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Business Law, Taxation, and Estate Planning BLOG

March 15, 2020 – Businesses Owe Many Different Taxes

The type and amount of federal, state, and local taxes paid by a business depends on many variables, including business structure, type of employees, sales, property owned, and industry. Generally, a business will pay the following business taxes: self-employment, income, employment, excise, and estimated taxes.

Self-employment taxes are paid on the net earnings of business owners. This tax, usually relevant for small business owners, contributes to the owners’ federal employment taxes, including Medicare and Social Security.

Income taxes are based on all income earned and received. Partnerships do not pay this tax and instead file an information return. The income tax is reported on each partner’s individual tax return.

Employment and Payroll taxes are an employer’s obligation to file and pay for their employees’ Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment and Workers Compensation Insurance.

Excise taxes are levied on businesses in certain industries that manufacture, sell, operate, use or offer certain products, services, equipment or facilities. For example, the tobacco industry faces different excise taxes than the fuel industry.

Estimated taxes are paid on the income that is not covered by payroll withholding. This is owed by companies in specific business structures that are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments.

In California, businesses generally pay state taxes and federal taxes. In addition, some businesses may be vulnerable to double taxation due to certain loopholes. For these reasons, it is critical to consult a business taxation expert for advice and counsel on tax planning strategies.

February 15, 2020 – Taxing the Sale or Transfer of a Family Business

Sometimes business succession means transferring ownership to family members. Critical decisions made in this process can bring significant tax consequences and requires many considerations from the current owners. Working with an experienced business taxation lawyer can help a business owner make informed decisions for a seamless transition that can also minimize tax obligations. A business owner must be careful in crafting a succession plan that meets their personal and business tax objectives. A business owner must also consider the tax ramifications of transferring the family business to other family members. The following items should be considered when a business is transferred or gifted to a family member.

If a business is given to a family member, the donor becomes liable for estate or gift taxes.

If the business is transferred to a family trust, income taxes are due for the trust assets.

If the purchase price is below the fair market value, the purchaser incurs the tax liability.

Family members who inherit a business may incur considerable capital tax gains liability.

If only a portion of the company is gifted to a family member, the owner may be liable for estate taxes and capital gains taxes.

Transferring a business to family members is complicated. There are many actions a business owner can take to minimize tax implications for involved parties.

January 15, 2020 – The Challenges of International Tax Planning

Many businesses have ties to other entities outside the United States. Some businesses maintain significant operations overseas. Others have foreign investments or have employees working out of the country. International taxation involves complex regulation and should be carefully considered. International tax planning with a business taxation attorney is critical to ensuring financial transactions are handled properly and the appropriate taxes are paid.

International taxation issues not only affect the business, but can affect the business owner, the owner’s family, and investors. A business must pay taxes in the United States while also managing tax obligations in the other countries in which they do business. Having tax experts involved in creating international tax planning strategies can increase tax efficiency while mitigating the impact of tax liabilities in the business’ different jurisdictions. Issues can arise with the IRS or with another country or regional locale. Options for dispute resolution can be complicated. A better approach is to establish international tax planning strategies.

December 15, 2019 – Benefits of an Estate Plan

You may need to ask yourself a few questions to understand the way an estate plan may benefit your situation. Have you taken any measures to ensure your family is supported after you’re gone? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Are you wanting to pass wealth and assets to your children or grandchildren, or are you wanting to leave a charitable donation to a specific organization?

These are sensitive issues that require deep consideration. These decisions involve more than just deciding who will get the family’s antiques. You will not only need to make decisions about the distribution of your assets, you will also need to decide how debts are settled, taxes are paid, and how and when the assets will be transferred to your heirs.

By giving forethought to these important matters, you can greatly reduce the stress placed on family members during an emotional time. This planning can also help your heirs handle the unexpected burden of gift and estate taxes. Because our law firm is highly experienced in taxation matters, we may be able to help you and your heirs substantially reduce taxes, legal expenses and court fees.

