In a previous post I discussed buy-sell agreements between business partners and why they were necessary. To recap, in the case that a business partner dies, the surviving partner will more than likely want to buy out the deceased partner's interest, and to do that they may need money. With a life insurance policy in place for that purpose, the surviving partner will have the funds needed, thus avoiding a scenario where they are in business with their partner's spouse or other family members.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a similar scenario. For this example, we will name our business partners Bob and Neil. Both are married and have their own families, live in nice middle class neighborhoods and are making enough money to pay their bills while stowing a bit into a retirement account.
One evening, Bob in on his way home and a car crosses the center line, hitting Bob's vehicle. Fortunately, Bob survives the crash, but unfortunately, he is severely injured. Bob is more than likely going to be permanently disabled and will not be returning to work.
Luckily for Bob and his family, he had purchased a Disability Insurance (DI) policy early on and will have some income to help pay his personal bills. But what about the business? And what happens to Neil in this situation? Will Neil have to do the work for two people and split the profits with his now disabled partner?
Here again, a good buy-sell agreement needs to be in place beforehand. This legally binding agreements sets the terms and conditions of the sale and the subsequent purchase of the disabled partner's ownership of the business. Having an insurance policy in place helps fund the buy-out, and can also help pay the disabled partner's bills.
The payout can be distributed in a lump sum, monthly disbursements or a combination of both. This can be decided at the time of purchase.
In some instances the company pays the premiums for the policy. However some smaller businesses will do a "criss-cross" agreement, in which each partner pays the premiums and receives benefits from the disability policy covering the affected partner.
After an illness or injury occurs, an elimination period, has to be met before benefits are paid. This elimination period is a waiting period that can be a few months or as long as a couple of years. Think of an elimination period as your deductible, but in time rather than money. And just like your car insurance, the higher the deductible, the cheaper the premiums will be.
Having a buy-sell agreement avoids a lot of potential issues that can occur if a partner is sick or hurt and unable to work. This plan can prevent a financial loss or even bankruptcy by keeping the business afloat. In turn, this helps keeps those on the staff of the business employed as well. And the owners can be assured control of their business decisions, with the freedom to replace the injured owner with a person of their own choosing. Not to mention that they will not be forced into business with any family members of the disabled partner.
Since the purchase price of the business was stipulated in the original buy-sell agreement, the disabled partner should feel he or she was given a fair market price for their share in the business. I usually suggest that the numbers be updated every few years to keep up with the growth of the business.
If you have business partners and would like more information on how to fund a buy-sell in case your partner dies or becomes disabled, let us know.
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life and disability insurance coverage. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!