Retirement Planning for Business Owners

For many employees, saving for retirement is usually a matter of simply participating in their employer’s 401(k) plan and perhaps opening an IRA for some extra savings.

But, when you’re the owner of a business, planning for retirement requires proactivity and strategy. It’s not just the dizzying array of choices for retirement accounts, there’s also planning for the business itself. Who will run the business after your retirement? Additionally, your estate plan must integrate into your retirement and business transition strategy.

Owners of businesses (like employees and everyone else) want to make sure they will have enough money in retirement. Business owners recognize the value of their businesses, so they are often tempted to reinvest everything into the enterprise, thinking that will be their “retirement plan.” However, this might be a mistake.

Retirement Accounts for Business Owners

Rather than placing all your eggs in one basket, it makes sense to have some “backup” strategies in place. There are many retirement account options open to business owners. Although the number of options can make things confusing, a tax and financial professional can often quickly make a recommendation for you.

For example, you may consider opening a 401(k), SEP-IRA, SIMPLE, or pension plan. This can reduce your income taxes now, while simultaneously placing some of your wealth outside your business. From a financial perspective, these account are tax-deferred, so the investment growth avoids taxation until you retire, which greatly boosts returns. The “best” plan really depends on how much income your business earns, how stable your earnings are, how many employees you have, and how generous you want to be with those employees. You must consider how generous you’ll be with employees because the law requires most tax-deferred plans to be “fair” to all employees. For example, you can’t open a pension or 401(k) for yourself only and exclude all of your full-time employees. When making this decision, consider that many employees value being able to save for their retirement and your generosity may be repaid with harder work and loyalty from the employees.

Depending on how many employees you have, you may even consider “self-directed” investment options, which can allow you to invest some or all of your retirement funds into “alternative” investments, such as precious metals, private lending arrangements, real estate, other closely held businesses, etc. These self-directed accounts are not for everyone, but for the right person, they open up a wide world of investment opportunities. The tax rules surrounding self-directed tax-deferred accounts are very complex and penalties can be incredibly high. So, if you choose to do self-directed investments, always work with a qualified tax advisor.

Outside of your business, you can likely contribute to an IRA or a Roth IRA. This can allow you to add more money to your retirement basket, especially if you’ve maximized your 401(k), SEP, or SIMPLE plan. Like the other tax-deferred accounts, self-directed IRAs are also an option, opening up a broad world of investment options.

As a business owner, you likely have a great deal of control over your health insurance decisions. If you’re relatively young and healthy or otherwise an infrequent user of health care services, consider using a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health savings account (HSA) to add additional money to your savings. These plans let you set aside money in the HSA which can be invested in a manner similar to IRAs. At any time after you setup the account, you can withdraw your contributions and earnings, tax-free, to pay for qualified medical expenses. And, after you turn 65, the money can be used for whatever purpose you want, although income tax will need to be paid on the distributions.

Selling or Transferring the Business

Many business owners dream of a financially lucrative “exit” when a business is sold, taken public, or otherwise transferred at a significant profit for the owner. This does not happen by accident – a business owner must first create and sustain a profitable enterprise that can be sold. Then, legal and tax strategies must be coordinated to minimize the burdensome hit of taxes and avoid the common legal risks that can happen when businesses are sold. When a business is sold, the net proceeds can form a significant component of the owner’s retirement. When supplemented by one or more of the retirement accounts discussed above, this can be a great outcome for a business owner.

On the other hand, other businesses are “family” businesses where children or grandchildren will one day become owners. Like their counterparts who will sell their businesses, these business owners must also focus on creating and sustaining a profitable enterprise, but the source of retirement money is a little less clear. In these cases, clearly thinking through the transition plan to the next generation is essential. Although the business can be given to the next generation through a trust or outright, there are also transition options to allow for children, grandchildren, or even employees to gradually buy-out the owner, if the owner needs or wants to obtain a portion of the retirement nest egg from the business.

The Importance of Estate Planning

Regardless of which retirement accounts (401(k), SEP, SIMPLE, IRAs, HSAs) you select, it is wise to integrate them into your estate planning. You’ve probably already considered who you want to take over your business after you retire (perhaps a son or daughter or a sale to a third party). For your retirement accounts, an IRA trust is a special trust designed to maximize the financial benefit, minimize the income tax burden, and provide robust asset protection for your family. These trusts integrate with the rest of your comprehensive estate plan to fully protect your family, provide privacy, all while minimizing taxes and costs.

