methods for protecting critical business (and personal) assets. If a business owner were to die unexpectedly, any outstanding business debt would still need to be repaid, either through remaining business assets or by tapping into personal financial assets.
Let’s take a look at the mechanics of this insurance plan to understand how it works for a given business:
First, like many businesses, the business itself or its owner obtains a business loan or makes arrangements for an open line of credit. Lenders and creditors will require sole proprietor/sole partner businesses to personally guarantee repayment of the debt. Larger companies, such as multi-owner/multi-partner operations or corporations, may still have to provide assurances that the loan debt will be repaid.
To guarantee the funds needed to repay the loan debt in the case of an owner’s unexpected death, the business or business owner purchases a life insurance policy in an amount roughly equal to the outstanding loan. The business or owner pays the premiums on the policy, which are typically non-tax-deductible. For the purposes of this policy, the business is named as the beneficiary or the owner names a specific personal beneficiary, depending on the structure of the company and which entity actually owns the insurance policy. To summarize:
In many cases, creditors/lenders may require the assignment of collateral benefits of the policy, as their financial interests are at stake.
At the business owner’s death, benefits of the insurance plan kick in. Proceeds from the policy are paid income-tax-free, and are used primarily to pay the outstanding loan debt and any interest that has accrued on the debt. If the policy was assigned to the creditor(s) as mentioned above (collateral benefits), then the proceed payments go directly from the insurer to the creditor(s). If the business is named as the beneficiary, or the owner assigns a personal beneficiary, proceed payments will be made to them for repayment of the loan debt.
Any policy proceeds in excess of the amount needed to satisfy the outstanding debt can be used by the beneficiary to cover any financial needs that may have arisen at the owner’s death. These excess proceeds can often be used to pay for surviving family member expenses or sometimes to indemnify the business against the loss of the owner and his or her experience and skill.
Potential Value of Business Loan Insurance Proceeds
Value of the Tax-Free Insurance Proceeds
There are many advantages to business loan insurance plans. Many companies can benefit from obtaining such an insurance policy to protect their interests and assets from creditors in the event of an unforeseen owner death. There are other benefits, particularly in the value these policies (and their proceeds) represent.
The value of insurance proceeds received tax-free upon the death of the owner can be quite significant, especially when compared to t pre-tax profits or their equivalents. An example to illustrate this value can be useful: imagine a company existing in the 25% tax bracket. With a business loan insurance policy in place, $100,000 of tax-free proceeds from that policy are equivalent to $133,333 in pre-tax profits.
To make this value even clearer, consider that depending on a company’s profit margin, the sales required to reach $133,333 in pre-tax profits can be substantial. A company with a 10% profit margin would have to have $1,333,333 in sales; a company with a 20% profit margin would expect $666,667 in sales, and a company with a 30% profit margin would need $444,444 in sales to reach that $133,333 pre-tax profits number. So, with a $100,000 business loan insurance policy in place, the proceeds from this policy resulting from the death of the business owner could replace $666,667 of sales or receipts that would have to be used to satisfy any outstanding loan debt. This is assuming a 20% profit margin for the example company.
A Checklist and Action Plan for Businesses
Smart businesses protect their assets, no matter the circumstances. Small business owners that carry business debt must also protect their personal assets, as many lenders require personal guarantees of business loan repayment. Business loan protection insurance can provide that critical asset protection. There are three steps business owners should take now, including:
In the short term, there are additional steps to take to ensure that this valuable and important insurance is ready to protect business assets. These short-term steps include:
Draft and execute a resolution to authorize the purchase of business loan protection insurance if appropriate for the needs of the company and its ownership.
Execute any collateral benefit assignments, particularly if required by lenders/creditors.
Review the issued insurance policy to make sure it meets all needs. Make adjustments with the insurer as necessary.
Finally, companies change from year to year, and their needs will also change. It is a good idea to establish an annual review of all insurance policies, including business loan protection insurance, to ensure they remain current to the specific needs and circumstances of the business and its owners. It is also a good idea for businesses to evaluate their business continuation planning needs, such as establishing a buy-sell plan in case of death or permanent disability of the owner or other key employees.
Companies around the world insure their assets with business insurance. This is designed to protect from financial losses arising from property and equipment damage or destruction, such as in the case of certain natural disasters. Protecting key employees, however, is a commonly-overlooked area for many firms. Most people know that successful businesses are made up of more than just buildings and equipment, and the employees are a major contributor to the success or failure of a given business operation. In fact, it can be argued that employees are among a company’s most valuable assets.
