Family businesses enjoy the benefit of taking a long term view because they understand that the family’s future is affected by the success of the business. This long term view confers a strategic advantage, but the family-owned business faces unique challenges such as how to successfully manage the transition of ownership and management from generation to generation.
The success of a family business depends upon its ability to manage these challenges and make the most of the opportunities presented by its unique characteristics. Of central importance to the long term success of the family business is the ability of each successive generation to fully understand that ownership and management are two very separate and distinct things. We help family businesses facing such issues to deal with what can, at times, seem to the family to be insurmountable difficulties.
We work with family-owned businesses, individuals and their financial advisers to find a path through the emotional and family bonds to find the right legal, commercial and family solution to the issue. We are very mindful of the importance of working closely with the Family Business’s other trusted advisers, such as the family’s accountants.
At Morgan McManus Solicitors, we weave together a variety of legal disciplines to provide family business centred advice. The challenges are clearly complex. We work very closely with other specialist advisers such as tax consultants, financial advisers and accountants to make sure the solution works from every perspective.
Family Business Disputes
Sometimes the complex family relationships underpinning family businesses can lead to disputes. In circumstances where a dispute has already arisen, we work with the business to find the best solution possible for the family and the business. Of course, our preference is to work with a Family Business long before any dispute arises so that we can assist the family in putting in place appropriate and discreet means of dispute resolution should difficult circumstances arise.
Family Business Employment Law Issues
Family-owned businesses experience unique employment issues.
- Should family members employed in the business be treated the same as non family employees?
- Should family members be guaranteed a job in the family business regardless of merit?
- Should family members be excluded from employment in the family business altogether?
Family Business Governance
Governance is an important issue in any business but is often neglected in the family business. Formalising governance structures in a small or medium sized family business can present challenges and meet with resistance from some quarters. Having sensible governance structures in place becomes crucial to the smooth running of the business and the fostering of healthy, productive and rewarding family relationships as the business passes to the second generation and beyond. We work closely with other trusted advisers to allow the Family Business put in place the governance structures which work for them. Such arrangements need to reflect what each family and non family member feels in terms of the focus for the business and their individual expectations.
We can guide you through this process, providing support in addressing the key issues and working with other trusted advisers can provide project management skills to help you achieve your objectives.
Family Ownership Structures
Careful consideration must be given to the best way to structure your family business to help preserve long term ownership where possible and appropriate. Family Owned Companies with a Family Shareholders Agreement tailored to your family’s requirements tends to be the preferred option. This ownership aspect is closely aligned to issues around retirement, succession and inheritance. This in turn tends to require careful consideration of the tax consequences and tax planning. Drawing on our in-house tax experience and working closely with trusted tax advisers and your accountants, we seek to put in place the best solution for your Family Business.
Family Business Reorganisation
As your family business develops, it is sometimes necessary to review your corporate structure, to ensure that it works for the business. As the business matures, separate companies for trading and property ownership may well be prudent, both of which are typically owned by a holding company. Pending retirements and generation change may require such reorganisation but it is universally the case that the longer the lead in time the better the results. We have experience in helping family-owned businesses choose the right company structure.
Succession Planning for Family Businesses
Succession is a real and often thorny issue for family-owned businesses. We recognise that family business succession planning is an ongoing process and often needs to be considered in a number of stages depending on the life-cycle of the business and the business owner. We also recognise that the practical elements of succession planning, having been mulled over by the family for a number of years, may often need to be implemented in a short timescale due to external factors such as tax and the circumstances of individual family members.
Let us help your family business thrive for the next generation
If you need advice on passing your business to the next generation or need solutions to the day-to-day legal problems of running a business, then please contact us.
Legal advice is available.