The first question most people have is what in the world is buy sell life insurance? In closely held businesses the death of one owner can cause a plethora of inconvenient issues to arise within the business. Depending on the deceased owners’ estate planning, the remaining business partners could face a number of legal and financial hurdles.
A buy-sell agreement is a contract among business owners, where upon the death of one of the owners, the remaining owners are required to purchase the deceased's interest via the terms of the contract (buy-sell agreement) and the deceased's survivors or heirs are required to comply by selling their inherited interest at the pre-determined price.
The buy-sell life insurance method is becoming more and more attractive to business owners because it avoids the question of how family members are to ensure they are receiving a fair price for their inherited share in the business. It also avoids the corporation having to produce a large amount of cash to redeem the heirs’ interest in the corporation, and it avoids corporations having to deal with unwanted and potentially inexperienced partners (such as the spouse of the deceased).
Cross Purchase vs. Stock Redemption
There are two basic formations of buy-sell agreements. The first is a cross purchase agreement. The next is a stock redemption agreement. In a cross purchase agreement each owner of the corporation will purchase a life insurance policy on the other owners, and will in turn be named the beneficiary of the policy. In a stock redemption agreement the corporation purchases the life insurance policies. In each instance when an owner dies either the corporation or the other owners will use the proceeds of the life insurance policies to redeem the deceased owners’ interest in the corporation.
Pros and Cons Of Buy Sell Agreements
These agreements are financially advantageous to both the corporation and the individuals that stand to inherit interest in the corporation. The fair market value of the owners’ shares are agreed upon at the time of the signing of the buy-sell agreement. The proceeds are paid out to the other owners who then use the funds to purchase or buy out the deceased owners shares. There are no income tax consequences to the deceased's family as a result of the “sale", nor are the proceeds subject to corporate creditor claims or the corporate alternative minimum tax. As a result of the life insurance proceeds there is a lump sum of cash available to buy out or “fund" the agreement at the time of death, without having to go thru the probate period required by most states.
There are some drawbacks to the life insurance buy-sell agreement, most centering around the premiums paid into the life insurance policies during the lives of the owners. Since insurance premiums are not paid with pre-tax dollars, they are usually not tax deductible. Depending on the age and health of the owners, some of them might not be insurable. The uninsurable owners would really have no incentive to participate in a buy-sell agreement, which would result in an inequitable situation in regards to stock redemption agreements. Also, since interests and ages of the owners of the corporation could vary widely, there is a chance that the corporation will have to pay higher premiums for older owners and for those with smaller interest to pay a disproportionate share of premiums.
There are other ways to fund buy sell agreements, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, depending on the size of your corporation (or partnership or LLC), age and interests of its owners the life insurance buy sell agreement is an excellent way to ensure that your family and co-owner have the easiest transition of your shares in the event of death.
Buy Sell Agreement Life Insurance Quotes
Be sure that you shop around and compare life insurance quotes from multiple companies before purchasing a policy. A little bit of research spent early on will be well worth it when it comes time to draw up the paperwork.
Get started shopping around and finding life insurance today!