Twin Cities Startup Week 2021I've always enjoyed meeting new people at conferences as much as attending the sessions and learning from the presenters (no offense to the presenters). Last week was Twin Cities Startup Week (#TCSW21) and there were lots of great panels and events around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. No matter what industry you work in, there were sessions that you could use to learn either about your industry or about how other industries do things. Being in the legal industry, most of the sessions related to legal were more focused on non-lawyers looking to start their businesses. Since it's not a legal conference, I found it enjoyable to learn more about other industries, and in meeting some fellow attendees, I also got to hear about some of the legal issues that they are confronting.

One common thread throughout was that many of the folks I talked to didn't have estate planning on their list of things to get done for their business. For most of them, it just wasn't on their radar, and that's understandable. But in speaking to other attendees, there were some common estate planning issues that should be on the minds of small business founders.

Get a Comprehensive Estate Plan

As I discussed last week, it's important for business founders to have powers of attorney in place for both their business and their healthcare decisions. Beyond those basic documents, it's also important to have a full estate plan in place as well. Especially if you have a family at home, you want to make sure your personal legacy is protected and they are taken care of.

One of the most common objections I heard was that it takes too much time and money to even get an estate plan started. Frankly, you can get your powers of attorney done in minutes if need be. And don't forget about the power of beneficiary designations and transfer on death deeds as key tools to your estate plan. Even if you don't have the time to do a full will or trust at this moment, you can often spend a few minutes at least making sure your documents and beneficiaries are up to date in case they are needed.

An Estate Plan Should Include Business Succession Planning

The interplay between your estate plan and your business is most easily seen when you are working on a business succession plan. Much like your estate plan, your business succession plan is a roadmap for your business after you are gone. The key difference is that you don't have to die for your business succession plan to begin working. Especially if you are considering selling your business or retiring, then having a plan in place is an important step to make sure your business' legacy is protected once you are no longer there.

There were a few panels I attended throughout the week that touched on the importance of business succession planning. At times, the jargon was a bit dense for someone without a law or business degree to understand. But just like your estate plan, you need to understand the language in your business succession plan and how it works, and what will happen when you are gone from your business.

Estate planning doesn't make for as interesting a panel as venture capital financing or the social hours throughout the week. But if you are starting your business, don't neglect to make sure you are planning for yourself as much as you are planning for your business.

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Next Steps

It was another successful conference and if you're ready to take the next step and get your estate plan and business succession plan in place, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session to discuss the next best steps for you.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.
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