Leverage the Team Approach

Let us work with you, your business advisors or consultants, your tax advisor, and your financial advisor to develop a comprehensive retirement, business transition, and estate planning strategy. When we work collaboratively, we can focus on setting aside assets for retirement, saving as much tax possible, while freeing you to do what you do best – build your business!

Give us a call today so we can help you craft a retirement, business transition, and estate planning strategy.

Passing Along a Benefit, Not a Burden (Why Incapacity Planning for Business Owners is an Indispensable Component of Your Plan)

Most business owners have their estate planning prepared because they are worried about what will happen to their business after they are dead.  However, proper estate planning has the added benefit of allowing you to make plans for what will happen if you are incapacitated or needing to be away from your business for an extended period of time.

As the owner, you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of your business.  This is a full-time responsibility.  But what will happen if you can’t be there all the time?  You don’t necessarily have to be in a coma to be unable to participate in your business.  You could be on an extended vacation or have a medical diagnosis that requires you to take several months away for treatment or recovery.  During this time, your business needs to continue on so that you and your employees can continue to take home money.

It is important to think ahead about who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations because a ship without a captain can be dangerous.  Not only does this individual need to understand the business, he or she needs to have the respect of your employees, and be confident in making tough decisions in your absence.  Without this planning, everyone could jump to the conclusion that he or she is in charge, or alternatively, no one will step up, resulting in chaos either way.

If you have family members working in your business it is also important to explain to them what will happen in your absence and who will be in charge so that someone does not assume they are in charge just because they are family.  Importantly, remember that just because your family is involved with your business does not mean that he or she is the best choice to succeed you. 

We can help you develop a plan to keep your business running while you are away.  From choosing the right individual to putting processes in place for your incapacity, we are here to help.

Rewarding Your Employees By Giving Them the Business

Retiring from your business can a tough decision.  To ensure that what you have built continues on, there needs to be a plan for succession.  For some people, they have spent years grooming a child or other family member to take over, wanting the business to stay in the family.  Others look to sell to a third party for a quick way out that will also give them a nest egg for their next phase of life.  However, there is a third option–transferring the business to your employees.  If you like the idea of transferring your business to long-time faithful employees who have contributed greatly to the company’s success over the years, below are a couple of options for you to consider.

Management Buyout

This type of transfer is a process, not an event.  The management team comes together with the financing and arranges a deal with you to buy the assets and operations of the business.  A management buyout has the benefit of being quicker and more confidential than a third party transaction, and the structure of the deal can be more flexible.  There is also the added benefit that the legacy of the company will continue in the hands of those in management who have earned the opportunity to buy the business with his or her loyalty and hard work.

With this option, you may also be able to provide some continued service to the company as an officer and/or director.  In addition, you may even be able to continue in some part of the business that you enjoy.  And you may be able to keep some control over the company.

When considering this option, it is important that you consider the following:

  • How much cash, debt, and earn-out will be involved?
  • When will the transfer of control occur?
  • If management has little or no capital, where will they get the money for the buyout?

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

An ESOP is a qualified plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  Instead of selling directly to management, you are making the sale to the ESOP, which has been set up by the company.  The ESOP can either attempt to get bank financing to purchase the stock from you, or you can take a note for the value of your shares and have the repayment taken care of internally.  The employees become plan participants, similar to other employee incentive programs and are entitled to benefits at certain points as determined by the terms of the ESOP. 

This option is similar to a management buyout, but with potentially valuable tax benefits.  With an ESOP, you are selling stock in the company, not the assets, so the taxes are capital gains, not ordinary income taxes.  Because of this distinction, there are planning techniques available that may help save on taxes with this transaction.

When reviewing this option, there are a few things to consider:

  • In order to repay the note, most (if not all) of the excess cash flow from the business may be needed, instead of using it to grow the company;
  • The company must set aside money to meet repurchase obligations on the ESOP when an employee retires, dies, becomes incapacitated or terminates his or her employment after vesting;
  • Stock in an ESOP is allocated based on payroll, so there are no extra management incentives.

Both management buyout and ESOPs are options that should be considered if you are looking to transfer your business to your employees.  However, we are here to help you.  Give us a call, we would be happy to discuss these options more and find a solution that best protects you and your legacy.

