Putting an effective estate plan into place is a prudent step for any New York resident to take, but it may be even more important for those who own a business. Probate courts are not the places where most entrepreneurs would want questions about their estate resolved, and probate judges may sometimes not be as knowledgeable as they could be about complex intangible business assets such as intellectual property.
Placing business interests in a living trust is one way that the probate process can be avoided to an extent. However, this can be complex if the business was structured as a partnership or limited liability company. Business real estate can be handled in a number of ways, and a transfer on death deed, a life estate or a joint ownership arrangement may all be appropriate strategies.
Some assets that are personally held may be related to a business, and proactive steps should be taken to make sure that these assets do not become entangled in probate proceedings. Having contingency plans in place within a company can also go a long way towards ensuring that things continue to run smoothly. An individual should be designated in advance to take care of the running of the business and procedures can be established to ensure that cash is available to run the business. However, perhaps the most important estate planning step entrepreneurs can take is having a plan in place to ensure that the business continues to operate after they pass away.
Dealing with end of life matters is seldom easy, but failing to take action can leave family members with difficult problems that could often have been avoided. An attorney with experience in this area could provide peace of mind by explaining how to the prudent use of trusts and other estate planning strategies can protect heirs and minimize the impact of estate taxes.