Family Business Matters
A family business is like no other. Although it will offer products or services in the same way that other commercial enterprises will, its character is fundamentally different.
Family businesses are, in many ways, more deeply held together than others. Our clients are often second or third generation business owners who have inherited assets and goodwill and the responsibility for carrying on the trade and traditions that have been passed down to them. There is history; there is a responsibility to nurture and to protect the family business for the next generation.
Our family business solicitors provide these businesses with the legal support they need. This includes advice on:
- business acquisitions and sales
- director agreements
- dispute resolution
- divorce and separation
- property matters
- shareholder issues and agreements
- succession planning
- wealth management
- Wills and trusts
Focused on providing the essential advice to ensure that family businesses run smoothly and are shored up for the years to come, our team of family business lawyers are relied on by families in our local area and in other parts of England and Wales. Many have been with us for years. They count on our clear guidance and on our strategic solutions. And they know that we truly understand them and their business.
Clients often ask us...
What legal specialisms do your family business solicitors have?
Our family business team is made of solicitors drawn from across Chattertons. These include corporate solicitors, family law solicitors, property solicitors, and dispute resolution solicitors, as well as specialists in wealth management and in Wills, trusts, and probate.
This breadth of expertise ensures that all issues that could face a family business can be handled - in one place, and by lawyers who share a commitment to providing valuable, accessible advice.
What will my legal fees be?
Depending on the type of work that we will be doing for you, we will either agree with you a fixed fee at the outset or we will give you an estimate of the likely overall cost, based on an hourly rate. Either way you will know what your financial outlay is going to be, so you can factor this into your plans and arrangements.
We work hard to keep our charges as low as possible. We regularly review our rates to ensure that they remain at market level. And we work efficiently, so you will only be charged for time well spent on progressing your matter. Each invoice we send will be itemised, so you will be able to see how our charges are made up. It is all part of our commitment to transparency, and to ensuring that clients are happy with the work we do, and the price we charge for it.
We are family. We trust each other. Do we need legal agreements between ourselves?
Yes. A business is a business, regardless of who runs it. You should have proper legal documents that spell out very clearly each person’s role in the company, and their responsibilities. There should be clarity about how decisions are to be made and about how each person is to be paid.
Those are just some of the terms that should be decided upon and set out in a business agreement. It will help your business function properly - everyone understands what is required of them, and how they can be held to account - and any disagreements in the future should be more easily ironed out by reference to the agreed terms.
Can our family business survive a rift in the family?
Yes. Our family business solicitors often deal with situations in which family members have fallen out and a new ownership structure has to be negotiated. Our team of family business lawyers are skilled in helping families work through issues and keep the family business intact.
One common situation in which we are asked to advise is where co-directors or shareholders separate or divorce. It is vital that specialist legal advice is sought at an early stage to protect the financial interests that exist in the business, as well as in the personal relationship. Our family business solicitors have the family law and corporate law expertise to guide clients through this.
I would like to speak to a family business lawyer but am worried about others in my business finding out. Could you help?
Yes. Although we act for family businesses (so we advise the owners as a collective), we also act for individual members of a family business who need personal advice on their position. Everything we do is confidential, as you would expect. If we are able to advise you without there being any conflict of interest, then we will do everything we can to make the process of dealing with us as easy for you as possible.
You could visit any of our 10 offices (London, Newark, Grantham, or Lincoln, for example). Alternatively, we could meet at a venue that suits you. And there is always the option of Skype, or another type of conference call, if that would make things easier for you. Much of our contact with clients is now remote, as opposed to face-to-face. We welcome both types; ultimately it is about your convenience.
When should we start thinking about succession planning?
Ideally, from the moment your business begins (or even before). Succession planning is all about ensuring that the right talent and leadership will be in place for a business to continue once the existing leaders have left. It is also about making provision for those departing leaders to take their share out of the business.
It really is never too early to have these considerations in mind, and it is important to have a decent succession planning strategy - reviewed and updated as you go along - that stands to secure your business’ future.