Protect your business with your estate plan

If you are the owner of a small or large business, you need to protect it for your heirs after you are gone. The best way to do this is to specifically include your company in your comprehensive estate plan.

This can be the most vital portion of your estate plan because the financial stability of your family is likely linked directly to the ongoing success of your business. Whether you intend for the the business to continue under your heirs or wish for it to be sold to a third party and the proceeds split among the heirs, you need to get these intentions down on paper.

Don't delay this process

Since none of us are guaranteed any time here on Earth, you need to prepare your estate to transition into other capable hands once you have passed on. It's vital to take these steps now while you are of sound mind and body to avoid any lack of clarity later.

Taking the time now to plan for the future when you will no longer be at the helm can prevent you from leaving your heirs with a tangled mess later.

What you must determine

What is your business management philosophy? Most businesses will fit into one of the following categories:

  • Owner-dependent - Business is operated by a single owner with control over all aspects. The business typically closes upon the owner's death. Often the owner is a professional, e.g., attorney, doctor, architect, etc.
  • Marketable - Business is designed to be sold to a third party after the owner's death.
  • Multigenerational - The intent is that the business will be retained and operated by other family members who usually are already invested in its success and involved in its day-to-day operations.

Business status can be fluid

During your lifetime, it is quite possible that an owner-dependent business could transition into either a marketable or multigenerational company. This can happen if outside parties or family members express their interest into continuing on with the company's business after your death.

At that transitional point, it is prudent to seek guidance and advice from your estate planning attorney. They can offer options and suggestions for making a seamless segue into a new phase for the business without ever losing the continuity of oversight.

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