If you don’t take care of those who depend on you, bad things (often involving lawyers) tend to happen:
A promise is not a will:
- Charles Kuralt, the TV commentator, lived with Patricia Elizabeth Shannon for 29 years, many on 90 acres of Montana land with a renovated schoolhouse and a view. He sent her an email shortly before his death promising to leave her the house and land – but never changed his will. His family spent six years litigating the estate, and the judge ended up giving Ms. Shannon the property, but assigning all estate taxes to the family members.
Divorce Without a Prenup Hurts The Whole Family:
- The Wrigley family, makers of chewing gum and owners of the Chicago Cubs, had to sell the team after a 35 year old son started running the family company. He was a corporate visionary, but estate litigation with his father’s third divorced wife meant the family firm needed cash to survive.
Do It Yourself Wills Don’t Always Work Well:
- A Forbes article noted a do-it-yourself wills problem: one father with $1.5 million in old phone stocks failed to list them, and used an online form without a “residuary” clause, giving everything not specifically named to some person or organization. This meant the “statute of descent and distribution” still applied to everything not listed, which is a law that in most states divides assets for people without wills between spouses and children, or others up and down the generations, in a fairly arbitrary way.
No Buy-Sell Agreement? Enjoy Your Time In Court:
- George Hagshenas was a 50% owner of a Bloomington, Illinois travel agency, and he and his partner (and their spouses) got to the point where they couldn’t agree on where to eat lunch, much less how to run the company. He tried to get a court to dissolve the firm, and failed, since they were making money. When he quit and started another travel shop across the street, the others sued him. It cost him $600,000 in litigation costs, but was eventually worth it, since his firm rose to make more than $20 million per year, without the evil partners. A buy-sell contract could have avoided the whole problem, however.
70 Is Not The New 30:
- A manufacturing company owner that a Growthlaw.com client talked to in 2016 had no interest in sale. The owner was 70, his company was making $7.3 million per year, and he had just bought $7 million in new equipment. A year later, when our client looked in again, the former owner was gone, and his wife was running the company with the help of a consultant. Six months after that, the consultant was running the company. We don’t know what (if anything) the wife was paid for her husband’s former firm.
If you have family arrangements, family assets, or a business you need to preserve or sell without too many complications, call me at (630)362-8840 or email email@example.com. The first call or return email is always free.