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    Who needs estate planning?

    Thursday, May 8th, 2014

    You should have a plan if you want to make sure you stay in control of your financial and healthcare decision making in the event of your disability. You should also take the time to plan if you want to make sure your wealth goes to who you want, when you want, the way you want. If you have children who are minors (under the age of 18), parents who are aging, or are married or have a life partner, or anyone else depending upon you,  it makes sense to make plans in the event something happens to you. Finally, if you or your spouse have a chronic condition which may require nursing home care you may want to do a special kind of planning called Medicaid Planning.

    One misunderstanding about estate planning is it only needed if you are very wealthy or if you are old. This is not true. Even young people have responsibilities, can become disabled, or die. Even if you do not have family, or are just starting out, you still need to have “advanced directives” – a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release and Living Will in place. Even a person who has not accumulated a lot of wealth will want to leave what they have to specific persons.

    So, you can see having a plan for if you were to become disabled or for when you die is truly important for everyone over the age of 18!

    What is estate planning?

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

    Estate planning should be a life long process of taking steps to provide for you and the people you love.  You never know when disability will strike. When most people think of estate planning they think about transferring what they own at their death. Another equally important part of planning is thinking about making transfers during your life. Lifetime gifting can have important asset protection advantages and allows you see the impact of your giving on your loved ones.

    A good plan begins with understanding your family, what you own and how you own it and thinking about your goals.

    2012 Could be the Year You Start Your Own Business

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

    Before we move away from the topic of New Year’s resolutions, there’s one more New Year’s Resolution we’d like to address—that of taking control of your destiny and starting your own business. The desire to move away from corporate America and work for oneself is not at all unusual. Unfortunately, not all who make this resolution will follow through with it. This is not because these brave entrepreneurs can’t make it, but because they get discouraged. Branching out on your own is a scary venture, especially if you aren’t sure where or how to start; but making that start is a lot easier if you have a plan and know that you’re not alone.

    The following article from Kiplinger.com, Six Steps to Starting Your Own Business, can help you with the first part, and your attorney can help you with the second.

    That’s right; your attorney can help you start your business, and in fact should help you start your business. Although the idea and impetus behind this new venture will be all yours, you should absolutely talk to your attorney about the formal incorporation and formation. Many attorneys are small business owners themselves, and can also help with the challenging and daunting tasks of structuring and formalizing a business plan. Once your business is off the ground and making money (as it undoubtedly will) your attorney can also help you protect it from creditors and lawsuits.

    With a clear plan, and a friend in your corner, starting a business seems almost too easy.

    If you’ve ever considered starting your own business, this could be the year to do it. Make a plan, call your attorney, and take control of your own destiny.

    Entrepreneurs, Family Business, and Estate Planning

    Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

    If you’re an entrepreneur, or a small or family business owner, you have more to lose if you don’t have an estate plan. An estate plan help you protect not only your family and your assets, but also the business you’ve spent years (or decades) building. A recent article at Entrepreneur.com, entitled What Entrepreneurs Should Know About Estate Planning, describes some of the main components of an estate plan and how they can be useful to a business owner.

    That article covers eight estate planning components, beginning with a will and a living trust and ending with long term care insurance and disability insurance. All of these components are extremely useful (and in some cases absolutely necessary) and we highly recommend reading through the entire article. We would also suggest that there are three more documents that an entrepreneur should consider to help preserve business and wealth for future generations.

    Family Limited Partnership (FLP): A Family Limited Partnership is an asset protection tool which allows parents to take business assets out of their taxable estate and transfer the value of that asset to their children while still remaining in control of the business.

    Buy-Sell Agreement: A buy-sell agreement is a formal plan or contract between business partners establishing what will happen to the business should one of the partners die. This document specifies whether a partner may or may not buy your ownership shares for your heirs and for what price, or if you want to block certain family members or individuals from having any ownership share in the business.

    Succession Plan: A succession plan should be a key element in any business plan, but especially for small or family businesses. A succession plan is exactly what it sounds like, a formal plan outlining your wishes for passing your business on to your successors. You may design a succession plan to facilitate your retirement, or to provide a smooth transition in the event of your death. In any case, a succession plan is essential for any business owner.

    Don’t leave your business—or your family—out in the cold. Take the necessary steps to protect them both in the event of your death with a well-designed estate plan.

    How Successful CEOs Keep the Family Business in the Family

    Friday, April 29th, 2011

    How long will your family business stay in the family? One generation? Two generations? How about 4 generations down the line?

    The truth is that very few family business stay in the family beyond the first generation. Statistically, Only 40% of family owned businesses survive to the second generation, 12% to the third, and 3% to the fourth. There are many possible reasons for this, such as lack of interest by subsequent generations or the evolving market and economy, but one of the main reasons that family businesses don’t survive to the second and third generation is lack of planning.

    Which families have been successful with succession planning for their businesses? This article in Business Week profiles the famous families of business, and includes some interesting discussion of why certain families are successful where others aren’t. Parent-child relationships often become fraught with tension when the time comes to pass the baton, but history has shown that succession transitions are much smoother when the occur gradually, and according to a plan created and agreed upon by ALL interested parties.

    Business succession planning is a key element to owning your business at any step of the game, not just at retirement age. This is because it is not merely about exit strategy, but about making goals and planning for future success. Leaving the business to your children is not your only option. You may decide to sell your business, or leave it to a partner. The options are out there, if you only know where to find them.

    This is where an estate planning attorney can help.

    Whether your business is in its first generation or its fifth, whether you intend to pass it on to your children or sell it, planning is essential if you want your business to survive. Our firm can help you do just that. Whether through wills and trusts, or the succession planning described in this blog, it is our business to look to the future. Trust us to help you do the same.

    Money and Marriage: How to Have a Successful Business Partnership with your Spouse

    Monday, June 7th, 2010

    If you and your spouse complement each other, work well together, and support each other, does it makes sense to go into business together? Can you effectively be partners in marriage, partners in parenting, and partners in business? Although it may not be easy, many couples have proven that the answer is yes—a business partnership with your spouse can be very rewarding.

    As rewarding as it can be, there are a few steps that must be taken in order to protect your partnership—inside and outside the office:

    • Have a detailed plan that you both agree on
    • Be specific about each of your job descriptions to avoid stepping on each other’s toes
    • Agree on the amount of risk you are both willing to take
    • Know each of your strengths and weaknesses
    • Have a safety net
    • Be sure you are both contributing to your own retirement plans
    • Don’t skimp on the paperwork; have an attorney draft the documents you need to protect your business and your personal assets
    • Plan personal time together when work is “off-limits”. Vacations, regular date nights, a business cut-off time—all of these can be helpful in setting boundaries and preserving the romance
    • Hope for the best, but plan for the worst: have your attorney help you draft a buy-sell agreement in the event that one (or both) of you someday wants to gracefully step down

    Being in business with your spouse can be paradise or perdition, and at times it will probably be a little of both. Each family—and each family business—will be different, and our office can help you navigate the tough legal terrain to find the best fit. Being prepared and taking the right legal steps will bring paradise a little closer by allowing you to relax and enjoy what you and your spouse have built together. Whatever your arrangement, don’t neglect the future. In business, having a good plan is the best protection there is.