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Category: Legal (Page 2 of 8)

Buzz Aldrin and Stan Lee’s Legal Battles Highlight the Need for Elder Care Planning

photo by Christina Korp

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

In the last month, 2 iconic American heroes have faced legal trouble due to aging that highlight the need for proper elder care planning, Stan Lee and Buzz Aldrin.

Stan Lee is the 95 year old godfather of the Marvel comic universe and usually appears in cameos in Marvel movies. Buzz Aldrin is one of the first men to walk on the moon during the U.S. moon landing on July 21, 1969.  He is now 88 years old.

Stan Lee

In June, Stan Lee’s caregiver, Keya Morgan, came under investigation by Los Angeles police for elder abuse.  Morgan is accused of exploiting Lee’s impaired vision, hearing, and judgement by isolating Lee from his family and friends and moving him out of his longtime home.

Morgan is a memorabilia dealer who befriended Lee’s only child, J.C. Lee, and began taking control over Lee’s assets and home.  A restraining order filed by an attorney for Lee claims Morgan used Lee’s advanced age and impairments to unduly influence him and isolate him.

Morgan reportedly fired Lee’s workers, including the longtime attorney who filed the restraining order, and isolated Lee from friends and family, including his only daughter.

Investigations are ongoing.

Buzz Aldrin

In late June, Buzz Aldrin filed a lawsuit against 2 of his children and a former business manager. He accuses them of improperly using his credit cards, transferring his money without his permission, and slandering him by wrongfully claiming he is suffering from dementia.

A week before Aldrin filed his lawsuit, the 2 children named in the lawsuit filed a case in Florida asking to be named as his legal Guardians.  They claimed Aldrin was the subject of elder abuse by new friends who isolated him from family, gained control over his assets, and were spending his assets quickly.

The Petition claimed Aldrin suffers from confusion, memory loss, and delusions. In April, Aldrin took an evaluation with a geriatric psychologist and was found to be in superior mental health. A Court-appointed mental health evaluation was set to take place the week Aldrin filed his lawsuit.

Aldrin’s case asked the Judge to remove his son as Trustee from his accounts and claimed he revoked a power of attorney he issued to his son earlier, but his son continued to make financial decisions and business decisions on his behalf.

Aldrin accuses his daughter, and also his former business manager Christina Korp, of conspiracy, fraud, elder abuse and exploitation, and unjust enrichment.  Aldrin’s lawsuit  includes several businesses and foundations he owns.

The lawsuit is currently pending.

Take Away

As people age, their hearing, eyesight, mobility, and reasoning can become affected.  In order to properly protect their accounts, homes, and businesses, those close to retirement age should put plans in place to protect their assets and name people they can trust to work on their behalf when they cannot.

These documents usually decrease the need for a court intervention and guardianship.  But, if a guardianship becomes necessary, they often name someone the person trusted prior to their impairments to act for them.

Everyone should have a proper estate plan. If you or someone you love is reaching retirement age and hasn’t made an estate plan, reach out to a professional you trust today!

 

6 Trustee Duties We Can Learn From Lisa Marie Presley’s Suit Against Elvis’s Trustee and Business Manager

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

In February of this year, Lisa Marie Presley filed suit against Barry Siegel, Elvis Presley’s former business manager. Presley claims that Siegel squandered her $100 million inheritance down to tens of thousands of dollars while managing Elvis Presley’s trust he established for his family. Lisa Marie Presley is the only surviving heir to that trust.

Presley brought her suit in probate court, alleging the probate court system was the proper forum, since Siegel accessed the money as Trustee of the Presley trust.  She alleges Siegel acted in his own best interests in spending the money, contrary to his role and responsibilities as Trustee.

Siegel tried to get the case thrown out.  He argued Presley brought the suit in the wrong court.  But, a Judge ruled this week that the suit could continue.

Trustee Responsiblities

Presley’s case accuses Siegel of ignoring his responsibilities as Trustee to manage the trust.  A Trustee has certain duties and rules he or she must follow when handling trust assets.  If Presley prevails in proving Siegel breached these duties and responsibilities, he could be liable to her for the money he lost.

