If you have a business partner in Illinois, one fear you may have is problems with probate. Probate describes the process by which the courts verify whether or not a will is legitimate. This sounds simple enough, so why does it bother business owners? The short answer is that probate decisions can affect business successions and lead to lengthy court battles.

According to Forbes, probate does not always result in difficulties for family members and business partners. This typically only happens when the deceased did not engage in proper planning for their final affairs. This could lead to problems sorting out assets, debts and final wishes.

While you certainly cannot dictate an estate plan to your partner, you can set an example by ensuring your own final affairs are in order. Here are a few tips from Forbes that you can follow to ensure this:

  •          Set up a buy-sell agreement for your company to prevent business assets merely passing to heirs who may not be in the best position to care for the business.
  •          Make separate arrangements for assets that do not need to pass through probate, such as bank accounts, life insurance and real estate.
  •          Write a strong will and follow the legitimate process to ensure there is no need for probate to right a will for you when the time comes.

Once you have your own plan in place, it may be a good idea to sit down with your business partner and help them get their own final affairs sorted. They may refuse to do so, but it does not hurt to try. In the event that another partner wishes to join the company, you may consider making it necessary to have an airtight plan to avoid probate issues.

This article provides information on probate problems for business owners and should not be taken as legal advice.