Small Business Owners: What You Need To Know About Wills

Creating a Will is complex when you own a business. You have a large estate, issues around succession and tax complications. It’s also likely that a large part of your wealth, and your family’s source of income, is tied up in the business. Making a Will is not only important but necessary.

At Winright, we understand that running a business is not easy and takes up a lot of your time. We’re a small business ourselves! You may not consider meeting with a lawyer and discussing your estate plan as a priority at the moment, but taking care of family and those you love is always at the top of your list. Therefore, it is essential that you take a moment to prepare your Will in case the unthinkable happens.

You should consult a lawyer if you:

  • Have a buy-sell agreement with co-owners,
  • Don’t have an emergency plan,
  • Haven’t yet appointed a successor,
  • Are leaving the business to family, or
  • Haven’t assessed the tax liabilities that may be incurred.

Most businesses which are owner-dependent, are run by a single person and will shut down in the loss of the founder. Whether you own a manufacturing business, retail shop, are a contractor, doctor, lawyer, dentist or other service provider, with proper planning and early investment of some time and energy, you can ensure that your business continues its success and even become multigenerational.

Your Will should:

  • Be in writing,
  • Signed in the presence of two witnesses, and
  • Show a record of your last wishes.

This legally binding Will ensures that you:

  • Have control over your estate,
  • Have a succession plan in place,
  • Avoid conflict and stress, and
  • Have a plan for your estate.

Keep in mind that if you don’t leave a Will with directions about what should happen to your business, the laws of intestacy will be enforced and the strict formula may result in actions being taken against your wishes. The company could end up in the hands of your spouse or children even if they’re teenagers, from a previous marriage or don’t get along with you or your family without a mechanism for someone you trust to manage it.

In the end, what’s the point of building a successful and exciting business if you don’t properly plan for handing it over to your successors.

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