With advanced estate planning, the attorneys at Beck & Christian, APC can evaluate your situation and create a plan that benefits you while you are alive and also secures your legacy for successive generations. Because relationships and circumstances can change, an estate plan needs to be revisited annually.

December 1, 2019 – California’s Laws of Intestate Succession

When a person passes away without first establishing a last will and testament, their estate is processed following the laws of intestate succession. As part of the Probate Code, this is not a private process. Records are viewable by the public.

Often, people mistakenly believe that when a person dies without a will the assets are taken by the state. This is not a common occurrence because the laws of intestate succession require property be transferred to living relatives first. Any person remotely connected to you may be considered as one of your heirs.

The state follows a prescribed method when locating relatives. It will reach out to your spouse and children, your parents and grandparents, and uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, great uncles and great aunts, their children, etc. There are provisions to account for adoption, half relatives, and stepparents. In addition, the intestate succession laws set guidelines when intentional harm is involved. The person who is responsible for your demise is restricted from receiving a share in your estate.

Because your assets will be processed after your death, it is essential for you to create a will so that you have a say in directing what happens.

November 15, 2019 – The Advantages of a Trust

Because a trust has many advantages, it can be a valuable estate planning tool. Persons at every income level may benefit by creating a trust as an efficient way to manage assets. A trust generally reduces costs that are associated with settling a deceased person’s estate. In California, estates of deceased persons usually go through probate.

Probate is usually a costly, time-consuming process. These challenges are often compounded for grieving relatives who may not have the legal knowledge to appropriately navigate probate. When you establish a trust, you make all necessary decisions for the way your estate is handled after your death.

A trust can help you gain the peace you need for your loved ones after you are gone. Persons with significant assets can reduce estate taxes by utilizing trusts strategically. Having a trust can also reduce taxes for your beneficiaries at the time of the inheritance.

If you wish to keep your estate records private, you will benefit from a trust. With a trust, your estate can avoid the probate process altogether. Thereby shielding private information about you and your beneficiaries from the public eye.

November 1, 2019 – The Process of Creating a Business Succession Plan

A business succession plan should be established when the business is first beginning. At the business formation stage, it is not uncommon for business owners to reject the idea of their business dissolving or transferring to a new owner. However, strong leadership requires a business owner to plan for all sorts of challenges in order for the company to be successful.

What would happen to your business if you were unexpectedly not able to participate due to death or incapacity? Who would make critical decisions on the future of operations? In what ways would this affect your family or business partners? An experienced business succession lawyer can help you identify strategic goals for your business enterprise.

Planning for the future is a critical component of any business plan. Maybe selling the business is part of your plan. Or, you may want to have family members run it. As the founder or owner of the business, you have the opportunity to identify effective future leaders who can take over operations and bring the business to the next level.

A business succession plan takes into account future ownership and management opportunities. With this knowledge, you can establish requisite training models to ensure the succession pipeline contains highly qualified personnel to carry on your business values.

October 15, 2019 – How the Trust Administration Process Works

While an attorney is not required for the trust administration process, the skills of an experienced trust administration lawyer can be invaluable during this time. After a death, the trustee must perform numerous activities which are detailed in the terms of the trust.

A trustee is legally bound to fulfill their obligations while maintaining fiduciary duty. This means a trustee cannot step outside the trust for personal gain with any of the trust’s assets. Because many trustees are not experienced at handling assets and financial accounts, the trustee may unknowingly violate the law. Trustees may face legal action if a breach of trust is involved.

A trust administration attorney can oversee the entire process of distributing the trust’s assets. This involves coordinating with executors, managing assets, settling creditor claims, paying taxes. Trust administration includes extensive paperwork to detail the transfer of assets and create an accurate trust accounting.

Having an experience lawyer involved ensures the trust is administered properly while minimizing the potential for legal challenges to the trustee. The family of the decedent and other beneficiaries may also feel relieved knowing a knowledgeable legal professional is effectively handling the matter.

October 1, 2019 – Asset Protection During Probate

In California, the executor keeps the estate’s assets safe during the probate process. The executor must ensure appropriate maintenance and insurance needs are met for properties. Inheritances, including monetary accounts and real property, must be safeguarded from damage or theft.

