Succession Planning for Business Owners

Succession Planning for Business Owners

Business owners deal with a unique set of challenges. One of these challenges includes succession planning. A succession plan is the process of the transfer of ownership, management and interest of a business. When should a business owner have a succession plan? A succession plan is required through the survival, growth and maturity stage of a business. All business owners, partners and shareholders should have a plan in place during these business stages.

We created this infographic checklist to be used as a guideline highlighting main points to be addressed when starting to succession plan.

Needs:

  • Determine your objectives- what do you want? For you, your family and your business. (Business’ financial needs)
  • What are your shares of the business worth? (Business value)
  • What are your personal financial needs- ongoing income needs, need for capital (ex. pay off debts, capital gains, equitable estate etc.)

There are 2 sets of events that can trigger a succession plan: controllable and uncontrollable.

Controllable events

Sale: Who do you sell the business to?

  • Family member
  • Manager/Employees
  • Outside Party
  • There are advantages and disadvantages for each- it’s important to examine all channels.

Retirement: When do you want to retire?

  • What are the financial and psychological needs of the business owner?
  • Is there enough? Is there a need for capital to provide for retirement income, redeem or freeze shares?
  • Does this fit into personal/retirement plan? Check tax, timing, corporate structures, finances and family dynamics. (if applicable)

Uncontrollable Events

Divorce: A disgruntled spouse can obtain a significant interest in the business.

  • What portion of business shares are held by the spouse?
  • Will the divorced spouse consider selling their shares?
  • What if the divorced spouse continues to hold interest in the business without understanding or contributing to the business?
  • If you have other partners/shareholders- would they consider working with your divorced spouse?

Illness/Disability: If you were disabled or critically ill, would your business survive?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for you, your spouse and family. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?
  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold?
  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Death: In the case of your premature death, what would happen to your business?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for your dependents. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?
  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold by your estate? Does your will address this? Is your will consistent with your wishes? What about taxes?
  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? How will this affect your employees? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Execution: It’s good to go through this with but you need to get a succession plan done.  Besides having a succession plan, make sure you have an estate plan and buy-sell/shareholders’ agreement.

Because a succession plan is complex, we suggest that a business owner has a professional team to help. The team should include:

  • Financial Planner/Advisor (CFP)
  • Succession Planning Specialist
  • Insurance Specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant/Tax Specialist
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Next steps…

  • Contact us about helping you get your succession planning in order so you can gain peace of mind that your business is taken care of.

When and Why You Should Conduct an Insurance Audit

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As our lives grow and change with variable circumstances, new additions, and job transitions, our needs for insurance will also evolve. Additionally, economic fluctuations and external circumstances that influence your insurance policy will need frequent re-evaluation to ensure that you are making the most appropriate and financially favorable decisions. Perhaps you aren’t sure whether you should conduct an insurance audit or not. The following scenarios are usually a good indication that you should thoroughly assess and review your current policy contract: 

  • Bringing new life into your family? A new baby may not only prompt you to adjust your beneficiary information, but it is likely to change or influence your coverage needs.
  • Changing jobs? Probationary periods may not provide the same level of disability or accident insurance.
  • Is your policy nearing the end of its term? Be sure to compare prices for new policies as they can sometimes be more affordable as compared to renewing the current plan.
  • Has your marital status changed? Your insurance policy will likely need updating to reflect such.

The specific type of insurance policy you carry as well as personal details certainly influence coverage and premium prices, so if any of the following factors apply to you, be sure to update your policy accordingly. You might be eligible for a rate reduction. 

  • Changes to your overall risk assessment like smoking cessation, dangerous hobbies, high risk profession etc.
  • If you have experienced improvements to a previously diagnosed health condition.
  • Do your policy’s investment options still fall in line with current market conditions?
  • Have you used your insurance policy as collateral for a loan? Once that loan is paid off, collateral status should be taken off the policy.

Insurance policies generated for business purposes should also be regularly reviewed to make sure the policy still offers adequate coverage to meet the needs of the company and includes the appropriate beneficiary information. With life happening so quickly, it can be easy to forget about keeping insurance policies up to date, however, major changes can have a profound impact on coverage and premiums. Be sure to conduct insurance audits often to ensure your policies are still meeting your needs. 

