have a will. have a business sucession plan.

Just found out a client died last weekend. Million dollar business. Last time we spoke he had almost half a million cash in the bank.

No will.
No succession plan.
Not even a joint signer on the checking account.

Now the employees don’t get paid. The vendors don’t get paid. No way to run the business. It will die.

Maybe maybe one of the employees will pick it up and run with it, but this will leave nothing to the heirs.

Girlfriend who was not a wife will sue and claim common law marriage. His minor son by a divorced ex will sue claiming not married, so that son should inherit everything - and she’s the guardian. Of course the lawyers will have a payday.

I’m betting that before everyone is done, nothing will be left for anyone. And that’s a shame.


I have a good news, bad news story that goes along with that.

The good news, this guy inherited a business. The bad news, it almost killed him.

A guy in my church, named Josh (real name), worked for a shipping company here in So.Cal and took home a salary of about $70k/yr.

The aging owner liked Josh, and willed his entire business to him.

When the owner finally died, Josh went from taking home $70K/yr to netting $700k/yr.

That was all fine and dandy, except one of Josh’s fellow associates felt betrayed and cheated at this preferential treatment, and began sending threatening mail containing ultimatums, if Josh didn’t raise salaries and increase benefits, etc.

Josh received one of those packages, and placed it on his desk. As he opened it, the package blew up.

It blew open Josh’s chest. He spent months in the hospital recovering …after several surgeries.

Meantime, a suspect was found, charged, and convicted of attempted murder, among other things, and consequently went to prison.

Afterward, Josh forgave the convict for trying to kill him, and reached out to him in prison. In the process of attempting to restore a relationship, led the felon to a faith in Christ.

It didn’t reduce the convict’s prison sentence, but it did reduce the probability of Josh getting more bomb threats… Anyway, twenty-five years later, no more bombs.

I guess the moral of this story is if you end up as everyone’s employer, it’s best not to go “Nya, nya, nya, I own you!”

Just kidding. He didn’t do ‘that.’
I would have, yes.


MC did this guy own a business which was not incorporated? Wouldn't the probate court assign an immediate trustee to oversee operations or wind down the business depending on type of company and future opportunity for success?

Since I have been working to bullet proof my estate for my heirs what things do you recommend for that purpose?

I have a family living trust which includes a medical directive and spells out my general wishes in my will. I have been creating a series of non revocable, dynasty trusts, successor trusts, spendthrift trusts, grantor retained interest trusts and charitable trusts for future ongoing operation of my businesses and asset holdings.

I believe I am structured now to avoid most of the inheritance and asset transfer taxes and I have set up a permanent fund to cover the costs of storing and displaying my personal collections and maintaining about a dozen high end homes in perpetuity.

What things do I have to be aware of and specifically spell out in my will which might be understood differently from my trusts? I will probable own and control upwards of a thousand C corps and LLC entities which will be owned by stock or units in the trusts. Is this structure correct?

I just did not want to leave my complex estate matters to a group of un-experienced heirs to destroy and blow their inheritance by not understanding the operational needs; although I will bring one heir into some of our boards in the next few years and another in about 5 or 6 years from now.

I would very much be interested in any list of things to watch for and do? I do have a great legal team and great accountants but it seems that there is always a possibility of overlooking or forgetting something so any input is appreciated and there are probable a lot of people here on REI Club who are planning or working on estate planning.

You and Jays stories scare me as I am getting older and know nothing is guaranteed in life.

Thanks MC,



It is an LLC. A court might appoint an emergency trustee, but the son/ex-wife and girlfriend (everyone with a claim on the estate) would all have to agree to it, someone would have to get it in front of a judge, etc. who would appoint a trustee that hopefully has the experience to continue the business.

But after a week, all the workers will move on to other jobs - they have kids to feed. Homeowners with half-done jobs will find someone else to complete the work and may hire their own attorneys to file suit on the company for the uncompleted work.

Businesses die quickly if not fed regularly.

Hire a competent attorney with business succession experience.
Develop a plan that meets your needs and desires.
Implement that plan.

That is a case of the family etc suing the advisers - the CA and attorney and any financial adviser.
You had better head for the hills Mr.CPA if he was a client of yours.

Most lawyers and accountants advocate their clients do have a will. However a will is not the best way to ensure a smooth succession or transfer of assets.

Before I retired I specialized in designed structured companies that avoided tax and probate. Now I just do a little in special cases for private clients

Note: I used to advise other lawyers on Estate Planning with companies - many lawyers do not have much of a grasp on tax or corporate finance.