Our practice involves the drafting of many different types of partnership agreements and other agreements governing the relationship among individuals involved in a common enterprise. These agreements include general and limited partnership agreements, operating agreements or limited liability company agreements, and shareholder agreements for corporations. In this article, all these types of entities are referred to as “joint ventures.”
During the initial client discussions with respect to these agreements we highlight and discuss the usual laundry list of matters that co-investors should consider at the time of formation. One matter that we believe should be addressed in every joint venture agreement is what happens upon the death of a member of the joint venture. For obvious reasons, many do not want to focus on this point. However, the procedure to be followed when surviving spouses and heirs inherit an ownership interest is best handled at the beginning of the joint venture. While it may appear that all joint venture members have similar interests, relationships can change very quickly, and the bottom line is that while one may be very interested in being in partnership with a certain individual, the same interest may not attach to that person’s spouse.