A leading law firm says business owners are risking substantial problems for their business partners and family by failing to make a will.
Mace & Jones made the warning, after finding that a large number of male business owners in their 30s and 40s have not made wills. This anecdotal experience was reinforced by research from Lawpack which revealed that almost two thirds of Britons have not made arrangements for their will, which obviously must affect a substantial amount of us in the borough of Richmond too.
Mace & Jones partner Duncan McAllister, a specialist in disputed wills, said serious complications can arise in a business if succession planning for director shareholders does not include a well thought out will.
"A well drafted will can limit the potential for claims against the deceased's estate," he said. "This includes claims made against the deceased share in a business, which without a will could result in serious damage to the firm. Businesses need to ensure their directors have wills and that these concur with any articles or shareholder agreements. Many businesses are family run with the intention that the business should pass to another family member working in the firm. Often a child working with a parent in the family business will have an expectation that the business will come to them. Where this is not covered by a Will, or if the articles of the business allow for another shareholder to buy the deceased's shares, families can quickly fall out. The child working in the business may be expected to purchase their siblings interest even if the other siblings have never worked in the business or contributed to its success."
Mace & Jones wills specialist Carol McBride warned against people writing their own wills saying they can create unexpected costs as the wording can be challenged.
"The benefit of making a Will with a trust and tax specialist is that they have the experience to look at the whole picture,' she said. "They understand the interaction of the business with the Will to ensure that any planning undertaken will be fully effective and maximize the reliefs available."
Mace & Jones stressed it has dealt with cases where wills have either not been updated, or not existed at all. The cost of resolving these cases in court far exceeds the cost of drawing up even the most complex will. A will should be reviewed at least every five years to take into account tax changes and life changes, it does not need to be onerous or time consuming.
For those business owners in Richmond reading this, the question obviously is, have you yourself made a will? Or do you fall into the two thirds of the country's population who havent made any arrangements
For Will Writers covering the borough of Richmond of Thames see the Will Writer's category in our Richmond business guide here
Member since: 19th June 2012
Web Editor/Accounts Manager for thebestofrichmond. Football/Boxing/Mixed Martial Arts enthusiast in spare time.