Business owners tend to spend a lot of time on their business. They dig deep and make sure they have a strong business foundation. If they don't have children, their business becomes like a child (and even if they do have children, the business is often treated like another child). But, one of the main areas that entrepreneurs forget to address is their estate plan (documents like a will or a trust, a financial power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and a HIPAA authorization). They engage in lots of business planning but never seem to get around to their personal planning. When you talk to them, it's often a matter of "time" - they don't have enough time to get it all done. But, it doesn't have to be an overly time-intensive experience. And if you've got a strong team around you, they can help make the process quick and easy.
Documents In Your Estate Plan
Like a snowflake, each person's estate plan is unique. You want to make sure your planning documents reflect your wishes and desires. The documents that you'll commonly need for a business owner's estate plan are,
- Your will or trust is important to make sure that whatever happens to you if you were to die that all of your assets go to the right place. Especially if you have a business interest, and you want to make sure it goes to the right member of your family. For example, you want one of your sons and not the other to be the one running it. You want to make sure your will's in place and has proper provisions for that.
- There's also a financial power of attorney that can be important. What if you're running the business and you're in a car accident and unable to speak for yourself. There's a likelihood you'll recover but someone needs to run the business in the meantime. That financial power of attorney will allow that person to conduct the affairs of your business until you get back on your feet.
- A healthcare power of attorney similarly allows a loved one to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
Planning Meeting with Your Team
If you're running a business, you know the importance of having a strong TEAM (Trusted Experts, Advisors, and Mentors) around you to help you grow. Those team members also play an important role in your estate planning. Make sure to meet with your financial advisor yearly. Whether on the personal side or the business side, your financial advisor will be able to help you make sure you're moving forward towards your financial goals. Just like going to the dentist, a financial advisor doesn't help if you just go once and then don't go back for a decade.
I also encourage you to meet with your accountant and take advantage of all the options that they offer to you. Some accountants are very hands-on and will even offer bookkeeping services, others will hopefully at least reach out and discuss with you where your business is going and see if we have to make any accounting changes on a yearly basis.
In the end, your business can leave a great legacy for your family, so you don't want to neglect any planning on the personal side for your family's sake. We want to make sure that we leave the business and strong hands, and that your family gets the full benefit of your business legacy.
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If it's time to create an estate plan for you, or if you've got one that you'd like to review or update, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session and discuss the best options for you.