Starting a business
Starting a business takes many forms; perhaps it's a first foray into self-employment, taking on an existing business or a serial entrepreneur's next venture. Whatever the endeavour, forging success from ambition requires talent, creativity and practicality. A keen focus on short-term obstacles, without losing sight of the long-term dream. Entrepreneurs have to start by asking, for example: 'What type of legal entity will work best for the business?'; 'Where should the business be based?'; 'Where will funding come from and, if it is being provided by a third party, to what extent will they want to be involved in key decisions?'; 'How will business profits interact with personal taxation and estate planning?'; 'How might the business benefit family members?' The picture can be further complicated by the wider context, particularly the entrepreneur’s or investor's existing business interests and estate planning structures and where there is an international dimension.
How we can help
- Advising on the appropriate legal entity for the business
- Advising on jurisdiction issues
- Establishing the business vehicle, whether corporate or otherwise
- Putting in place corporate shareholder arrangements
- Advice on financing agreements and bank loans
- Negotiating key contracts
- Advice on hiring employees and implementing appropriate employee policies
- Advising on relevant intellectual property and data protection issues.
- Succession planning for the business
- Business and personal tax advice
- Regulatory and compliance advice
- Identifying cross border issues
- Structuring corporate governance arrangements.
- Implementing shareholder agreements
- Helping to navigate disputes, such as on employment or intellectual property matters
- Managing tax issues in an evolving tax landscape
- Helping to ensure compliance in the broadening regulatory framework.
Getting the right advice early in the journey is crucial for ensuring the business is best-placed for success.
Growing a business
Taking a business to the next level is an exciting and unrelenting task. Exploring new opportunities can be extremely rewarding, but requires careful planning to maximise the chances of success. An expanding business might look to launch a new product with a fresh round of fund raising. There could be opportunities to acquire land or other key assets, extend the reach of the business overseas or simply hire a key senior executive. Whatever the issue, getting the decision right is crucial for the healthy growth of a business. Critically, commercial investment and wider business objectives have to be considered in the context of personal wealth and family relationships, particularly when running a business spans multiple generations within a family. With the right advice, a thriving business can work to support families, business partners, employees and wider society for many generations.
How we can help
- Restructuring and reorganising owner-managed and family businesses for expansion
- Creating new divisions or groups in preparation for the sale of non-core assets
- Entering into joint ventures and other multi-party agreements
- Advice on purchasing and leasing land or other assets together with any associated bank borrowing
- Structuring and implementing employee incentive schemes and pensions
- Supporting expansion overseas.
- Business succession planning and family governance
- Separation and reorganisation of businesses and assets for tax efficient succession planning
- Distributing investment income to family members whilst maintaining control of assets
- Corporate governance and risk management when making distributions
- Regulation and compliance advice.
- Acting in shareholder disputes, including claims of unfair prejudice and unlawful distributions
- Acting in removal of estranged family members, such as a former spouse, from a business
- Commercial litigation advice, including bringing and defending claims for breaches of key contracts, failed investment schemes, breach of duty, professional negligence and fraud
- Advising in employment disputes
- Advice on tax opportunities and obstacles
- Help with regulatory and compliance issues.
We are able to draw on expertise from across the firm to advise business owners on the opportunities and challenges of growing a business. While this advice primarily comes from our Corporate and Private Wealth teams, our Employment, Tax, Real Estate and Dispute Resolution teams provide a wealth of valuable knowledge on specific issues that may arise.
Selling a business
Selling a business is a key milestone for a business owner, and often marks the pinnacle of a lifetime's work. Regardless of whether the sale is of an owner-managed business or a shareholding in a corporate entity, the process of selling a business can be stressful and is fraught with consequential decisions. The best way to achieve the goal may be driven by tax relief opportunities, the commercial context or simply, what's next: funding retirement, investing in another business venture or giving the next generations a stable financial foundation. Whatever the objective, it is essential to get expert advice that balances the interests of the business and the individuals involved. For example, timing can be crucial to take advantage of particular tax reliefs. Proper estate planning needs to enable family members, while protecting against vulnerabilities, allowing beneficiaries to enjoy and invest the wealth in ways that suit their respective circumstances.
