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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Friday, October 12, 2018

Protect Your Small Business with an Estate Plan

What will happen to my business if I die without a will in place?

Aretha Franklin is the latest high profile celebrity to pass away without a will in place.  Her $80 million estate will now be divided in accordance with the law in her state of residency.  Prince’s estate, valued at over $300 million at the time of his sudden death, is still in court as his family battles over the money.  These celebrity deaths are extreme examples of the hazards of not creating an estate plan. Small business owners need to be aware of what could happen if they die without a will so that they can take steps now to preserve their hard earned assets through an estate plan.  

Without a Will, Your Estate Will Be Divided Per State Law

If you die without a will or trust in place, the court will be forced to divide your assets according to state intestacy laws.  Each state has its own laws in place that reflect lawmaker’s beliefs as to how assets should be divided when the deceased person has not expressed his or her wishes on the matter.  In South Carolina, succession laws depend on the marital status of the deceased, as well as whether or not they have children. 

If you die with a spouse and children in South Carolina, your spouse will receive one half of your intestate property, with the remainder being split among your children.  If you pass away with a spouse, but no children, your spouse will receive all of your assets.   Those who are unwed and without children will have all of their assets pass to their living parents or living siblings.  

Prepare for Your Death with an Estate Plan

Dying without a will can lead to much family strife, uncertainty for your heirs, high taxation and legal fees, and your assets going to someone whom you would not have selected.  As a small business owner with assets, it is imperative that you take action to prevent such an end result.  Small business owners need to prepare for their death starting today.  Meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss your wishes and how they can be accomplished.

Most small business owners will need a will and possibly a trust.  A will ensures your assets go to your intended heirs, while a trust allows these assets to transfer without probate.  You will also want to consider the future of your business.  Your trust can include a plan to sell or allow a relative to continue operating the business upon your death.  Along with these end of life documents, you will want to create a health care directive and financial power of attorney so that your heirs can make decisions needed for your care if you become incapacitated.


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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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