VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Estate planning for small business owners

It is important for small business owners in Florida to have an estate plan so that their intentions for their businesses are clear. If there is no estate plan, the business along with the rest of the estate could be caught up in legal proceedings for a year or more.

The first step is to write a will. The will may appoint an executor, establish beneficiaries for assets and include information about who will take over the business or the person's share of the business. The person may also want to create a log of all the relevant information about accounts and any files important to the operation of the business. These may be shared online with the executor or other individuals or might be kept in a safe or safety deposit box.

Writing a succession plan can help make transfer of the business and its responsibilities run more smoothly. Some people may want to keep the business in the family while others may want to sell it. The succession plan should be discussed with those involved. A person who has business partners may want a buy-share agreement, which specifies what a person's share can be sold for and to whom among other things. A person may also want to create a power of attorney that appoints someone to take over finances if the person is incapacitated.

There may be a number of other estate planning considerations for business owners. For example, a business owner might want family members to benefit from the business income without having a part in running the business. A trust might be set up so that a person's children or other loved ones receive distributions at certain times or at the discretion of the trustee. The succession plan and the entire estate plan should be reviewed and updated regularly as needed.

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