The importance of a Will

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A will is one of the most important documents anyone can make, and they are particularly crucial for business owners.

Still, research has shown that 73% of 16-54 year olds have never made a Will.

Are you one of them?

Many people assume that they do not need a Will, and it is true that there are rules of intestacy which act as a default position, setting out how assets are to be distributed and who will be responsible for dealing with them. However, these are simply not sufficient for a business owner.

For one thing, under the rules of intestacy nobody will have any authority to deal with your assets until they have been appointed by the Court – a process which often takes several months. If you make a Will, the Executors you appoint will have the power to act from the day you die, which may be vital to enable your business to survive. Even if you think your business is unlikely to have any life after you die, the appointment of Executors could mean the difference between a managed and profitable closure, and the chaos of an immediate shutdown.Another thing to consider is the suitability of the people who will be managing your business after you die. If you don’t have a Will then this would be certain family members who may or may not have the necessary expertise, and they may not agree on what to do. By making a Will you have the opportunity to appoint the most suitable person or people for the job, who could be family, a trusted friend or a professional.

Of course, a Will also gives you control over who actually inherits your business. The intestacy rules often result in assets being divided between one’s spouse/civil partner and children, which may not be what you would have chosen and may lead to difficulties in control of the business in the future.

Finally, making a Will is also an important opportunity to think about the impact of tax and what you can do about this. Inheritance Tax bills can be very substantial and may mean assets have to be sold to raise the funds – potentially even your own business assets or shares. Business Property Relief may help, but there are strict and complex rules to determine when this will be available and it is important that you take proper advice on this to ensure your business interest will qualify.

Even if you do have a Will, it is important to make sure it is up to date. Your own circumstances and the law will change significantly, and if you have married since making your Will this would usually revoke it automatically.

Whatever stage your business may have reached, you will have other assets and there will be people you need to provide for. A properly drafted Will avoids making the process of dealing with an unexpected bereavement more distressing that it already is. We recommend that you speak to one of our experienced lawyers as soon as possible.


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