Entrepreneurs in Wisconsin may draw an unexpected lesson from the passing of legendary musician Aretha Franklin. Reports on her death have noted that despite her $80 million estate and valuable music catalog, she died without a will or estate plan in place. Franklin is not alone in the pantheon of great musicians to pass away without a will. Prince died suddenly in 2016 at the age of 57, leaving behind a legendary catalog of music and a $300 million estate. Since he passed away without a will, his estate continues to be the subject of court proceedings and debates among his heirs.
While in some cases the standard state distributions to spouses and children may work seamlessly, having a will can help to avoid disputes and prevent discord within the family. In addition, for people with specific valuable property like a privately owned small business, making a will and succession plan is particularly important.
After a business owner dies without a will, the company could simply be divided up or sold. Unfortunately, it may be difficult or impossible to restore the business to its former success. By making a clear plan for the future of their business, an entrepreneur can help to ensure success for years to come.
There are a number of financial and familial factors that a small business owner may wish to consider when making an estate plan. An estate planning attorney can advise a client on how to create a plan that protects the unity of a business while addressing inheritances to family members.