To fill the gap, protecting both the company’s physical assets and its most valuable employees, key employee indemnification insurance policies are a great solution. In this two-part article series, we will investigate what may happen to a company if critical personnel should die, and the solution for protecting against financial losses associated with that death.
When Key Employees are Lost
Businesses are comprised of far more than physical assets like buildings, equipment, product inventory, and vehicles. Employees form the core of any business operation. As some of the most valuable assets a company can have, certain employees with extensive experience or unique talents tend to stand out. These are called “key employees”, and such employees can account for much of the success a business enjoys. Key employees include managers, department leaders, and directors, but are not limited to these categories. Such employees may be:
What happens when key employees were to die unexpectedly? First, profits may suffer. Businesses may also have to face significant expenses in recruiting and training suitable replacements for the lost employee(s). There both tangible and intangible losses a company may experience, including:
When a valued employee central to the operation is lost, it is clear that companies may face significant hurdles, both financially as well as in relationships with other employees or business partners. It is also clear that a logical move would be for a company to protect itself against these losses. How can companies protect themselves and their financial interests?
Key Employee Indemnification Insurance
A potential solution for protecting against the tangible financial losses of an unexpected death of critical employees is that of life insurance, specifically key employee indemnification insurance. In simple terms, this is an insurance policy purchased by a business to compensate that business for financial losses that would arise from the death or long-term disability of important company employees. This type of insurance is sometimes referred to as key man or key person insurance.
A key employee indemnification policy is typically a life insurance policy purchased on any employee who is considered a critical part of the business operation. Proceeds from such a policy can be used for a number of purposes, including:
There are many advantages in having these policies on critical employees. When a key employee dies unexpectedly or becomes permanently disabled and can no longer fulfill his or her duties, insurance proceeds work to maintain business continuity and to offset any potential financial hurdles the company may experience.
We’ve learned what key employee indemnification insurance is and how it can protect a company from financial loss when a critical employee dies or becomes permanently disabled. We’ve also talked about how the proceeds may be used for a wide range of purposes. In our next article in this two-part series, we will go over the components of key employee indemnification policies and how they work, including tax implications. Finally, we will provide a summary of the benefits these financial protection solutions provide to companies that rely on their most valued employees.
In our first article about business expense protection, we discussed the odds of a business owner becoming disabled at some point in his or her career. We also talked about typical business overhead expenses and the potential funding sources that can be used to pay for these expenses while the owner is disabled. We also covered three scenarios that impact the future of a given business. Finally, we introduced the concept of business overhead expense protection as the sole means of providing reliable funding for the business as the owner recovers from a disability.
Business Overhead Expense Protection Explained
Business owners may opt to purchase a business overhead expense protection policy. This is a type of insurance product available from many business-oriented insurers. This method of protection is the only reliable source of funds to pay for overhead expenses, especially as compared to the alternatives of draining business and personal savings accounts, conducting a forced liquidation of the business, or taking out a loan.
There are significant advantages associated with this type of business insurance. After purchasing such a policy, the business owner can pay overhead expenses during the recovery period from a short-term disability. This can ensure that when recovery is complete, the business will still be a going concern and can resume its operation when the owner returns.
In addition to providing a reliable means of paying for overhead expenses when the owner becomes disabled, this insurance protection can also accomplish:
In simple terms, business overhead expense protection insurance is a relatively affordable and efficient means of providing funds needed to keep the company running, covering expenses like rent, salaries, utility costs, and mortgages, only to name a few of the many overhead expenses a typical business faces.
How Does a Business Overhead Expense Protection Policy Work?
To understand a business overhead expense policy, it is useful to know its makeup and how it is configured. The owner of the business is insured by the policy, which is in turn owned by the owner or the business. For sole proprietorships, the owner is the policy owner as well. In businesses that are arranged as corporations or partnerships, the business itself is listed as the policy owner. Premiums paid to the policy are paid by the policy owner (individual or business). If the business owner becomes disabled as defined in the specific language of the insurance policy, the benefits are paid directly to the policy owner (the beneficiary of the policy).
If the owner becomes disabled, benefits covering all taxable business overhead expenses are paid to the policy owner. In general, these insurance policies provide coverage for up to two years of disability, which typically gives the business owner sufficient time to recover and to return to operation. If the disability is longer than the term in the policy, this two-year coverage window is usually sufficient for the owner to arrange an orderly and equitable business liquidation or sale. So, in other words, such a policy covers overhead expenses and buys the time needed to recover without rushing into a situation that may impact the future of the business operation.
