When you transfer your business to your wife's name, it includes transferring ownership and corporate shares, particularly if the business is incorporated. Transferring a business to another family member is simpler than doing so with non-family members, as no actual purchase of the business is involved and no selling taxes need to be considered. However, transferring a business to another name does require a few steps.
Hire an attorney to help you through the process and the paperwork. While the process can be done by yourself, it is good to have a professional opinion when transferring a business, even if it is to a spouse.
Go through your business plan and contracts to find a buy/sell agreement, if you have made such a contract. If such a contract is in place, you must honour it, particularly if the contract outlines anything regarding stocks and requirements for transferring ownership of the business. In case something goes wrong and you end up in court, you can argue that you followed your buy/sell contract agreement.
Contact your state's labour department for a review of the laws regarding business transfers. You should be concerned about this step only if you have stocks that need to be transferred to your wife's name. Some states have limitations as to how many stocks can be transferred within a given period of time.
Change the name on all documents, including business plans, to transfer the ownership of the business. Your wife needs to be a vital part of this process, as her signature is needed in various places. To be safe, create documents to prove she has agreed to take ownership of the business, and have all parties sign the document in agreement.
Transfer the ownership of stocks to your wife, if applicable. This includes stocks in document form and physical form. Transferring stocks between spouses does not trigger taxes because it is considered an internal family-business transfer.
Create an overall general transfer contract between you and your wife that includes the details of what is included in the transfer. For example, outline whether the transfer includes an office away from the home as well as furniture and equipment, or merely involves paperwork. This is to avoid any confusion or conflicts later.
Contact the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to legally change the name of the owner of the business. This should be done whether the business is incorporated or if it is a sole proprietorship. Sign any paperwork that may be presented to you and your wife regarding the transfer. Obtain copies of all the documents signed and exchanged during the legal transfer of the business.
Contact your local city or town hall to update the address and name for the business. Bring the new company documents retained from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to prove that the ownership of the business has been transferred.