Closely Held and Family Business

Lathrop GPM’s family business advisory team is a multidisciplinary group of lawyers that shares experience, skill, and a passion for helping our clients address the myriad legal issues facing their family-owned businesses. We know that family-owned businesses are unique, and that a keen understanding of the interplay between business and family is critical to helping you proactively address your legal challenges. Our attorneys combine their resources in a uniquely collaborative way to help you and your business thrive.

Quick Facts

  • Number of family-owned businesses in the United States: 5.5 million
  • Family businesses generate 57% of the nation’s gross domestic product
  • Family enterprises employ 63% of the U.S. workforce
  • Family businesses generate 75% of all new jobs
  • A total of 60% of all publicly held U.S. companies are family controlled
  • Family businesses that engage in some form of philanthropy: 95%
  • Family businesses outperform non-family businesses in the United States by 6.65%annually in terms of return on assets
  • About 30% of family-owned businesses survive the transition from the first generation to the second
  • About 12% of family-owned businesses survive the transition to the third generation

Our family-owned business clients seek advice and counsel in a number of areas of law that affect them, including:

  • Planning for management succession and changes in ownership and control
  • Identifying company and shareholder cash needs and advising on steps to develop liquidity, including organizational changes, divisions of businesses, and debt or equity financings
  • Structuring acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and sales of businesses
  • Counseling on family estate planning issues, including the minimization of transfer taxes in the planned succession
  • Advising on business structures, control techniques, and distribution of shares; and counseling on family disputes, deadlocks, and other shareholder planning issues
  • Designing suitable incentive compensation programs for both family and nonfamily members of management
  • Designing qualified retirement plans and deferred compensation plans consistent with the company’s needs
  • Advising on issues relating to labor unions and all other employment matters, including counseling on nonlegal personnel problems
  • Advising on issues involving family shareholders who are not active in the business
  • Evaluating opportunities presented by existing family trusts
  • Establishing an effective method of shareholder communication and development of the owners’ common sense of purpose
  • Counseling on federal and state tax matters, such as seeking private rulings on transactions, assisting in audits and representation in administrative appeals and litigation
  • Advising on federal and state securities laws
  • Counseling on antitrust and environmental matters when needed

Representative Experience

  • We work with a local real estate entrepreneur and his children, all of whom are active in the real estate operations of apartment buildings and shopping centers in the Twin Cities area. Our business lawyers handle all the corporate work and our real estate lawyers handle the leasing arrangements. Our employment and litigation attorneys also work for this client, as needed.
  • Our estate and business succession planning attorneys work with three generations of a local family that owns a kitchen supply manufacturing and distribution company. We have helped the family effect a recapitalization and gifting program and implement an insurance program in connection with the business succession plan.
  • We work with a local bank owner in his business succession plan for his family. We accomplished a tax-free redemption of the higher generation’s shares and a sale of shares to the children involved in the bank. We also used grantor-retained annuity trusts to transfer additional interests to the children.
  • Our trust and estate planning attorneys work with a local family-owned trucking company. We have implemented their estate plans and helped them with their gifting program and transfer of their lake home to the next generation. Our real estate attorneys assist in the commercial real estate work involved in the family’s property holdings.
  • Our business attorneys help a local business owner in many aspects of business operation, including intellectual property (license, trademark, patent), corporate recapitalization, general corporate, tax, and partnership matters. Our employment attorneys have consulted with this client about employment matters and our employee benefits group has assisted with benefits issues.