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Family law: Protecting the family business in divorce

There is a great deal of support and advice for couples considering a divorce, particularly pertaining to how they can protect their individual assets in such a situation. However, some British Columbia residents might be wondering what provisions of family law exist to protect other family members, particularly the older generation, and assets they may have accrued. This is especially true in the case of a family business.

When it comes to estate planning, many members of the older generation who are proactive enough to begin this planning process early do not involve younger generations in the conversation. Even those younger people who engage with their elderly family in the process can still be at risk. The complexity of family law can make it very difficult to determine how individual families will be affected.

For example, in some cases parents might transfer shares of the company to children by using what is called an "estate freeze." However, depending on how that freeze is conducted, children might not have access to those shares until they are married. Similarly, children who are already married might be able to class those shares as a familial gift (and therefore they would be excluded from asset division), but only in some instances.

It is clear to British Columbia residents that family law as it pertains to familial property can be quite complicated to navigate. However, it is important for every generation of a family to be aware of the implications of how an estate plan will function in the aftermath of a divorce. Seeking the support of estate and family law attorneys in drafting these documents can go a long way toward preparing for most eventualities.

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