Joint Tenancy Pitfalls: The ‘Simple’ Fix that Can Leave Your Family Broke

There are many ways to own your assets. When you die, it is only natural that you want your family to share in the bounty of your hard work. As a way to simplify the transfer process and avoid probate, you may be tempted to add a child or other relative to the deed or bank account utilizing the ownership type of joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTwROS).  However, while this type of ownership delivers a lot of potential benefits, it may also be masking some dangerous pitfalls.

Under JTwROS, when one owner dies, the other owner(s) inherit the deceased owner’s share of the property proportionately. Its benefits are specific: ownership is transferred automatically without entering probate. Because the property is transferred outside of probate, it is possible to keep this inheritance out of the clutches of creditors of your estate.   On the surface, this seems like a smart way to streamline the inheritance process, sidestep creditor baggage, and bureaucratic charges. But the risks may outweigh the benefits.

You May Pay the Price

One of the main problems with JTwROS is that when you enter into this kind of agreement, you open yourself up to additional liability. When you agree to a JTwROS, you put your assets on the hook for the other owners’ creditors, ex-spouses and flights of fancy.

Another problem with JTwROS, as it relates to real estate, is that there are now multiple owners of the property. You must now get the approval of the other owners if you would like to mortgage, refinance, transfer, or sell the property. It does not matter if you are the only one who is occupying the property or paying the expenses, by adding additional people as owners, you are giving away control.

With respect to any bank accounts, once you add an additional owner, that individual, as an owner, has the right to go to the bank and withdraw whatever money is in the account. The bank is merely going to make sure that the individual is listed on the account and will freely turn over your money to him or her. If a joint owner’s creditor serves the bank with a garnishment order, they can also seize the money in the account, even if the joint owner was only added to help avoid probate.

Disinheriting Loved Ones

While JTwROS can have some impacts on you, it can also disrupt your estate plans because instead of property getting handed down, it’s handed over. For example, if someone with children remarries and a new spouse is added to the deed as a joint tenant, that new spouse will inherit the property, not the kids or grandkids. Because there’s a new spouse involved, the new spouse’s family will then be the ones to inherit upon his or her death, leaving the whole ‘branch’ of the original family may be disinherited—and not always intentionally!

Questions? Give Us a Call

Although there are some advantages to a JTwROS, don’t let simplicity or speed be your only measures. Give us a call so we can discussing all of your options and tailor a solution that will best fit your needs.

The Perils of Joint Property

People often set up bank accounts or real estate so that they own it jointly with a spouse or other family member. The appeal of joint tenancy is that when one owner dies, the other will automatically inherit the property without it having to go through probate. Joint property is all perceived to be easy to setup since it can be done at the bank when opening an account or title company when buying real estate.

That’s all well and good, but joint ownership can also cause unintended consequences and complications. And it’s worth considering some of these, before deciding that joint ownership is the best way to pass on assets to your heirs.

So let’s explore some of the common problems that can arise.

The other owner’s debts become your problem.

Any debt or obligation incurred by the other owner could affect you. If the joint owner files bankruptcy, has a tax lien, or has a judgment against them, it could cause you to end up with a new co-owner – your old co-owner’s creditors! For example, if you add your adult child to the deed on your home, and he has debt you don’t know about, your property could be seized to collect that debt. Although “your” equity of the property won’t necessarily be taken, that’s little relief when the house you live in is put up on the auction block!

Your property could end up belonging to someone you don’t intend.

Some of the most difficult situations come from blended families. If you own your property jointly with your spouse and you die, your spouse gets the property. On the surface, that may seem like what you intended, but what if your surviving spouse remarries? Your home could become shared between your spouse and her second spouse. And this gets especially complicated if there are children involved: Your property could conceivably go to children of the second marriage, rather than to your own. 

You could accidentally disinherit family members.

If you designate someone as a joint owner and you die, you can’t control what she does with your property after your death. Perhaps you and an adult child co-owned a business. You may state in your will that the business should be equally shared with your spouse or divided between all of your kids; however, ownership goes to the survivor – regardless of what you put in your will.     

You could have difficulty selling or refinancing your home.

All joint owners must sign off on a property sale. Depending on whether the other joint owners agree, you could end up at a standstill from the sales perspective. That is unless you’re willing to take the joint owner to court to force a sale of the property. (No one wants to sue their family members, not to mention the cost of the lawsuit.)

And what if your co-owner somehow becomes incapacitated, through accident or illness? In that case, you may have to petition a court to appoint a guardian or conservator to represent the co-owner’s interest in the sale. While you and your co-owner always worked together, an appointed guardian may see his responsibility as protecting the other owner’s interest–which might mean going against you.