As discussed earlier, any overhead expense benefits paid from the policy are reportable as income and are subject to taxation. However, business expenses actually paid by the benefits are eligible for tax deductions. Typically, there will be no additional income tax payable, eliminating the tax burden on the disabled business owner. The only potential tax implication is if benefits paid by the policy exceed overhead expenses. The overage may need to have tax paid on it as income.
Finally, premiums paid by the policy owner are fully tax deductible. This tax advantage is regardless of the type of business entity, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or corporations.
Final Words on Business Overhead Expense Protection
After evaluating the potential for a business to be impacted by the owner’s short-term or long-term disability, it is clear that there are few easy answers. Business owners face significant odds in becoming disabled for 90 days or longer at some point before they reach the age of 65. Faced with a disability, the business owner and his or her family must scramble to make several very tough decisions; should they sell the business? Liquidate its assets? Try to maintain the business until the owner can return? It can be a difficult and confusing situation for even the savviest business professional.
Business overhead expense protection stands as the logical and economical solution to these difficult situations. As a form of business insurance policy, overhead expense protection insurance allows the business to continue, paying overhead expenses as it goes along and allowing the business owner to recover without the financial worries associated with the company’s operation. Business insurance agencies can help company owners find the right policy to meet their specific needs, regardless of business type.
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The decision to liquidate a family-owned business is not one to be taken lightly. The death of a business owner, or a situation where the owner becomes disabled and is no longer able to manage business operations, can cause family members to feel pressure to divest themselves of business assets. This can have long-ranging negative effects.
In the first part of our series on business liquidation insurance, we discussed two potential scenarios, that of a forced liquidation or of a planned business liquidation. We also talked about some of the difficult decisions surviving family members must make regarding the future of the business or its sale. In this part, we will introduce the concept of business liquidation insurance, particularly the role of life insurance in buying time to dispose of the business assets in an advantageous manner.
Considerations on Business Liquidation Insurance
There are many types of insurance, including policies that protect business assets as well as life insurance policies designed to provide income after death or disability of the policy owner. For the purposes of this discussion, life insurance is the focus for business liquidation purposes.
As mentioned in our previous installment, a planned (or unplanned) business liquidation requires that the owner’s executor and/or family members need time to address the sale of the business, helping it to command a sale price that is fair and adequate. Rushing into a quick sale of a business after the owner dies or becomes disabled, or being forced into such a situation due to the lack of funds after the owner dies, can result in significant loss of value. Life insurance may be the solution that buys time.
In the Event of a Business Owner Death
When the liquidation of a business and its assets become the sole course of action when a business owner dies, life insurance can provide the financial liquidity needed to plan the sale of the business. Without adequate funds, the family of the deceased or his or her executor may be forced into a sale, creating a potential financial disaster for surviving family members. Life insurance can be put to use in several ways during a planned business liquidation:
In simple terms, only life insurance policies can protect a family’s financial future in the case of a business liquidation. The guaranteed funds from such a policy can stave off a forced liquidation, allowing family members or executors the time needed to make smart and advantageous decisions on the sale. Of course, the guarantee is dependent on the claims-paying ability of the policyholder and the insurer itself.
Insurance in the Event of Business Owner Disability
The disability of a business owner can take many forms. An owner may become disabled for a short period of time or may face a long-term or even permanent disability. It goes without saying that any disability severely impacts the owner’s ability to conduct business, and in many cases may result in the need to liquefy the business and its assets.
When a disability occurs, a business owner and his or her family will want time to make tough decisions about the future of business operations. As in the case of an owner death, life insurance buys critical time for the planned liquidation to occur.
For a short-term disability, it can be useful to consider the following scenario: imagine the owner wishes to keep the company operating while he or she recuperates and to avoid a forced business liquidation. As might be expected, business expenses continue to accrue, and the need for an income is paramount. Two special types of insurance policy may be valuable in providing continuity of business interests. In the first, business overhead expense insurance can be used to reimburse costs incurred by the business owner during a short-term disability. Disability income insurance is similar in that these policies are designed to provide income, especially lost income due to the disability.
Longer-term disability considerations are also similar. Loss of income can mean a forced business liquidation, and funds are needed to put an advantageous liquidation plan into place. In the case when a business owner is sick for an extended period of time and unable to work, disability income insurance serves as an income replacement. This helps provide the time needed to make decisions about the future of the business, such as who it will be sold to, its fair sale value, and when the sale may take place.