If you are choosing a Trustee, or have been named a Trustee yourself, you should be aware of the duties Trustees have. Your trust document will control a lot of the responsibilities and duties of the Trustee, but if the document is silent as to some responsibilities, the default duties are below:

(1) Duty of Loyalty

Trustees must be loyal to the beneficiaries of the trust.  Trustees must manage the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries and not gain anything personally from the business they conduct for the trust.

(2) Duty of Fariness

Unless the Trust makes specific provisions otherwise, the Trustee must be fair and impartial to all beneficiaries and treat them equally.

(3) Duty to Account

Trustees must provide beneficiaries with information about the administration of the trust. This includes information about the income and expenses of the trust and the assets in the trust.

(4) Duty to Protect Trust Assets

Trustees must follow the terms of the trust when managing the assets of the trust.

(5) Duty to Separate

Trust assets must be owned by the trust and kept separate from the Trustee’s personal assets.  Trustees cannot comingle the trust’s assets with their own.

(6) Duty of Care

Trustees cannot invest trust assets in high risk investments.  They must keep the beneficiaries in mind at all times. Trustees must also manage the assets of the trust carefully, paying all bills associated with the trust and taking proper care of income from the trust.

Choosing your own Trustee can be difficult when you consider the many challenges  Trustees face when managing estates. Being a Trustee can be a hard job.  It becomes harder the more assets the Trustee must manage for the trust.

If you have questions about establishing a trust and choosing a Trustee, or acting as a Trustee of an existing trust, reach out to an experienced Estate Planning attorney today!

 

Lessons from Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade on Planning for Your Estate When You’re Separated

Photo: Laurie Woolever/Grub Street

Photo: Wendy Maeda / The Boston Globe via Getty

By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group

The world was rocked this month with the news of the suicides of TV Personality and Chef, Anthony Bourdain and Fashion Designer, Kate Spade. Though the two share their tragic means of death, they also share something else.

When they died, both Bourdain and Spade were separated from their spouses.  Separations don’t only lead to legal battles in divorce court, they can also cause a whole new set of problems for estate planning.

When couples choose to remain separated for a longer period of time and don’t finalize a divorce, they open their families up to complex, and often, messy legal issues if one of them dies.

Deciding on Separation Instead of Divorce

Studies show more and more families are choosing to separate permanently instead of filing for divorce.  Bourdain was open about his choice to separate from, but not divorce, his wife of many years.

He stated in a People Magazine article in 2016 that his choice to separate permanently was based on his belief it led to a better co-parenting relationship of his child with his wife.

Though the concept may be nice for child-rearing, if possible, the arrangement has led to a hiccup in Bourdain’s funeral and estate planning.  By law, since they are still married, his wife is his beneficiary, and the person who makes decisions regarding his funeral and what happens to his remains.

It has been reported that his body will be cremated in France and the ashes shipped to the U.S. This decision may be difficult for family members who may have more of a stake and interest in funeral decisions than a wife he hasn’t lived with for several years.

Additionally, since she is still Bourdain’s wife, she will be eligible for certain Social Security and other benefits she would not have received had the couple divorced.  Benefits that may have gone to his child in other circumstances.

Kate Spade and her husband were reportedly separated when she died as well.  Her family will face similar challenges to Bourdain’s.

Proper Planning

If you choose to permanently separate instead of divorcing, there are some options to protect your estate.

(1) Healthcare Directives

If you are concerned that your spouse may be able to make healthcare decisions if you are unable to, you will want to consider putting an Advance Directive into place.

Although Oklahoma law does not provide that anyone can make those decisions without a valid Advance Directive or Court Order in place, in practice some facilities have policies that allow them to work with “closest kin.” Separated or not, if you’re married, that’s your spouse.

To protect yourself from that situation, you will want to implement a Healthcare Directive and choose a healthcare proxy to make those decisions.

(2) Trusts

Generally, couples separating are restrained from making any changes to legal documents during their proceedings.  The reasoning behind this requirement is that the couple is assumed to be working toward completing the divorce and separating the assets and the Court wants to make sure nothing is moved or spent before the finalization.

If you know that you will not finalize a divorce, you should talk to your family law attorneys about provisions in your paperwork for your case to allow you and your spouse to change your estate plans.

If an estate goes through probate, your spouse can always argue for a marital share.  If you do not have a plan in place, or only have a Will, your estate will go to probate.  With a Trust, going to court is less likely.

