February 2016 - Kamerow Law
What Do I Need to Set up a Good Plan for Business Succession?

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Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 703-370-8088
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What Do I Need to Set up a Good Plan for Business Succession?

So you’ve spent the better part of your adult life pouring your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into building a successful business and now you are looking forward to enjoying the fruits of your labor in retirement. But what are you going to do about the company you raised as a baby into adulthood? Ideally, you want one of your children or a trusted insider to take over to ensure that the hard work you put into your child is continued long after you are gone. You need to create a business succession plan.

Business Succession Plans

A business succession plan should make the transfer of ownership smooth in an ongoing planned and structured process that needs teamwork and frequent re-evaluation. As much as you and your successor may want to skip the planning difficulties, if you want to be one of the 30% of family businesses that continue into the second generation you need to make sure you are aware of the many facets involved in transferring ownership.

Your succession plan should have at least the following two elements that should be managed separately.

  1.    Transfer of Power. You must decide to whom you want to leave your business. You will usually choose this person(s) because you feel that he or she is most likely to be successful in keeping your business operations running well.
  2.    Transfer of assets. The transfer of property is not always synonymous with the transfer of power. Sometimes, the wealth that has accumulated as a part of the business is left to your family members. The beneficiaries of the asset transfer may or may not be the same parties that receive the transfer of power.

Transfer of Power

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when transferring power to your successor including

  •    What type of business you have
  •    The involvement and skill level of your successor
  •    The laws, economic factors, competitors, technology, etc. Related to your business
  •    The dynamics of the family (if it is a family owned business) including their health, marriage status, any conflicts among family members, etc.

Issues to deal with when selecting a successor

Often, in a family owned business, there will be one person who is more involved, skilled, and invested in the business than anyone else. This is often the default successor. It isn’t uncommon for the owner of the enterprise to have already begun the process of getting this successor prepared to take over the business. They will often already have much of the knowledge necessary to step in, but there may be other issues at hand that make it less than ideal. There may be a generational conflict, differences in goals and visions for the future of the business, or even a successor who is very qualified without the desire to take over. The different scenarios are virtually endless, and all of these factors must be considered when selecting the best person for the job.

Alexandria Estate Planning Attorneys

The attorneys at Kamerow Law can help you to determine the best course of action when it comes to your succession plans. From asset management to ownership/power transfer to an heir we can evaluate your particular situation and advise you on how to ensure your life’s work will be preserved for the next generation. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation. Call 703-370-8088 or contact us online.

What Do I Need to Write a Gun Trust?

If you’ve never heard the term “Gun Trust”, then you aren’t alone. A gun trust is a trust that is specially created for firearms ownership. Usually, the creation of a gun trust is used for weapons that are under the strict regulations of federal and state agencies, but they may hold any weapon.

Types of weapons to Hold in a Trust

Quite often, weapons that are held in gun trusts are regulated by two federal laws: The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and its revision, and Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. These weapons are referred to as NFA or Title II firearms. These weapons include machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short barreled and sawed-off shotguns, silencers, grenades, and more.

The weapons regulated by these two acts must have a serial number and be registered with the ATF. If the weapon isn’t already registered, it is illegal to own and cannot be registered. These weapons can only be possessed and used by the registered owner, and if you wish to transfer ownership, the ATF must approve. Transfer of the property is also subject to a $200 tax.

Why form a Gun Trust?

Many people feel that a typical living trust document will be sufficient when leaving an NFA weapon to their beneficiaries but utilizing a gun trust is much more advantageous. Some of these advantages include:

  •    More than one person may be named as trustee. If you name multiple people as trustee, then each person will have the right to own and use the firearms or weapon in question.
  •    Avoiding transfer requirements. As stated above, if you wish to transfer ownership of the gun, you must be approved by the ATF as well as pay a $200 tax to do so. When you utilize a gun trust, you can arrange for it to remain in effect indefinitely. This arrangement means that each person named as trustee will retain their ownership status as co-owners and avoid the transfer process and tax.
  •    Benefit your executor. Forming a gun trust will be beneficial to the executor of your estate especially if they are not familiar with the many rules and regulations surrounding the transfer of NFA weapons. When a trust is in effect, the executor is not involved, only the trustee(s).
  •    Avoid Probate. Trusts are not subject to probate.

Writing a Gun Trust

Hiring an attorney who has experience in this field of law is the best course of action to protect your estate and your heirs. If you are in the Alexandria VA area and need to form a gun trust for your NFA weapons, contact the Kamerow Law Firm today. Our attorneys understand the complexities of estate planning and how to protect best your interests, beneficiaries, and property. Call us at 703-370-8088 or fill out the online contact form on our website and someone will schedule your free initial consultation where we can discuss your specific situation.

What Should I Do If I’m Not Mentioned in a Will of a Close Friend or Family Member?

Learning of the passing of a close friend or a family member can be one of the most challenging and emotional times of a person’s life. Sadly, once someone dies there is no typical waiting period to heal from the pain and grief before he or she must deal with his or her estate. Handling one’s affairs means that while the pain and sorrow are still fresh in the minds and hearts of loved ones, they must learn the final wishes of the decedent. Sometimes this can be a healing process in and of itself but in the event you are left out of the will altogether, it can compound the hurt and grief even more. You may suspect that there is a mistake or intentional tampering with the will. What do you do?

Can I contest the will for being left out of it?

Unfortunately, being left out of a will is not reason enough to contest the will of your loved one. The assumption is that the will is valid, and there aren’t many ways to prove otherwise. The fact that you were left out of the will may be used as evidence of another more valid reason to contest the will, though.

Grounds for contesting a will

Depending on circumstances such as your relationship with the decedent, being left out of the will may be evidence that your loved one was under duress, had a lack of capacity, or under undue influence to leave you out. These ARE grounds for a contest. For example, if you had an excellent relationship with your father and were an only child but someone such as a step-parent or other beneficiary may have benefited greatly from your being omitted in the will, then you may have grounds to contest.

Another situation that may be grounds for challenging a will is if the decedent was a victim of dementia or some other illness that caused diminished capacity, and they had updated their will leaving you out, and then you may have a case that they were under the undue influence and had a lack of capacity.

When you are purposely left out

While it isn’t required to do so, it is helpful for someone to disinherit specifically someone by name if they are intentionally leaving them out of their will. This will leave no room for doubt that the omission of a beneficiary was not an accident, oversight, or unduly influenced.

Contact an Estate Planning attorney in Alexandria

If you have any additional questions about estate planning, or you feel that you were wrongly left out of the will of a loved one and wish to contest it, call the Kamerow Law Firm today to set up your free initial consultation. We can discuss the specifics of your situation and advise you on a course of action forward. Call us at 703-370-8088 or fill out our online contact form.