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Reasons Why a Will May Not Be Enough to Protect Your Business

September 7, 2023
Brad Galbraith, Esq.

Are you a successful entrepreneur and/or business owner? We know that you have invested substantial time, effort, and resources into building your business. We also know that you want to ensure that your hard work and legacy continue even after you are no longer around. Even though your Florida last will and testament is an essential estate planning tool, it may not be enough to fully safeguard your business interests. We would like to provide insight into both the limitations of relying solely on a will to protect your business and discuss alternative strategies to secure its future.

First, one of the primary reasons why your will may fall short in protecting your business is the inability of your will to address the complexities of business succession. As opposed to personal assets, a business is an ongoing entity with intricate dynamics that extend beyond the distribution of tangible property. There are multiple factors that contribute to the limitations of using a will for business succession including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Probate Delays. Similar to personal assets, a business held solely in a will may be subject to probate, resulting in time-consuming delays and potentially hampering its operations and continuity.
  • Business Valuation. Determining the value of your business is crucial for equitable distribution among heirs. However, this process can be complex and contentious, potentially leading to disputes among beneficiaries.
  • Ensuring Competent Management. If your business relies heavily on your expertise and vision, a will alone may not guarantee that competent management will take over and maintain the company’s success.

Now to overcome the limitations of a last will and testament in business succession, business owners often turn to buy-sell agreements. A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines what happens to a business in the event of specific triggers, such as the owner’s death or incapacitation. Some key advantages of buy-sell agreements include:

  • Continuity. A buy-sell agreement ensures a smooth transition of ownership and management, preventing any disruptions to the business’s operations.
  • Fair Valuation. The agreement can pre-establish the value of the business, eliminating valuation disputes and providing a fair and accurate assessment of its worth.
  • Funding Mechanisms. Buy-sell agreements can include funding mechanisms, such as life insurance policies or installment payments, to ensure that the surviving family members or partners receive fair compensation for their interest in the business.

In addition to buy-sell agreements, business owners can utilize trusts specifically designed to protect business assets. For example, irrevocable trusts can shield the business from creditors and potential legal claims, providing added security and preserving its assets for the intended beneficiaries. This is just one of the strategies your experienced Florida and Indiana estate planning attorney will discuss with you to ensure the comprehensive protection of your business.¬† Remember, proactive planning and careful consideration of all available options are essential to secure your business’s legacy and the prosperity of your loved ones.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers. For more information about this or other planning options and how they might work for you and your family, please call our office to schedule a time to discuss this. Bear in mind, when choosing an attorney, it is important to find a legal professional who specializes in your specific legal needs. As a law firm serving our clients in Florida and Indiana, we understand the unique challenges state laws can pose. We are here to help you now and in the future in the states of Florida and Indiana.