Contact us to see how we can help. 

Do you need an estate plan?

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Managing your finances raises a number of topics but none as tricky and potentially unpleasant as planning for your family and finances in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. Understandably, these questions are often ignored by many—but don’t fall into the trap of avoiding these difficult matters. Good estate planning will help to make sure that your wishes are carried out, and your family and assets are well protected.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key areas that you should consider when designing your estate plan:

  • Choosing a guardian – One of the most important considerations is who you select to become the legal guardian of your children. This is a very personal and complex decision, and you will consider several unique factors depending on your circumstances, but your principal concerns might be how physically able the person is to look after your children, as well as such practical matters as how close they live to you and their personal and financial situation and stability.

  • Life insurance and trusts – Life insurance gives your family the financial security to continue their standard of living and fulfil their dreams in the event that you are unable to provide for them yourself. Life insurance payouts can be used in various ways, including paying off debts, paying for college education, or simply helping with general living costs.

 

A trust is a way of specifying how and when you wish to pass money and other resources to your children. It can be an excellent way of ensuring that their inheritance reaches them before the age of eighteen or twenty-one, unlike a court-controlled process, as you will stipulate who manages and distributes the funds.

·      Choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf

It is crucial to make sure that somebody trustworthy is nominated to manage and distribute your various assets according to your wishes. This executor can be anybody, though spouses, older children, or close friends are often common choices. Similarly, if you become too sick to make your own decisions about your finances or your family’s care, a health care directive and a power of attorney will give you peace of mind and go a long way towards protecting your assets.

Now that we understand the key areas that should be considered in estate planning, here are some of the important components or documents involved in the process:

·      Will, trusts, and beneficiary forms

Both a will and a trust should detail your assets and how you wish them to be distributed when you die, as well as assigning the guardians of your children. However, one benefit that a trust has over a will is that a trust does not have to go through probate prior to being executed, as well as the option of coming into effect before you pass away; it remains under your control and transfers the role of trustee to someone else when you decease.

Beneficiary forms are slightly different. They assign designated beneficiaries to specific financial accounts such as mortgages and bank accounts. As this information holds more legal weight than a will itself, it is crucial to regularly ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date.

 

·      Durable powers of attorney

The term power of attorney refers to the person, or persons, that you nominate to act on your behalf in the event that you are too ill to state or carry out your own wishes. There are various ways to implement this; you can choose specific individuals for particular roles, such as one person to look after your finances and another to make your healthcare decisions, or you can designate one person full power of attorney to manage all of your affairs.

 

·      A living will

Not to be confused with a last will and testament, a living will details the type of medical treatment that you wish if you were ever incapacitated. Along with a general or healthcare power of attorney (see above), this document is known as your advance health care directive, and it not only provides you with peace of mind that your medical wishes will be respected, but it also gives direction and support to your family when faced with difficult decisions about your care.

 

·      Letter of intent

This document is not legally binding and can offer a more personal touch alongside an official will or trust. As the letter is less formal and binding than other documents, many people use it to express their wishes about more personal aspects such as their requests for funeral arrangements, or even preferences and desires for how their family should be brought up.

As with any financial arrangement, changes over time, not only in process and legislation but in your own personal situation, mean that it is imperative to keep your estate planning strategy under review and regularly updated to ensure it’s fit for its purpose and accurately reflects your wishes. 

Insured Retirement Program

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There are a number of mechanisms available for individuals to save in a tax-efficient manner for their retirement – from employer-sponsored pension plans to government plans, RRSPs (registered retirement savings plan) or TFSAs (tax free savings account). But, for those who earn a higher income and wish to contribute more to their pension savings than they can benefit from under the plans which are subject to annual caps, options can be limited. The insured retirement program is an effective way to bridge the retirement savings gap for such individuals in a cost-effective way.

Who is the insured retirement program best suited to?

  • Individuals who already contribute the maximum allowable amounts to both RRSPs and employer-sponsored pension plans but want to save more for their retirement are ideal candidates for this program.

  • Individuals at least fifteen years away from retirement so they can accumulate enough funds inside their life insurance policy for collateralization.

  • Individuals that are comfortable with the concept of borrowing.

How does the insured retirement program work?