You might trigger unnecessary capital gains taxes.

When you sell a home for more than you paid for it, you usually pay capital gains taxes–based on the increase in value. Therefore, if you make an adult child a co-owner of your property, and you sell the property, you’re both responsible for the taxes. Your adult child may not be able to afford a tax bill based on decades of appreciation.

On the other hand, heirs only pay capital gains taxes based on the increase in value from when they inherited the asset, not from the day you first acquired it. So often, while people worry about estate taxes, in this case–inheriting a property (rather than jointly owning it) could save your heirs a fortune in income tax. And with today’s generous $5.49 million estate tax exemption, most of us don’t have to worry about the estate tax (but the income tax and capital gains tax hits almost everyone).

You could cause your unmarried partner to have to pay a gift tax.

If you buy property and place it in joint tenancy with an unmarried partner, the IRS will consider that to be a taxable gift to your partner. This can create needless paperwork and taxes.

So what can you do? These decisions are too important and complex to be left to chance. Consult a law firm that specializes in estate planning. A good lawyer will help you decide the best way to manage your property to meet your needs and goals.

Our team can assist you in planning to reduce estate taxes, avoid potential legal pitfalls, and set up a trust to protect your loved ones. We understand not only the legal issues but the complex layers of relationships involved in estate planning. We’ll listen to your concerns and help you develop a plan that gives you peace of mind while achieving all of your goals you have for your family. Contact us today for a consultation.

Steps For Starting the End-of-Life Conversation

No one wants to discuss death and dying. And yet, it’s a critical time in everyone’s life and one for which we know we need to prepare. While many people have the desire to share their wishes, something is preventing people from openly communicating with their families.

As an important part of estate planning, healthcare decisions need to be talked about. This helps preserve your legacy and provide peace of mind for your loved ones. You can rest easy knowing that if they need to act, they are carrying out your end-of-life wishes as you would want.

If you’ve been dreading having this talk with your own parents, children or other family members, there are a number of steps you can consider.

Just Ask

Before launching into this tough conversation, it’s not a bad idea to pose the question “when?”  Ask your loved one when they might have time to discuss your estate planning and healthcare decisions. By introducing the topic in this matter, no one is caught off guard and it can help everyone to reflect on what they really want to communicate before sitting down.

Aim for Clarity

Do whatever you can to help make these conversations clear. Write out a list of major points you want to make ahead of time. Be prepared that your family may come with questions they want to ask about—inclusion of family members in the decision-making process, preferences for memorials, etc.. Simplicity and clarity can help neutralize the feelings of anxiety that everyone may be having and help everyone walk away from the conversation with the peace of mind they were hoping for.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

This is a tough one. Likely no one really wants to talk about it, or would rather talk about something else. But you’ve got to get through it. So even though the conversation will no doubt be rife with opportunity to reflect, remember and opine, try to stay on task. You want to make sure that everyone walks away from the conversation with a better understanding than when it began.

Keep the Conversation Going

While it may feel like a one-time conversation because it’s emotional, or hard to have if your loved one lives far away, remember that it’s not a one-time deal. You are simply opening the lines of conversation, not setting anything in stone. Remembering this will help empower everyone to be open.

Need Assistance? Give Us a Call

Talking about your end of life decisions can be hard, but it is an essential part of estate planning.  If you have any further questions about how to have these conversations or would like us to help facilitate this discussion, please feel free to contact us.  We are here to help!

One Call You Must Make After You Buy a Home (That You’ve Probably Forgotten)

During the home buying process, you worked with a lot of individuals: your realtor, the seller’s realtor, the title company, the loan officer, and the home inspector.  Now that you have finalized the purchase of your house, there is one more expert you need to call: your estate planning attorney.

Aligning Your Ownership with Existing Estate Planning

First, your attorney can help you review the new documents associated with your home purchase in conjunction with your existing estate plan to ensure that everything aligns and works towards your overall estate planning objectives. If your existing estate plans include a trust that owns all of your assets, it is crucial that your new home is titled in the name of the trust and not in your name individually (or jointly if married).

General Review/Update of Your Estate Plan

Since you have engaged in a new life changing event, now is the perfect time to review your existing plan. This is a great opportunity to make sure that the individuals you have appointed in the crucial roles of guardian, executor, agent, or trustee are still able to carry out those duties when the need arises. With the passage of time, these individuals may have moved away, died, or otherwise undergone a life change themselves that makes them a less than desirable candidate to act on your behalf.

