As a business owner, what legal steps should you take if you pass away? How can this help your family and your business?
As a business owner, you need to make sure that you prepare for the future. You can die at any time, and it doesn’t matter whether you are aged, young or healthy. Death is unpredictable. Therefore, for your family’s sake, you need to make sure that everything will be in order in case you pass away. If you don’t take any legal steps while you are alive about your business and your assets, you will leave your family in chaos if you die. There are several legal steps that you can take that will keep your family in order even after you are gone. Here are some of them:
The first legal step you should take while alive is to make sure that you put together all the important documents and contact information. Documents such as your marriage certificate, property deeds, vehicle titles, insurance broker, your lawyer’s contact information, and any other important document should be gathered.
Make sure that you keep them safe such that your family will not have a hard time looking for them once you are gone. Having all these documents will even make your estate plan easier.
The other legal step you need is to execute a testament and the last will. A will is one of the most documents that you should always keep updated as it will determine how your properties will be divided. When you leave a good and the last will when you die, your family will not need to get letters of testamentary for them to access your properties or business.
Make sure that you name an executor in your will; this is the one you have trusted in distributing your estate. If you have a minor, ensure that you name a minor and their assets and also the one who will take care of your pets, if any.
Another thing that you should take care of when you are in good health is a living will. It is a legal document where you choose a person who will communicate with your doctor about your treatment options if you become incapacitated. Some of the things that a living will contain include feeding and breathing tubes and any other life medical treatments. It is crucial to have a living will because you can get in an accident and lose your self-expression ability.
Another step you need to take is getting a power of attorney. You will be able to name an individual who will make decisions when you are gone and have power of attorney. You need a lawyer who can be trusted, and no matter what, nothing can make him make any alterations to the will. It is hard to trust a family member with a will at times because they can read it and change it if they are not satisfied with your decisions. But when you have a good lawyer, he will make sure that everyone gets what you wrote on that will.
A living trust is another step you should establish while still alive. A living trust will help make sure that your wishes will be followed even after your demise. The distribution process of your properties will also be fast as your pre-chosen successor will take over your properties right away after you pass. This will save time and avoid estate taxes, and your financial affairs will be kept private. Your properties will also be protected from creditors and lawsuits when there is an irrevocable trust.
Updating your beneficiaries is the other legal step that you take. Ensure that you update your retirement accounts, transfer on death accounts, pensions, and life insurance. They should be up to date according to the beneficiaries designated. You should change them or update them whenever there are some changes in your family as you last will not control them.
Lastly, make several copies of your will and other important documents and keep them differently. You can give some to your lawyer, your trusted close relative, or even hide in a place where someone can find it when you are gone. Make sure that they are current. When you have done all these things, your family will not go through hard times when you are gone. Your business and properties will be given or distributed according to your wishes.