Do you want to protect your assets, ensure the safety of your family and enjoy your retirement with complete peace of mind?
It is essential to start planning now. As a founder or entrepreneur, it’s especially important to have a thoughtful financial plan that will lay a solid foundation to support growth and protect assets, ensuring your financial success now and in the future.
The first consideration in estate planning is clarifying your purpose and your legacy. For many families, this part of the planning can be difficult to tackle. It is often easier to review investments, understand tax strategies, make decisions and execute than it is to define what success looks like for your family and focus on the steps that will help you get there. especially when most of your time and focus is on building your business.
The next and perhaps most important step in estate planning is to make sure you have the basic estate documents. As your wealth grows, the financial stakes become higher if something happens to you and you don’t have the proper documents. There are at least three estate planning documents that every entrepreneur should have in place and review periodically:
This document designates a trusted family member, friend or advisor as your “actual lawyer” to handle the financial matters on your behalf, if necessary. This can include signing income tax returns, depositing checks, managing bank / credit accounts, etc. It is essential that you trust the person you name in this document as they will have financial authority over your assets.
Healthcare proxy with a HIPAA provision
A health care attorney appoints a family member or trusted friend to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapable. If it includes a living will, it can also indicate your treatment preferences in various circumstances, but the final decision is in the hands of the officer.
Last will and testament
The will does a number of things:
• Appoints an executor (also called a personal representative) to take care of the administration of your estate’s assets upon your death.
• It tells you what to do with your belongings when you die. Often times, the will will direct that all assets be sent to your revocable trust, which contains details about the final disposition of your estate.
• If you have minor children, indicate who should be responsible for them in your place.
The consequences of not having a will is that the intestate laws of your state of residence will dictate where your assets go (usually directly to your spouse, if not your children, if not your parents / siblings).
It’s important to note that to avoid probate, you’ll need to consider a different approach, such as a revocable trust.
Trusts come in several varieties, including revocable (modifiable) and irrevocable (unchangeable). There are a number of advantages to establishing a trust rather than a simple will. First, assets titled in a trust name can avoid probate after your death, which means your heirs can avoid spending a lot of time and money.
Second, a trust provides a measure of confidentiality that a will cannot. Probate is a public process and probate documents are readily available to the public. However, if your estate is administered through a trust, this information may remain private.
Finally, trusts offer greater flexibility than a simple will. After probate, your heirs receive their share of your estate in one go. However, a trust allows you to appoint a trustee who can manage the assets of your trust until such time as you believe your beneficiaries should have access to the wealth.
Your business is your legacy and without an estate plan, you are putting that legacy at risk. By failing to plan ahead, you can leave your family, business, and property unprotected.
For more information on this topic, please join Lake Street Advisors partners Melissa, Carolyn and Joe for a webinar with New Hampshire Tech Alliance at 10:00 a.m. on July 22, as they detail essential planning documents. estate, wills to health care. powers of attorney, powers of attorney, revocable and irrevocable trusts.
They will identify the purpose of each document, the main components and practical issues to consider. In addition, they will discuss common estate planning issues and opportunities unique to founders and entrepreneurs (such as irrevocable trust funding, QSBS tax planning techniques, etc.).