For five years since I returned from the UK after my Masters program, I’ve worked side by side with my mum to run her highly lucrative fashion line. As a single mum, my mother single-handedly worked hard to build her fashion empire, and with my additional effort, it is currently worth millions of naira. I share in her passion and have shown it through dedication and hard work, but now I’m worried. Mum recently found love again and wants to get married to a widower who has two sons. My mum is wealthier than this man, and the man’s sons are still totally dependent on him.
How do I ensure that this marriage won’t cost me the fashion empire, which by right should remain in my family as an inheritance?
– Jessica, Lagos
I totally understand your apprehension regarding your mother’s fashion empire. Indeed, your concerns are genuine, as it could be very disappointing to lose out completely in a business you have contributed so much to. The reality is that most people fail to take the necessary steps that would ensure that their assets are protected and preserved for the benefit of their loved ones when there is a major change in their circumstances, i.e. marriage, divorce, separation, death or permanent disability.
In the case of your mother, it would be most constructive if she considers setting up a trust to manage the affairs of her business and ensure continuity of her fashion empire, for the benefit of her beneficiaries even after her demise. A trust is an arrangement that affords the settlor (the person who sets it up) to transfer its/his/her assets to a third party (the trustee) to hold for the benefit of a named person or group of persons called the beneficiary(ies).
By setting up a trust, your mother can ensure that the fashion line is passed on to you at her death, even though she retains full control while she is alive. She can name beneficiaries of the trust and include her new spouse so as to achieve some balance.
I would advise that you find a convenient time to have a conversation with your mother to confirm how she intends to sustain the business continually. This trust structure should gain her interest and allay any form of misconception about your intentions, since the discussion would be centered more about protecting her legacy than one of you trying to oust your soon to be step-father and step brothers from your mother’s estate if she predeceases them.
I wish you and your mum the best.