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Whats the Trump Effect on Estate Taxes

Probably nothing, unless you plan to die soon! I happened to be with a client with whom I have worked since 1991, on the day President Trump was elected. That led us to examine the political climate over the past 26 years. We reminded ourselves that the 1980’s had been a Republican era (but Democrats had controlled at least one house of Congress). However, in 1992, President Clinton lead a Democratic sweep of the Congress. In 2000, President George W. Bush lead a Republican sweep followed by 2008, with President Obama sweeping the Democrats back into office, followed by the latest sweep by the Republicans under President Trump. Our country has been on a political roller coaster ride for the last three decades!

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Are You Suffering the Christmas/Hanukkah Syndrome?

“But I love all my kids equally and I want to treat them fairly!” exclaimed Ted, the exasperated business owner who was trying to figure out his estate plan. This sentiment is voiced over and over by my dealer clients leading to many discussions on ‘why equal is not fair’! It’s easy to relate to this concern as most of us have experienced what I call ‘the Christmas/Hanukkah Syndrome’. “Let’s see, I have 3 gifts for John, but only 2 for Hannah, but the 2 for Hannah cost more than the 3 for John – how do I make this work?”

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IRS 2704 Proposed Regulations - Significant Impact on Family Business Succession Planning

The Internal Revenue Service has proposed regulation changes that impact tax consequences of stock gifts or sales to family members in a family business environment. As a result, the valuation discounts that have been a cornerstone to family business succession planning may no longer be available for certain transfers. These changes could go into effect as soon as the next 120 days

Due to the extreme change the IRS proposed legislation will have on the family business planning environment, we asked our general counsel, ShuffieldLowman, to provide an Advisory Notice detailing the impact IRS 2704 would have on planning and potential outcomes.

As always, if you should have any questions, please call us at 407-578-4455 or contact your succession planner.


Proposed Regulations Eliminate Discounts 

Bill Lowman, Shuffield Lowman Attorneys and Advisors

The Internal Revenue Service closely scrutinizes transfers between family members of stock, units, and partnership interests (“Stock”) in any corporation, limited liability company, or partnership that is family-owned (a “Family Business”). The Service has announced proposed regulations that eliminates the use of valuation discounts that would otherwise decrease the estate and gift tax value of such Stock when transferred by sale or gift to family members. If any of your clients are considering a gift or sale of Stock in a Family Business, they may want to consider taking action right away to implement the planning.

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Estate Taxation – Why Should I Be Concerned? By Denise Ware

The inflation-adjusted 2016 estate and gift tax exemption limits are set at $5.45 million per individual or $10.9 million per couple. This means that if you are a single business owner, you can leave up to $5.45 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax. Likewise, if you are married you can leave up to $10.9 million to heirs with no federal or estate gift tax penalty.

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Protect your Future by Planning in the Present

Most people believe that succession planning is synonymous with estate planning; wills, trusts, estate tax, life insurance, franchisor/manufacturer approval or gifts to family members. No doubt estate planning is an important component of succession planning. However, for anyone who has struggled with family squabbles, successor development, retaining and recruiting top talent, and unreasonable strategic partners I can assure you there is more to succession planning than estate planning. The best estate plan on the planet is no assurance of the continuation of business success.

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Planning for the Predictable, Probable, and Possible

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was widely ridiculed for his “what we do not know” response during a 2002 Department of Defense news briefing.

In part, Rumsfeld said about threat assessments, ‘As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.'

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Family Business Decisions - How Emotions Can Triumph Over Reason

Whoa! I was definitely not prepared for the meeting I just had with my client. Going into the meeting, I thought I was well prepared.

However, I came to realize that emotions have a way of clouding what appears to be very straightforward decisions. The meeting was to facilitate the client transferring substantial assets to his youngest son. The transfer was for estate tax planning purposes and to bring the youngest son up to parity with his older brothers based on earlier transfers the father had made to them. Prior to the meeting, we also had multiple discussions about how the transfer would have had no impact whatsoever on the client’s control of the asset or on his income. It was supposed to be a slam dunk, no brainer meeting. However, it turned into a classic case of emotional hijacking.    

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Succession Planning Techniques Often Overlooked

“Is there anything you would have done different than your father regarding estate planning?”  “Yes”, replied the son.

The son, now a highly successful auto dealer, was emphatic in his response.  “Dad was unwilling to do anything. He thought he would lose control.  We were lucky he died during good market conditions - our dealership products were hot and the real estate market allowed us to sell assets to pay the estate taxes.  We could have lost everything!”

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Family + Business = Harmony or Fireworks?

A business owner recently told me, “I have one brother who is my best friend and one who I don’t talk with, all because of business and financial issues.” Tragic yes, but not uncommon. Having worked with business owners and their families for over 30 years, I have witnessed situation after situation in which the family business has resulted in family heartache. Fortunately, that does not have to be the end result; there are many examples of family businesses being run successfully by harmonious family members. Some landmines that you need to avoid that will enable success in business operations include: 

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Planning Techniques

“Is there anything your father should have done that he didn't regarding his estate planning?" "Yes" said the son...

