Business Succession Planning Buy-Sell Agreements

A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding contract in which the owners of a business set forth the terms and conditions of a future sale or buy back of a departing owner's share of the business. Specifically, buy-sells control when owners can sell their interests, who can buy an owner's interest, and at what price.

Buy-sells can accomplish many objectives, but are primarily used to ensure the smooth continuation of a business after a potentially disruptive event, such as an owner's retirement, incapacity, or death.

Also valuable estate planning tools, buy-sells can provide for the orderly succession of a family business, and for the liquidity needed for payment of a deceased owner's estate settlement costs and taxes. Further, if structured properly, a buy-sell can establish the purchase price as the taxable value of an owner's business interest, avoiding unexpected estate tax consequences at the owner's death.

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