Providing for your business after your death is an important legal planning step

A will is an important part of everybody’s legal planning no matter your circumstances, but for anyone who is in business a well written will is vital to ensure the minimum disruption after your death.

‘Whether you are a sole practitioner, a partner in a partnership, or a director of a limited company, you need to consider how your business will continue if you should die while still working or controlling the company,’ says Susan Owens, head of the Wills and Probate department.

Consider the risks

Just as you consider risks such as health and safety or employment law, it is worth spending some time thinking about the implications for your business if you should die prematurely.

Different businesses will face different risks and issues.  For example, a property letting business might continue with few problems, especially if you have an efficient letting agent.  Whereas a creative business, such as a web designer or bespoke tailor, will have orders to be fulfilled, and a manufacturer will also have stock to deal with.

How likely is it that the business could continue without you? Some businesses are synonymous with the founder and may simply need to be wound up efficiently. Other businesses might be an attractive acquisition target, in which case your executors need the skills to maximise the sale value for your beneficiaries.

Check your business agreements

If you are in business with other directors or partners, then you should have an existing shareholder or partnership agreement which sets out what should happen if you die. Typically, this would allow the others to continue with business as usual and will state whether they have an option to buy your shares and how their value would be calculated.

These written agreements will outweigh any provisions in your will, so your will should simply act as a confirmation of those wishes.

Where there is no business agreement

If you are a sole trader or work with other members of your family, then there may be no written agreement. If you do not provide clear instructions for the business in your will, it would fall to your executors to ascertain whether they have the power to continue running the business.

How can we help?

If you run your own business, no matter the type or nature of business, it is important to consider the implications your premature death may have on the continuation of that business when making your will.

For further information, please contact Susan Owens in the wills and probate team on 01604 622101 or email [email protected] 

Borneo Martell Turner Coulston Solicitors has offices in Kettering and Northampton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published

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