Who genuinely owns, founded, or acquired the business? Who works in it and earns the money?  If the person who formed, and runs it isn’t the majority shareholder, this could mean trouble – because, if the couple fall out, the main worker could lose control of their own Company.

Tax planning

Splitting shares between spouses can be advantageous – particularly when their taxable incomes are unequal.  It is common for a shareholder to transfer shares to their spouse to minimise their overall taxes.

Relationship to work done by each spouse

A shareholder can give shares to their spouse without any tax issue – as long as the share transfer was an outright gift.

Alphabet shares

Which are different share classes with different rights – e.g. ‘A’ shares with voting rights and ‘B’ shares with no voting rights but a right to dividends.  The idea is that dividends are paid out in a tax efficient way to the ‘B’/’C’/’D’ shareholders without the main director/shareholder losing control – so, it could be said, there is no real “outright gift”.   Companies are at risk of an HMRC enquiry with this sort of set up – so be very cautious when setting up Alphabet share structures.