When a business represents the major component of an estate, planning is vital. Entrepreneurs may think about retirement planning, yet not all business owners implement plans to allow them sufficient freedom to follow their leisure dreams. If you ask the owner of a successful small business if he or she plans to retire, you may hear, “I will never retire because I love what I do”, or “I will retire in 10 years or so.”
Why is this risky planning? Those who feel they never want to retire may not have developed retirement investment interests outside of the company aside from RRSPs. However, most believe their company will provide investment capital when sold, or, if passed on to the next generation, a salary or dividend payments.
Are all your eggs in one basket? Therefore, for some, their personal financial stability is riding on the future success of the company. When a business represents the major value of an estate, planning becomes necessary. Yet, many are not convinced that they need to plan their estate or the succession of their business.
Estate Planning is vital to Succession Planning. Despite the financial importance of their business, most business owners do not know what the tax liability would be if both spouses were to die. An estate plan can ensure that these taxes will be paid from one or a combination of the following sources:
- Life insurance;
- The business, from cash flow or liquid assets;
- RRSPs (also taxed when both spouses die);
- Non-registered investments.
Consider the following:
- Take the time to do some basic estate planning to determine who will take over the company, and where your retirement income will come from. Revise or complete both your will and power of attorney. Review your personal and/or corporate-owned life insurance, disability coverage, critical illness insurance, long-term care insurance and key-person insurance.
- Many business owners carry life insurance but miss a very important coverage related to health. Disability insurance and/or critical illness insurance can pay off a buy-sell agreement and provide income.
- In some cases, the payment of relatively small life insurance premiums can entirely solve the estate’s future capital gains tax problems, or generate capital to replace the tax that will be payable on your RRSPs when both spouses die.
- Life insurance can also eliminate company debt and help a succeeding son or daughter with new business capital. Finally, it can help fairly equalize the division of your estate among all of your heirs.