Take This Business Succession Planning Quiz to Learn Whether or Not You Are Prepared for the Future

business succession planning NJUnfortunately, far too many individuals avoid the process of business succession planning, figuring that they will deal with it at some point in the future. Unfortunately, as many business owners can attest, there are numerous reasons why someone may need to depart a business suddenly. These include disability, death, retirement and other issues. Without having an appropriate business succession plan in place, the business may continue to struggle significantly.

Answer these questions below to learn whether or not your company is appropriately prepared for business succession planning. If you find yourself answering no to the majority of these questions, realize that you are not alone and that you could benefit from a meeting with a business succession planning attorney. Getting things organized now and initiating these processes can help your business significantly and give you a great deal of peace of mind about the future.

  • Do you already have an identified successor for all of the key roles in your business?
  • Have you defined the vision and the personal goals you have associated with transferring management and ownership of the company?
  • Are there any family issues that could impede potential ownership and leadership decisions?
  • Does your business succession plan also take into account key estate planning issues such as minimizing estate taxes?
  • Do you have appropriate liquidity in the business in order to avoid a forced sale?
  • Is there a contingency plan in case an existing business owner becomes unable to work sooner than anticipated?
  • Is a buy-sell agreement already developed for transferring assets?
  • Have you figured out yet whether or not you or any other individual is depending on the sale of the business to meet cash flow needs in retirement?
  • Have you already had a business valuation conducted and viewed your company in the same way that a potential buyer would?

If you have not engaged in this process yet, it is not too late. Consult with a business succession planning attorney to learn more.


Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning 101

Even if you have not yet completed these documents, you probably have heard the terms “will” and “power of attorney” before. From that point, however, a lot of people fall for some common myths about these critical estate planning documents. Get the details on what you really need to know below.

First of all, a last will and testament is not the same thing as a living will. Your last will and testament is your official declaration of how you want your assets distributed when you pass away. If you do not have a last will and testament, then the state of Mississippi determines what happens to your property. Your living will, however, is the document outlining who you want to make decisions about your healthcare in the event that you are unable to do so. The biggest reason why people choose to have a living will is because they want to define what measures should be taken if their condition appears terminal. Your living will can share your wishes regarding the duration of and the level of care you’d receive in a situation like this. attorney (1)

Likewise, all powers of attorney are not one and the same. A power of attorney allows you to name someone else authorized to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Your power of attorney could be temporary or limited, meaning that only circumstances trigger this individual being allowed to make decisions for you. A durable power of attorney, however, allows you to appoint another individual to represent you until death. Finally, your healthcare power of attorney is a different document altogether in which you name someone to make decisions regarding your health needs.

These might seem like small differences, but they are not. You need to be well-informed about your estate planning in order to have the documents that will help support your wishes should the need arise.

Estate Planning is Valuable for All Ages

Too many people make the mistake of assuming that you only need estate planning after you have accumulated significant resources or when you have children. Everyone at all ages, however, can benefit from estate planning. This is true even for single individuals and unmarried couples.

Estate planning is about more than putting together your will to distribute property after you pass away. In fact, some of the most challenging situations that pose legal issues are those that happen while you’re still alive. For example, do you have a plan for who can make financial or legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated? While no one expects these scenarios to happen, one car accident or long-term care event could render you unable to make these decisions for yourself, even temporarily. estate planning NJ

Without proper planning, you put your family members and loved ones in a difficult situation. A loved one who is not legally allowed to visit with you in the hospital, for example, may struggle with unnecessary frustration if something were to happen to you. Thankfully, there are documents that can help to address all of these concerns and these goals can be easily accomplished by setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney. Having these documents on file means that you have a plan in case you need it while you’re alive and it makes things easier for your family if something does happen to you.

Your estate plan should be an evolving set of documents designed to help you address critical illness or disability issues, plan for distributing your property after you pass away, and to minimize the implications of taxes. Setting up a meeting today with a Missippi estate planning attorney can help you address one or all of these goals, and forming a relationship now with someone you can trust means that you’ll be able to update your materials easily as your plans change, too.

November Election and Potential Estate Planning Impacts

With every change of administration come concerns about how this will impact national policy. The election could have several outcomes depending on Congress, as well, which will also impact just how much wiggle room and legislative support the incoming president receives. The reality is that it’s not likely much will change if the parties stay as polarized and split as they are currently, but here are some predictions about how estate planning laws and strategies might look different depending on who walks away the winner.estate planning strategy NJ

A Republican Congress and a Democratic president over the last four years has meant there has not been much substantial change in the way of estate planning recently, and that’s likely to continue if Clinton wins. That’s mostly because Clinton supports the same strategies as Obama, such as minimizing the estate tax exemption from $5 million to $3.5 million and boost the estate tax rate up from 40% to 45%. Unless Democrats are able to walk away with control of the Senate and the House, however, it’s unlikely either one of these provisions makes it through and becomes a reality.

