The sale of any ongoing business, even a sole proprietorship, can be a complicated transaction. The buyer and seller (and their attorneys) must consider the law of contracts, taxation, real estate, corporations, securities, and antitrust in many situations. Depending on the nature of the business sold, statutes and regulations concerning the issuance and transfer of permits, licenses, and/or franchises should be consulted. If a license or franchise is important to the business, the buyer generally would want to make the sales agreement contingent on such approval. Sometimes, the buyer will assume certain debts, liabilities, or obligations of the seller. In such a sale, it is vital that the buyer know exactly what debts he/she is assuming.
Of course the seller’s financial statements should be studied by the buyer and/or the buyer’s accountants. The balance sheet and other financial reports reflect the financial condition of the business. The seller should be required to represent that it has no material obligations or liabilities that were not reflected in the balance sheet and that it will not incur any obligations or liabilities in the period from the date of the balance sheet to the date of closing, except those incurred in the regular course of business.
A sale of a business is considered for tax purposes to be a sale of the various assets involved. Therefore it is important that the contract allocate parts of the total payment among the items being sold. For example, the sale may require the transfer of the place of business, including the real property on which the building(s) of the business are located. The sale might involve the assignment of a lease, the transfer of good will, equipment, furniture, fixtures, merchandise, and inventory. The sale may also include the transfer of the business name, patents, trademarks, copyrights, licenses, permits, insurance policies, notes, accounts receivables, contracts, cash on hand and on deposit, and other tangib