Family Businesses

News & Analysis as of

Succession Planning: “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow…”

Let’s face reality. We are all going to pass on someday, so we might as well be prepared and lessen the burden for those following behind us. One of the first steps in effective succession planning is to gather in one place...more

Family Business in China – Is There A Succession Crisis?

In September, Gary Locke, former U.S. Ambassador to China, Secretary of Commerce and two-term Governor of the State of Washington, returned to Davis Wright Tremaine as a Senior Advisor. Ambassador Locke’s return sparked a...more

Washington LLC Act: How Family Businesses Are Affected

Embracing change is tough, because it rarely hugs you back. But the recent changes to the Washington State LLC Act (RCW Chapter 25.15) at least have some provisions that are affectionate toward family businesses and LLCs in...more

Family Businesses Outperform Publicly Traded Companies

In late 2012, researchers Nicolas Kachaner, George Stalk and Alain Bloch at the Harvard Business School published a study to compare family-owned businesses of certain sizes and industries with their non-family-owned...more

Use a noncharitable purpose trust to achieve a variety of goals

Generally, trusts must have one or more human beneficiaries, but there’s an exception for certain “purpose” trusts. One popular type of purpose trust is a charitable trust. But don’t overlook the noncharitable purpose (NCP)...more

Transferring the Family Business Timing is Everything

One of the most important factors to consider in any business succession plan is the timing of the transition of ownership. Whether a sale or a gift (or combination of the two), no transition should occur before the next...more

Dynasty Trust Planning: A Tax-Efficient Way to Manage Wealthy Families' Assets

Private Wealth Services partner, Michelle R. Canerday, and Corporate & Securities partner, Robert G. Gerber, recently co-authored the article "Dynasty Trust Planning: A Tax-Efficient Way to Manage Wealthy Families' Assets,"...more

The Immigrant Family Business: Succeeding in the American Market

Statue Of Liberty Against A Golden Sky There is nothing uniquely American about the concept of family business. Families have operated businesses in every nation of the world, and some cultures are well known for fostering...more

Structure, structure, structure

In reading Andrew Keyt’s piece about family businesses (recently published on, “structure” was the one word that continued to resonate for me. Mr. Keyt never used the word “structure” but his advice to family...more

Business Succession Planning: The Time is Now

Family-controlled businesses comprise between 80-90 percent of all business enterprises in North America. And while it is estimated that nearly 40 percent of family businesses are passed successfully to a second generation,...more

Five Legal Documents Every Family Business Should Have (and Use)

Every business is different. Certainly, every family is different. But family businesses, as a group, share certain challenges and opportunities. In order to ensure their businesses survive, thrive and grow, leaders of family...more

Potential Limitations on Gift Tax Strategies Coming Soon

Valuation discounts have been a significant component of estate planning for many years. By contributing assets to a family entity and gifting or selling an interest in the entity to family members, you can effectively...more

Domestic Partnership Agreements: Financial Disclosures and Privacy

To reduce risk of later attack on the domestic partnership agreement, domestic partners should make fair and reasonable financial disclosures to each other prior to signing the agreement. Each partner should disclose to the...more

IRS Plans to Further Restrict Family Business Valuation Discounts

IRS regulations anticipated for release as early as this September may further restrict valuation discounts. The exact scope of the regulations is unknown, but the regulations will likely make it more difficult for taxpayers...more

Proposed Regulations May Limit Valuation Discounts for Family-Owned Entities

Individuals who wish to make gifts or other transfers of interests in family-owned/controlled entities, such as closely-held businesses, limited partnerships, or limited liability companies should consider making such...more

New Regulations Expected this Fall May Limit Valuation Discounts in Certain Asset Transfers

For high-net worth individuals – particularly those whose assets include closely-held business interests or family investment entities – anticipated changes in the valuation of those assets for estate and gift tax purposes...more

Best in Law: IRS Moves Mean It's Time to Shift Family Entity Wealth

The IRS may take action very soon to eliminate or reduce a widely used and valuable family business entity wealth transfer strategy. The window of opportunity to take advantage of this strategy may close within the next month...more

ERISA: Clarity on When ERISA Applies to Working Owners of Small Companies

You probably already know that in small, wholly owned “mom and pop” businesses, benefits covering only the owners of the business may be exempt from ERISA....more

Anticipated IRS Regulations May Impact Discounts On Intra-Family Transfers of Closely Held Business Interests

Action Item: It is anticipated that Treasury will soon issue new regulations that will affect the valuation discounts applicable to intra-family transfers of interests in closely held entities. It may be advisable to review...more

The Time to Transfer Entity Interests Is Now - Trust and Estates Update Vol. 2015, Issue 1

Upcoming IRS regulations may significantly limit and reduce planning opportunities to transfer minority interests in closely held entities to family members and increase the transfer tax cost associated with moving such...more

Hot Topics from the Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises Conference

On June 17, the Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises (AFHE) held a midyear conference in New York City. The agenda began with an interactive presentation titled "Understanding Conflicts of Interest and Current Events in the...more

The Pressure of Stepping into the Family Business

First and second generation family business owners spend an inordinate amount of time focused on building and preserving their family legacy. This is hard, hard work. For starters, it means not only growing the business and...more

Family Office Direct Investing in Private Equity Deals

For most family offices, engaging in direct investment PE deals really means finding the right partner, and the diligence required to find the right PE partner for direct deals is much more involved, and probably less of a...more

Possible Regulatory Changes Could Reduce Tax Benefits of Transfers of Interests in Family-Owned Entities

Historically, the Internal Revenue Service has closely scrutinized transfers between family members of interests in family-owned entities. Among other actions, the Service has sought to curtail the use of discounts to...more

Premarital planning - Protecting your assets without a prenup

Protecting family assets in the event of a divorce is particularly significant for family business owners, who typically want to avoid sharing ownership with their ex-spouses or their children’s ex-spouses. A prenuptial...more

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