Though your spouse could still sue and argue for a marital share, if you both sign off on the documents, it is far less likely your separated spouse would take from your estate and you could have more control over who gets what.

If you are in a permanent separation, be sure to reach out to your financial and estate planning professionals today!

 

Legal Battles Possible Over Frozen Embryos When Couples Separate

By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Stories of legal battles over frozen embryos have been making the rounds in the news lately.  Beginning with the high profile case in 2013 between Sofia Vergara and her former fiance,  Nick Loeb, cases concerning couples’ frozen embryos became more popular.

Legal Issues

The problem couples face when they separate and have remaining frozen embryos is deciding what to do with those embryos.  They can decide whether to store the embryos, destroy the embryos, donate them to science, or donate them to a couple with fertility issues.

Courts addressing the issue face a strange mix of Constitutional, family law, and contract law questions. The case can become even more complicated when the couple was never married. Courts must decide what rights each parent has and what rights, if any, the embryos themselves have.

Michigan Case

An interesting case arose in Michigan this month when an unwed couple started a legal dispute over their frozen embryos.  The former couple have a child together who has sickle cell disease.  The mother believes she could use bone marrow from another child she conceives to ease her daughter’s suffering and possibly save her life.

The father refuses to consent to the release of the embryos. The matter is currently in litigation, but there should be an outcome in the next few months.

The Law

Historically, most of the parents seeking custody in a frozen embryo dispute have lost.  Courts usually see the Constitutional right of privacy of one parent who chooses not to reproduce prevailing over the right of the other to bear a child and any contract that existed before between the two.

Exceptions to this rule have applied where the parents in the case suffered from cancer and the treatments took away any other chance they had to reproduce.

Embryo Donation in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, we do not have specific, published cases concerning custody of human embryos.  However, we do have statutes that address embryo donation in adoption. If an embryo is donated, Oklahoma statutes require both couples to consent to the donation and adoption. The consents must be filed with the court.

The statute states the receiving couple will legally be the parents of the child born from the embryo and the donating couple is relieved of all parental responsibility.

If you have questions about embryo donation or custody, consult with a health care attorney today!

 

5 Ways to Support a Caregiver

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Caregiving takes on many forms.  Parents are caregivers for their children.  Adults may have caregivers if they have Special Needs or health and mobility issues.

Caregivers face a lot of challenges. On top of juggling their own careers, family lives, and lifestyles, they now take on the responsibility of caring for another person and managing that person’s life.

Caregiving is often a thankless  job.  Family members and friends may not understand the physical and emotional toll caregiving can take on the caregiver.

If you know a caregiver, reach out and offer your support. Here are 5 ways.

(1) Offer Your Friendship

Simply being a sounding board for your friend in their time of need and checking in on them can help the caregiver in your life.  Offer to take them out for coffee or dinner, or drop in to say hi.  Let them know they’re still important in your life.

(2) Lend A Hand

Offer to visit the person needing care and give the caregiver a break to attend to the caregiver’s needs.  Bring dinner by for the caregiver and the person needing assistance.  Schedule a respite service or dinner delivery for the caregiver if you don’t live locally, or can’t help personally.

(3) Avoid Judging

Make a point to avoid criticizing the caregiver.  If you think something can be done better or differently, come up with a solution, such as taking on that matter yourself, or helping hire a respite worker who can.

Caregivers struggle enough with their duties and responsibilities and feeling like they aren’t doing enough.  Offering a helping hand will always go further than arguing and critiquing.

(4) Avoid Complaining

Sometimes families can add more stress to caregivers by complaining about things the caregivers really can’t control, such as the condition of the house before the caregiver stepped in, the locations of items owned by the person, legal requirements and processes, or other matters the caregiver simply can’t control.

Though family members may think they’re helping by pointing out these problems, chances are, your caregiver already knows.  Bringing them up to the caregiver can make them feel helpless and add to their stress.

(5) Avoid Telling Them How They Can Be Better or What They’re Doing Wrong

This is another area of stress for caregivers.  The stress only increases when the person suggesting how the caregiver can improve isn’t present to see the circumstances or help out themselves.

Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive things the caregiver is doing for the family, how their actions help you, and how you can help the caregiver. Unless you have strong reason to believe otherwise, trust that they are doing their best.

Most caregivers are doing the best they can for their families, often with limited time and resources.  They simply need a little compassion from the people who matter most to them in their lives.