The executor can also look for ways to retain additional wealth for beneficiaries. In certain situations, reporting expenses or casualty losses on specific tax returns may be advantageous. Tax savings may also be applicable to the surviving spouse on whether taxes are filed jointly or independently.

Our probate administration attorneys have decades of experience guiding clients through the probate process and helping families with the complex unexpected challenges that can arise at this time. We can help you understand your rights so you can make informed decisions which benefit your interests.

Often the best way to preserve the assets of an estate involve avoiding the probate process entirely. By creating an advanced estate plan, you can maximize the preservation of your wealth for future generations. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you customize a plan for your unique situation.

September 15, 2019 – How a Business Succession Plan Can Help Protect Your Company from Litigation

Should the unexpected take place, a comprehensive business succession plan should set forth a clear and concise roadmap to enable the company to continue with normal operating procedures seamlessly.

However, absent the existence of a business succession plan, your company becomes vulnerable to costly and extensive litigation that could result in its dissolution and financial insolvency. Litigation may arise as the result of confusion over who should take over running the business and future operations. Litigation may take place between partners and family members who have differing opinions about the company’s future, or amongst the family members themselves.  

Family relationships often become strained and arguments over who should run the business and how it should be run may lead to litigation and the permanent severance of ties within the family itself.

Failure to have a skilled attorney who does not possess an in-depth understanding of both state and federal tax laws can lead to extensive tax problems. Due to the power of the government and the resources they have available, should tax issues arise, it is highly likely that your business will be dissolved and its assets liquidated to pay any requisite fines and penalties.

By taking a proactive stance and retaining an experienced lawyer to draft your business succession plan, you are drastically reducing the likelihood that your company will have to close its door because of tax issues or litigation between the involved parties.

Please call Beck & Christian at (949) 855-9250 to schedule an appointment for an in-office consultation with one of the leading Estate Planning and Taxation Law Firms in the region. Proudly serving residents of Laguna Hills and those who live or work throughout Southern California for more than 40 years, we have the experience necessary to help you shield your business.

Contact us to learn how our seasoned lawyers can put their experience to work for you, and help ensure that your company will exist for future generations.

September 1, 2019  – Should You Draw Up Your Own Business Succession Plan?

The simple answer is no – you should never attempt to draft your own business succession plan.

Because there are several highly complex issues pertaining to Business Law, Estate Planning and Tax Laws, it is imperative that you do not attempt to do this without the guidance and experience of exceptionally experienced lawyers.

While there are countless books, articles and websites that provide instruction detailing how to draft a business succession plan, doing so could wreak havoc on your company and bankrupt both the business and your family.

At Beck & Christian, our lawyers possess extensive experience with business succession planning and know how to incorporate tax strategies designed to protect your business from outrageously high local, state and federal tax liabilities. A Board Certified Expert in Estate Planning Law and Tax Law, Attorney Greg Beck has been successfully helping clients in Laguna Hills and throughout Southern California for more than 40 years.

Our skilled, highly knowledgeable lawyers understand the intricacies of Estate Planning and Taxation, and how they impact business succession planning. We also understand the ramifications of individuals attempting to draft a business plan on their own, and they typically result in financial ruin and the dissolution of the business.

If you are a small business owner or oversee a closely held company, you want to take every step possible to guarantee that your company remains a going concern beyond your leadership.

Please contact an attorney at Beck & Christian today by phone at (949) 855-9250 or online. We will schedule an in-depth consultation to review your business goals and objectives. By asking the correct questions and reviewing all of your options, we will guide you through the process with ease. Call today so we can help you secure the future of your company, maintain family harmony, and reduce potential conflict should the unexpected take place.

August 15, 2019 – What a Business Succession Plan Should Include

In order to safeguard your company’s future and protect both business and family assets, an enforceable business succession plan should be highly detailed and take a number of factors into account.

