Memorial Day: Think Ahead, Leave a Legacy

Posted by on May 22, 2021 in Legal News |

Memorial Day is one of America’s longest-standing, most-honored holidays. It was first instituted in 1868, when General John A. Logan, the commander in chief of an organization honoring Union Civil War veterans, wanted to commemorate all that the Union soldiers did for America. 

It’s hard to tell exactly where the first Memorial Day celebrations originated. Over twenty-five locations have laid claim to the holiday. Even before the Civil War, soldiers’ graves were often decorated, and the decoration continued during the American Civil War. Scholarly efforts have tried to detangle myth from legend and discover the exact origin, but it has been difficult. Either way, the holiday is now federally-observed and an important part of the fabric of the nation. Every Memorial Day, Americans all across the country visit the graves of soldiers who died while serving in the Armed Forces. 

Now, Memorial Day is a way to honor and remember the sacrifices of those who died for our freedom. In the spirit of Memorial Day, it’s important to think ahead and leave a legacy for you and your family.

Thinking Ahead 

“Thinking ahead,” in this context, refers to planning for life’s possibilities and eventualities. Sickness, as we all know from these COVID-19 times, can loom large on the horizon. However, there can also be real issues that pop up even when you’re perfectly healthy. 

In Sickness

A healthcare directive is a document that will specify your wishes to doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel in the event that you’re too sick to communicate your wishes yourself. 

A power of attorney is someone you entrust with the responsibility to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. Both a directive and a POA are two documents that, in sickness, can keep you from losing more than just your health.

And in Health 

Tragedy can strike even when you’re healthy. The importance of insurance cannot be overstated. Life insurance will provide your family or business with a source of income after you pass away, bridging an important financial gap. 

Estate planning for SBOs (small business owners) is also vital, even if there are no storm clouds on the horizon. Your business is your life’s work, and you want to make sure it is protected, through insurance and from creditors, if something happens. Estate planning attorneys and financial advisors can help protect what you’ve worked for.

Leaving a Legacy

Though a gloomy topic, what will happen to your assets after you pass away? You do not want to die without a will, as dying intestate ensures a lengthy, painful court process that will be hard on your family. Using estate planning to leave a legacy for your kids and, if applicable, your business, is extremely important. 

For Your Kids

Your last will and testament is the final say on where you want your assets distributed. You can also consider a trust, which will transfer legal title to a trustee until you want your kids to receive the asset in question (property, money, etc.).  

For Your Business

You should create a succession plan for your business. It’s extremely important, especially for family-owned businesses, to contact an attorney about laying down the groundwork for what will happen to your business when you pass away. 

Celebrating Memorial Day means reflecting on both the past and the future. While we should definitely commemorate what has happened, we also should look forward to leaving a legacy.

Visit our website to learn more and contact an estate planning attorney.

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Protecting Your Small Business in 2021

Posted by on May 14, 2021 in Legal News |

Time is flying by in 2021, and is that really such a bad thing? If you’re a small business owner, you know that the past year-and-a-half has been difficult. Though there are government programs that have helped keep small businesses afloat, things are not completely back to normal. 

Luckily, there are various legal ways you can protect your business assets, even in these troubled times. Use this guide as a reflection tool. It’s almost mid-year—how are things looking for your business? What steps have you taken to protect what you have built? 

What the Surveys Are Saying conducted a survey of small business owners, asking them about their forecast for 2021. The survey found that, while a majority of SBOs are optimistic, they are also making changes in how they run their businesses. 75% are introducing new products and methods of conducting business as we enter the second year of COVID-19. 

New innovation is a necessity for an SBO. However, it is, obviously, not the only necessity. Estate plans are a must-have. In the next section, we’ll discuss several key components of small business estate planning. 

Estate Planning for Your Small Business

If you’re a small business owner, you probably have a million things to focus on each day. It’s imperative to carve out time in your schedule, however busy, to create an estate plan. Around one-third of small business owners have no estate plan (Fundera), which means they have no written-down plan for succession. 

Basic Planning 

A will and power of attorney are two basic must-have documents for any SBO. A will states how you want your business to be distributed (succeeded, liquidated, sold, etc.) after you die. A power of attorney will handle financial and business transactions, such as paying bills, handling insurance claims, and such, if you are unable to do so yourself. 

Tax Considerations

This is where it is especially important to hire an attorney, as tax laws are always in flux. Estate planning attorneys might be able to help minimize estate taxes, which are an issue for estates exceeding a certain amount of money (currently, $11.18 million). Other tax considerations include withdrawal of 401(K)s, IRAs, and/or other retirement accounts.  

