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Carefully consider business succession then talk to a lawyer

Owning a business is one of the many ways in which people across the nation, including here in Florida, have been able to increase their wealth and ensure financial security for themselves when they retire. But as business owners get older though, they are faced with a difficult decision: to sell the business or hand it off to someone else. For many people, this decision isn't always an easy one and might eventually require the intervention of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who also has an understanding of business law as well.

That's because business succession has just as much to do with estate planning sometimes as it has to do with business law. But because most people typically don't know all of the subtle nuances of the law, it can be difficult to know when they are in compliance with both of these areas of the law and when they are not.

To illustrate this, we'd like our Brevard County readers to consider the case of Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints. Several years ago, Benson had expressed a desire to leave the team in the hands of his daughter and granddaughter. But because of a family dispute, the 87-year-old has changed his mind and has now taken actions that may have complicated the situation.

Benson's case is significant to our Florida readers because it highlights the legal issues a person can encounter when their actions conflict with business and estate planning laws. In Benson's case, he is facing accusations that he not only violated the terms of his team's trust but his daughter has even questioned his mental health, declaring him "mentally unfit to make business decisions." He must now face litigation in order to resolve the issues at hand.

Because not everyone is an expert in the law, nor is there an expectation that they should be, we encourage those of our readers who own their own business to carefully discuss business succession with their attorney. Sometimes knowing what you can and cannot do can help you avoid violating the law and jeopardizing your business' legacy in the process, which is something we're sure all of our readers would like to avoid.

Source: Life Health Pro, "In estate planning limbo: Ownership of the New Orleans Saints," Tom Nawrocki, March 10, 2015

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