Estate planning and the small business owner

Building a family business from the ground up is a dream for many entrepreneurs in Texas. Unfortunately, while many people with successful family businesses take steps to ensure their business's well-being during their lifetime, they may avoid thinking about what will happen to their business should they become incapacitated or pass away.

Moreover, there are many internal threats that could lead to the downfall of a family business. For example, family disputes, divorce or unanticipated litigation could all lead a small business owner to wonder whom he or she can trust to take care of the family business should the owner be unable to do so.

This doesn't mean that a small business owner should neglect estate planning. Attorneys are available to help business owners make sound decisions. For example, a solidly-drafted trust can protect a business's wealth. However, the business owner must clearly state what his or her goals are when it comes to asset preservation and distribution. For example, will the business assets be divided equally among heirs, or will one heir receive more than the others? If so, why? Clarity can be key to ensuring an estate plan is successful.

Owners of family businesses must also remember to be flexible. Their life circumstances, and those of the business, can change over time. It is important to review one's estate plan periodically to ensure it still meets the needs of both the business and one's family. An estate planning attorney can provide advice on how to protect business assets and pass them on after the owner passes away.