New research has found that more than half of UK business owners don't have a will and 69% haven't thought about succession planning.
The will-writing charity Will Aid is calling on business owners to make a will in order to secure a legacy for their loved ones and protect their employees when the inevitable happens. Its new poll has found that 54% of business owners don't have a personal will. What's more, 69% do not have any succession plans, haven't thought about succession planning or don't know where to go for advice. With no will in place, their business assets could be distributed in a way that doesn't fit with their wishes.
Peter De Vena Franks, Will Aid campaign director, said: "Having a will means there is a clear plan of action to follow that takes care of business operations. It also minimises confusion between family members and other business stakeholders.
"If you own a business, or have shares, then estate planning is very important. Your immediate family might be reliant on your business assets, and your business partners or colleagues will need to know what happens to your stake in the business after you are gone. A will can help preserve the value of your business and will give you peace of mind that your affairs will be handled according to your wishes."
Will Aid is a partnership between the legal profession and nine UK charities. The initiative, which has been running for more than 30 years, sees participating solicitors waive their fee for writing basic wills every November. Instead, they invite clients to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid - a suggested £100 for a single basic will and £180 for a pair of basic "mirror" wills. Additions to a will - such as succession planning for a business - can be included for a fee.
"A business succession plan is about having a strategy for the future of your business. It is incredibly important because it provides continuity in a time of potential uncertainty, by ensuring that any issues or conflicts that arise after your death are resolved through clear guidance and solutions. For your loved ones it provides clarity over your wishes for the business; and for employees it provides stability, allowing the business to continue to run smoothly." Kieran Pezzack, solicitor at Audley Chaucer Solicitors.
To help more people create a will, the annual Will Aid campaign sees solicitors across the UK volunteer their time to write wills throughout November. More solicitors are now being urged to sign up to the campaign to help meet demand for its services.
Written by Rachel Miller.