As a law firm that offers both business formation and estate planning legal services, Littlejohn Law is uniquely positioned to help medical professionals who own their own practices. Whether you are a dentist, therapist, chiropractor, or physician, we believe that planning for the succession of your business in the event of your incapacitation or death is an important part of setting up your practice. An experience I had with a client a few years ago is a good illustration of this point.
My Client Bought a Practice but Failed to Write an Estate Plan
When Todd the podiatrist wanted to buy an existing practice in town, he came to me for legal advice. I consulted with him throughout the process of buying the podiatry practice, and the purchase went off without a hitch. Shortly after buying the business, Todd got married and came back to my office to talk about the best way to protect his business—which he believed had the potential to be very profitable—if he were to ever get divorced. I took the opportunity to talk to him about forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and writing a comprehensive estate plan, which could not only protect his business in a divorce but would also ensure that his business would continue to provide for his family if something were to happen to him. He chose not to do anything at that point. I heard from him again a year later when he ran into some trouble that could have been avoided by forming an LLC, but there was not much I could do at that point.
Important Lessons to Learn From Todd the Podiatrist
I understand that it's hard to spend money on a legal contingency plan when everything is going well, but if Todd had made the investment to form an LLC and to commit to an estate plan, he wouldn't have had the same problems down the road. I work with a lot of medical professionals who own their own practices, and the advice I give them is to focus on the three Fs:
- Foundation. At the foundation of every business—and even every personal estate—should be some basic estate planning documents, such as a will and a trust. The type of trust and how it is used will depend on your situation and goals for the future, but everyone should have one.
- Fortress. The fortress is the business—in this case, a medical practice—that you are building. Forming the right kind of business entity, such as an LLC, protects your fortress from liability, taxes, and other vulnerabilities.
- Future. Do you want a family member to inherit your practice? Most physicians don't want to leave their business to a spouse or even a child unless that person is also a physician who could continue to run the practice. Another alternative is to have the business held in trust and to have the trustee provide an income to heirs from the profits.
Contact Our Top Wintersville Estate Planning Attorneys Today
At Littlejohn Law, we understand the unique challenges faced by medical professionals who own their own practice, both from a business standpoint and an estate planning standpoint. Allow us to review your current situation and provide recommendations for the best way to protect your valuable investment and set it up to provide for your family after you are gone. Fill out the contact form on this page or call our office to set something up. We will put our experience to work for you.