I am often surprised to find experienced, successful medical professionals who have no estate plan in place, or if they have one it is outdated. Clearly, the stress and strain of their every day professional practices leave little time for this “back-burner” issue. It is highly important – and it is time to move it to the front burner.
Medical Professionals (doctors, dentists, veterinarians, therapists) especially those with a private practice have unique issues that require an highly individualized approach.
One very important component is a comprehensive asset protection plan. It is critical to evaluate the nature of the practice and its organization. Additionally, special attention to ownership issues should be addressed. It may be prudent to own the real estate in an L.L.C. which leases the property to the practice. The equipment may also be broken out into a separate company. In this manner, the assets of the professional practice can be protected from liability.
A thorough evaluation should be made of the medical professional’s retirement assets. Also, the personal and/or marital assets should be structured for the maximum asset protection today and the appropriate transition in the future.
High asset individuals such as doctors, dentists and veterinarians must determine how these assets would be managed and administered for their family in the event of their disability or death. Trusts may be critical if there are children who are minors or young adults in order to provide for the appropriate distribution of assets for and to these children.
Since this planning requires a comprehensive approach, a team approach should be used including legal, accounting and financial professionals.
The important key is that this cannot stay a “back-burner” issue indefinitely. It needs to be addressed and resolved. Place these issues at the forefront and resolve to address these issues in the near future.