Entrepreneurs and small business owners optimistically plan for the future and growth of their business, but often forget to plan to protect their business in the event something happens to them. If you’re making a financial plan for your business, you should also be making an estate plan to protect your business and your family. If you don’t have a will, you’re not alone: over 50% of American adults don’t have a will. But if you are a business owner, if you have employees and customers, assets and debts, you have a lot to protect!
When you die without a will, it’s called dying intestate. An up-to-date will is the best way to tell your family and loved ones how you want your estate handled, and to legally make sure your wishes are carried out and your business is protected. When someone in Illinois dies without a will, the state will determine how your assets will be distributed.
What Is An Estate Plan?
Estate Planning is instruction for what you want to be done with your estate after you die or become incapacitated, including who will inherit your property, how your bills will be paid, who will care for any minor children and other important decisions.
What Is A Will?
A will is a written document that says how your assets will be distributed after your death. A will is a part of your estate plan.
Before you meet with an attorney, you need to take some time to think about your business and the future of your business. Here are 5 steps you can take to prepare to make your will and estate plan.
1. Make A List of Your Assets
When you prepare to meet with an estate planning attorney, it’s a good idea to have a personal and a business asset inventory. This will help your attorney understand your situation and guide you on the best ways to protect your business, your assets and pass them to your heirs.
2. What’s Your Succession Plan?
If you aren’t around to manage your business, what do you want to happen to the business? Will it shut down? Will it be sold? Will your family members take it over? A succession plan explains what you want to happen to your business if anything should happen to you.
3. Who Can Make Decisions In Your Absence?
If you become ill, or travel or are for some reason temporarily unable to run your business, who has the authority to pay the bills? To manage your business? Do you need to give someone the power of attorney to operate the business in your absence?
4. What’s Your Tax Plan?
Business owners have to have a tax plan to protect their business. Do you have an IRA? A 401(K)? Investments?
5. Consult An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
A DIY will that you download from the internet might be OK if you don’t own a business, don’t have a lot of assets and don’t have a family to protect. But if you own a business, you have a valuable asset to protect. An attorney can tell you how to protect your business and your heirs.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, an estate plan is as important as a business plan.
Making a will doesn’t have to be difficult. An experienced estate and probate lawyer can guide you through the process so nothing is overlooked, and you can be sure that your will complies with Illinois probate laws. To talk to a will and estate attorney, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.