Family-owned businesses and family-owned farms may have significant value. You need to preserve and protect this value during your life and when you pass away. There are tools you can use under New York law to ensure your business and farm can continue to operate and serve as your legacy long after you are gone. The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. will help.
If you live in the Finger Lakes, Rochester, Naples and surrounding areas, give us a call today at (585) 546-1734 to learn about the ways in which our legal team provides personalized advice and assistance to owners of family businesses and family farms. We can also answer questions which you may have, including:
- How can I protect my farm or business during my life?
- How can I protect my farm or business after my death?
- What can a Finger Lakes farm and family business lawyer do to help me?
How Can I Protect My Farm or Business During My Life?
Your farm and your family business are valuable assets, which means you could lose them to creditors or if you must pay costly nursing home bills. You should explore different ways to structure the ownership of your farm and your family business so if claims are made against you or if you incur significant nursing home expenses, you will not be forced to sell out your family’s legacy.
Your farm and family business also need to be actively managed at all times by knowledgeable people. Creating a buy/sell agreement can help to ensure your business doesn’t fall into the wrong hands so you don’t end up with someone incompetent holding an ownership share and having voting rights in your company.
Creating a plan for effective management of your farm and family business in case of your incapacity is also essential. Living trusts and naming an agent using a power of attorney are two possible ways in which you can ensure your company and farm don’t suffer due to improper management if something happens to you.
Finally you want to think about what will happen if you become disabled, depart the company for any reason, or wish to retire. Creating a business succession plan can allow your company to seamlessly and effectively transfer to new owners while reducing the potential your brand could be harmed in the transition or your company could be mismanaged due to a period of uncertainty.
How Can I Protect My Farm or Business After my Death?
Your responsibility to protect your farm or family business does not necessarily end when your life ends. Many people want their company and their farm to outlast them and to serve as a legacy for the next generation. To make this possible, you need to ensure your assets are managed appropriately and not lost after you are gone.
You need to take steps to try and avoid estate taxes, to reduce estate taxes owed, and/or to ensure there is enough money for estate taxes to be paid without liquidating farmland or selling business assets. All-too-often, much of a person’s wealth is tied up in a business or farmland. When taxes have to be paid by the estate, there is not enough liquid cash and the land or part of the company has to be sold. You should talk with an attorney about all possible ways to avoid this undesirable outcome.
You also need to consider whether your heirs can actually effectively manage the farm or the business and about whether there is a risk they will lose what you have worked for. If you are concerned about mismanagement or worried that your heirs could lose their legacy due to creditor claims, divorce, or bankruptcy, you should talk with a Finger Lakes farm and family business lawyer to learn how best to structure the inheritance.
Finally, you need to consider whether you should try to facilitate the transfer of the farm or business outside of probate so there is not a delay in new owners taking control.
What Can a Finger Lakes Farm and Family Business Lawyer Do To Help?
The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. has a long track record of advising and assisting owners of farms and family businesses throughout the Finger Lakes, Rochester, Naples, Pittsford, and surrounding areas. We assist you in using all available legal tools to protect the strong legacy that your farm and family business should become. Give us a call today at (585) 546-1734 or contact us online to find out more about how we can help you.