At Thursfields we understand that it is often difficult for business owners, directors and senior executives to find the time to put their personal affairs in order. Making a will, for example, can often seem a low priority when dealing with pressing business issues.
Ian Bond, Head of Wills & Estates, Thursfields Solicitors, look at how to make the most of your wealth.
Thursfields’ Wealth Protection Business Service
Thursfields’ Wealth Preservation Business Service aims to help you to put your affairs in order. We will tailor our approach to suit your needs and those of your family and your business. Set out below are four questions which everyone should consider, but which are particularly relevant to business owners, directors and senior executives in helping to put your personal affairs in order.
- Do you have a will and is it up to date?
If you do not have a will, you do not decide what happens to your assets; the statutory rules of intestacy will apply. These rules rarely result in your assets passing as you would wish. A properly drafted will ensures your assets are transferred to the recipients you intend. It can also protect your assets against tax, divorce and other claims.
If you have an interest in a family business, do you have specific wishes concerning your shares or partnership interest? Are these wishes clearly set out in your will?
- Have you made a lasting power of attorney?
Who have you appointed to manage your affairs if ever you lack the mental capacity (for example, due to illness or accident) to do this yourself? Making a lasting power of attorney enables you to choose one or more relations, friends or colleagues to act as your “attorneys” to make decisions for you should this situation arise.
A lasting power of attorney is particularly important for those individuals with business interests to ensure that the business is not disrupted if a key decision-maker loses the ability to participate, sign documents or exercise voting rights attaching to their shares.
- Is your family wealth protected for the benefit of future generations?
If you have life assurance or death in service benefits it is usually sensible for you to assign or nominate that any death benefits are held in trust. This is likely to reduce the inheritance tax liability of your estate while enabling your spouse, partner, children and broader family to benefit.
Did you know that a will incorporating a trust can protect family wealth? For example, if one of your children were going through a divorce at the time they inherit from you, their “share” can be held in trust for them until the divorce is finalised.
If children of yours hold, or will hold, shares in the family business, will you ask them to enter into a nuptial agreement before marrying to protect the family business?
- What would happen to your business if you were to die tomorrow?
Business owners often wish the family business to continue after their death. However, in the absence of careful succession planning, many businesses do not survive the transition from one generation to the next. Discussing succession issues amongst family members, and documenting the agreement reached, significantly increases the likelihood that your business will survive.
More broadly, it is important that the company’s governing documents (including shareholders’ agreements) make provision for the death of a shareholder. For example, if the expectation is that a deceased shareholder’s shares will be purchased by the surviving shareholders, do the company’s articles of association contain pre-emption rights and has financial provision been made to purchase the shares?
Thursfields have built our reputation by providing timely and practical advice to our clients. We understand that it can often be difficult to find the time to deal with personal matters. With this in mind, we will tailor our approach to suit you and take your instructions in whatever way best suits you – by ‘phone, video conference or in person at our Birmingham, Solihull, Worcester, Kidderminster or Halesowen offices. We have an excellent team of specialist personal, family and corporate solicitors to look after you, your family and your business.
If you would like more information please contact Ian Bond, Head of Wills & Estates at Thursfields on 0345 20 73 72 8 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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