KEYTLaw - June 2019

WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND A BUSINESS OWNER WITHOUT A PLAN FAMILY ASSET PROTECTION JUNE 2019

hands of his estranged brother. But without a will or trust, there was no way anyone could prove that.

Recently, I learned the sad story of some of my previous clients. I helped them form an LLC some years ago, but unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to help them this time around. Susan* and Greg* were working hard to develop their business when I met them. They were married when we formed their LLC but eventually divorced while remaining co-owners. Susan moved to Florida and was mostly a silent partner in the business, and Greg continued to oversee the daily operations in Arizona. Greg’s live-in girlfriend of many years was also involved in running the business with him, and she was even a signatory on some of the bank accounts. The company was successful and prosperous. In an unexpected and tragic turn of events, Greg suddenly died. He had no will or trust designating what would happen to his successful business. Without these documents, it was left to the state to determine who would receive Greg’s assets. Under Arizona’s law of intestate succession, when a single person with no children dies and no will or trust is present, the assets of the deceased go to their surviving parents. If neither parent is alive, the deceased’s assets go to the siblings. In Greg’s situation, this meant that his assets went to his brother, someone he hadn’t spoken to in 30 years. To make matters worse, Susan didn’t get along well with Greg’s brother, and the two of themwere now business partners.

Greg’s story found its way to me too late. Without a will or trust, there was nothing his girlfriend or I could do to oversee his wishes. This story is so sad to me because Greg had many options available. He could have created a secure estate plan that left his assets to someone he loved — his girlfriend. He even had the option to include alternate takers, so that if something happened to her, his assets would go to an alternate person of his designation. Instead, the business went to two people who weren’t a loving part of Greg’s life. There is another story echoing Greg’s: A woman called me because her longtime, live-in boyfriend died suddenly. He owned nine rental homes, but he had no will or trust in place to designate who they should go to in the event of his death. All nine homes were inherited by the man’s surviving siblings, and his girlfriend was left with nothing. If there’s a lesson to take away from these stories, it’s to create your estate plan before it’s too late. Don’t leave the distribution of your belongings in the hands of the state. Make sure what’s important to you goes to the people who are important to you.

KEYTLaw 480-522-8494 keytlaw.com/fap/join Are Your Loved Ones Protected? You need an estate plan to control your property while you are alive and able, take care of yourself and your loved ones if you become disabled, and give what you have to whom you want, the way you want, and when you want, while saving every tax dollar, professional fee, and court cost possible. Call us at 480-522-8494 if you have questions about wills, trusts, or estate planning.

*Names have been changed.

–Richard Keyt

I can only surmise that Greg would not have wanted the business he’d spent his life building left in the

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