The importance of having a will when you own a small business

By Jamie Costello

Building up a small business is a great achievement. You’ve gone through thick and thin to build a legacy that will hopefully stay for years to come, so the last thing you’d want is for it to all disappear after you pass away. If you don’t have a will, there are many complications that will arise with the potential of your business is broken down or completely taken away from those that you wish to inherit it.

What happens if you don’t have a will?

The purpose of a will is to provide legal instructions of what should happen to your assets and property when you pass away. If a will isn’t provided, these decisions will then be made by the courts and the outcome depends on a number of factors. This can include whether you were married, had any children or close relatives or a form of partnership. The laws that influence estate planning can also depend on the state itself.

The issue with not having a will is that it’s completely up in the air about how your estate is distributed. It’s a rarity that distribution of your assets is done how you wish. Instead, it can cause legal battles and rifts between relevant parties and family members, with money being paid for contentious probate solicitors and legal fees rising as a solution continues to be found. This can be an extremely stressful and emotional scenario, which is why it’s strongly advised that a will is provided especially as a small business owner. Without a will, it can lead to potential debts that your family members would have to cover, the potential of your business being seized or assets being held in probate, which will be a lengthy process before your loved ones see a dime.

Steps to creating an estate plan

If you’re a small business owner and don’t have a will in place, you should consider speaking to a legal professional to help you or, follow these steps to help plug in the foundations for securing the future of your business and family.

Begin the process for your will

Considering the complications that could arise from not writing your will, the first thing you should do after reading this article is beginning the process of creating your will. It will outline exactly how you wish your assets to be shared and how they should be transferred. This may include information about who will be heir to your position when you die, among other important issues related to your business such as the distribution of shares of interest in the business. As well as this, you’ll also need to choose an executor for your estate. This individual will oversee the sharing of your assets.

Keep a record of your financial account details

This will be beneficial after you’re gone considering you won’t be able to help others access your financial account details when you go. Business experts believe keeping a log of your details will be beneficial so that only those who you trust or who are close to you can access your details when you pass. Other aspects such as social media, cloud storage, data sharing etc. related to your business should also be considered. This can either be online or as paper copies which are stored in a safe place.

Map out a succession plan

The majority of business owners prefer to have their business continue when they pass, in which case you would need a succession plan. This can enable a smooth transition of responsibilities that have been passed down by you and the future of your business. You can either have the business passed down to your family or have the business sold and the assets dispersed to the relevant parties you choose. It’s also worth considering having conversations with the relevant parties that may be involved in the process so they’re also aware of their responsibilities.

Establish a power of attorney

It’s likely that when you pass away, there will be a temporary hold on your business operations. This can include payroll duties and bills not being paid. Installing a power of attorney will mean that functions of the business can continue during this period so it can remain as unstressful as possible. The person with your power of attorney will help to manage the operations of your estate and prevent further stress on grieving family members.

Life on earth ends with the inevitability of death, with family and friends left to grieve the loss. Without the presence of will, it’s going to be harder to deal with than ever. It’s important to consider the future and helping your family and those you work with continue the legacy without your presence.


Jamie Costello is an aspiring business/legal writer. His content is usually based around business topics such as business law, employment, dispute resolutions and other topics. He uses his knowledge taken from his degree in Business Communications and working alongside legal professionals to write his articles. You can find him on Twitter at @jamie88costello

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