Of course, there can be situations where the “caregiver” is actually taking advantage of the person they are caring for.  If you believe a caregiver is abusing the person they are caring for emotionally, physically or financially, report their actions to Adult Protective Services or Child Protective Services.

If you know a caregiver facing legal difficulty getting care for the person they’re caring for, have them reach out to an attorney today!

10 Retirement Tips for Millennials

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Definitions of Millennials vary.  But, ultimately, when someone refers to a Millennial, they mean someone in their 20s or 30s.  Millennials tend to focus on their day-to-day financial needs and forget to focus on their future and retirement.

If you begin following these 10 tips now, you can have a financially free future, and yes, even retire one day.

(1) Start Saving Today

An interesting thing about investing money is money compounds.  That means the longer the money is invested, the more money it can make for you.

For example, if a 25 year old wants to have $1 million in retirement, they can start today and invest $880.21 per month with a 5% return.  If a 35 year old wants to retire with $1 million, they have to invest $1,679.23 each month with a 5% return.  For a 45 year old, the monthly investment would have to be $3,741.27 on a 5% return.

Find a great investment program that works for you.  Look for high returns and low fees.  And, start investing for your future!

(2) Be Consistent

Figure out how much you can save for retirement each month.  Then, do it!  Put your retirement account drafts on automatic withdrawal.  Try to increase the amount you’re saving each year until you reach the maximum amount allowed by the IRS.

(3) Have an Emergency Fund

Something will always come up.  The furnace will break.  The hot water heater will blow out.  The car will need new tires.

Plan for your emergencies now!  Save a little each month until you save 6 to 9 months of living expenses in a savings account.  This fund will be invaluable to you when you need it!

(4) Live Within Your Means

Buy what you need and what you can afford. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. It will pay off in the long run.

(5) Balance

Realize that you need to treat yourself sometimes and you need to save others.  The secret is balancing the two.  Find your balance.

(6) Don’t Forget Insurance

Term life insurance policies for Millennials are cheap.  Buy them while you’re young to protect your family when you’re older.

Also, remember that we’re not immortal.  Look into disability policies.  If you get hurt, they can help you pay the bills while you recover.

(7) Buy Low Sell High

When investing in stocks be sure to do your research on the best stocks to invest in.  But, once you know, remember the rule.  Always buy your stocks when they’re low and sell them when they’re high for the best return on investment.

(8) Grow Your Investments While You Grow

When you get that raise or promotion, devote a percentage of it to your investments.  That way, you can enjoy your hard work now, with the percentage you enjoy from your raise today, and in the future, with the percentage you devote to your investments.

(9) Pay Off Debts

Let’s say you pay off your car and get an extra $200 in your pocket each month.  Instead of using that money on furniture or a new toy, use that extra money to pay off the next lowest debt.  Continue this process until you’re debt free and imagine the lifestyle you can live!

(10) Determine Your Savings Goal

If we want to achieve a goal, we have to know what that goal is.  We can’t get where we’re going if we don’t know where we’re going.

Work with an advisor to calculate your retirement needs based on the lifestyle you hope to live.  Make a plan to save for that goal, and follow it.

7 Little Known Adoption Facts

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

With over 135,000 children adopted each year and nearly 428,000 children in foster care, adoption is common in the U.S.  Adoption is a wonderful option for many families. But, the process is complicated and can be emotional for everyone involved.

Here are 7 facts you may not have known about adoption in the U.S.

(1) A Lot of People Are Affected By Adoption

Nearly 100 million U.S. citizens have adoption in their families. Almost 60 % of Americans have adopted or have experience with adoption. And, according to data from 2013, 7 million Americans living that year were adopted.

(2) You Can Get Tax Breaks with Adoption

Adoptive parents can take advantage of 2 main tax benefits.  First, parents can get a tax credit for some expenses paid to adopt a child. For 2017, the maximum credit amount is $13,570. Second, parents can exclude employer- provided adoption assistance from their incomes.

(3) It Can Be Expensive

There are several different avenues people can take to adopt.  Their options include private adoption, adoption through a government agency, or international adoption.  Each choice comes with its own special price tag.

