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4 days ago · by · 0 comments

Business Owners – protect your business with a Buy-Sell Agreement

You and your business partner or partners have a clear and common vision of how to run your business, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. As a team, you’ve worked together each and every day to share the daily demands and shape the success of your business. That said, have you thought about what would become of the business and all your hard work if you or one of your partners became ill, was injured, or died?

A business doesn’t have to become disabled or die just because one of the owners retires, dies, or becomes too sick or disabled to work. Whether the transition of business management or ownership needs to take place after death or during life, it can be orderly accomplished through appropriate business succession planning.

A buy-sell agreement is a tool commonly used in business succession planning. This planning feature, when correctly funded and designed, can orderly establish the value at which the business will be taken over and who will be doing the taking over. The owner can have a peace of mind from knowing that the business has a predetermined basis for which it can be sold in a ready market, thereby giving the owner a source of funds when they need it, such as when they are ready to retire. If the owner was to die prior to the above predetermined basis occurring, then the buy-sell can be used to meet the survivor’s needs or pay hefty estate taxes.

Although there are several ways that a buy-sell agreement can be established, an entity purchase agreement and cross purchase are the two most often used:

Cross Purchase

Due to favorable tax results, this is a highly used approach by many small businesses. It’s generally used by businesses that only have a small number of owners. The cross purchase is typically funded with a life and/or disability insurance policy that each of the owners must maintain on their co-owners. The death benefits from the life insurance policy aren’t subject to taxation since the owners, not the business, actually own the individual life insurance policies. Each of the business owners are legally obligated to purchase the ownership interest of the other co-owner(s) upon death.

The deceased owner’s estate sells the owner’s interest to the surviving owners in exchange for the proceeds from the life insurance policy. The surviving owners will get a step-up in the business’s tax basis. Alternatively, the insurance cash value can also be used if one of the co-owners was to need to fund a buyout during their lifetime. One point to remember regarding a cross purchase is that administration is smoothest when there are only a limited number of owners and will become increasingly difficult to administer as the number of owners increase.

Entity Purchase Agreement

This type of buy-sell agreement works somewhat like the cross purchase, but it’s the business, not the owners, that will maintain an insurance policy on each owner and agree to purchase any deceased owner’s interest in the business. As such, the taxation is different.

The death benefits under both an entity purchase and cross purchase agreement, whether being paid to the business or an individual, are exempt from federal income taxation. However, unlike with the cross purchase, there are certain situations that a C corporation can be subject to the corporate alternative minimum tax under an entity purchase. There’s also not a step-up in basis under the entity purchase plan.

Hopefully this brief overview of the entity purchase and cross purchase types of buy-sell agreements has spurred you to think about how vitally important business succession planning is to your business. Of course, this short article couldn’t possibly cover all the factors to consider when developing a business succession plan. As you begin the preparations for you business succession plan with your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent, they should be able to answer any additional questions or concerns you might have.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Problem Solving This Columbus Day Weekend

Are you facing a project or decision at work that has you stumped? Follow Christopher Columbus’s lead and find your solution when you think outside the box. Well, maybe it wasn’t just his way. 🙂

Change the Scenery

The same four walls of your office or company’s conference room feel familiar, but they do nothing to cultivate creativity. Try rearranging your office, moving the meeting to a different room or taking a walk. The change in scenery might be exactly what your brain needs to jump-start creativity and innovation.

Draw a Picture

Most people approach problems with left-brain logic. So, if you’re stuck, tap into your right-brained creativity as you grab markers or crayons and draw a picture. A few minutes of doodling can boost your ability to see outside conventional logic and discover your next great idea.

Study a Different Industry

Whether you’re a lawyer, teacher or farmer, many of the same problems you face also affect people who work in other industries. Study web pages, trade magazines and books about other industries, and your chances of finding new angles or ways of looking at your problems increase.

Turn It Upside Down

Instead of staring at the page for hours, take a different approach. Turn the paper upside down, re-arrange the patterns or start at the end and work backwards. See what new ideas you spark when you turn your problem upside down.

Discover Why Things are Done One Way

Maybe part of your problem comes from doing things the same way they’ve been done for years. But do you even know why things are done the way they’re done? The answers you need might show up when you turn away from traditions and make your own rules.

