Dying can be a costly and time consuming exercise, particularly if there is no plan in place. Creditors, financial institutions, and other interested parties must be notified; funeral and burial arrangements must be carried out; debts must be addressed; taxes must be paid; tangible and intangible assets must be protected and eventually transferred to beneficiaries; and the decedent’s overall wishes must be carried out. There is quite a lot to do.
Proper estate planning identifies all of the “hurdles” that may arise post-death, and minimizes their affect. For example, if it is determined that substantially all of the client’s assets would be subject to lengthy and costly probate proceedings at death, the estate planning attorney may utilize various “trusts” and other planning techniques to eliminate the need for probate court at death. In addition, the estate planning attorney may devise plans empowering the client’s trusted family members to “seamlessly” retained control of and continue the operation of unique client assets – like businesses, farming operations, or even “legacy property” (like the family cabin).
Planning to keep a family business viable, and in the family, after the founder of the business has retired, become disabled, or died, is a significant challenge. Less than half of family businesses survive to the second generation, and less than a third survives to the third generation. The absence of planning is often the cause of these failures. Succession planning, including buy-sell agreements, key man insurance, and shareholder agreements is essential to protect your business, and provide for your family, after you are gone.
Understanding just what needs to be done for a particular client requires experience and knowledge of the various tools and techniques available. Equally important is a complete understanding of the particular client. Each client is different. Consequently, no one technique works for all clients.