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Partnership insurance

This is Insurance provided to cover the interests of partners in a business. It normally includes an appropriate mix of Life and Disability insurance to support a formal partnership or buy/ sell agreement, designed to provide for an orderly continuation or dissolution of the business on the death or disablement of a partner, and the protection of all partners interests.

The main provisions which need to be included in a Partnership agreement are:

  • Names of partners and firm
  • Nature and place of business
  • Term of partnership
  • Capital contribution and distribution
  • Provision for interest on capital
  • Management of business, any special duties, authorisation for cheques and maintenance of books
  • Payment of expenses, division of net profits and drawing arrangements
  • Death, disability, retirement, withdrawal, admission and expulsion of a partner
  • Sale or assignment of interest to an outsider
  • Valuation of partnership interest
  • Grounds and provisions for dissolution and winding up of the firm
  • Arbitration of disputes, non-competition clause, insurance arrangements etc

A questionnaire has been developed that can assist you in considering the issues that need to be addressed in a Succession or Buy /Sell agreement. Contact us for a copy.

We would suggest that your lawyer can provide the proper advice and draft a suitable agreement for you.

(If you and your partners are under 55 years of age - you can get immediate online quotes for Life and Critical Illness - click here. You may also apply online).

Q & A

If you have questions you would like answered email us - here.

Q. We have a good understanding, why should we have a written partnership or buy /sell agreement?

A. While your intentions are laudable, in a general partnership each partner is liable for the debts and losses of the partnership either jointly or severally in either equal parts or on some other agreed scale. This needs to be formally stated in a Partnership agreement to provide protection for both parties.

Your partnership agreement needs to ensure an equitable solution for all on death, disability or dissolution for any reason.

What would happen to your family on your death. Would your spouse or children wish to assume your place as an active partner? Do they have the time or skills? Would your partner be happy to have them involved actively in the business?

We suggest you also consider a buy-sell agreement whereby your partners buy your interest at an agreed price, on death or permanent disability and your family receives the proceeds. Sufficient funds can also be included to cover the many extra costs incurred by the business on the death or permanent disability of either partner.

Q. Should I use Term or a form of Life and Cash Plan?

A. While term is the cheapest form of insurance, and appears to allow more cash for other business activities, a life and cash plan or permanent insurance has the following advantages;

  • It builds a cash value which can be used in an emergency other than death or disability
  • Banks, creditors and financial institutions prefer it as it provides additional security
  • The cash value can be built to fund any proposed buyout on retirement with a guaranteed sum, rather than a forced sale, or introduction of a third party

Q. There are only two of us and we work as in a legal partnership, and I know we would look after our partners family if one Partner died. Why do we need a buy-sell agreement and insurance?

A. Death destroys a partnership in more than a legal sense. How will your partners interest be disposed, and the estate settled?. As the surviving partner, you become the liquidating trustee of his /her interest.

Upon death of a partner, normal partnership operations cease. No new contracts, orders or credit arrangements can be initiated. Creditors will demand immediate payment, debtors will be slow to pay, and employees will lose confidence in the future and may leave. Time is important as the business needs to be re-organised quickly.

As the survivor, your hands are tied until full settlement of the estate has been effected. You have no income and your firms goodwill and opportunities will disappear.

The family will be pushing for immediate payment so that they can survive, and his / her estate executor can not assist until the partnership assets are realised.

All of these problems can be resolved with a buy- sell agreement funded by insurance. This will buy the time and provide the cash to meet the above requirements.

Q. Why can't we fund the buy-out from future profits?

A. Future profits may also be future losses! You may also be lucky and be able to put a large sum away to meet the buy-out needs. This money is going to takes years to accumulate, and what would you do in the interim? The sum that you will eventually accumulate would earn more for you both if invested directly in the firm, and more than cover the small cost of insurance cover which is immediately available.

Q. What courses of action available to the survivor of a death of one of the partners?

A. They are:

  • Orderly liquidation
  • Buy out the deceased interest
  • Take on the beneficiaries as a new partner
  • Take in a new partner who will buy out the deceased interest
  • Sell their own interest to the deceased heir
  • Sell their own interest to an outsider
  • Sell the whole business as a going concern to outsiders.

Q. Do we already have an agreement which covers disposition at death or disability?

A. Obviously you have both thought of providing for some planned disposition at the death or disability of either party. May I ask if your disposition agreement covers:

  • Dissolution of the business on death of either partner?
  • Funds to pay the setae or family of the deceased or disabled partner for his share of the business value assuming the family is not to be directly and actively involved?
  • Funds to cover the extra costs of hiring a suitable replacement, training and renewing business relationships with third parties normally handled by the missing partner.
  • Funds to settle loans, or creditors who may call for payment when they suspect a significant risk on the death and disability of a partner.
  • An agreement on how the partnership is to be managed on death or disability and appropriate funding to cover the above
  • The involvement of an objective and skilled third party to act as a trustee to ensure the agreement of the partners is enacted

Q. What is the cheapest insurance that will do the job?

A. The cheapest form of insurance is term insurance, and it works like the vehicle and fire policies with no accumulation or value on surrender. Like your truck or fire insurance, we would recommend we cover you at replacement value. Like the fire insurance we need to replace the whole building.

Q. We don't need a trustee(s) for this agreement, do we?

A. You may not. The advantages of having a trustee are:

  • An objective party to ensure any agreements are enacted
  • Skill in administering agreements and associated laws
  • Monitoring of payments to ensure agreements are funded

In addition the use of a Trustee provides neutrality, continuity and efficiency. We would recommend your external accountant and /or solicitor should fill this role.

The only disadvantage may be a small annual cost.