Husband Leaves a Business Interest for Surviving Wife
Our client was the surviving wife whose beloved husband passed without a Will. Her husband was a successful business owner who built his business from a small startup to an enterprise with many employees. His death came at a great surprise because he was always a vibrant man who passed well before his expected time. The sudden shock and trauma of the loss combined with the lack of a Will created an overwhelming situation. His wife and family were now faced with a confusing probate and business succession situation.
The surviving wife came to us with limited experience with her husband’s business matters. Although the couple went through life together as the business was built, she was generally unfamiliar with the details of the business. She knew and trusted her husband’s business partners but was unsure what her rights were in the business.
The first step was to help our client understand her rights in the business. The business partners had a buy-sell agreement in place for contingencies of incapacity or death. This agreement outlined an orderly business succession if any of the partners were to pass away. It also required the other partners to purchase the husband’s interest. We represented our client for negotiations related to the buyout and ensured the terms of the buy-sell agreement were followed.
Although the husband had planning for business succession, the same could not be said for his estate plan. The husband’s interest in the business passed to his estate and he did not have a Will. Because of this, his wife and children had to navigate the probate process at a time which would be better spent focusing on family.
We took on the complexity of the probate process for our client and administered the estate. Under Pennsylvania law, both the children and mother had a share in the probate estate. Even though the family was on very good terms, we carefully included all family members in the probate process. One of the key ways we accomplished this was by providing an informal accounting to the other heirs. Good communication helped reassure each family member that their interests were protected through the process.
Our client was soon named the Administratrix of the estate and was appointed to handle the legal affairs. One of the major challenges for the estate was the business interests which flowed into the estate and the applicable inheritance taxes. After we identified the estate assets and factored in the business interests, we prepared and filed the inheritance tax return. The return was promptly filed, and our client received a 5% discount for the early return. Our client’s family soon achieved a successful buyout of her husband’s business and the proceeds were distributed to the family.
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Disclaimer: While we’re proud of our past victories, please note that past results are not indicative of future results and each case is unique.