International adoptions cost the most and can range from $15,000 to upwards of $40,000.  Private adoptions range from $8,000 up to $40,000.  And adoptions from government agencies generally carry a lot of financial assistance, so they can range from $0 to around $3,000. Generally speaking, the lower the risk, the greater the cost.

(4) Kids Looking for Families Can Be Older

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the average age of a child waiting for an adoptive family is 7.7 years old and around 11 % of foster children spend 5 years or more in foster care. Don’t count out older children if you plan to adopt.

(5) Celebrities Are Adopting

Celebrities have increased the visibility and viability of adoption as a family choice in the U.S. Sheryl Crow, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna are just a few of many celebrities who have adopted children.

(6) LGTBQ Couples Can Have a Hard Time Adopting

Statistics show LGTBQ couples are raising about 4 % of America’s adopted children. However, some states have laws that allow adoption agencies to deny placements with families that have lifestyles that contradict the agencies’ religious beliefs.

These laws found in states like South Dakota, and close to approval in Oklahoma, make adoption more difficult for these families.

(7) Controversy Surrounds the Well-Being of Adopted Children

According the the Atlantic, a 2015 study found that adopted children are “significantly likelier than birth children to have behavior and learning problems.” The study found that despite the fact most adopted children grow up in homes where the parents are wealthier and more attentive than their birth families, nearly 2 times as many adopted children were diagnosed with learning disabilities than children raised in a home with birth parents.

However, in terms of physical health, adopted children fair better than their counterparts raised in their birth families’ homes.

A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 85 % of adopted children have very good or excellent health, are more likely to have health insurance, and are less likely to live in poverty.

If you’re considering adoption, reach out to a professional today to help!

 

Wealth and End-of-Life Planning for Those Aging Alone

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Nowadays, people are living longer and longer.  Many choose not to have children.   Some simply outlive their families, leaving these aging people to plan for their end-of-life without their family.

When these people age, what happens when they can no longer make decisions for themselves?

In order to have someone who can help you make decisions and manage your assets when you cannot do it yourself, you must put important estate planning documents in place.  These documents include healthcare directives, durable powers of attorney, and possibly Wills and Trusts.

If you are one of these people, or may be in the future, what can you do?

When You Don’t Know Who to Pick As A Decision-maker

Without the planning documents previously named, no one will have the authority to act on your behalf.  That means, someone will have to Petition the Court to become your Guardian and make decisions for you.  If you do not have family, it is likely the party Petitioning to be your Guardian will be the State.

In these cases, the State has decided that you are unable to care for yourself and need someone to look after you.  When they cannot find a family member to do that, they will file to act as your manager and decision-maker. The State will not know you personally and what your wishes may be.  The State will add your name to a long list of other individuals they care for and look after.

Wouldn’t you much rather pick a loved one you trust?

Who Do You Pick

Often, professionals who aid in your estate planning will ask you to name a primary, secondary, and sometimes even tertiary agent to act on your behalf in your documents. For married couples, the primary agent is usually the spouse.  For singles, this is a harder decision to make.

If you have a large family, but no children of your own, you will want to think about who you trust the most and who you are closest to in your extended family.  Reach out to them and have a discussion about your wishes for end-of-life and that you would like them to act as your agent. It is best to choose someone with a similar belief system to your own.

But, what if you’re not close to your family?  Then, you will need to look to your closest friends and associates. This, of course, can be challenging if all of you are the same age, as you may be going through the same problems at the same time and not be able to care for one another.  You will want to name at least primary, secondary, and tertiary agents, and strongly consider naming younger friends as agents.

Professional Guardians

If you’ve exhausted the list of people close to you and still do not feel comfortable naming someone as an agent, you will want to consider hiring a professional.

You may have a good connection with your local bank.  Often, they have departments that can act as Trustees for you and manage your assets when you no longer can.  In that situation, you would want to plan your long-term care ahead of time.

Sometimes attorneys and other professionals can be hired to act as Guardians.  You will need to find someone you trust and can see managing your finances and healthcare decisions long-term if you go this route.

You do not want to be forced to age in ways you would not want.  Reach out today to get your wealth and estate planning taken care of with a professional!

