- Are wills and testaments public domain information?
and if so, where can you find out what was in them?
The owner of our company sadly died at the weekend; the speculation is whether he left the company as part of his estate in its entirety to his wife or one of his children (because they have been involved in running it); or to a combination of wife and any number of 4 children. If the former the likelihood is that the co. will continue as is, if the latter it's almost certain that at some point a sale will have to be made, even if it's just so one or more of the children can cash their share.Posted 8 years agoourmaninthenorthSubscriber
The info at Companies House will be accurate as at the date of the last annual return. You may also be able to find the info in the last filed accounts, but since it is (likely on the info given) to be a private company (rather than a listed plc), then the deadline for filing accounts is the best oart of a year after the year end date.
In terms of his shareholding in the company, it will form part of his estate for the purposes of probate (assuming he didn't die intestate), and only once probate has been completed will the ownership of the shares be definitively amended.
In any event, the information at Companie House is not definitive as to who the shareholders are of a company. Only the register of members in the company's staturoty books will be definitive as to legal (note, not beneficial) title to the shares. The books are a private document, and so not visible to the public (employees fall into this category).
Wills are not public documents, unless they need to be made so for the purposes of probate, so you won't find much informaiton there.
In terms of what happens in the future, you are reasonable in your concerns, but there is little you can actually see that will give you any meaningful informaiton without, frankly, bursting into the reading of the will.
If and to the extent that the shareholding is transferred to holders who do not wish to have the shares, then they will obviously look to transfer them for value. However, do not assume that there is a ready market for the shares, so the process may not be quick, and is unlikely to change the ownership of the business overnight. There may well be pre-emption provisions in the company's articles of association (which you can find at Companies House) requiring shares to be first offered to the remaining shareholders before being transferred to any third party. Even if there are no pre-emption provisions, then the relevant shareholder will still need to find a willing buyer for those shares (which may be a minority holkding, and so having little real value).
Don't fret..!Posted 8 years ago
all good info apart from it's a private company. A big one mind, close on $2billion value based on ebitda, and it's a US co.
So he can (could) do what he wanted with it. If someone offers the right money we could be sold overnight – no need for shareholders to be consulted, etc. AFAIK it's like you and your sister being left equal shares in your folks house when then go – you can't both live in it (unless it's in Cinderford 😯 ) so either one of you buys the other's half, or you sell it and share the proceeds.
Hence if for sake of argument he's left it in equal shares to his 4 kids, they have ca $500million each tied up, and if 3 want out and 1 wants in does he have enough wherewithall to effect a buyout, or do the other 3 force a sale?
Like you say – unlikely to be 'fast' but it could be fast enough that some of us with personal decisions to make might like to know before making them.Posted 8 years ago
Sure we can't change what will happen, but there are folks I know mulling over job offers because they don't like the existing regime. If we were sold, or knew we were going to be sold (and given that in my industry and at our size we can predict reasonably well who that would be) that may influence a decision.Posted 8 years ago
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