Elder Law & Business Planning

If you are like most people, especially in their younger years, you may not think about your own mortality and the gradual aging of your body. But as you approach the twilight of life, it is important to start planning for it

You should not be concerned that you will lose your assets if you start to decline mentally or suffer an illness that leaves you physically incapacitated. The better move is to work with an elder law attorney who can help you live the last years of your life in comfort and dignity.

Here are some of the issues that an elder law attorney can help you with:

1. Life Care Planning

As you age, things will start to go wrong with your body. Indeed, getting old is like learning a new profession that is not your choosing. Even if you remain physically active, you cannot do the same things in the same way as before. 

If you have been stricken with an illness that makes it impossible for you to live on your own, you will need to assess your care needs and identify the resources required to meet them. You may also need to sell your home and move into an assisted living facility. None of these are easy decisions to make. But you want to protect your interests as you move forward.

2. Health Care Decisions

Being in a situation in which you cannot make decisions about your own medical care may seem unthinkable. But a stroke, heart attack, or other medical episode could leave you physically incapacitated. If such a thing happens, someone else must make decisions about your care. You should choose this person now. 

An elder law attorney can create a medical power of attorney, giving them full power to act as your proxy or agent in all matters concerning your care. This person should know your wishes in the various situations you may find yourself in. This includes the most extreme case of not being able to live without the aid of medical devices.

3. Medicaid Planning

You may qualify for your nursing home or other long-term care facility bills paid for by Medicaid, regardless of your wealth and assets. This may be a good option if you want to minimize the impact of your long-term care bills on the inheritance of your loved ones. 

Medicaid can be a complex puzzle that challenges the patience of all who must deal with it. By delegating the task to an experienced legal professional, you will save time and energy. With advanced planning, you can avoid some common mistakes claimants make.

4. Long-Term Care Planning

The last thing you want is for a catastrophic health emergency to lead to the draining of your finances. Nor do you want, in the event of your sudden death, to leave your affairs in a state that causes conflict within your family. The best way to avoid such unpleasantness is to start working with an estate planning attorney.

An estate planning attorney has multiple tools to help protect your savings and possessions from unforeseen healthcare costs. They can help you preserve your wealth against the financial contingencies of catastrophic events. This will ensure that the people you care about will inherit the things you want them to.

An estate planning attorney can also help you create wills and trusts so that your estate is divided according to your wishes when you do pass on.

5. Probate

If you are a close relative of someone who has recently passed away and you want to see the smooth and expeditious execution of their will, then you should work with a probate attorney. 

The estate of a recently deceased person must go through probate court. If the person left a will that no one challenges, the probate process should be smooth and expeditious. However, only a competent probate attorney can ensure that the departed’s estate is divided according to their intentions and that the transfer of assets is done in a legally sound way.

Business Planning

If you have built a business and are considering retiring soon, it is time to start planning the future. One of the most important issues you will have to decide is succession

If you intend to keep your family in control of the company, and you have already trained and designated the person you want to take your place, now is the time to develop the legal framework for this.

The Sad Facts of Succession

It is unfortunate that most family businesses do not survive their founders. Nearly two-thirds of family business succession plans fail. Nearly one-half of the third that survive an initial transfer do not survive a second transfer. The reasons for these sad facts of succession are many and varied. 

However, these are some of the factors most at play.

1. People

It is perfectly natural for someone who has built up a business to feel emotional about it. You should feel a sense of pride in your achievement and a strong desire to keep your family name attached to it. However, things can become even more complicated if you hope to pass the company on to your children.

While there is no need to suppress your emotions for those close to you, you cannot allow these feelings to blunt good business sense. It is better to put the execution of your intentions into the form of a business succession plan. Working with an attorney can help you develop an objective set of criteria for determining who will take over your business, how they will do so, and when it will happen.

If your intention is to sell the company so that your family can enjoy the profits, you will need a plan for that as well.

2. Taxes

You must also be aware of all estate taxes owed at your death. To prevent such taxes from overburdening your family, you must engage in estate-liquidity planning now. Otherwise, your loved ones may have to sell the business just to pay the required taxes.

3. Cash

Any good succession plan should include strategic objectives that will take your company into the future — and your company should have enough cash to fund them. The last thing you want to do is leave your successor laden with debt and unfunded commitments. Good planning will ensure you leave the company in a healthy financial state when you retire.

The bottom line is that keeping your business in the family is possible. Doing so requires the creation of a business succession plan. An experienced lawyer can help you create such a plan.

The Importance of Sound Legal Counsel

Is retirement not on your mind now? If growing your company or making significant changes to its operations is your primary aim, speaking with a business lawyer can be useful. 

It is important to have sound legal counsel in business. In addition to business succession planning, a professional can help with the following matters:

  • Joint ventures
  • Tax planning
  • Business contracts
  • Asset purchase and sale transactions
  • Operating and shareholder agreements
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Contract negotiation and review
  • Drafting of contracts and employment agreements

The aim of business attorneys is to help you run your company smoothly, protect your profits and assets, and minimize litigation. The last of these is especially important. As a business owner, you are vulnerable to lawsuits. 

Long and drawn-out litigation can be a drain on your company’s finances. One of the most important things your lawyer will do is identify your legal risks and liabilities and rid you of them when possible. If a valid claim is made against your company, your attorney will do their utmost to obtain an out-of-court settlement that is favorable to you. You should contact Houck Menninger Law, LLC for advice and counsel.

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Houck Menninger Law, LLC (“HM Law”) has placed the information on this website as a service to the general public. Use of this website does not in any manner constitute an attorney‐client relationship between HM Law and the user. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the specific advice of your own attorney. Anyone seeking specific legal advice or assistance should retain an attorney. This website may also include inaccuracies or typographical errors and may not otherwise be up-to-date.

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