Probate when a business is involved
What happens if the person who dies also runs a business? What happens to the business in the period immediately after his death? Should it be sold? Who will run it while it is waiting to be sold? What if the death brings an end to the business and the subsequent liabilities such as redundancy payments cannot be met by the company and the company becomes insolvent? These are all potential issues that can arise.
Some of these problems can be addressed at the will writing stage by including priovisions into a will appointing someone as a business executor over the particular business assets to run the business until it can be sold. It is usually someone with knowledge of that business who the deceased trusts.
What if there are other co-owners? Who looks after the deceased’s interests in the case of any problems? In the case of a partnership, there will hopefully be a partnership deed addressing the death of a partner. If not, the partners must rely on the Partnership Act. There can be issues about the valuation of a partnership share or the company shares if the other partners or shareholders have the right to buy out the deceased’s share.
When thinking about a law firm for probate in these circumstances, you should seek a law firm with particular experience in company law, partnership law and disputes between business owners. We recently acted on a matter where the business in question went into liquidation requiring the appointment of a liquidator. The issues arising through that particular probate covered company law, employment law, insolvency and property issues. At Probaters, we are part of a professional firm of solicitors with expertise in all areas of company, commercial, property and employment law and are ideally placed to deal with the particular needs of the probate of a business owner.
These are in addition to the usual concerns about what to do when someone dies.