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Pocatello Estate Planning and Small Business Owners

When you are the owner of a small business your life is not like everyone else's. Your life revolves around your business and everything associated with it. As Pocatello's premier estate planning attorneys, we understand this. We have helped a number of estate planning clients who own small businesses get their estate planning done so that it fully addresses their unique circumstances.

The needs of couples or individuals who own small businesses, especially those that involve other family members, are far different than individuals who don't have small businesses to worry about. In the 70 years that we have assisted our clients we have come to learn that each small business is unique in the way that it is structured, and in the way that it operates. Additionally, the individuals associated with the business are unique and their needs must be separately considered. Even though no two people and no two businesses are the same, there are some basic principles when it comes to estate planning that apply to each person or couple that are owners of a small business.

The premier attorneys on our Pocatello estate planning team at the Racine office include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of the attorneys on our team are experienced and knowledgeable in helping small business owners consider not only their personal needs but also the needs of the business and other family members as well. Our team of Pocatello estate planning attorneys receive the highest ratings and reviews possible from current and past clients and from other attorneys and judges that we work with.

Whether you are married or single, if you own and operate a small business you should seriously consider completing your estate planning to protect not only yourself but also your business. To help you get started here are the three most important things that you should think about.

Start With the Corporation or Partnership Documents

Step number one is to always start with reviewing your documentation. This is true regardless of whether you are a corporation or a partnership. Every business should have documents that spell out the operation and control of the business. If you have not prepared your own corporate or partnership documents, you should seriously consider doing this as a major part of your estate planning. The reason for this is simple. If you have not written any documents on your own, or had an attorney help you with these, there are a default set of documents that will apply to your business based on Idaho statutes. The default documents are not that helpful because they are not customized to your particular business.

By creating your own corporate documents, you are in complete control of the ownership, operation, management, and succession of ownership concerning your business. For example, when you create your own documentation you can address the issues of what happens to an ownership interest in the business if one of the owners becomes disabled, files bankruptcy, becomes divorce, dies, or simply decides that they want to sell their ownership interest to somebody else. Most small business owners have never contemplated being in business with their partner spouse or children or with a perfect stranger. When you create your own corporate documentation, you have complete control over what happens to the ownership interest of each owner if any of these events occur.

Consider Using a Living Trust

Once you have finalized the business documents for your small business step number two is for you to consider using a living trust as a part of your estate planning. By creating a living trust, you can transfer the ownership interest of the business that you have into the trust while you are alive. You then are able to appoint or name a trustee that will have the duty and responsibility to operate the business and to make sure that it continues for as long a period as you decide.

One of the major benefits of having a living trust is that the business can then operate for many decades into the future to benefit several generations in your family. By placing your ownership interest of the small business into a trust, the triggering events listed above, including your death, do not automatically require the business to stop operating or to be sold. At some point, you're living trust will make the final decision about who will receive either the business or the assets when the trust comes to an end.

Family Owned Businesses and Succession Planning

In Pocatello and throughout Idaho, we often help with family-owned businesses including ranches, farms, and other such small businesses. A family-owned business brings with it some unique challenges. This is usually true because we often find that not all family members are involved in the small business. It's very common for a small business to begin with the parents. The children often help with the small business until they become old enough to leave home. When this happens, it's very common that some of the children stay and work at the business, but other children leave and are no longer tied to the business or work in the business to help it continue. This situation can create several problems.

The first problem that we see that is common is that the children who stay and work with the family business typically want to continue to own the business even after Mom and Dad either step down or pass away. Because they have stayed and worked in the business they feel that they are entitled to become the new owners of the business.

The second common problem has to do with those children who do not stay and work in the family business after they become adults. Even though these children are no longer tied to the day-to-day operation of the business, they still feel that day are also entitled to receive something from the business after the parents pass away. These feelings of entitlement from both children who stay and work at the business and those who do not, often leads to family fights and other problems.

We have assisted numerous family-owned small businesses in creating a plan that will fairly treat both the children who stay and work at the business and those who do not. There are several estate planning tools and options available that can be used to accomplish this. Given our knowledge and experience in helping many family owned small businesses we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Pocatello estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or are in need of a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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