As a medical provider—whether you are a physician, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, or podiatrist—you have devoted your professional life to taking care of others. You are committed to the wellbeing of your patients but, if you are like many of the doctors we have seen in our estate planning office, you have not given much thought to the wellbeing of your estate now or in the future. When our team works with a medical professional, we discuss a few key estate planning elements that are unique to them and their families to make sure they are protected.
What Every Doctor Needs in Their Estate Plan
Our clients who are doctors represent a wide range of medical professions, from psychologists to osteopaths and dermatologists to ENT doctors. Whatever your specialty area is, you probably have a few things in common with other providers. At Littlejohn Law, our dual practice areas of estate planning and business law combine in a way that is particularly beneficial to doctors who own their own practice. When we meet with doctors, we discuss how to plan for the following common situations:
- Personal liability for medical malpractice. Protecting your personal assets from a costly medical malpractice lawsuit is something you should take care of right away. If you own a practice, a certain business structure might do the trick, and we will also look at asset protection trusts and the possibility of gifting some assets to a spouse.
- Owning a medical practice. Along with choosing the most advantageous entity when you form your business, you will want to plan for what will happen to your practice if you become incapacitated or die unexpectedly. Business succession planning is a vital part of a doctor’s estate plan.
- Delayed accumulation of wealth. Doctors spend many years in school and residency, so many of them do not start earning real money until they are in their 30s and have paid off student loans. This delayed start to retirement planning could require aggressive tools and strategic use of trusts to ensure you can retire when you want to.
- High income and net worth. Doctors are among some of the highest wage earners in the U.S., which could open their estates up to considerable estate and gift tax burdens upon their deaths if they don’t plan carefully.
When you meet with an estate planning attorney at Littlejohn Law, we will discuss whether these issues apply to you and help you take the appropriate steps to protect your legacy for your family. Along with more typical estate planning tools such as wills, trusts, guardianship designations, and powers of attorney, we will make sure your family and your medical practice are protected no matter what the future may bring.
It’s a Tough Time for Doctors Right Now—Don’t Get Caught Unprepared
There is no doubt that our healthcare providers are heroes, especially in these uncertain times. Even if you don’t care for the sickest patients directly, you have had to alter your protocols to protect yourself, your employees, and your patients. As hard as this has been, it’s never been more important to make sure that your family and your business are protected if something happens to you. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about the special services we provide to doctors and other medical professionals across the state of Ohio.