This program works with the concept of collateralization in the following way:

  • Individual takes out a universal life (or eligible whole life) insurance policy and subsequently makes sizable cash deposits into it. These deposits grow within the policy on a tax-sheltered basis providing that the funds remain in the policy and are within the maximum allowable limit.

  • Upon the retirement of the policyowner, the funds within the policy may be used as collateral in order to take out a loan.

  • This loan can provide valuable cash for the retiree, in order to purchase an annuity or to use as income, via a series of short loans.

  • When the retiree dies, the loan is repaid and the remaining balance can be distributed among their beneficiaries.

Are there any pitfalls associated with the program?

As with all investment strategies, there are some risks. Namely, in this case, the fact that the program involves incurring a debt, borrowing funds and interest rate changes means that investors need to be comfortable with the unlikely but possible fact that the bank calls the loan or that changes in tax rules negatively impact them.

The insured retirement program can be smart way for high earners to maximize their retirement income in a tax effective manner. Contact us today to learn more about this opportunity and allow us to work in partnership with you to understand your unique needs and requirements and create a retirement strategy that works for you.

How To Use Insurance To Provide Your Family With Financial Protection

How To Use Insurance To Provide Your Family With Financial Protection

The best way to provide your family with financial protection is with solid insurance planning. These three types of insurance will ensure your family has the financial resources they need if you die, are injured, or become ill:

  • Life insurance.
  • Critical illness insurance.
  • Disability insurance.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is an inexpensive way to ensure your family will have access to a tax-free lump sum payment after your death. Whether you want to give your grandchildren a helping hand getting started in life or provide financial resources for a stay-at-home parent, life insurance can be a great way to do it!

You have two main options when it comes to life insurance – term insurance and permanent life insurance.

With term insurance, you’ve got life insurance coverage for a set period (for example, five years). Premiums for term insurance are lower than for permanent life insurance, but they will rise as you age or your health changes.

With permanent life insurance, you’ve got lifetime coverage. You’ll pay more in premiums at first, but the cost will be less overall than if you buy term insurance for your entire life. Some permanent life insurance policies also allow you to contribute money beyond your premiums, where it can grow tax-free.

Not sure which type is best for you? We can help you figure this out!

Critical Illness Insurance

With critical illness insurance, you will be eligible for a tax-free lump sum of money if you’re diagnosed with a significant illness such as cancer or a stroke. While anyone can benefit from this insurance, it’s essential for self-employed people who don’t have employee benefits to help tide them over while recovering or receiving treatment.

You can spend the lump sum any way you want, including paying off your mortgage, paying for treatment not covered by provincial health care, or putting aside money for your children’s future.

Depending on the type of critical illness policy you select, you may be able to get a “return of premium” option, which means your premiums will be returned to you if you never make a claim. We can explain how to option works and what coverage we think is best for you.

Disability Insurance

Most people assume that they’ll never become disabled. But the stark reality is that 1 in 5 Canadians are considered to be living with a disability. If you couldn’t work anymore because you became disabled, this could have a disastrous impact on your family’s financial stability – especially if you’re self-employed.

With disability insurance, you’ve got financial protection to ensure you can pay your bills and maintain your family’s standard of living. We can explain how to minimize the cost of your premiums while still getting the coverage you need.

Protect Your Family

Book a meeting with us today to get started with insurance planning.

Saving for Education

Post-secondary education can be expensive, however, having the opportunity to plan for it helps with making sure that you’re capable to meet the costs of education. In addition, when you have a plan, it’s easier to make financial decisions that align with your goals and provide peace of mind. In the infographic checklist, we outline 6 factors to consider when paying for education: 

For parents:

  • How much to save and when will your child start school?

  • Registered Education Savings Plan – have you set up a family RESP plan and received the Canadian Education Savings Grant? If your income is low enough, you could qualify for the Canada Learning Bond.

  • Savings- are you saving separately for your child’s education? Cash Value Life Insurance- have you considered using this as a savings vehicle for your child’s education. What happens if your child decides not to go to school? These alternative savings vehicles provide flexibility so that you can use the funds for something else such as a down payment for a future home.

For children:

  • Will the child be working part-time and have their own savings for school?

  • Can the child apply for scholarships, bursaries or grants?

  • Will they need to apply for government student loan, personal loan or personal line of credit?