A well-drafted, comprehensive business succession plan should take into account: tax issues; transition of ownership; identification of successors within the business, and partnership interests. It should also include a guideline stating how the business should be dissolved and assets disbursed should the company become insolvent or the decision is made to dissolve the business.   

Additionally, it should include the following:

Whether you are a new business owner or have been in business for years, a well-drafted Business Succession Plan acts as a form of insurance to maintain financial security for your family and protect for your company’s assets and solvency for future generations.

August 1, 2019  – When Should You Have a Business Succession Plan Drafted?

The best time to set up a business succession plan is during the business formation process. By drafting a comprehensive succession plan as soon as possible, you vastly reduce the likelihood of the business dissolving and help ensure a smooth transfer of ownership and power.

Because life is unpredictable, having a business succession plan in place from the formation stage provides peace of mind because it sets forth how the business will be operated and structured should the unexpected take place.

Unfortunately, many business owners fail to execute a succession plan due to the belief that retirement won’t take place for years, if not decades. This approach may cause significant harm, resulting in a disastrous outcome for the company, other partners if applicable, and family members who are either involved in day to day operations or have a financial stake in the business.

Therefore, it is essential that you begin working closely with an experienced and skilled Business Succession Planning attorney immediately. Creating a comprehensive succession plan with an eye towards the future is a strategic part of business ownership that should be addressed upon formation.

For answers to all of your business succession planning questions, please contact Laguna Hills Attorneys Beck & Christian online or by calling (949) 855-9250. In practice for more than 65 combined years, the lawyers at Beck & Christian proudly represent clients throughout Southern California. Let us help provide you with peace of mind, knowing that if something should happen to you, your business and your family will remain financially solvent.

July 15, 2019  – Why You Need a Business Succession Plan

While it is important for all businesses to have a succession plan in place, it is especially crucial when dealing with small, family-owned businesses.

Failure to have an enforceable, comprehensive business succession plan in place should the owner retire, or the unexpected take place, may result in numerous problems and disputes that may cause the company’s demise and shattered relationships amongst family members.

If there are additional owners involved, the lack of a succession plan more often than not typically results in disputes that will negatively impact the company’s future viability. Without a formal arrangement in place beforehand, events could take place that would thoroughly deplete your company’s assets, leaving it insolvent.

Additionally, due to complex taxation issues, you run the risk of the business being lost due to high estate taxes. When drafted properly, all of these issues can be avoided thereby allowing for a seamless transition of ownership, allowing the business to continue successful operations.

For additional information about creating a comprehensive business succession plan, please contact an attorney at Beck & Christian who is a Board Certified Expert in both Estate Planning and Tax Law. Call (949) 855-9250 today to speak directly to a lawyer and schedule an in-depth consultation.

July 1, 2019  – What is a Business Succession Plan?

A Business Succession Plan is an Estate Planning tool that is utilized to determine how a family business or closely held company should continue operations if the company owner retires, becomes either mentally or physically incapacitated, or passes away.

In these situations, the succession plan will set forth who will take over daily business operating procedures, transfer ownership, or set forth procedures and guidelines for sale of the business.

If the business has multiple owners, a business success plan may be used to determine whether the other owners are going to purchase the retired, incapacitated or deceased’s interest in the company, and if so, how the funds will be disbursed.

Additionally, a well-crafted Business Succession Plan takes into account how ownership shares will be impacted, as well as issues pertaining to personal liability based on the type of entity established (sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership or closely held company), as well as state and federal taxation ramifications.

The primary goal is to set forth guidelines that will allow the company to continue normal business operations during a transitional period, while simultaneously benefiting the individuals involved as well as safeguarding the company. They are designed to reduce the likelihood of in-fighting, litigation and tax penalties while allowing for a smooth transition of power.

Finally, the succession plan should clearly lay out conflict resolution solutions should in-fighting and disagreements take place that threaten both the future viability of the business and negatively impact the family dynamic.

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Laguna Hills, CA 92653


Phone: 949.855.9250

Fax: (949) 380-1128

email:

 gbeck@beck-christian.com