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Protecting family-business owners’ private assets

Self-employed persons often bear high risks. Depending on the type of company, they may even be risk losing all their private assets. In some cases, the entire business depends on just one person. Be aware of the risks you face and know how to protect yourself against them.

30 November 2018, author: Natascha Fabian, photo: Helvetia

A watchmaker at work.
Business owners and the self-employed often bear high risks. What happens, for example, if one of the owners of a business dies suddenly?

Here’s an example: Together with another business partner, a married couple own a small business with four employees. How can both spouses protect themselves? And how can they safeguard their private assets?

Sole proprietorship or legal entity?

We first have to ascertain whether the business is a legal entity – like a private or public limited company – or a sole proprietorship. If it is a legal entity, the spouse’s property is protected. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the owner’s entire private assets are at risk. That’s why business owners should regularly check whether their business still has the right legal form – especially when it is growing quickly.

Regardless of the legal form of a business, the following risks need to be clarified:

Earning disability

If one of the owners is unable to continue working, the company may go under. A distinction is made between earning disability as a result of an illness and as a result of an accident. It is important to protect yourself against both eventualities. A tailored pension solution covering both your future pension needs and other risks can help you close gaps in your financial safety net and protect your spouse. 


If one of the partners dies, the question is: can the business continue operating – and, in particular, under whose leadership? The key issue is to make sure both partners and their families have adequate financial protection. This should be set down in a written contract. It is also crucial to think about the future of the company early on: who can continue running the company if one of the owners dies suddenly?

Other risks

In a worst-case scenario, other risks – such as liability claims or cyber-attacks – can bankrupt a business and affect the owners’ private assets. So you need to identify these risks – which isn’t always easy. It takes quite a lot of experience to perform a 360-degree analysis. Our tip is to let our experts do the work. 

Don’t wait too long to plan the succession of leadership at your business. You will find further information on this topic in the article SME succession arrangements

A systematic risk assessment and end-to-end consultation can bring clarity

When it comes to insuring business clients, Helvetia sets great store by systematic risk analysis and end-to-end consultation. That helps business owners gain clarity on the risks they face and how they can achieve optimum protection for their businesses.

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