Many small business owners want to see the ventures they've built live on in some way after they've passed away. This is why it's important to include your business in your will and estate plans. To help you make the best decisions about how the business is passed on and managed after your death, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject.

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Wills and Estate Planning

What happens to my business if I don't leave a will?

Your small business will be handled like any other property in an intestate estate. Its fate will be determined by the probate courts, and they will decide who inherits the business and its assets. 

What they decide may not be what you would have intended for the business to which you've devoted so much hard work. For instance, they might assign ownership to an heir who only wants to sell the business, even if that's counter to your wishes. To ensure your wishes and plans are followed, you always want to include it in estate plans.

How do I protect my business?

Wills & Estates

Write a succession plan as part of your will and estate. This is a document in which you can detail who should take over the business; assign various roles and responsibilities; share financial information; and state your plans and goals for the business moving forward. A succession plan will simplify and streamline the transfer of ownership when the time comes.

What if I am a part-owner of a small business?

Those who own a business with another party can make plans for their share of ownership. A buy-sell agreement is often the best way of going about this. This allows you to stipulate how much your share should sell for and to whom it can be sold.

What other estate planning tools should I consider?

A power of attorney is always a good idea. You likely want to see operations continue as normally as possible in the immediate aftermath of your passing and during the subsequent probate process. A power of attorney lets you appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for the estate, including the business. This individual should be someone you trust to handle business affairs and make decisions that you would agree with.


Start making will and estate plans for your small business by contacting Morrow, Gordon & Byrd, Ltd. Since 1933, they have been serving the New Albany and Westerville, OH, areas. They provide legal representation in estate and probate law, real estate, and small business cases. Call (740) 345-9611 to arrange a consultation or visit their website for more information about their lawyers.