Keeping it in the Family – Probate of a Will

Family-owned businesses are one of the frequent assets probate attorneys see in estate planning and probate of a will. It is wise when you create or adjust your estate plan that you lay out specific instructions if you are a business owner and continue managing the company past retirement age.

The two scenarios commonly found during probate of a will are:

  1. The business owner decides to retire at retirement age. Then, clearly designates the family member who will take over their role and any other roles for other family members.
  2. The business owner decides not to retire, or retire at a later age, which can cause friction for the family member expected to take over their role.

Take an example from a recent Wall Street Journal article that chronicles this situation in a family business in Pennsylvania.

Some of the issues the pair in the article face can easily be avoided with:

  • early consideration,
  • open communication
  • and mutual understanding.

For an individual who has built a business, and their legacy, it can be difficult to let go. The important thing is they feel comfortable with the decision they make and begin thinking about it early on.

If you are a business owner that finds themselves in this dilemma during probate of a will, consider speaking with a trusted estate planning attorney to receive an objective perspective on the matter.