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The Business Will/Will Business?

If you have business assets but no Will your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules.  Your assets cannot be managed until your Administrators have the approval of the Probate Registry.  This means that until your Administrators have obtained Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry they cannot deal with your assets apart from minor issues such as dealing with personal assets – which specifically exclude any asset that you have used in the wholly or mainly for the business.  

Your business interests are in limbo until such time as the Administrators have power to make decisions which may include exercising rights over shares or dealing with creditors or the basic day to day running of your business.  What does your shareholder agreement say?  Do you even have a shareholder agreement to cover what happens on death? Think about how you would feel if something happened to your business partner – could you work with his Administrators?  

If you don’t have a Will you don’t have Executors; if you don’t have Executors, then you don’t have anyone to step in from the moment that you die with power to prevent “loss to your estate” for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  Executors cannot dispose of your shares or make major decisions about transferring assets but they can keep assets safe in the best interests of the estate as a whole.

Without Executors your business and the rest of your estate is effectively just waiting until representation can be approved through the Probate Registry.  This sort of uncertainty is not usually acceptable when dealing with business affairs and certainly not for personal matters.  The best solution is to make a Will and preferably a Will that deals specifically with your business interests to maximise any relief or exemptions available because of your business assets.  You may want to appoint specific people to deal purely with your business interests – your ‘Business Trustees’.  Your Will can give your Business Trustees all the powers that they need in the interim period from the date of your death to the date of the Grant of Probate so that your business can keep going and your family don’t lose the value of this asset.

If you would like any further information regarding making a Will or mitigating Inheritance Tax on your estate, please contact Trudy Rogers on 01635 569670 or email her on