Trump, however, plans to eliminate the estate tax entirely. Obama also currently has plans to eliminate or tighten up the requirements for more advanced planning strategies, including dynasty trusts, gifts to defective trusts, intra-family discounting, and GRATs.

The most important thing you can do with your planning goals is to work with an estate planning attorney you can trust. Although administrations and legislation do change, having an informed attorney can be one of the most effective ways to accomplish your estate planning goals. It’s imperative that all your documents are properly worded and drafted with the current laws in mind, and an attorney in the know can help you determine how any upcoming changes will impact your current plans. Consult with a Mississippi estate planning attorney to learn more.

Boosting Your Company’s Value with Business Succession Planning

One of the most common myths about business succession planning is that all you need is a buy-sell agreement. There’s no doubt that a buy-sell agreement may be an important component of your overall strategy, but it’s unlikely to be the only piece.

There are plenty of reasons to have a business succession plan in place as soon as possible, including:

  • Avoiding lack of continuity to impact clients
  • Having a clear vision about how the company can be sold or divided in the event of a sudden crisis
  • Protecting an owner’s equity
  • Preparing the next generation of leaders to step up to the plate

Your succession plan should be comprehensive and it should be a living plan. It’s not enough to have a basic idea about how things should happen in the event that an owner unexpectedly or even willingly departs the company. The best-laid business succession plans also have a systematic expectation regarding how ownership will be transferred. This includes a backup plan if the initial strategy is, for some reason, unachievable. business succession planning NJ

One benefit of succession planning that many owners don’t fully realize is that it can be used to lower risk to allow growth, ultimately boosting the company’s value. One key issue that can be difficult to calculate for the valuation of any business is known as the company’s “goodwill.” The extent to which this can be transferred to future owners will significantly impact the value of the company. If you approach succession planning with the right frame of mind, this should include transferring top clients to the succession team so that client confidence can be maintained.

In order to get the most out of succession planning, it should be completed as soon as possible and be something that leaders return to over time if circumstances change. To get started today, contact an experienced Mississippi business succession planning attorney.

How to Select the Right Elder Law Attorney

Most people have not had the experience of keeping an attorney on retainer. Most of their interactions with a lawyer happened for a specific purpose, like buying a house or handling a sudden litigation issue. That’s why it can be confusing when facing elder law issues, because you need to identify an attorney with whom you can form a relationship.elder law New Jersey

Your elder law attorney should be someone you can trust, because he or she will be helping you with the planning and decision-making associated with your golden years. As people are living longer, there are more and more complex issues that need to be addressed by people facing retirement age. Having a long-term plan for your assets and your healthcare is important, and an elder law attorney should work with you personally to help identify your individual needs.

That being said, if your interaction with attorneys has been sparse and focused largely on resolving one specific issue, you need to shift gears when hiring someone to help with your elder law needs. You need to first understand how an elder law attorney can help you. An elder law attorney is a lawyer who may help you with some of the specific but also the broader picture associated with your needs as you get older, including:

  • Planning for long-term care
  • Making sure your estate planning documents match your goals for your life as well as after you pass away
  • Coordinating private and public resources to help pay for long-term care, should you need it
  • Helping you identify possible locations for care

These are just some of the things that an elder law attorney can help with, but it’s essential that you find someone who focuses on holistic solutions. No two people are the same, and each elder law planning opportunity presents the need for unique considerations. Make sure you identify a Mississippi elder law attorney with experience in the field.

Issues to Be Aware of with a Bypass Trust

An estate planning tool that once used to be relatively popular may cost families a great deal more in taxes than it could have the potential to save. This is because the bypass trust has become less appealing in recent years due to changes in the estate tax rules at the federal level. The way that a bypass trust works is that when the first spouse passes away and leaves everything to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse could have an estate that exceeds the federal or the state tax exemption.

A bypass trust then prevents the passage of the estate to the surviving spouse with the payment of estate taxes. The terms of these individual trusts would typically vary but a typical stipulation would be that the trust income is paid out to the surviving spouse and that the principle is available at the trustee’s discretion if the surviving spouse were to need it. Since estate taxes changed dramatically in 2013, very few individuals are subject to federal estate taxes.estate taxes attorney NJ

In 2016 the first $5.45 million of an estate is safe from federal estate taxes for each individual. This means that couples would have an estate tax exemption up to $10.9 million. The fact that the estate tax is now portable between spouses means that you can accomplish the same purposes of bypass trusts without having to establish a trust.