An Action Checklist for Business Liquidation Insurance
Now that we’ve learned the value of life insurance in buying the time needed to liquefy a business, an action plan can be useful. In the following checklist, there are three components: implementing a life insurance plan, implementing a disability insurance plan, and conducting an annual review of policy coverage.
Implementing a Life Insurance Plan:
Implementing a Disability Insurance Plan:
Smart business owners know that circumstances change. Because of these changes, it is critical to review insurance coverage, policy premiums, and specific terms on an annual basis. The guidance of a qualified insurance agent can be greatly beneficial during this review, helping business owners make the financial decisions needed to ensure a smooth business liquidation if the situation arises.
There are many factors that influence the success or failure of a business. The costs of doing business, including manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of products or services are some of these financial factors. Overhead costs, such as rents, employee salaries, and utilities can also eat into the profitability of a given company.
If the company’s owner and/or key employees should die unexpectedly or become disabled and cannot work, overhead costs continue to pile up. Business operating expenses may be protected using a specialized form of insurance that helps to cover overhead costs in cases of disability or loss of the owner. These policies provide money when it is needed, and premiums are generally considered tax-deductible business expenses. Business overhead expense insurance policies protect a company from forced liquidation, helping to preserve the hard work and market share the company has developed over its time in operation. In this guide, we will introduce business overhead protection plans and discuss options available to business owners.
Before delving into business overhead protection plans, it is useful to take a look at statistics associated with disability. The odds of a business owner becoming disabled for 90 days or longer before reaching the age of 65 is surprisingly high. If there is more than one owner, the odds increase dramatically. For example, a single business owner aged 30 has a 54% chance of becoming disabled for 90 days or longer. A business with 5 owners, all around the age of 30, shows a 98% chance of one of the owners becoming disabled.
The odds drop with age, but the numbers are still significant. Building on the example above, a single owner aged 55 has a 25% chance of a 90-day or longer disability. With 5 owners the same age, there is a 76% chance one of those owners will become disabled.
The length of disability is high as well. For disabilities lasting longer than 90 days, the average duration of the disability is approximately 2.2 years for a business owner aged 30. For a 55-year-old owner, the average duration of disability is right at 2.5 years. These numbers have serious implications for business operations.
How Will Business Overhead Expenses Be Paid?
In the case of a long-term disability or the death of one or more primary business owners, many companies struggle to pay for the day-to-day expenses associated with keeping the business running. Day-to-day expenses, or business overhead, consists of costs like:
These costs continue to stack up, even if the owner were to become disabled and cannot work. Of course, these expenses must continue to be paid, regardless of the circumstances. The business and its leaders have important decisions to make regarding the future of the business and its continued operation, especially when it comes to a long-term disability.
Alternatives in Cases of Owner Disability
When a business owner becomes disabled for a length of time, three potential scenarios as to the future of the business arise. Each scenario has its own advantages and disadvantages. The first is to sell the business, which can serve as a relatively viable alternative only if the current owner wishes to sell and can identify an interested party with the funds needed to complete the sale on favorable terms.
A business may liquidate – and, in fact, financial analysts refer to this scenario as a forced liquidation. The business may be disposed of rather quickly in this scenario, but the terms may not be favorable. The business may sell for a fraction of its true value, especially when contrasted to the value of the business if it was still operating with an eye to the future. Owners and family members may also rush into agreements before carefully evaluating the business operation and its intrinsic value.
Finally, remaining owners and family members may wish to maintain the business. This has advantages when the owner’s disability is considered to be a short-term situation; he or she can return when recovery is complete. Without a viable source of income, however, operating expenses pile up and the remaining alternative may end in a company sale or forced liquidation.
Funding Sources for Overhead Costs
Business expenses continue to accrue, even if a business owner is disabled. There are several potential sources of income to cover these expenses. As with the scenarios discussed above, there are strengths and weaknesses to each of these income sources – and most stand out as insufficiently reliable to ensure business continuity. Funding sources include:
Business and Personal Savings – smart business owners know that they need to create a savings plan to hedge against future circumstances. However, saving revenues can be a lengthy process. If a business owner were to set aside 10% of revenues each year, it may take 10 years or more to save one year’s worth of business revenue. Owners facing a long-term disability may consider dipping into personal savings to cover overhead costs, but this can create further financial instability and hamper the ability to pay for personally-related expenses.
Loans – a loan is an option, but finding a lender willing to fund a loan while the owner is disabled is difficult, at best.
Asset Liquidation – a business may opt to sell a portion of its assets, including equipment, inventory, properties, and vehicles. Again, this option is considered a forced or emergency liquidation. Selling assets can interfere with the continued operation, and it also lowers the value of the overall business.