How we can help
- Pre-transaction advice on risks and liabilities
- Advice on all aspects of selling a business
- Preparing for IPOs and AIM listings
- Dealing with disposals of shares
- Setting up charitable trusts and foundations with the proceeds.
- Utilising tax reliefs, including Business Assets Disposal Relief (formerly Entrepreneur's Relief) from capital gains tax
- Setting up relevant holding structures, such as trusts and family investment companies, to manage the proceeds of sale
- Updating estate planning arrangements to reflect a sale
- Negotiating or updating pre or post-nuptial agreements.
- Navigating family disagreements and disputes
- Protecting sale proceeds from divorce and separation
- Securing protection through waivers and indemnities
- Mechanisms for disengagement of shareholders and distribution of proceeds.
Forsters' Corporate and Private Client teams work together seamlessly to advise clients on both the business and personal aspects of owning and selling a business. It is crucial to consider how business decisions will interact with personal and family matters to ensure the best possible long-term outcomes for all involved.
Growing wealth is a primary objective for private investors, as is, for many, ensuring investments accord with personal values. Investors therefore typically need to consider other criteria beyond an investment's potential financial reward in order to determine the focus and structure of a portfolio. As well as ethical considerations, other relevant factors can include succession to the assets by future generations, ESG aspirations, and, for those in the public eye, reputational risks and opportunities. Investment options span standard acquisitions, like equities, bonds and property, to more unusual ones, such as vintage cars, art, cryptocurrencies and business investments through angel investing and venture capital. The opportunities are endless, but not without risk. Therefore, regardless of the type of investment, its life cycle must be carefully managed to ensure it integrates into the family's wider estate planning.
How we can help
- Negotiating and drafting investment terms
- Advice on the purchase of specialist investments from auction houses and agents
- Acting in the complete life cycle of property investments, from purchase and management through to sale
- Advising on sustainable investments, including responsibilities for trustees and family offices.
- Long-term tax planning
- Advising on the use of trusts or family investment companies as vehicles to hold investments
- Establishing structured family governance
- Acting as trustees and working with investment managers
- Help with financial due diligence.
- Advice when investments have gone wrong, such as dealing with the consequences of fraud, mis-management or mis-selling
- Acting in trust and estate disputes over particular assets, including how they were invested
- Financial disclosure and settlement of investment assets on divorce or separation.
Our lawyers regularly work alongside our clients' existing wealth managers and bankers, advising on the legal aspects of their investments. We also have strong links with reputable investment advisors from around the world to whom we can introduce our clients, which is often helpful when new jurisdictions or niche investments are involved.
Taking on inherited wealth
Inheriting significant wealth can be a mixed blessing. It often means someone close, a family member or loved one, has recently passed away and recipients can feel great responsibility for inherited assets, sometimes regarding themselves as custodians for future generations. At the same time, an inheritance can be liberating, opening doors to new and exciting opportunities. In the short term, there is the estate administration; obtaining a grant of probate, collecting in and securing property and dealing with taxes. Sometimes, the estate may be subjected to claims against assets by disappointed beneficiaries or creditors. There may be tax planning opportunities and, in the longer term, options on structuring assets to better preserve wealth for future generations. Protecting vulnerable beneficiaries, re-directing inheritance to other family members or pursuing social investment or other philanthropic endeavours with inherited wealth can all factor in to administering and benefiting from an estate. Whatever the aspirations, we can help turn them into reality.
How we can help
- Advising on entitlement to an inheritance, under a Will or otherwise
- Help with accessing inherited funds and assets
- Handling UK and international probate and estate administration
- Dealing with tax liabilities
- Post-death restructuring.
- Safeguarding inherited wealth for future generations through estate planning
- Identifying tax planning opportunities
- Ringfencing inheritance from divorce through a pre or post-nuptial agreement.
- Help navigating disputes over beneficial entitlement
- Advice on challenging the devolution of an estate
- Reviewing the validity of a Will to ensure it accurately reflects the testator's wishes
- Advising where there are concerns about the administration of an estate, including whether the executors or trustees have been properly carrying out their duties and functions
- Advising on the treatment of inherited assets during a divorce or separation.