Estate planning for the owner of a family business is more complex and requires more thought than estate planning for an employee who owns a home and investment accounts. In "Five things you should know about estate planning for a family-owned business," Smart Business points out, in five broad strokes, key aspects that need to be considered when making an estate plan for the business owner that include protecting the business and family members.
Identify and prepare your successors. Smaller businesses may need someone to oversee a sale or liquidation. Communication with and buy-in by your team is critical. The group should have a clear understanding of your goals, what's intended and how to achieve it, way before the time comes.
Look at your liquidity needs. Business owners are often highly illiquid because of business value compared to other assets. Liquidity in your estate is important to provide for your family and replace your earnings. If estate tax is owed, your estate will need liquidity to pay those taxes or else face a forced sale of the business. Life insurance may be a good solution, with the structuring of life insurance policies through irrevocable trusts. The business itself could have a policy on you to help pay down debt, provide working capital, or replace your on-going contributions.