While you are reviewing your estate plans, it is also important that you review the dispositive language.  Do you still want to have your assets divided the same way? Have the needs of your beneficiaries changed over the years? To ensure that you are protecting and providing for your beneficiaries, you need to make sure that the provisions are set up for the best individualized protection.

Lastly, if the purchase of your new home is in a different state, you will definitely want to visit an estate planning attorney.  By changing states, the documents you previously have prepared may not adequately protect you and your family.  Each state has unique laws regarding trusts and estates, you will need to make sure that any documents you are currently relying on are enforceable in your new state. Unenforceable or not-optimized documents can be just as bad as having no estate planning documents at all.

Give us a call.

Buying a new home is a great new adventure.  Give us a call so we can make sure that you are embarking on this new chapter in your life fully protected.

 

The Biggest Threats to Successful Estate Planning

Poor estate planning is a recipe for disaster. Look no further than Dickens’ Bleak House—or a telenovela—to witness the tragedy and melodrama inadequate estate planning can cause. While having your estate planning documents prepared is the first hurdle to overcoming these types of disasters, there are several threats that lurk around the corner that might derail your wishes.

Family Conflict

According to a TF Wealth survey of over 100 estate planning professionals, family conflict is the number one risk to a peaceful inheritance. If children are treated differently under the estate plan, there is often an assumption that a mistake was made in drafting the documents or that someone has exerted undue influence on the parent. While this may not be the case, without any guidance from you, family members can begin to think the worst of each other.

 

Sloppy or No Estate Planning

If you have not done any estate planning or if what you have done is ineffective, your estate will be subject to your state’s intestate laws. These laws predetermine who will inherit your assets and in what proportion. While these statutory schemes might work for some people, they will have adverse consequences for those who have been married multiple times, have children from prior relationships, or children who need additional asset protection. If you haven’t done any estate planning, you’re simply leaving your inheritance and your legacy in the hands of the government.

In order to ensure that your wishes are being carried out and safe from the ever present dangers, it is important that you know what a successful estate plan looks like.

No (or Little) Family Conflict

The goal here is for there to be no surprises. If you are choosing to treat children or other family members differently, be open and honest about it. It may be helpful to have a conversation about your wishes prior to your death so that those individuals understand why you have made those decisions. Even if you choose to not have such a conversation, it’s important to discuss your plan and reasons with your attorney, so that the plan can be drafted to carry out your wishes.

Eliminate (or Minimize) Costs and Taxes

Watching inheritance get whittled away by taxes and fees will only lead to frustration and hard feelings. When preparing your estate plan, your intent is to benefit your loved ones, not the government. Working with a qualified estate planning attorney can help ensure that your assets are being handled in such a way that the administrative costs of your passing and any income or estate tax are minimized or avoided.

A Chosen Representative

It is possible that, later in life, you may not be able to handle all of your affairs yourself and may require some assistance from a loved one, whether it be with your finances or healthcare. Look for someone you trust who understands you and your desires. Don’t necessarily rely on someone just because they are the most convenient. And, don’t rely on hope that everyone will know who you want to be in charge. You must ensure that you’ve granted proper authority using a power of attorney, a trust, and a will.

Ensure that Everyone Gets What You Want

Your assets may be, or may in some way, represent your legacy. Do some real soul-searching about how and what you want to share this with your family and friends. To ensure that your legacy is passed on in a meaningful way, consider including an explanation as to why someone is receiving a particular inheritance. If you have wishes as to how they use a gift of money, he or she may appreciate hearing the hopes and dreams you have for them and their future even though you are no longer with them.

Documents Are Up-to-Date

Life can change quickly. It is important that you review your estate planning documents with each life change (i.e. birth or death of a family member, purchase or sale of a major asset, change in health, etc.). It is also important that we stay in touch. Contact us when these major life changes occur and we will contact you when there are changes in the law. This will help ensure that your documents stay effective and your wishes are carried out.

So do the groundwork that a little planning requires. And leave the melodrama for entertainment. Give us a call today. We’re here to help.

3 Tips For Every New Homeowner

Congratulations on the purchase of your new home.  Whether this is your first home or an upgrade/downsize, the purchasing of a home is a big event in your life.  When these major life changes occur, it is important that you are properly prepared. Below are a few things for you to consider now that you finally have the keys to your new home!

