No one wants to think about death and dying. They are morbid subjects to be sure but they are something every smart business person needs to think about. This means having a business plan in place in case something should happen to you and also making sure your will and estate planning is up to date.
The question is, what kind of assets are we talking about? Depending on your area of expertise and interests, this can be anything from stocks and bonds to real estate to rare coins and precious metals. Here are some things you might want to consider passing along to the next generation or to a business partner.
Real Estate Professional
Whether you’re putting your online construction management degree to good use flipping houses or investing in commercial office space, that property needs to be properly handled if anything should happen to you. If you have a business partner or are part of an LLC, or shareholders to answer to, then these things should be spelled out in your operating agreement.
If you own property separate from the LLC or your company is a sole proprietorship, then your assets will have to pass through the probate system, unless you make other arrangements with your estate planner.
When it comes time to make these decisions, take into account how many heirs you have and their level of interest in your property or business. Sometimes, the easier thing to do is to specify that your assets be liquidated and the proceeds divided among your heirs. There are potential tax and probate implications to either decision, so be sure to consult an experienced estate planner and/or an attorney to be sure your wishes are carried out.
As an accountant, you might have invested your nest egg in stocks and bonds, among other treasures. These assets are considered part of your estate and you should make plans for their disposition. If you own them jointly with your spouse, they will simply transfer to him or her. If you want someone else to get them after you die, you can designate a transfer-on-death beneficiary. This will transfer ownership of the stock without them having to go through probate.
If your hobbies, or your source of income, run more toward collecting rare valuables, these are what you’ll probably you’ll be leaving to your children and grandchildren. The key to leaving these things for posterity is open communication with your heirs now. This can avoid heartache and bad feelings after you’re gone. Find out which of your heirs would like to have part or all of your collection. Some may not be interested at all and some may not be in a position to take rare and valuable items, especially if they take up a lot of room.
One thing to consider is giving away items before you die. If you know your granddaughter wants a particular piece and your grandson another, enjoy the feeling of giving it to them in person; before you’re gone. Please note, gifts of value can be taken into consideration when attempting to qualify for Medicaid and other assistance programs, so consult your estate planner before making any moves.
No matter what you are leaving behind, if you plan ahead, it can make the time of your passing less stressful for loved ones after you’re gone if they don’t have to deal with your estate. By getting specific with your plans and wishes, each heir will know where they stand and there will be less confusion and fewer hurt feelings.