What is the law concerning a business whose sole owner and proprietor passes away as far as to keeping the business viable?

Is there a time stipulation where someone new must continue the business?

Asked on November 23, 2015 under Business Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When a sole proprietor passes away, the business ends--the sole proprietor *was* the business, and there was no separate legal entity (as there would have been with a corporation, for example) to survive him. This does not mean that someone else can't buy the business's assets, including its name and customer/client list, from any heirs of the sole proprietor or the sole proprietor's estate and carry on--but he/she would be starting a new business that happens to use the assets (and even name) of the old, and not continuing the old business, which from a legal point of view, passed with the sole proprietor.

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