By Bernard Freeman
Organizing your estate can be overwhelming without the help of an expert. With the assistance of an estate planning attorney, you can discuss your vision for your assets before death. Don’t risk creating a plan that doesn’t specify your decisions to the exact details.
When searching for a specialized attorney, it’s important to chat with a few different experts in your area. Make sure you feel comfortable in their office as the discussions of finances and final wishes can be intimate. Once you find several attorneys to interview for the role, here are some questions you should ask before deciding.
Is Estate Planning Their Main Focus?
Many general attorneys will advertise that estate planning is a part of their practice. They can be a great help when creating legal documents like a will, health care directives and power of attorney. However, if your financial situation is more complicated, a dedicated estate planning lawyer will have better knowledge of the ever-changing laws and how to protect your legacy.
You should also know how long they have been in practice. Someone who has extensive experience in the industry has likely discovered flaws in previous cases and has learned how to correct them. Ensuring your final wishes are in good hands is great peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.
Do They Regularly Update Plans?
To stay on top of your estate, find an attorney who offers an updating and maintenance program. The service may cost more, but they will contact you throughout the year and discuss new techniques, life-changing events which may impact your plans and alterations to laws.
Working with a lawyer who stays in contact with you about your estate plan ensures your documents will be up to date when it’s needed.
How do They Charge?
Estate planning is necessary to prepare your family before your death. Ask about the fees the attorney charges. During the interview, find out if he charges a fixed rate or hourly. You don’t want to be surprised with unexpected fees.
Make a Succession Plan
If you own your own business, you know the importance of planning. One aspect many avoid is creating a succession plan in case of death. Building a detailed report of what is expected provides a way for your vision to continue.
When preparing these documents, hiring the services of an estate attorney is helpful. Their expertise can streamline the process of creating the plan and see to it that your wishes are carried out. Don’t risk the future of your business and family by failing to create a solid succession plan.
The death or disability of a business owner can destroy a company without a detailed buy-sell agreement in place. According to the American Management Association, your agreement should cover the following terms:
- Who buys or sells;
- Under what conditions is the business transferred;
- The price and terms; and
- How the transaction is funded.
Make sure to spend ample time deciding the best avenues and strategies when handing over the business to capable hands.
Involve an Expert
A good way to ensure all the bases are covered is by hiring a succession plan consultant. Be honest about your role and importance to the business so they can help find a successor who shares the same goals and talent to keep your company afloat.
There will also be the issue of funding. If you’re a major contributor to supplying financial resources, you will need a plan in place to ensure the funds are still available. Inquire about a life insurance policy that will protect your business and the employees and families who rely on it.
Involve Your Family
Talk with your family and loved ones about their vision for the future of the business. The right succession plan will depend on their decision to continue the business or plan an exit strategy by selling.
While your succession plan should have key players in place in case of an emergency, don’t forget to include the younger generation for future planning. Approaching the youth in your family about having a role in the business is a great way to teach them responsibility and get a head start on learning the ins and outs of your company.