Businesses and wills. Legal advice from Hannah Wallbridge of Gardner Leader

As a business owner, it is essential that you have all your bases covered in your will regarding what will happen to your business after you die, writes Hannah Wallbridge of Gardner Leader.

It can be easy to forget that your business needs as much attention in your will as your personal assets and finances.

Hannah Wallbridge

Should I specifically mention the business in my will?

It depends on who you want to leave the business to.

If you want to bequeath your business to a specific person, such as your business partner or a loved one who has a special interest in running the business, it would be important to include it as a specific inheritance for them.

If there is no reference to the business, it will fall into your “residual domain”.

This is the name of the fund that will hold all of your assets that you hold in your sole name (or jointly as tenants in common) at the time of your death.

I have four children and three want to be involved in the business – how can I include this in my will?

You may want to consider entrusting your business to a trust in your will.

This would allow your children to participate in the business if they wish, but the funds are held in the trust, which allows greater flexibility to ensure equality between children, regardless of their involvement in the business. company.

I heard there could be inheritance tax savings because I own a business – is this true?

Yes, there may be inheritance tax relief, but it depends on the nature of your business and the type of assets you have as part of the business.

It is important to seek advice from a legal professional who can advise you on how to draft your will in order to advise you and maximize any tax relief your estate may receive.

I already have a partnership agreement and a will in place – who takes priority in deciding what happens to my business?

This depends on the terms that have been agreed in your partnership agreement or articles of association, so it is important to check that these documents are not in conflict with your will.

You may have pre-emptive rights included in your agreement that give your shareholders or partners a first refusal to buy the business from your estate.

If you have any concerns about this, please contact a member of our commercial team who will be happy to advise you on this by working alongside our Estate Protection team when reviewing or setting up your will.

How would my death affect my business and my staff?

It depends on your business, but if you employ staff to run this business, they will be affected as all bank accounts could be frozen upon notification of your death, so it is very important to ensure that you tell your executors how to deal with the company while administering your estate.

What would happen to my business if I died without a will?

Your estate would be treated according to the intestate rules.

So it depends on your family tree and who you leave behind to take care of your estate.

For example, if you are single with no children, your estate could pass your family tree on to your parents or siblings.

This could cause problems if they are unable to continue running the business.

There may also be negative effects on their own personal circumstances.

Not only could this cause additional stress for your loved ones, but your business could end up in the hands of someone without the experience or knowledge to be able to continue to run it, which could have a devastating impact on the future of the company.

I was planning to write a will, but I don’t know where to start – what should I do first?

We offer a free initial meeting to discuss your situation and this can be done by phone, video call or in person at our offices so that we can accommodate your schedule.

We know it’s hard to fit these types of conversations into your already busy day. We therefore want to make this meeting as flexible and accessible as possible.

We will then explain the options available to you and give you the peace of mind that you have spoken with a professional who can advise you on the best way to protect your loved ones and leave your assets to those who would be best placed to deal with them. .

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to review your Will, please contact a member of our Estate Protection team.