Personal Disability Income – like personal savings, a business owner may attempt to cover operating expenses with this income source. However, the owner and his or her family’s expenses will still need to be covered, and using disability income for business means that it may create significant financial hurdles for the family.
There is only one reliable source of funds to pay for business overhead expenses. Referred to as business overhead expense protection, this funding source has many advantages over the alternatives. In our next article, we will go over the highlights of this source, helping business owners to make smart decisions about the future of their operations.
Family-owned businesses are unique in the world of commerce. These businesses may have started simple, then grown over the years to become local, regional, or even national powerhouses. Family businesses may be passed down from generation to generation.
When a business owner dies or becomes disabled and is no longer able to handle business operations, family members are often confronted with difficult decisions. This is especially true when there are no heirs to pass a business down to, or they are uninterested in continuing operations. Business liquidation may become the only option available. In this guide, we will discuss the concept of business liquidation insurance, when it is appropriate, and how to make smart decisions concerning the final disposition of a business interest.
Liquidating a Business: Tough Decisions Ahead
As mentioned earlier, family-owned businesses are often multi-generational affairs. The business is handed down to subsequent generations. What if, however, the business owner dies and doesn’t have a trusted family member to pass the company down to? What if surviving heirs are not interested in carrying on business operations? What if the owner becomes disabled and cannot carry on the duties he or she needs to complete to keep the business running? What if no other outside buyer is interested in purchasing the company from surviving heirs? These are difficult questions, and raise the possibility of very tough decisions. In these cases, a business liquidation may be called for.
Let’s dig a little deeper and explore two scenarios that may make a liquidation the only outcome, particularly when the current owner dies or becomes disabled:
Faced with the sudden death or disability of the current business owner, there are two potential scenarios of a business liquidation: forced or planned.
A Forced Liquidation
Without a successor plan in place, if a business owner were to die or become disabled in some way as to not be able to continue business operations, a forced business liquidation can be the only recourse. This is often the case when surviving heirs inherit business interests and are disinteresting in continuing. In a forced liquidation, public knowledge of the potential liquidation of the business can create incredible pressure on those who are left with the operation. This pressure can lead to unpleasant results, including:
The major takeaway of a forced liquidation is that in this situation, the value of the business can be greatly reduced. The value of a business is always unpredictable, but a forced liquidation further complicates the picture.
A Planned Liquidation
Smart business owners know that nothing lasts forever. For business owners without heirs, or with family members or business partners that may not wish to continue the business operation after the owner dies or becomes disabled, strategic planning for future liquidation is a logical move.
There are two major components to consider when planning for a future liquidation: Authority and Time.
Authority: while a business owner is still alive or able to conduct business without disability, he or she generally has the authority needed to sell the business or its assets. This authority includes who the business can be sold to, how much to sell the business or its assets for, and when the sale might take place. For the purposes of a liquidation, it is critical that the executor of the owner’s wishes have the same decision-making authority. This authority is often granted in a well-drafted will.
In the will, specific details must be included. These give the executor the power to decide how and to whom the business is sold, how much to sell the business and/or its assets, and what form of payment will be accepted in the sale. The will should also include provisions for the timing of the sale; executors should be given the power to decide to continue operating the business until it can be liquidated in an advantageous manner. Finally, personal liability provisions included in the will should protect the executor from any personal liability, covering reasonable actions taken in the continued operation and eventual sale of the business and its assets.
Time: a disabled owner or the executor of the owner’s wishes after death still needs adequate time to make decisions about the future of the business and its liquidation. Here, there are two scenarios that must be considered in the planning stage. The first scenario is the owner’s death. In that event, the deceased owner’s estate must have sufficient funds available to buy the time needed to liquidate the business assets in a manner that is advantageous to the surviving family’s financial interests. Funds may be needed to pay estate settlement costs, estate taxes, and to provide an income for surviving family members. Without sufficient funding for these costs set aside, the executor may be forced to move too quickly in liquidating the business, potentially losing significant value, not to mention market leverage.
In the second scenario, the owner becomes disabled. Here again, adequate liquidity in finances makes it possible for the owner to sell the property at a fair market value rather than being forced to move too quickly. Income for expenses and for family needs buys the time necessary to liquidate the business assets in an orderly manner.
Business Liquidation Insurance
In our next article – part two of this series — we will discuss the option of business liquidation insurance and how it can protect the value of business assets in the case of death or disability of the owner. This generally takes the form of life insurance to provide funding needed for orderly and fair liquidation of the business interests.
