An Estate Plan Is a Succession Plan Is a Retirement Plan


In a recent LawBiz® Tip we discussed the necessity for every solo and small firm lawyer to have an estate plan that provides for financial security after leaving practice. However, structuring insurance, preparing a will, structuring your tax liability and designating a practice conservator – all essential elements of a law practice estate plan – are just part of a planning continuum that you need to undertake in anticipation of your "second season" as well as unexpected demise.

The next related element is a succession plan. If the practice is not sold, the best succession alternative is grooming a successor brought on board as an associate or a lateral partner. Ideally this succession plan can be structured to transition over a period of up to five years as client responsibilities gradually transition to the new lawyer. During this period, there can be ongoing conversations with key clients about the upcoming transition, an opportunity to forge new ties between the successor and both current and new contacts at the client, and sufficient planning to ensure that the new lawyer is completely up to speed on what the client needs and expects. Preparing for this kind of smooth transition can ease problems over the issues of valuation and payment of goodwill when the time comes to turn the practice over to a successor.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ed Poll, LawBiz | Attorney Advertising

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