Uh Oh Enterprises & its owner, Bill Wiseacre, took the summer off so our stories about his adventures will resume this fall. Unfortunately, earlier this summer, Bill’s cousin, Pete Procrastinator and Pete’s wife, Penelope, were killed in a tragic car accident on their way to the beach to visit Bill.
Prior to their untimely passing, Pete and Penelope, who were the sole owners of a public relations firm, had talked to their attorney about succession and estate planning. While they knew that it was something they should take care of, other things continuously came up preventing them from getting it done. Thus, they passed intestate (i.e., without wills, nor any business succession plan).
As a result, Maryland law dictates what happens with regard to their children as well as all of their assets (including the business). Pete and Penelope didn’t have a formal plan for the disposition of their company. They just assumed that after their kids went off to college, that they’d sell the company and then travel the world. They had intended that their children, Enzo and Porsche, would be the sole beneficiaries of their estate and, in this case, that’s exactly what the state provides for, except that each child’s share of assets will be held by a guardian appointed by the probate court and distributed to the child, outright, without any restrictions when the child turns 18 (hopefully Enzo and Porsche will manage their new found wealth (such that it is after all of the estate taxes and court costs are paid) wisely.
Disappointingly, the State appointed Penelope’s evil and greedy twin sister, Gretchen Greenmiser, as the children’s guardian. Never in their wildest dreams would Pete and Penelope have appointed Gretchen as Enzo and Porsche’s guardian. It was their plan to name dear family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Nick Klaus, to be their guardian, but alas, the failure to name them in a will allows the State to make that decision for them.
As it relates to the company, the personal representative (aka, executor) of their estate tried to salvage the company by attempting to sell the company’s assets (which in this case is largely just the company’s clients). However, due to the delay in getting the personal representative appointed, many of the clients just went to other PR firms. Sadly for Pete and Penelope, neither of them, nor their children, were able to benefit from the goodwill of the business they spent so long building.
The Gottlieb Law Perspective
- There’s no question that talking about business succession and estate planning is less than enjoyable.
- However, in order to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled, it’s a reality that we all must face.
- Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away.
- In order to facilitate our clients taking these steps, we’re proud to share that Anne Quinn joined the firm earlier this year. She has extensive experience in estate planning and she promises to make the process as painless as possible.
What would you have done in this situation?
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