Most people know by now that it is incredibly important to have a will and estate plan set up. It’s never an easy task to think about the end of your life, but proactively planning your estate is the only way to ensure your family is not burdened with dividing up your assets once you’ve passed, or scrambling to settle debts they didn’t even know about.

All people eventually need to create a will and estate plan, and that includes small business owners and entrepreneurs as well. Small business owners and entrepreneurs need to make proactive plans for the disposition of their small business, just as other people make plans to transfer their assets to their loved ones. Businesses carry debts, assets, and sometimes employ other people – which means when the business owner has passed away without a plan, someone will be left to pick up the pieces.

Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, health care plans, and more can be planned out with the help of an estate law attorney. The sooner you contact an attorney about your small business estate plan, the sooner you can set you and your loved ones up for success in the future, and mitigate the risk of any surprises regarding the business once the owner has passed away.

Why Should I Create An Estate Plan As A Small Business Owner?

In a will and estate plan, individuals plan for what will happen to their assets past their lifetime. This includes deciding which family members and loved ones should inherit which assets, what should happen with their debts, and who should make important health care decisions for them if they are unable to. Similarly, a small business has assets and debts just like any average person would. Some small businesses have stakes in other ventures, such as stock or real estate investments. Even employer obligations such as payroll or retirement funds may come into play once a small business owner has passed away. Without a plan in place to address these assets, loved ones are often left with a ton of work to do once a loved one has died.

In the event that a small business owner passes away before they create an estate plan for their business, the future will be uncertain for not just the business, but the business owner’s family. The business owner should ensure to complete the necessary legal documentation to describe what should happen to the business once the owner dies. If no one is legally appointed to make decisions for the business once the owner has passed, figuring out the future of the business and all the assets it holds, will be daunting.

What Is Court Probate?

Small business owners and entrepreneurs who pass away without setting up a will or estate will need to undergo court probate. A probate court is a court of limited jurisdiction that hears matters surrounding a person’s death. The court probate process can often be lengthy and challenging, so most people try to avoid it altogether by extensively planning their estate ahead of time.

Probate is a legal process that supervises and facilities the process of giving a deceased person’s assets to their beneficiaries. It also oversees the process of settling the deceased’s debts. For example, if a small business owner passes away with debt, court probate will assess the amount of debt and create a structured plan for settling or paying the outstanding debt. If a will and estate plan are proactively created, then the estate will not need to undergo court probate, and beneficiaries and heirs can receive their inheritances significantly earlier.

How Much Does It Cost To Talk To An Estate Plan Attorney?

The cost of preparing a valid will can vary from attorney to attorney. At Thomas-Walters, PLLC, we offer a free consultation for anyone interested in setting up a will or estate plan – whether you’re a business owner, or not. Not all estate planning attorneys offer a free initial consultation for their services. However, at Thomas-Walters, PLLC, we understand that planning for past your lifetime can be a challenge, so we pledge to be available for an initial consultation at no cost to you.

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, it’s never too early to start planning for the future of your business. The sooner you start the process of estate planning, the sooner you can rest assured the future of your business is sorted out and in good hands. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation about your small business estate plan today.