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Estate planning and small business

People put an estate plan in place to help ensure that their personal assets and property are properly and quickly passed on to heirs and beneficiaries. Estate planning is also recommended for key personnel of a small business to help assure that it can continue operations.

Engaging in this planning allows a business owner to make important choices. This can also assure less disruption and ill feeling among family members and other owners. Detailed estate planning needs to be done in phases instead of all at once. It should not wait until a business owner is facing death or incapacity. Including other owners and key personnel is important.

Detailed financial documentation and information on business accounts should be readily accessible. Updated copies should be kept in a safety deposit box or other secure place so that key personnel can gain ready access.

A person who does not have sole ownership has important rights and can set forth what happens to their ownership shares after they die. Buy-share agreements can determine the worth of these ownership shares.

Key business owners should also appoint an executor and an agent who has power of attorney duties.

The executor will exercise the person's wishes as outlined in their will or other estate documents. A person who has the power of attorney duties will make important business and financial decisions if the business owner becomes incapacitated.

An attorney can help with this planning and assure that valid documents are prepared. Lawyers may help develop a plan that allows business operations to continue with little disruption.

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