Passing down a successful business from generation to generation is the goal of many business owners, as discussed in our previous piece.
With advanced planning involving an insured Section 303 stock redemption plan, many obstacles that occur at the owner’s death can be avoided. Some obstacles that a Section 303 helps to avoid are:
Facts, Features, and Funding a Section 303
Funding a corporate Section 303 stock redemption plan can occur in three different ways:
Of the three different ways, the insured method is the only one that guarantees that the cash needed to redeem the stock at the owner’s death will be available.
The features of a Section 303 stock redemption plan can help a business owner accomplish the following:
Some important facts to remember when constructing a Section 303 stock redemption plan include:
Taking all of the above into consideration, any current and future estate tax provisions should be taken planned for when the retention of shares occurs in a closely-held corporation at a shareholder’s death.
Estate Planning Considerations
The federal estate tax is a progressive tax which increases from 18% up to as much as 40% based on the taxable value of an estate. This tax is essentially a transfer tax levied on the privilege of transferring property at the death of the owner.
If a property is transferred while the owner is still living, a federal gift tax is imposed on the transfer. The tax is not a tax on the asset itself, but rather on the right to transfer the asset. However, the determined amount of tax payable is measured by the value of the transferred asset.
Next, once the federal estate or gift tax is determined, the amount is reduced by a gift and estate tax unified credit. For taxable estates with a value less than or equal to the unified credit, federal estate taxes will not be due. A cumulative lifetime taxable gift also falls under the same rules, but the gift amount is added back to the value of the owner’s estate to determine federal estate taxes.
In 2018, the unified credit equivalent, as adjusted for inflation, is $11,200,000. This means that an individual may transfer, as a gift or after death, an amount over $11,000,000 without incurring any tax liability.
Additionally, a spouse may also take advantage of any unused portion of the estate tax unified credit ($11,200,000), not used by the other spouse. With careful estate planning, a married couple can essentially shield over $22 million from the federal estate and gift tax.
The estate tax deferral allows the payment of this estate tax that is attributable to the value of the closely-held business included in the estate to be deferred for a time period of up to five years.
Generation-skipping Transfer Tax
The generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT) involves skipping a generation when transferring property. Since the federal government collects taxes on property transfers from one generation to the next immediate generation, such as father to son, the GSTT allows an estate owner to skip the children and transfer property to a family member who is two or more generations removed, such as grandfather to grandson. By doing this, the government is deprived of any estate taxes that might have been collected on the property by children of the property owner.
A generation-skipping transfer more than the available exemptions is subject to the maximum federal estate and gift tax rate of 40% for 2018. The GSTT is an additional tax due and payable by the estate, transferor, or the trustee of the trust set up in a generation-skipping transfer.
There are many different legal ways to avoid paying the government more than it is trying to take. A Section 303 stock redemption plan funded by life insurance is one very advantageous way to set up a series of events at the owner’s death that will leave the surviving family members and the family business in secure financial shape.
As with any complex business and estate plan, talk with a qualified financial advisor. Plan with flexibility in order to adjust to an uncertain tax future. Protect your family and your legacy today by talking with a financial advisor.
Business owners who intend to leave their successful business to one or more children should consider an insured Section 303 stock redemption plan for estate tax purposes.
No one wants to give the government more of their hard-earned money than legally obligated. If planned correctly, an owner of a closely held corporation can reduce the amount of taxes paid by the estate once the owner is deceased. For owners of a closely held corporation, several questions arise:
The Answer: Section 303 Stock Redemption Plan
One solution to many of these questions is a Section 303 stock redemption plan. Surprisingly, Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 303 was enacted over 60 years ago in 1954. Congress wanted to make it easier for small business owners to pass along their business from generation to generation. Today, Section 303 can be used for owners of closely held corporations (businesses in which there are few stockholders and a majority of the stock is held by the owner) to sell back the stock to the corporation and provide the surviving family members with enough cash to pay for expenses that result from the owner’s death.
If this code were not in place, many of the distributions in redemption of a deceased shareholder’s stock would be treated as a dividend instead of a capital transaction and would be subject to ordinary income tax rates. However, with Section 303, the qualifying redemption of stock is only taxable to the extent that the redemption exceeds the estate’s basis.
For example, a $2 million distribution, without the protection of Section 303, would be subject to around a $700,000 income tax hit. However, with a Section 303 in place, there would likely be no tax due. This is good news for survivors who need cash to pay death costs such as funeral expenses, estate taxes, and administrative costs.
