Daniel W. Uhlfelder P.A. | Attorneys At Law


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What happens to a business when a family member inherits?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2023 | Small Business

When people talk about family businesses being an important legacy, they often don’t talk about the logistics involved in an intergenerational transfer. Inheriting a business from parents, grandparents or other loved ones can give someone control over their career and open them up to new opportunities.

However, there is typically a lot of work involved in assuming control over an inherited business organization. What will someone need to do as they begin taking over the company that they just inherited?

Ownership must legally transfer

The first step in taking control over an existing company through an inheritance is to find out what is necessary to legally transfer ownership and authority. In some cases, there may be paperwork to execute. Other times, it may simply be a matter of waiting for the courts to sign off on the transfer of the business as part of the probate process.

The new owner must review operational logistics

While waiting for that initial transfer, people cannot begin planning to manage day-to-day logistics. Ideally, the person inheriting the business is already intimately familiar with its operations. If they are not, they will need to learn about what the job requires of them and what responsibilities they need to fulfill. From when their day will start to whether they do their job on-site at an office or at clients’ homes, someone will need to understand the daily workflow and what is expected of them as they take over the ownership and operation of a company.

There should be ongoing, active communication

Is there a business partner or possibly shareholders who have an interest in the company? Those that have invested in the organization will want to be familiar with the person who will own the business and help operate it going forward. It is also usually smart to talk with staff members and clients, or at least the key players from both groups. Proactive communication will decrease the likelihood of operational disruptions or emotional responses from workers or clients that could impact the company negatively.

New owners may need to assume contracts and obligations

There are likely contracts with parties ranging from landlords to vendors that the new owner may have to renegotiate or reaffirm. They may also need to arrange for the transfer of machinery leases and other key business agreements so that the company can continue operating.

The average person will struggle to handle all of those obligations on their own, which is one reason why those inheriting a business often need guidance. Having the right support for organizational and planning purposes can make all the difference for those about to assume control over a business that they’ve inherited.