Columbus did more than discover the Americas. His example inspires you to think creatively. Do just that when you think outside the box and solve your problems this Columbus Day.

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4 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Fall Auto Tune-Up Tips That Can Increase the Life of Your Vehicle

Whether you drive a vehicle that’s hot off the assembly line or one that’s old enough to be an antique, you want your car to last a long time. A fall tune-up helps you achieve your goal. It also maximizes fuel efficiency, prevents expensive repairs and ensures your vehicle runs properly all winter.

Read the Owner’s Manual

In the back of your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you’ll find a tune-up checklist. Follow it carefully as you ensure you repair and inspect all the essential areas of your vehicle this fall.

Fix the Brakes

Your mechanic should inspect the brakes for wear and ensure the brake lights on your vehicle work properly.

Change the Oil

Your vehicle’s engine requires engine oil as it operates smoothly. Top off the oil this fall or invest in a complete oil change, especially if you’ve driven 15,000 miles since your last oil change.

Check the Battery

Wipe off the terminals and make sure the battery is attached correctly. If it’s older than four years, replace it so that you’re not left stranded.

Inspect Hoses

Soft, leaky or loose hoses seem like a small detail, but they’re important for proper engine performance. Inspect all your engine’s hoses to ensure they’re attached properly and replace any that aren’t in good working order.

Top Off Fluids

Low transmission fluid and coolant affect your vehicle’s performance and could damage the engine. Top off these fluids this fall. You’ll also want to fill your windshield washer fluid and the antifreeze reservoir.

Inflate the Tires

You’ll experience a smoother ride and enjoy increased traction when you inflate the tires to the proper level. Find the recommended tire pressure on your vehicle’s door sticker.

Update Insurance

Now that your car is tuned up, update your auto insurance, too. Make sure you have adequate coverage to handle any repairs or liability that may occur during a winter storm or after an accident. With these tune-up tips, you prolong the life of your vehicle this winter and into next year.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

How to Stay Motivated at Work When Your Coworkers Go On Vacation

Vacation season at the office means your motivation plummets. After all, you want to be at the ocean, on an exotic adventure or relaxing at home, too, instead of working. Rather than allow your vacationing coworkers to rob you of your productivity, try four tips that keep you motivated at work all summer.

1. Wake Up in a Good Mood

Maybe you aren’t waking up in an island paradise, but you can use your morning routine to put you in a good mood for the day.

*Brew an exotic coffee flavor and enjoy it on the patio.
*Spend a few extra minutes meditating and mentally preparing yourself for the day.
*Eat a balanced diet with protein, whole grain and fruit.
*Count your blessings. You aren’t on vacation, but you do have a job.
*Wear your favorite color each day so that you feel confident and upbeat.

2. Boost Your Resume

When coworkers go on vacation, your workload may increase. You could focus on the inconvenience of doing extra work or see the responsibility as a resume booster. All that extra work increases your career experience and marketability today and in the future.

3. Focus on Your Paycheck

While your coworkers are spending money on vacation, you can make extra money by working overtime. Then, use the cash you make to fund your own vacation later in the year, repay debt or buy tropical slushies on your lunch break.

4. Build Office Rapport

With less people in the office, you can really get to know your fellow coworkers. The rapport you build increases your motivation, productivity and reputation during summer vacation season and year round. So, buy donuts and fruit to share for breakfast or invite someone you don’t know very well to lunch.

Summer vacation season can either bust your motivation or boost your career. Instead of moaning about work, look for ways to stay motivated and take advantage of your coworkers’ vacations.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Holiday (Fourth of July) Safety Tips

Fourth of July fireworks, parades and cookouts are a time for you to relax with family and friends. As you plan your celebration this year, take several steps to ensure safety for everyone involved in celebrating the United States’ birthday.

Use Fireworks Safely

Public fireworks displays are the safest way to enjoy the beautiful colors and terrific booms of this July 4th tradition, especially when you maintain a distance of at least 500 feet between you and the show. Firework displays at home can be fun though too. If you go that route, take these precautions.

  • Follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Never allow children to play with the fireworks.
  • Stock a fire extinguisher or water supply nearby.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
  • Remove flammable materials from the area.
  • Never point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles or structures.
  • Properly dispose of duds rather than trying to relight them.
  • Take Precautions While Grilling

Burgers, hot dogs, fruit and pizza taste delicious when they’re grilled. Grab your favorite side dishes and follow a few precautions that ensure you and your guests grill safely.