In order for an amount to qualify for favorable tax treatment granted by Section 303 reaches a limit at the sum of:
For amounts under the $5 million federal tax exemption limit, Section 303 can still be used to offset state inheritance taxes, estate taxes, funeral expenses, and administrative expenses.
In order to qualify for Section 303 treatment, the decedent’s stock included in the gross estate must be more than 35% of the adjusted gross value of the estate. The 35% of stock may be combined from up to 3 different corporate stocks. However, the adjusted gross value of an estate is not known until death occurs. Therefore, advanced planning is highly recommended.
The beneficiary or estate who receives the redeemed stock is not directly liable for the estate taxes, administrative costs, and funeral expenses. However, in order to adhere to Section 303 rules, the recipient of the interest from the redeemed stock is liable and must be directly reduce the amount by paying taxes or expenses, such as estate taxes, administrative costs, and funeral expenses.
The Mechanics of an Insured Section 303 Stock Redemption Plan
An economical and efficient method of providing cash to the family and heirs is with life insurance. This allows settlement of a deceased owner’s estate, while allowing the family to retain controlling interest in the family business.
Using life insurance, owned by the corporation, allows the business to be named as the beneficiary of the policy. The corporation is then responsible for payment of the nondeductible insurance premiums on the owner’s life. The amount is an approximation of the required amount necessary to make the partial stock redemption. The owner and corporation enter into a Section 303 redemption agreement where the corporation agrees, at the owner’s death, to redeem a portion of the owner’s stock that is equal in value to the total estate taxes, funeral costs, and administration expenses. This stock is given to the executor of the estate and is then sold back to the corporation.
At the death of the owner, the corporation receives an income tax-free death benefit from the insurance company. The proceeds from the life insurance policy are sued to buy back a particular portion of the owner’s stock to pay estate taxes, funeral expenses, and administrate costs. Since this amount is not known until the date of death, the amount of life insurance received by the corporation may exceed these costs. If so, the remaining amount is considered as tax-free to the corporation. Then, the remaining stock is distributed to the family which continues controlling interest in the corporation.
There are many different routes that a business owner can take to protect his or her family after their death. IRC Section 303 redemption is just one of them. However, for business owners who determine that upon their death a shortage of cash may harm the business or the family, an insured IRC Section 303 redemption can be a lifesaver.
Even if, at death, the cash is not needed by the estate or the corporation, a Section 303 redemption is a tax-efficient means of removing cash from the business that would have been taxed as a dividend once it was distributed. Since there are no tracing requirements for funds received in a Section 303 redemption, having this plan in place can automatically save thousands of dollars in taxes.
Since an insured Section 303 stock redemption plan is often an involved and complicated endeavor, discussions with a highly qualified financial advisor is needed. Preplanning for the unexpected is definitely a way to protect your business, family, and legacy. Contact a financial advisor today to discuss all of the ways you can use life insurance to protect your most precious assets.
For business owners, leaving a legacy behind for their children is often a driving factor. Leaving that legacy to chance is not.
If the owner of a business passes away, often, the family will have to borrow the cash needed to pay for funeral expenses, taxes on the estate, and ordinary income taxation of stock assets. For those whose main goal is to help avoid these expenses on the family, a Section 303 stock redemption arrangement is a viable option.
For many family-owned businesses, if a son or daughter is willing and able to assume responsibility for operating and owning the business, if steps are not taken beforehand, the death of the business owner may cause insurmountable financial obstacles for the family members who are left to continue to business.
Obstacles to Successful Family Retention
A company that has a limited number of shareholders whose stock is traded publically on occasions is known as a closely held corporation. For these types of businesses, the death of one of the primary shareholders can place a financial burden on, not only the business, but the family as well. Establishing a Section 303 stock redemption arrangement funded with life insurance may be the perfect solution for the shareholder, if:
Some financial obstacles for a closely-held corporation at the death of the owner, include:
Advance planning will help to overcome any of these financial obstacles, leaving the family the ability and assurance of a successful family retention of all business expenses. Without it, there may be no choice but to sell or liquidate the business.
A Potential Solution
One possible solution to an estate liquidity problem is for the corporation to purchase a certain portion of the deceased owner’s stock. This allows the family the much-needed cash to pay an estate settlement bill, while still retaining the important controlling interest in the business.
This would be the perfect solution, except for taxes. When a corporation purchases its own stock, the transaction is treated as dividend income. This means that ordinary income tax would have to be paid by the heirs on all proceeds of the stock redemption. However, there is an exception to this rule that allows a corporation to redeem its own stock with favorable tax conditions.
