Estate planning as an Alberta business owner is significantly more complex than dealing only with personal assets. Wills, trusts and other estate planning documents of business owners should also cover their business assets. Dealing with large estates, tax issues and business succession will likely complicate the process. The business owner may be unsure of whether to seek legal counsel, and looking at specific questions might provide the answer.
Are there co-owners of the business, and if there are, is there a buy-sell agreement in place and does life insurance fund such an arrangement? Who will be the successor of the business, has one been appointed, or is there a process by which a successor will be selected? If the successor is a family member, are there arrangements made to ensure that other family members will receive their fair shares of the assets?
If the business qualifies as a small business corporation, there will be lifetime capital gains exemptions that must be addressed to ensure full advantage is taken. Will heirs or the estate be burdened with business-related tax liabilities upon the testator’s death? Have steps been taken to minimize those potential liabilities? Are plans in place for the event of the business owner’s death or incapacitation before ownership interests were transferred?
Death or incapacitation can occur at any time, and answering these and other questions might underscore the urgency of estate planning. The prospect might seem daunting, but an experienced Alberta estate planning lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance. Having these plans in place can provide peace of mind for the business owner, and legal counsel can also provide advocacy during annual reviews and modifications that might be required.