  • Always supervise the grill when it’s in use.
  • Never grill indoors or in a fully enclosed area such as a garage or tent.
  • Use lighter fluid sparingly and never after the coals are ignited.
  • Keep children and pets away from the hot grill.
  • Remove flammable objects, including trees, from near the grill.
  • Use long-handled tools to handle food.
  • Stay Safe on the Beach

Swimming is a fun summer activity, and it’s good exercise. At the beach, lake, public pool or backyard pool, stay safe with these tips.

  • Swim only in designated areas.
  • Obey the lifeguard and all posted signs.
  • Swim sober.
  • Get out of the water during a storm or if you hear thunder or see lightening.
  • Require children to wear life jackets.
  • Don’t dive into shallow water.
  • Wear Sun Bathing Protection

Picnics are part of many July 4th celebrations. You should also take these protective measures.

    • Wear sunscreen that’s at least 15 SPF.
    • Remember to apply sunscreen to your ears, hair part and the tops of your feet.
    • Avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV rays are strongest.
    • Reapply sunscreen every two to three hours or more frequently if you’re sweating.
    • Drink plenty of water even if you’re not thirsty.
    • Wear a hat, sunglasses and long sleeves if you have to be in direct sunlight.
    • Watch for signs of heat stroke, including hot, red skin, shallow breathing and rapid, weak pulse.

Your July 4th celebration will be safe when you take these steps.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

AVOID THE X FACTOR WHEN MAKING AN OFFER ON A HOME

There are those that negotiate for the most reasonable deal possible and those that negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Sellers and buyers alike need to realize that the best deal possible is one where both get what they want in the deal.

This isn’t necessarily an easy point to arrive at and is often a lesson in patience. In real estate, there’s something called the X-factor – a potential home buyer spends countless hours viewing properties until they finally find their perfect home. Instead of making an offer based on what the value of the home is to them and what comparable prices are, they immediately start to ponder how much less they should offer than whatever the asking price might be.

Sorry, but there isn’t some tacit X-factor percentage that should just automatically be subtracted from all listing prices. Home owners are more often than not just as eager to sell as the buyer is to buy. If so, the price of the home is usually realistically priced and priced closely to its comps.

Still, the quest for a deal spurs many to start with a low-ball offer that’s not only unrealistic, but often insulting to the seller. If the seller is offended, negotiations usually die before they’ve ever begun. So, any serious buyer shouldn’t have some magic automatic deduction from an asking price in their head. Look at the comps in the area and determine what the value of the home is for you based on how congruent it is to the needs and desires of your family.

How a purchasing price is arrived at for both owner and buyer is a very personal process. When accepting an offer, a buyer considers how fast they need to sell the home, how bad they need to sell the home, pressures from having already purchasing a replacement home, what is owed on the home, and so forth.

On the other hand, two potential buyers can look at the very same property and come up with two very different personal values for the home, depending on how congruent it is with each of their needs, the location of the home, appeal of the home, amenities, school system, and so forth. Aside from personal value, buyers and sellers must also look at the how much a lender will lend on the home based on it appraisal.

Price isn’t the only thing negotiated during the sale of a home. There’s also time lines, what will stay and go from the home, and who will pay for any problems found upon professional inspection. The most important thing for buyers and sellers to remember is that negotiating isn’t about one side getting everything they desire; it’s a give-and-take process of compromise.

To avoid a winner-take-all complex from forming, buyers and sellers should both have a list of top priorities prior to starting any negotiations. As new issues arise during the process, priorities might need to be re-evaluated to see if the priority is truly a must have for the home to change hands.

Many problems, such as fees and repairs, often can be solved by the buyer and seller meeting in the middle. Agreeing to split the costs evenly can be a much better option than wasting time and money to negotiate for weeks. For example, a seller that will pay another mortgage payment because of the additional time spent negotiating might actually find it cheaper to pay half the cost of a minor repair and close the deal before the next note is due.

Sometimes there are legitimate deal breakers. If so, then it just wasn’t the best option for the parties involved. But, before giving up, do try mulling over the troubling aspect of the negotiation for a few days. You can move on to the other areas of the negotiation. If everything else is agreed on, then there may be more encouragement to compromise on the problematic area.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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