There are some circumstances, however, when a bypass trust may still make sense. For example, if your estate is bigger than the current estate exemption, a bypass trust could still be one way to protect your assets from the estate tax. In certain states, estate taxes are leveraged at much lower thresholds than the federal estate tax exemption and in this situation a bypass trust may be valuable.

Bypass trusts may also be helpful for other families who have needs outside of avoiding estate taxes. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney in Mississippi can help you answer this question for yourself.


Why Everyone Needs Asset Protection Planning

Some people view asset protection planning as an illegal or immoral practice, but that’s not really the purpose of this kind of planning. In fact, when done appropriately, asset protection planning can help you accomplish your goals and shield the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate.asset protection NJ

While it is certainly true that all kinds of professional definitely need asset protection planning, this is true for everyone. The reality is that anyone could be exposed to a lawsuit in which his or her personal assets may be tapped by a creditor or predator.

In fact, asset protection planning breaks down to three primary goals:

  • Deferring lawsuits in the first place
  • Helping give you settlement negotiation power
  • Preventing your personal assets from being seized in the event of a judgment

Asset protection planning also has an added benefit of giving a layer of privacy to your personal assets as well, which is desirable to most people who are accumulating or who have already accumulated substantial assets. Various legal and business entities can be used to help shield your personal assets.

Even if you are not currently facing a lawsuit, most people are aware that litigation presents significant obstacles. Paying for a lawsuit, even if you are ultimately successful, can be frustrating. You may have to expend time and legal fees in order to accomplish successfully deflecting a lawsuit, and any situation in which you may be able to avoid this altogether can benefit you.

What you use for asset protection planning depends on your individual goals, but you can discuss the options with an experienced Mississippi asset protection planning attorney. Remember that if you are already facing a lawsuit, it could be too late to take advantage of the strategies and tools used to protect you.

Are you ready to talk through your options? Contact our office today .

Key Estate Planning Lessons That You Can Learn from Prince

Anytime that a celebrity passes away, we get the opportunity to benefit from his or her planning or lack of planning. Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans, much like pop star Prince, do not have a will at all. estate planning will NJ

What follows are several reasons why it’s important to put your estate in order now as opposed to later. Four reasons you need to stop putting this process off and create a will now include:

  • Allocating what happens to your things after you pass away. If you have specific assets you would like to pass on to particular individuals, your will can outline this and make it much easier for your beneficiaries by avoiding the probate process. This can be one of the biggest and easiest benefits of stipulating what you want to happen in your will.
  • Your children. Creating a will is an essential component of your estate planning if you have minor children because it allows you to name a guardian for these individuals.
  • Charitable help. If you wish to give back to charities after you pass away, your will can direct part of the money to those groups. You may also need to use more complex estate planning tools like a trust in order to get the maximum benefit out of this process.
  • It is easy to create a will. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can create a will on your own as using generic forms could run counter to existing state or federal laws and fail to capture the complex nature of estate planning.

Your will can help to articulate your plans for the future and give you peace of mind.

Thankfully, putting together a will is relatively easily accomplished when you set up a meeting with an experienced Mississippi estate planning attorney. Do not hesitate to get help on your estate planning matters as soon as possible.


Are You Falling Victim to This Asset Protection Planning Myth About Bankruptcy?

There are several different important steps you should take when it comes to the asset protection planning process. One of these includes getting the right help form an experienced asset protection planning attorney.

Having the right insurance is an important foundation of your asset protection planning strategy but it is not part of your comprehensive approach. If you are a professional individual, for example, you may choose to invest in errors and omissions insurance to protect you in the event that somebody sues you when losses are experienced. You may also want to consider an umbrella insurance policy.bankruptcy and asset protecting planning

Many wealthy individuals simply face a higher risk of being sued because an opportunist may believe that you have the assets appropriate to support a lawsuit. A liability insurance policy, however, can protect your assets when someone attempts to link you to an injury or damage that happened on your property. The second step of asset protection planning involves separating your business from your personal assets. As soon as you begin growing your income diversity, it is important to take this step.

Working with an asset protection planning attorney can help you ensure that your business structures are properly divided in order to shield your personal assets to the best extent possible. It is important to understand that many individuals have misconceptions about the role of bankruptcy in asset protection planning. Bankruptcy could be a helpful asset protection planning strategy, although since 2005 this has become less and less true. New bankruptcy rules make it more difficult to file for Chapter 7, for example.

Bankruptcy judges also have a high level of discretion in cases. If you attempt to file for bankruptcy protection after somebody comes after you in a lawsuit, this does not mean that you are comprehensively protected. You need to consult with your asset protection planning attorney to understand when bankruptcy makes sense and when it doesn’t. Reach out to info@lawesq.net if you’re ready for a more comprehensive approach to asset protection planning.