That question was posed by the father’s original dealership partner (now in his 80’s) to the son several years after the father’s death at a meeting in which I participated. The son, who is a highly successful auto dealer, was very emphatic in his response. “Dad was unwilling to do anything because he thought he would be losing control. We were lucky – the timing of his death was during good market conditions when our dealership products were hot and the real estate market allowed us to sell assets needed to pay the estate taxes. We could have lost everything!” 

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Tips for Approaching Succession Planning with Your Franchisor

A few years ago I encountered a franchisee who had successfully transferred more than $2 million of business value to his children by taking advantage of available minority discounts in conjunction with depressed goodwill and depressed real estate values — a brilliant estate planning move. The only problem was that he had not received permission from his franchisor as stipulated in the franchise agreement.

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Avoid Having “Have” Problems – Understand Your Responsibilities as a Successful Businessperson

Business succession planning is not a well understood profession. Consequently, I am commonly asked what do I really do? After confirming that "No, I am not a life insurance salesman," I commonly express that I deal with problems on the have side. After contending with the chuckling I endeavor to defend the virtue of what I do by explaining that have problems don't get much sympathy because of the assumption that people who are not wanting, really don't have problems. From my unique perspective, I assure you this is not the case.  

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How to Deal with the Sensitive Issues of Succession Planning

If you’ve been thinking about succession planning, you already know there’s a lot to consider.  Dealing with estate minimization, tax avoidance, gifting, buy/sell agreements, etc., etc., can give people major headaches.  And then there’s the human element associated with the transition of wealth, family leadership, and business concerns from one generation to the next, where we sometimes trade headache for heartache.  

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Financial Affairs - Eliminate Surprise For Your Loved Ones

A few years ago, a new client who lost his wife prematurely came to me with a large box full of papers that included several pieces of financial information including a dozen or so old life insurance policies. He had no idea if the life insurance policies were in force or not. Needless to say, investigating the contents of this large box was quite time consuming. During one of the lowest points in his life, losing his wife of thirty years, this gentleman and his children were tasked with pulling the pieces of their financial puzzle together. 

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Personal Financial Planning and Succession - How Are They Related?

 Personal financial planning is fundamental to the succession planning process. This initiative involves using the fruits of your labor to build personal financial security independent of the business. Having a personal financial wealth development and management strategy will provide you with the freedom to consider all viable business exit strategies without being forced into one solely based on your personal financial needs.

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Reflecting On the Future - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

What will the future bring after the last year or so of frenetic estate and business succession planning? I don't have any better crystal ball today than I had last year when I was advising clients to play "use it or lose it" with their gift and generation skipping tax credits. However one thing is for sure, estate and gift tax rates have increased to 40%. That means more liquidity will be required to transfer business interest to the next generation. After adding the State inheritance taxes most taxable estates will be taxed at 50% or more. A 50%+ transfer tax would lead me to believe that there will be no significant let up in estate planning.

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Reflecting On the Present - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

Here it is late January 2013, and I know I am not alone feeling both emotionally and physically tired. The holidays went by like a runaway Power Point presentation. My get-up-and-go has got-up-and-left. Clients that were calling every other day are not to be heard from. They don't want to talk to me, and for a spell the feelings are mutual. With the last minute tax deal which affirmed all the estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping tax credits and exemptions that we were afraid of losing were here to stay for the moment, there is a bit of an empty feeling. There's been some soul searching generating questions such as:

 

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Reflecting On the Past - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

The last two years have been very exciting and challenging. As soon as the Republican leaders figured out that President Obama's definition of finding compromise and achieving consensus meant everyone acknowledging that he was the only brain in the room and agreeing with his ideas, it was assumed that that the President Bush tax cuts were going bye-bye. Consequently, the estate and gift tax rates were going back to 55% and the estate, gift and generation skipping tax credits and exemption were going back to $1MM.

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When Tax Laws Change, Estate Plans Need Review

I sat down with a long-term client earlier this week and was reminded once again of the importance of regularly reviewing your estate and succession planning. This client is the majority owner of a family owned company and has his children involved in leadership roles. He is in his second marriage to a woman who is not his children’s mother.

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Business Succession and Long Term Care

Personal financial planning is a critical component of business succession planning. The general subject of personal financial planning is broken down into four components:  wealth development and financial independence, estate planning, credit continuity and exit strategy. Within the topic of wealth development and financial independence is sufficient personal income to facilitate independence from the continued success of the business. The presumption is that if you are dependent upon the business you will logically never release management control.  Consequently, you will never be able to genuinely determine if successor management is prepared to assume the responsibility of ongoing leadership and management. 

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