If you need help planning to save for your child’s post-secondary education, contact us!

Why Life Insurance Should Be Part Of Your Estate Planning

Why Life Insurance Should Be Part Of Your Estate Planning

You’ve worked hard and managed your money carefully throughout your life. So rest easy knowing that you will have more than enough assets to fulfill your needs during your retirement years.

You also need to think beyond your retirement years and consider what will happen to your assets after your death. For example, it is essential to consider whether your assets could result in tax liabilities for your heirs.

Generally, there are three types of assets during estate planning:

  1. Capital assets – shares in public or private companies, or real estate such as a second home or cottage.

  2. Income-producing assets – assets that produce income, such as RRSPs and RRIFs.

  3. Non-taxable assets – such as cash, TFSAs, your principal residence, and the proceeds from a life insurance policy.

How can life insurance help my heirs cover their tax liabilities?

There’s an old saying that there are only two things certain in life – death and taxes. So naturally, you do not want your loved ones to be burdened with tax liabilities when they inherit capital or income-producing assets from your estate. In most situations, the estate may not have enough cash to leave to your heirs to cover those tax liabilities.

Providing the means to cover tax liabilities upon your death is where life insurance can be such a valuable part of estate planning. With life insurance, you can both guarantee your heirs have the funds when they need them, as well as receive the death benefit tax-free. In addition, your heirs won’t have the stress of how they’ll come up with the money to pay taxes on any assets they inherit.

Are there any other reasons I should include life insurance as part of my estate planning?

Since life insurance death benefit is tax-free, it is an excellent source of liquidity to include in your estate planning. Your heirs can use the funds for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Paying off debts

  • Covering funeral expenses

  • As a source of income – If your family has suddenly gone from two income-earners to one, this can significantly affect their standard of living.

  • Provide funding for a considerable expense, such as college or university tuition.

We can help with estate planning

If you’d like to include life insurance as part of your estate planning but aren’t sure where to start – we can help you with that! We’ll talk to you about different types and amounts of life insurance coverage to see what works for you – call us or email us today!

Life Insurance after 60- is it necessary?

You may have had life insurance for as long as you can remember. You wanted to make sure that your family would be taken care of and be able to pay their bills if anything happened to you.

But now that you’re older and your children are grown – and hopefully your mortgage is paid off – you may not feel you still need life insurance. This could be a valid assumption; however, there are some circumstances under which it may still make sense for you to have life insurance. They are:

  • You still have substantial debt.

  • You have dependent children or grandchildren.

  • You want to leave a financial legacy.

You still have substantial debt

No one likes the thought of leaving their loved ones to pay their debts if they die. If, however, someone has co-signed a loan with you – for example, for a mortgage or a car – and you die, then they will be on the hook for the entire amount.

If you have life insurance and name your co-signer as the beneficiary, this will help relieve any financial burden your death could cause them.

You have dependent children or grandchildren

If you have children who are still dependent on you because they have a mental or physical disability, life insurance can be an excellent way to ensure they will still have access to funds after you die.  Lifelong care can be expensive, and a life insurance benefit will go a long way to helping fund it.

You may have grandchildren you are caring for or that you are not responsible for but want to leave money they can use towards higher
education.  A life insurance payout can be a great way to help a grandchild get a good start in life without having to go into debt.

You want to leave a financial legacy

You may not have dependent children or grandchildren but still want to leave them something when you die. Life insurance can be a great way to do this without cutting back on your spending during your lifetime.

Life insurance can also help make sure that you have something to leave everyone in your will. If you have a family cottage, it can
be complicated to leave it to more than one person or family. Life insurance gives you the option to leave one person or family the cottage and another person or family the cash equivalent.

We can help you!

If you’re unsure whether or not it still makes sense to have life insurance after the age of 60, we’d be happy to sit down with you and talk through your options. Give us a call or email us today!

Accessing Corporate Earnings

One of the financial planning issues that business owners face is how to access their corporate earnings in a tax efficient way.

There are 5 standard methods:

  • Salary

  • Dividend

  • Shareholder Loans

  • Transfer Personal Assets

  • Income Splitting

There are also unique ways utilizing life insurance and critical illness insurance to access your retained earnings. Please contact us to learn how we can get more money in your pocket than in the government’s.