How spouses protect their family when working in the same business

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When you made your vows to each other, you could not have imagined that you would seldom spend any time apart.  Growing a business while keeping the fire burning in a successful marriage takes dedication and much hard work but can also be among the most rewarding things in life. I am not a marriage counselor, but I've seen enough couples in business to learn a thing or three. Here are a few tips.

  • Don't bring work home. While your business is probably the sole source of your income, it is vital to separate your work lives and home lives. Boundaries can be established by adopting a rule that you and your partner will only discuss business while working. Home-based business partners can establish times when work will not be discussed, which will be treated as sacred personal time. It would be best to allocate enough time to do business, no matter which approach you use.
  • Decide on a family and business budget. Money can be a very tense topic, even for the average married couple. A growing family and business will require the couple to agree upon a budget for your family and your business budget. By having open and honest communications about your finances, both personally and professionally, you can later stave off more heated conversations.
  • Enjoy time apart. It is essential to do something that you enjoy alone because you probably spend most of your time. So, you each get your own time watching your favorite team sport with friends, shopping alone, or going to the salon to the barbershop. Having hobbies allows you to take a break from the usual routine and access another part of yourself. Studies have also shown that individuals who have hobbies they enjoy are happier, less stressed, and tend to have lower blood pressure.
  • Update or prepare your estate plan. Like any other couple, estate planning is important for business-owning spouses to protect each other and ensure a financially stable and prosperous future for the family and loved ones you leave behind. When a couple works in a business together, things can become even more complicated, making proper estate planning an even greater necessity. Below are some of the necessary estate planning tools you need to protect yourself, your family, and your business.
  • Trust: By having a trust, you can have your money, property, and business owned by an entity other than yourself. While this may seem scary, in most circumstances, transferring the ownership does not mean that you are giving up control. In creating the trust, you can name yourself as the trustee (the one in charge of managing the money and property, including the business, in the trust) and name yourself as the current beneficiary (the person who gets the enjoyment from the money, property, and business). The primary benefit of having the trust own your money, property, and business is that when you die, you do not own any of these things (the trust does), and therefore, they do not have to go through probate court proceedings. Avoiding probate will save your family time and money and can keep your personal affairs private.

In addition to avoiding probate, a trust can give you a place to write down your instructions for the business's future. Who will run the business if you are unable to or if you die? Is the next generation ready to step up and run the business? Does money need to be provided to a beneficiary who does not work in the business, or will the entire family participate?

Lastly, a trust offers additional protection for your business by allowing you to select an individual to run the business if you cannot make decisions for yourself, thereby allowing for your business's continuous operation.

  • Financial Power of Attorney: Your spouse cannot make decisions for you unless you formally appoint them as your agent-in-fact (via a durable power of attorney). Failure to select a person to decide on your behalf could land your family in probate court, where a judge will decide who makes decisions for you.  Your spouse needs the appropriate authority to make decisions about you and your business, even though he or she may be the best-positioned person to do so. If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, signing a financial power of attorney can facilitate a smooth transition during a stressful and emotional time if, for some reason.

A financial power of attorney is vital if only one of you is the business's legal owner. Although the other spouse may be intimately familiar with the operations, without the proper authority, he or she cannot make any decisions that may be necessary to keep the business going.

  • Medical Power of Attorney: As is the case with financial matters, no one has the authority to make medical decisions for you unless you select them or the court appoints them. If you cannot communicate your wishes when an emergency arises, the person who will be deciding your treatment course must be someone you can trust.

Growing a business while keeping the embers in your marriage, burning takes hard work. The Law Offices of Charles R. Frazier exist to help families and business owners live without anxiety, fear, or confusion by guiding them through a comprehensive estate plan process. Family and business are protected if unforeseen circumstances befall your family. Give us a call today at 615-267-0125 to schedule an appointment.

Tax and Estate Planning Lawyer serving clients in Tennessee, Michigan and Texas

At the Law Offices of Charles R. Frazier, we help businesses avoid or resolve tax problems and we protect families with cost-effective estate planning services. As a former IRS agent and veteran of the U.S. Army, Charles R. Frazier has the experience and understanding to find the right solution for your needs. We provide counseling and representation to business owners facing difficulties with the IRS or State Department of Tax Revenue. We also develop plans to help families preserve their hard-won assets so they are prepared in case of death or incapacity. Schedule Now

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