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Successfully achieving a tax-efficient transfer of the family business across the generations requires good estate planning that is regularly updated to adapt to changing situations. Most family business owners do have estate plans in place, but they are often out of date, and this presents problems. Family businesses matter in a way that might be surprising – they generate 70% of global production and are one of the principal creators of private wealth. Without proper and timely estate planning, these critical parts of the economy can be at risk.

An international survey of 336 middle-market family businesses recently reported in Forbes, “Most Family Business Owners Should Update Their Estate Plans“, found that more than 90% of senior executives with equity in the family business have estate plans, which is good news. Unfortunately, only 22% of these plans have been updated within the last two years, and a quarter of those have been updated within two and five years ago. Nearly half of those have not been reviewed in more than five years. That means they are likely out-of-date with changes to the law, out-of-step with changes in the family, and that their heirs are out of luck.

Most estate plans become “old” after a few years. This means that situations change, such as family relationships, business matters, and their net worth—making it prudent to review and potentially refine their estate plans.

In addition to out-of-date estate plans, the quality of these plans must be questioned, as some family business owners don’t take advantage of strategies to reduce estate, gift, and other taxes. In some situations, there are ways to improve the financials of the business and provide economic benefits to the family at the same time.

Speak with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate plans is up-to-date and is designed to take into account the latest advanced planning strategies.

Reference: Forbes (September 15, 2015) “Most Family Business Owners Should Update Their Estate Plans

For more information on asset preservation, family business, succession planning, and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.