A business owner’s guide to writing a Will

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A well written Will is critical for securing your assets and ensuring that your wants and wishes are followed after your passing. This is more complex if you are a business owner. A Will for a business owner must take into consideration the future of the business alongside all personal wishes. There are many key components that need to be understood for people writing a Will that own a business which will be explored throughout this guide.

Solicitors are very important in the Will writing process, they provide support and guidance throughout the process. Solicitors are able to provide expertise in Wills and Estate Planning, they are also able to support you with business ownership and inheritance. They are there to make sure that your Will is legally sound and that your wishes are clear, respected and followed.

To begin with, you will need to compile a list of all of your business assets. This includes your physical assets such as any property, equipment and technology. It also includes your intellectual property such as trademarks, copyright agreements, patents and any trade secrets. Finally the list should contain all business financial accounts such as bank accounts, business credit cards and insurance policies. Having a strong understanding of all of your business assets will help you with the asset distribution process.

As part of the Will writing process you are required to select an executor. An executor is someone you appoint to carry out the wishes of your Will. Selecting the right person in this role is crucial especially when it comes to a Will that includes the future management of a business. This is the person who will manage your business affairs and transitions initially which includes handing it over to your successor. As this is such an important role it is recommended that you speak to your prospective executor to ensure they understand and are comfortable with their role before appointing them.

It is important to include in your Will your preferences for all future proceedings of your business including management and future ownership. If there is already a successor for your business then this must be included in your Will. If there isn’t a clear successor then it may be worthwhile discussing candidates with your solicitor so you can make informed decisions.

Running a business is never simple, there are many scenarios that could change the whole direction of your business and it is important that your Will takes this into account. Addressing potential scenarios and creating contingency plans will ensure that your business needs are secure and put first. Contingency plans could be put in place for scenarios like the death of a business partner, change in market conditions and emergency fund access.

Wills that include business details must be written in a clear and concise way. This is so your executor has direct and clear instructions for carrying out your wishes. Business terms, shareholder information and beneficiaries must be clearly defined and all vague and ambiguous language should be avoided.

It is important for everyone to regularly check that their Will is up to date, it becomes especially important when a Will includes business details and crucial when these businesses are continuously evolving. Updating any changes to the business structure and assets will ensure that your Will is an accurate representation of your business plans and wishes. An up to date Will also reduces the chances of your executor or family facing legal challenges after your passing.

There are many elements that go into creating a Will that protect and represent your personal and business wishes. Seeking guidance from an experienced solicitor will make this journey a lot easier and will make you feel more supported when making decisions. You will also feel more confident that your business assets are protected and loved ones are provided for in alignment with your wishes.

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