Hurray, you’re finally in contract and ready to close on the sale of the estate’s business. You already did all the hard work preparing to sell the business, now make sure you cross the finish line and close the sale properly.
Maintain status quo until sold
Make sure you maintain your insurance payments. In the rare chance that there is a slip and fall accident between the time your insurance lapses and the closing occurs, it will be your problem.
Maintain your security plan, whether it’s an alarm system or driving by to check on the place. We have had an attempted burglary in one of our situations. It’s like the burglars have a sixth sense that the owner passed away and that the building is not well-attended. They notice that there are no cars or customers coming and going from the business.
Keep up to date with all of the business vendors. If the business is not operational, let the vendors know not to come by anymore. You don’t want boxes of inventory stacked up, just like you don’t want piles of mail stacked up outside of a decedent’s home. It’s pretty obvious that the place is vacant if no one takes the items inside.
Allow buyer’s final inspections
Make sure that the lease is transferable. The buyer may need to have an introduction with the landlord to make sure they get along and agree on new terms.
Even if you provide a fully audited inventory of the estate assets, sometimes buyers want to do their own inventory. Cash registers, coolers, machinery, the condition of the parking lot – the buyer will want to see these for himself. Sometimes you can’t capture the condition of these types of things in a report or photographs.
Transfer all paperwork
While most of the paperwork happens at closing, some paperwork needs to be put in motion ahead of time. For example, making sure that the buyer can take over the lease from the landlord.
There may be a whole bureaucratic process to make sure the buyer gets the necessary licenses and permits to operate the business. Maybe it’s a permit to have a cafe on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant or obtaining a liquor license.
Think you’re done? Not quite. Even if you’ve sold and liquidated the business assets, you probably still need to wind down or dissolve the corporation and business bank accounts. You probably did the sale in the form of an asset sale (meaning, the buyer bought the stuff), and not a sale of the corporate stock. The estate is now left with an empty corporate entity. Dissolving the corporation involves getting certain tax clearances, notifying the Department of State, emptying business accounts, and notifying the IRS with a corporate tax return.
It’s a long process, but it has to be done. We’ll cover this in a future episode, but please comment below if you have questions or comments in the meantime.
If you want to learn more about how probate works, check out my book on Amazon, “How Probate Works.”
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