With owner-managed and family businesses often come challenges around combining business and personal objectives, which may not always neatly overlap.

Taking a holistic approach to planning for the future is something Robert Burns, Corporate Finance partner at Burness Paull, regularly advises business owners on.

What are the common pitfalls you see around business owners and putting in place plans for the future?

Too often, we see Wills conflict with what is actually intended with their business interests. Or the Company’s Articles do not allow shares to be transferred in the way the Will intends. Scotland’s system of “forced heirship” can also cause problems. Spouses and children can claim part of a person’s moveable estate on death and, as most business interests are moveable, claims can be substantial.

What is your approach for protecting your clients’ interests?

We use a team of advisors to provide a combination of different skills, from corporate legal advice, to advice on personal tax, Wills, trusts and estate planning, with no ‘gaps’ between the business and personal arrangements. Importantly, the best results come from having regular reviews with accountants, tax advisors, lawyers and wealth advisers in one room. Personal circumstances can change, including those of family members, and keeping matters on review allows us to help pre-empt any issues that may arise.


This article appeared in the 6th December edition of Business HQ - click here to view online

If the holistic approach is undertaken correctly, what benefits can it bring?

Other than preventing nasty surprises in the future? The busy client gets real peace of mind because their varied affairs are now clearly identified; and a clear plan is put in place for all their interests, from houses, and holiday homes, planning for children’s education and investments, to the business itself.

Often simple tax mitigation steps are missed. A global approach to the business and personal interest allows our clients to make the most of what they already have.

For example, has the client exploited the full potential of their pension lifetime allowances? Are there steps in place to reduce the potential 40% Inheritance Tax on death? Working with a broad range of expertise allows us to identify those valuable opportunities.