  1.  Update Your Address

Now that you are in your new home, it is very important that you update your address with the appropriate entities.  Your local United States Postal Office will have a form you can fill out. If you cannot make it into the post office, you can also update this information on their website.  This will assist them in forwarding your mail to you. 

To ensure that you don’t miss any important tax notices or refunds, you will also want to update this information with the Internal Revenue Service, using Form 8822, and your local state tax agency.

    2.  Make Sure Your House Title Coordinates With Your Estate Plan

While it is still fresh in your mind, reference your new deed to see how the property is titled.  Then, you will want to reference your estate planning documents to make sure that your property has been titled properly to achieve your estate planning goals.

For example, if your previous plan had a specific provision distributing your old property, you will want to make sure that you update this provision since you no longer own the previous property. On the other hand, if this is your first home and your estate plan includes a trust to avoid probate, you will need to make sure that your home was titled in the name of the trust and not in your name individually

    3. Check Your Life Insurance Coverage and Beneficiary Designations

Unless you were fortunate enough to pay cash for your new home, chances are you now have a large monthly mortgage expense. In order to protect your loved ones, it is important that you check your life insurance coverage. Should you die before paying off the mortgage, it is a good idea that you have enough life insurance to meet that obligation should you have a surviving spouse or children that will likely continue to reside in the home. Even if they choose to not remain in the home, the life insurance can provide valuable assets during what is usually an emotionally difficult time.

This is also a great opportunity to double check your beneficiary designations. Life changes happen so quickly that sometimes this can be overlooked.  If your designations do not match up with the rest of your estate plan, you may end up inadvertently disinheriting a family member or having the money fall directly into the hands of an individual without any guidance.

Lastly, now that you have a home and homeowner’s insurance, call your insurance agent to make sure that you are getting all of the discounts that you are entitled to.  Many insurance companies will offer discounts when you bundle services.  If you already have car insurance through a carrier and use the same company for your homeowner’s insurance, you may be entitled to a better rate that if you had both policies separately. In addition, homeowners often get discounts that renters don’t.

We’re Here to Help

Buying a new home is a big step and we are here to help.  Give us a call and we can help make sure that your new purchase and estate planning are working together to carry out your goals.

Finding the Right Fit: Questions For Prospective Wills and Trusts Attorneys

It goes without saying that estate planning is incredibly important and is more than just having a will or a trust. Estate planning offers a sense of security for you and your loved ones that your wishes will be carried out. With such an important and personal endeavor, selecting the right Wills and Trusts Attorney is crucial.

Doing your homework, familiarizing yourself with the options and asking questions will be critical to getting someone who’s actively looking out for your interests.

There are several key factors you should consider when interviewing potential attorneys and ultimately deciding which one to hire. 

Funding a Trust

Will your estate planner help with funding your trust (or otherwise aligning asset ownership with your plan)? How much of the funding process with they do for you?

For some clients, this can be a critical service due to the complexity of assets he or she may own that need to be accounted for. Having someone thorough and reliable in this part of the process will make it easier to ensure the estate planning is completed properly.

Organization and Payment

What does your estate planning process look like? How long will it take until the entire process is complete? When is payment due and how do I pay?

These questions may seem simple, but, not unlike when you pay for home repairs, it’s important to have an idea of the end date of the process. It is also important to know when you are expected to provide information and payment so that you are not the cause of any delays. Additionally, you never want surprises when it comes to payment amounts or dates. It is common to put down a retainer or deposit with an attorney, but it’s always important to know ahead of time.

Long-term Access

What long-term plans do you have for your firm? Will you or another attorney in your firm be around to help me in the future?

Creating a will or trust isn’t a one-and-done process. Wills and trusts are frequently revisited over the years because of changes in your circumstances and in the law. If at all possible, it’s best to have the same attorneys working with you. Although you can switch attorneys or firms each time you need an update, attorneys with plans to continue to offer services into the future can be a safer bet to ensuring continuity in your estate planning.

Planning for the Future

Can you help my family members if I become sick or when I die? Just because an attorney prepares estate planning documents, does not mean that they will help with estate or trust administration. Having the attorney who prepared your estate planning documents assist your family during times of incapacity or at your death can be extremely helpful. Since he or she is already aware of your wishes and will have a copy of your documents, addressing these difficult situations can be quicker and involve less hassle.

Have Questions? Let Us Answer Them

There’s no reason to get overwhelmed by the choice of a wills and trusts attorney. Asking just a few simple, but critical, questions can help you find someone who’s on the same page. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.  We would be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have.