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25 July 2018

Q: I’ve got my own business as a sole trader – why would I need a Will?

A: Even if your business is unlikely to continue in the event of your death, because it relies on your personal skills and expertise, chances are that you will still need Business Executors if you are still trading when you die.

Business Executors are responsible for settling accounts with creditors and collecting debts owing to you. They would sell any assets used in the business, file any last tax returns and deal with disputes on behalf of the estate.

If your business had goodwill of a significant value, which could be sold, the Business Executors would be responsible for arranging a sale before the goodwill became significantly devalued. They have a duty to obtain the best deal for your beneficiaries.

It is important that your Business Executors know who your customers and suppliers are, so keeping records of these is important.

You might choose your spouse/partner to be your Executor in relation to your personal finances. It does not follow that they would also be the most appropriate person to deal with your business on your death. If they had no real knowledge of your contacts and business generally, having to deal with collecting debts, selling equipment and any possible disputes would be likely to put additional pressure on them during an already stressful time. Your Business Executor should be familiar with your trade and contacts.

Apart from providing for your business to be wound up properly, a Will is also important on a personal level. By making a Will, you provide for those who depend on you and you take control of who benefits from your estate.

If your business trades as a company, there are different arrangements you need to make and you should seek advice.