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Safeguarding your business in the event of the unexpected…

Having a Will in place is essential if you want the final say in what happens to your business and other assets after you die.

If you die without a Will, everything you own – including business and non-business assets – will be distributed under the laws of intestacy. This means that you or your loved ones will have no say as to who inherits.

Of course, when it comes to writing a Will, you may see a plethora of options.  You can buy DIY kits from the high street, do it online, or get advice from forums and write your own.  And, if you are looking to save money, these can seem to be tempting options.

But, when you own a business, not using a professional lawyer to write your Will is almost always a mistake.

Common mistakes with a DIY Will include:

  • It’s not signed or dated
  • It’s signed in the wrong place
  • It doesn’t have the necessary number of witnesses
  • The wrong person has witnessed the Will (e.g. a witness must not benefit from a Will so any family member you want to inherit cannot sign it)
  • The Will fails to cover all your assets
  • The Will fails to consider issues around inheritance tax, potential claims, executors and trusts.

Even the smallest of mistakes could render a Will invalid, so expert advice is always recommended. But when you are a business owner, it is even more important that your Will is drafted by a professional. Not least because, if you own a business (or shares in a business), you will probably want to create your Wills in a tax efficient way to help minimise inheritance tax.

Business assets

When you die, any shares or interest you own in a business become an asset of your estate. Without a Will, these shares could be sold, the company could be broken up, or it could run into trouble without the correct day-to-day management in place. Business continuity planning can be a key part of the advice that professionals will provide as part of the estate planning for business owners.

For example, you might know who you want to inherit your business after you die, but what happens if there is a tragedy and these people don’t survive? All eventualities should be considered and only a professional lawyer or Will writer will know what questions to ask to make sure that your Will covers all situations.

In some cases, you might already have a partnership agreement or company papers in place that set out what will happen to the business after you die. These types of contracts are usually put in place if more than one person owns a business and you want the company to continue after your death. However, there are pitfalls that can arise with these, where they have been prepared without proper advice, that can lead to a much higher inheritance tax bill.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your Will, Power of Attorney, Probate, Trust and Tax advice, Conveyancing and legal services for Business Owners, all over the phone, video conference or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Will writers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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