 

 

 

Plan Well For Your End of Life Like Barbara Bush and Betty Ford

Source: http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/images/avproj/pop-ups/2008-NLF-021.html

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Everyone is familiar with former first ladies Barbara Bush and Betty Ford. Both impacted countless lives with their service, albeit in different ways. Barbara Bush advocated for children and literacy and died just days ago, on April 17th. Betty Ford was politically active and an avid feminist who died on July 8, 2011. Their deaths left a void in America’s hearts and can teach us valuable lessons.

Barbara’s Planning

Barbara Bush was an elegant woman.  Her death was no different.  She made choices in her estate plan that allowed her to decide how she would live out her final days.  Her well-lived life deserved nothing more than a well-planned end. The circumstances surrounding her death prove she had a healthcare directive in place.

Barbara chose to stop treating her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure. She chose to return home for her final days. Her plans enabled her to spend her last days peacefully with her family, enjoying a bourbon as her last drink.

Without a healthcare directive, families are left wondering what their loved ones’ wishes were for their medical care and treatment at the end of their lives. A healthcare directive tells your family what you want, and who you want to make important decisions, like withdrawing life support.  Oklahoma law does not give authority to anyone, absent a directive, to agree to withhold or withdraw life support for a loved one.

Unlike Barbara, many U.S. citizens avoid planning their deaths. A study from the Palliative and Advanced Illness Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 showed that 71 % of Americans do not have healthcare directives in place.

Let’s learn a lesson from this influential First Lady and make our plans today!

Betty Ford’s Special Wishes

Betty Ford was a spirited, opinionated, and lively first lady.  In keeping with her character, Betty Ford used her estate plan to get her wish of having Cokie Roberts deliver a eulogy based on how political partisanship hurts the United States.

Betty left Cokie Roberts instructions on her eulogy, stating she wanted Cokie to discuss government in the 1960s and 1970s and how the parties were required to work together, mostly because they often socialized together. She picked Cokie Roberts because her father was a Democratic Congressman known for working well with a Republican, Gerald Ford.

Many families struggle with funeral arrangements.  They ask themselves what their loved ones would have wanted.  The more specific you are in your estate planning documents, the less guesswork you leave for your family.  These are your documents.  Make your funeral the party, or non-gathering, you always wanted it to be!

Follow the examples of these strong, memorable first ladies.  Reach out to a professional to take action on your estate plans.  Or, at the very least, start thinking about and writing down your wishes so your family can honor them and you can put them in more binding form later.

Start talking to your families out loud.  Let them know what you want.  These conversations may not seem easy, but the reality is, few things that are worth it ever are.

The Importance of Business Exit Planning

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Oklahoma is a thriving environment for small business owners. In 2013, the Small Business Administration reported there were 337,066 small businesses in Oklahoma.  Small businesses were defined in this survey as companies employing less than 500 employees.

Though business owners are savvy and skilled at many things, small business owners often neglect to realize the importance they have in their community, and the importance of planning for the continuation of their businesses when they can no longer run them.

And, let’s admit it, just like everyone else, we all hope to retire some day! If you want to do that successfully, you have to plan adequately.

So, the question is what should these business owners do with their businesses? How can we successfully leave behind the day-to-day activities and retire from our businesses when the time comes?

Studies have shown that for small business owners, on average, at least 85% of our net worth is tied up in our businesses. In order to properly withdraw assets from a business, you need to make a plan early.

The best exit plans will explore (1) when you will leave your business, (2) how you will sale or transfer ownership in your business, (3) how much money you will need to retire from your business.

You will also want to consider other factors that may be important to you, like how to care for long-time employees, maintain your business’s reputation, and stay involved with your community.

When making your succession plan, be sure to think about (1) asset protection- both for your business and your personal assets, (2) how to minimize taxes and maximize value, (3) training a successor, (4) continuing the business, and (5) wealth and estate planning.

Your exit plan should be fluid, allowing you to adjust to changing circumstances in your business.  What if your first choice for successor isn’t available?  How would you determine a secondary option? What if an unforeseen buyer offered you a lot of money to buy your business?  What could they offer to buy you out?

To properly transfer a business to someone in your family or an employee, you will want to start the process at least 6 to 8 years ahead of time. If you want to sell, you should begin courting buyers at least 2 to 3 years in advance.

In every financial and business matter, the more you plan, the better it is for you and your family.  Thorough planning ensures your course of action when you are ready to step out of your business.

It is never too early to start your exit plan, and the plan can be updated as your circumstances change. The most important thing is to start!

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