Like most Tennessee small business owners, you probably spend much of your time and energy keeping your business running and building its success. While you may have hopes of passing your business to your heirs or establishing it so that it provides for your family in the future, if you have not yet taken steps to implement these goals, you may leave behind a great deal of trouble.

Leaving our business unprepared for your eventual death or incapacity means your business, like your other assets, will go through the probate process. This could be devastating if your family depends on the income your business provides. However, creating a succession plan for your business is more complex than writing a will. There are many factors to consider and options to weigh, especially if your business includes digital elements.

Avoiding costly oversights

Not only will you want to learn as much as you can about including a buy-sell agreement in your succession plan, but you will want to address the digital components that are vital to the operation of your business. Few businesses operate without some connection to the world wide web. Whether you have a website for your company, use an online program for productivity or utilize the cloud for storing client information, you have many legal factors to deal with in your estate and succession planning, including the following:

  • You should review and understand the policies of companies that provide critical software for your business. For example, will your successor have the legal right to continue using the products to which you hold the license?
  • It is important to have a plan in place for your successor to take over communicating with those entities who provide your internet and tech services, including paying for the renewal of online subscription services.
  • You may want to seek legal advice about the most efficient way to share access to confidential and proprietary information without placing the security of customers at risk or jeopardizing trade secrets.
  • Your business' digital assets, including apps you may have developed, online stores or a company website, are a valuable part of your business estate, but they are easy to forget when planning for your succession.

You may not even realize the assets you hold digitally, so it is important to create and maintain a detailed inventory, which you can include in your succession plan. Dealing with these matters sooner rather than later can prevent chaos and confusion if you should suddenly be unable to run your business. You may benefit from seeking advice from an attorney who has knowledge and experience assisting small business owners with every phase of planning.

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