The death of a partner or major stockholder in a business can have devastating effects on both the business and the deceased partner’s surviving family. The business is concerned with gaining control of the deceased partner’s interest at a fair price so that it can continue operations without interference from the surviving family members. The family members are most concerned with receiving as much money as possible for their interest in the business and for capital that may be needed for estate settlement purposes.
The Need for a Written Agreement
Absent a written agreement, the competing interests of the business and the family members could lead to major conflicts, litigation and possibly the forced liquidation of the business. A buy-sell agreement can ensure that the business interest of the deceased partner will transfer in an orderly manner to the benefit and satisfaction of all parties. With a buy-sell agreement in place, the stability of the business for it clients, employees and investors (or creditors) is more assured.
Key elements of a buy-sell agreement include a mutually agreeable sales price and terms of the sale. The agreement should also be funded in order to ensure that the capital is available at the time of the death of a partner.
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