Section 303 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) states that a corporation may purchase enough of its stock from a deceased owner’s estate to pay any estate taxes, funeral costs, and estate administration expenses. In addition, any gain from a Section 303 stock redemption is taxable as a capital gain. However, since the stock’s value takes a step-up in basis to its fair market value on the date of the owner’s death, the gain realized is usually little to none.
Section 303 and Life Insurance
The IRC allows corporate stock from a deceased owners estate to be redeemed. This transaction is now considered a capital transaction when these proceeds are used to pay estate taxes, state death taxes, and any administrative expenses. Otherwise, the transaction would be considered ordinary income and fall under regular income tax guidelines.
Life insurance allows the corporation to buy and own the life insurance on any key owners or shareholders. In a Section 303 stock redemption agreement, life insurance can help facilitate the arrangement by giving the corporation the liquidity needed to purchase the owner or shareholders company stock after their death. This allows the business to be kept in the family and any liquidity issues at the uncertain time of death. Often, this is the exact time when liquid assets are needed.
Potential Benefits of Using Life Insurance
The benefits of using life insurance in a Section 303 stock redemption agreement allow for:
Death is an uncertain time no matter the circumstances. Adding life insurance can help ease the burden of paying for funeral expenses, taxes, and other unforeseen costs that may arise. In addition, if the family depends on the deceased members’ income, planning ahead elevates the need for drastic changes in living situations, routine, or even future expenses, such as college.
As with any complex financial matter, discussing your concerns with a highly qualified financial advisor will put you, your family, and your business on a path to stability in the event of death. Planning also allows a company to invest in the future and to build a strong, solid presence in the event of an owner’s death.
Americans work hard to achieve the financial security and lifestyles they desire. As we work, many of us are able to use our earning power to purchase homes, save for retirement, do some traveling, and engage in hobbies and other lifestyle activities.
What happens if you were to become seriously ill? How can you protect your financial assets and your lifestyle if faced with a critical illness that impacts your earning and how you live your life? In this series of blog posts, we’ll discuss ways to protect your assets by laying the groundwork and preparing for whatever the future holds. There are several steps one can take to ensure continuity of lifestyle, and our blog series will cover some of the best ways to keep financial assets where they belong: in your care.
What is Earning Power?Before delving into asset protection during a critical illness, it is important to discuss the concept of earning power. In simple terms, this means your ability to earn an income. It is the most valuable of one’s assets, and everything we do is dependent on earning power during our working years.
Earning power consists of four income sources:
What are Critical Illnesses?When we use the term “critical illness”, we are not talking about colds and flus or other illnesses that may cause you to miss a few days of work. Here, critical illnesses are life-threatening health complications like heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and pulmonary diseases. Some good news is that many of these illnesses are survivable, thanks to advances in medical care and treatment, the fact remains that any of these serious health issues can greatly impact one’s finances and ability to earn an income.
Let’s dig deeper into several of the major critical illnesses and discuss some statistics of these life-altering situations:
Heart Disease – over 85 million Americans are currently living with some form of heart or cardiovascular diseases. It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States; such a disease strikes someone in the U.S. every 42 seconds on average.
Cancer – U.S men have about a 50% chance of developing some form of cancer during their lifetimes. For U.S. women, there is about a 33% chance of developing cancer. In 2016 alone, over 1.5 million new cancer cases were reported. While cancer survivorship has increased over the past decade, it remains a very serious illness that can interfere with one’s life.
Strokes – a stroke occurs, on average, every 40 seconds in the United States. Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the American workforce; many will face long periods of disability, while others will become permanently disabled as a result of a stroke.
When considering the prospect of critical illnesses during your lifetime, it is important to think about several questions:
Heart disease ranks as the #1 killer in the U.S., and strokes are not far behind at #5. This is true for both men and women. As recently as 2013, over 800,000 people lost their lives to heart disease in the U.S.
In addition, heart disease and strokes account for chilling frequency of long-term disability. If a person should have a heart attack or stroke, he or she may not be able to work for long periods of time, if ever again. Of course, this means that finances must be in place in order to pay for healthcare costs and for household expenses for the duration of the disability.
Next Up: Funding Sources to Help Financially Survive a Critical IllnessWe’ve gotten the definitions and statistics out of the way – these are both very chilling areas to be aware of. In our next blog post in this series, we will begin to discuss some of the funding sources, particularly insurance, that may be able to help pay for the direct and indirect costs of critical illnesses. Stay tuned for more.
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