Having a stake in a corporation creates some interesting issues that ought to be addressed in your will. This goes beyond simply making sure your stake is transferred upon your death. Take a look at some questions you may want to address with the support of a will and trust attorney.
Know What Your Stake in the Company Is
There are some differences in corporate law between simply being an officer of the business versus having a voting stake. It's important to understand clearly what your role in the enterprise is. Talk with a corporate lawyer and ask them about what your rights and responsibilities are within the business.
Living Will Provisions
One major problem to think about is what happens if you don't die but your ability to exercise your duties and rights is limited or impossible. You should have provisions in your will address a slew of scenarios, including medical incapacitation, detention by police, disappearance, and kidnapping. Even if you don't believe your work will lead to most of those scenarios, have a will and trust attorney draw up the provisions to make sure you've hit all the possible circumstances where someone else may need to act on your behalf.
It's important that you completely trust whoever is assigned these responsibilities. Depending on the potential fall-out from your duties and rights not being exercised, you may need to go as far as including a durable power of attorney under specific circumstances.
Talk with whoever you'd assign these responsibilities to before you sign off on the documents. No one wants to suddenly discover, for example, that they have 33% of the voting privileges within a corporation.
Transferring Rights and Shares
Your stake in a company is potentially a transferable asset just like any other property you might own. Especially when thinking about what might happen were you to die, you should make arrangements to transfer your shares and rights to beneficiaries.
If you have worries about how well a beneficiary might handle such responsibilities, it may be best to set up a trust. The beneficiary would receive the proceeds, but someone else would act in your role within the business. This allows folks to transfer stakes to loved ones without worrying about if they're competent in the industry or even interested.
Some people also elect to transfer their stakes through trusts to their business partners. For example, a company with a three-way ownership split might become a 50-50 enterprise once one of the owners passes.
For more information, contact a law firm like Goicoechea DiGrazia Coyle & Stanton Ltd.