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To the point: I'm the sole shareholder and director of a holdings corporation in British Columbia, Canada. It was funded with $3mm in cash. That cash is held by a national bank, and is then used to buy equities by a third party wealth management company. All these equities are shares in other companies. There is generally ~$100,000 in cash in the account at all times, the rest is invested.

Every month, I receive a dividend of $10,000 to supplement my income from the holdings company. Periodically I transfer larger sums to my personal account for large purchases or expenses.

Recently I've been working on a will. My question is, how do I go about having the business wind down if I suddenly passed away, so that all equities are sold and the cash transferred to my estate so that it will be divided up in a percentage basis to those I would like to receive it? I'm unsure of how succession works in a case like this.

I'm looking for some guidance so that I at least have some knowledge about the processes before I involve my lawyers and accountants.

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Why?

Perhaps your beneficiaries would like to keep the investment company going. While you can certainly instruct the executor to liquidate the company, you can also leave it to their discretion to do so, or to issue shares in the right proportions and transfer it to the beneficiaries, or to give the company to those who want it and balance that with other assets given to those who don’t.

Why tie their hands? Particularly since we are hopefully talking about events many years in the future when investment conditions and tax law might be very different. If you force them to sell the beneficiaries may get less than they otherwise would.

As to how to do any of this - engage a lawyer that specialises in estate planning.

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  • The reason for my specific question is that the beneficiaries are very young and I've been getting conflicting information. I'm fearful of finding someone I can trust to deal with a 'trust' as it were. Those in question will not be in a position to decide whether they want to run an investment company. This thinking is all contingent on a sudden, unexpected exit. Sounds like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and give my lawyers more money either way ;)
    – stevieb
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 0:08
  • I will accept your answer as correct, simply because I figured the right answer would be "consult with your lawyers" anyway.
    – stevieb
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 0:10

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