We’re often asked about the most interesting valuation issues we’ve encountered. This is difficult to answer because each valuation has unique intricacies and difficulties. While some share similarities, no two are identical. Still, a few stand out as presenting unique valuation issues. We recently worked on one such project.
The year started with a proverbial “BANG” from an estate planning perspective with the passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 late last year. The Act, as some have named TRUJCA, could almost just as easily been titled “Estate Tax Repeal.” Regardless of the name, the new rules certainly have people talking about the numerous planning opportunities it affords, although those may be temporary.
Increasing numbers of businesses are turning to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for economic survival.
Bankruptcy filings for the year ending June 30, 2010 were 20% higher than the previous year-to-year period ending June 30, 2009. Clearly, the difficult economy is taking its toll on individuals and businesses. Chapter 11 bankruptcies alone increased two percent within that same time span. To complete the Chapter 11 process, a business must submit a reorganization plan for court approval. For a company to emerge from Chapter 11, a host of issues must be addressed, including a determination of its “reorganization value.”
Virtually all investments lost value during 2008, and 2009 did not herald the end of the recession, or begin the economic recovery, that many hoped would occur. Appetites for taking risk, including the risk of potential tax audits associated with complex estate planning, have remained restrained. However, recent tax court decisions could re-ignite interest in utilizing Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) or similar entities as part of asset protection and estate planning.
Over the past twelve to eighteen months, we have heard considerable discussion about how the economic downturn has affected valuations of private companies. All of us who have 401ks understand the volatility of public company valuations. Private company values have been affected similarly. However, some valuation professionals have instituted the “smoothing” method to lessen the market volatility on business valuations.
I recently wrote about one of the most dramatic changes since the inception of the fair value concept for financial reporting imposed by Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157 (“FAS 157”). Nearly a year since the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Statement No. 157, accounting standards have been codified and the nomenclature used when referring to FASB statements has changed. FASB Statement No. 157 is now encompassed in Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 820.
There are so many timely and topical valuation issues today that it’s difficult to focus on a single subject. Many topics remain timely month after month, like the importance of establishing the value of a company for purposes of buying cross-purchase life insurance. Some topics are always important, but become more timely because of economic conditions, like the increased ability to transfer assets for estate planning purposes while valuations are depressed (as we’ve been saying for some time, the current economic environment provides an outstanding opportunity in the estate planning realm). Another topic that is always important is consideration of entity selection for companies. A number of factors make this topic even more important today.
Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157 (FAS 157) first impacted financial statements issued for years beginning after November 15, 2007. Its effect on the most recent round of year-end financials issued by companies, underscores the critical role of independent appraisers with market knowledge when navigating these new financial reporting guidelines.
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