When it comes to running a successful business, attention to detail and organization are critical.
These characteristics are also important for business owners to implement when it comes to their estate plan. An organized estate plan is an effective estate plan. And to be organized, there are three elements that business owners must attend to in the estate planning process.
1. Ensure essential records are accessible
You must ensure that any important personal or business records your executor, business partners and family will need to access are organized. These could include:
- Financial statements and tax returns;
- Business plans and insurance policies; and
- Trade secrets or trademark documentation.
In the event of your incapacitation, your loved ones should be able to access these documents, so they can handle your personal and business affairs properly. For example, if your business relies on a trade secret, you can protect it by bequeathing this information in your will, though you must ensure you comply with California trade secret laws.
2. Include passwords in your will
It is easy to overlook your private passwords when crafting your estate plan. However, in the age of technology, business owners almost constantly use online tools and technology to store important information or handle finances, only to name a few things.
It is important to include account information and passwords in your will – or at least directions about where your loved ones can access this information.
3. Store your will safely – but make sure everyone knows how to access it
You should also organize how you will store your will and other estate planning documents. You have a few options, including:
- Storing your documents in a home office;
- Storing them in a safe deposit box; or
- Even entrusting them to your estate planning attorney.
Business owners could face serious risks if their loved ones cannot find their estate planning documents when they need them the most. The probate court might have to move forward with intestate succession, which would not follow your wishes or protect your business assets as you planned.
So, even though you should store your will in a safe place, you should also communicate with your family about where to find your documents.