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Do businesses need wills?

Estate planning is essential for ensuring personal effects and other assets are properly handled after a person's death. Most people in Oklahoma have a firm idea of what they want to happen with their house, vehicle and their great aunt's serving set, but what about a business? Business owners might expect family members to step up and take charge, but wills are key to protecting the venture.

Using estate planning tools and documents can help protect a business' longevity. A verbal agreement or understanding with a family member for him or her to take over the business is not necessarily something that will hold up well during probate or estate administration. Business owners who want to ensure their business' continued legacy can use estate planning tools traditionally utilized for personal assets to ease the transition over to a new owner.

Taxes are another common concern that arise during the estate planning process. Trusts are especially effective at minimizing the tax impact on heirs after they inherit business assets. While a will can outline who receives what, a grantor retained annuity trust can protect adult children from forking over hefty taxes while also helping guarantee asset growth and appreciation. Other options, such as buy-sell agreements, are available to businesses with multiple owners.

Most small business owners in Oklahoma dedicate years of hard work to growing their business. With proper estate planning -- which includes wills and trusts -- much of that hard work can be erased in a relatively small amount of time. In order to ensure the continued well-being and growth of a business and all of its assets, business owners should be sure to include it in their personal estate plan.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Things Estate Planning Can Do for You and Your Business", Kc Agu, March 31, 2016

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