Dealing with age, passivity and death discourages many business owners from addressing the issue of succession planning in a timely manner. In addition, there is not infrequently the notion that a company handover must be “all or nothing”. However, German law offers a wealth of opportunities and great flexibility to gradually introduce successors to future tasks and the responsibilities that go with them. This can also be attractive from a tax perspective.
Here are some examples of succession design:
Maintain entrepreneurial influence
Depending on the wishes and possibilities, the entrepreneur can continue to exert influence during the gradual handover. In the case of succession within the family, this can be done, for example, by only partially transferring the assets, taking advantage of the gift tax allowances. Through a multiple voting right or an irrevocable proxy by the donated children, the donor still retains his strong position.
Further profit sharing possible
In many cases, entrepreneurs may wish to transfer shares to the next generation during their lifetime, but the profits are not yet to flow to the donees, or not in full. Here, for example, the donor can have usufruct granted on the company shares given away and thus receive the profits after the gift. Pension solutions are also conceivable, in which the donor receives a recurring monthly payment regardless of the company’s success.
Ripcord recovery right
German law offers the possibility of being able to pull the “ripcord” in the event of a transfer by agreeing a right of recovery. This has several advantages for the Schenker. In this way, the donees will take the agreements from the gift contract and their new role as shareholders seriously. Otherwise, there is a risk that they would have to return their shares in the company. In addition, the entrepreneur can relax when it comes to succession planning. Because if things turn out differently than hoped and agreed, he can correct his decision.
Conclusion: By wisely structuring the transfer of the business, the parties involved can ensure that the next generation is gradually involved. In this way, entrepreneurs can make provisions for the future without suddenly having to hand over all the reins.
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