Buy-Sell Agreements 

Buy-sell agreements are optional and really only apply to businesses that have multiple owners. Buy-sell agreements are legal documents that specify who can purchase an owner’s share of the business. BSAs also specify the conditions and price of the sale. This document lays out what should happen if one of the owners dies, retires, or becomes disabled. 


Insurance is one of the most vital tools an SBO can possess. While business insurance is obvious, life and disability are two other insurance policies you should think about. Life insurance coverage will provide your family (or another named beneficiary, like your business) with income when you die. The insurance can also guarantee income to your business, keeping the company operating when you are gone. 

Disability insurance will provide coverage in the event of a short- or long-term disability. Again, it will give your business much-needed cash flow. You can purchase these policies with your family and/or business as the beneficiary. 

Succession Plan

Succession planning specifies exactly how you, your company, and family will prepare for the ownership transition. Succession plans are written documents that lay out what will happen to your company when you die. They include much of the same information as business plans, just with an added section on succession. You’ll want to keep the succession plan document and will consistent with one another, so as to prevent expensive litigation or court battles down the line.

Family-Owned Issues 

Family-owned businesses often face a host of issues that other small businesses don’t. For example, one child of a business owner might want to take over the business, while the other doesn’t. There also might be concerns about keeping family business assets within the bloodline. An estate planning attorney, as well as a financial advisor, will be able to help you find legal pathways to structuring your business estate plan in the way that best fits you and your family.

Updating the Plan

You’ll want to update your estate plan regularly. When you experience major life or business changes, or when tax laws (both federal and state) change, you’ll want to take another look at your documents.  

This guide isn’t the be-all, end-all of protecting your business, but it should hopefully give you a chance to reflect on what you have done and have yet to do for your company. Contact an estate planning attorney to learn more and visit our website for details on how we can help.

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Protecting Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Posted by on May 9, 2021 in Legal News |

Mother’s Day has been around since the early 1900s, and we’ve cherished it for over a century. In 1907, a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, and announced her intention to create Mother’s Day as a way for all maternal figures to be celebrated for all they do for their children. 

It didn’t take long before Mother’s Day became a full-fledged holiday, and, every year, we celebrate it with flowers, brunches, and spa days. But, what if the gift for this holiday was a little different? 

Though you shouldn’t skimp on all the usual Mother’s Day presents, consider setting up an estate planning meeting for your mom. This gift might seem a little unorthodox, but it will have long-term benefits that will last for years to come.

How Estate Planning Can Help Moms 

Estate planning has several key elements. Though there are a million and one documents and legal tools that can go into an estate plan, this article will cover the basics. If your mom needs any of these key documents, contacting an estate planning attorney will be the perfect gift this season. 

Last Will & Testament 

When you think of estate planning, the idea of a “last will and testament” is probably what you picture. Last wills and testaments date back thousands of years, and they are still an important aspect of estate planning to this day.
The will outlines what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away. Though a bit morbid for a Mother’s Day gift, it’s far less dreary than dying without a will (AKA, dying “intestate”). In that case, the state takes over your assets in the probate process. The state’s division of assets focuses on creditor repayment, which is likely far different from what your mom would want to have happen to her most prized possessions. 

Drawing up a will is not difficult, but it’s best to have an attorney do it, as there are a lot of minor technicalities that an untrained eye can overlook. Wills also do not have to be updated constantly. The rule of thumb is to check them every three to five years or after a major life event.

Living Will & Healthcare Power of Attorney

A living will is also called an advanced medical directive. It outlines what you want doctors and nurses to do or not do if you are seriously ill and incapable of communicating your wishes yourself. A living will often relates to personal decisions about life support and life-sustaining medical intervention. 

A healthcare power of attorney, by contrast, is a trusted individual that you appoint to manage your healthcare affairs if you’re unable to do so yourself. This healthcare POA signs a legal document swearing to act in your best interests if you need someone to make your healthcare decisions for you.

So, why are these legal tools important? Being sick or incapacitated means you are experiencing one of the most vulnerable points of your life. Having a healthcare directive and power of attorney ensure that you (or your mom) are well-taken-care-of, even in such a diminished state. 

Financial Power of Attorney

Similar to a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney is a trusted individual who signs a legal document swearing to act in your best interests. This financial POA exercises his or her decision-making powers as they pertain to your finances. Should you become seriously ill, the financial POA handles investment decisions, bill-paying, and other major and minor financial matters. 

If your mom attends an estate planning session, it’s likely that the document pertaining to the financial POA will be created at the same time as the last will and testament. It is especially important to nominate a financial POA if there are a lot of financial assets or specifications regarding the estate.


Last but certainly not least is a trust. A trust is a legal document that transfers legal title of property to a trustee, who holds it for the benefit of a third-party beneficiary. Trusts do not have to go through probate court, and you can set restrictions and guidelines for how you want beneficiaries and trustees to manage your assets.

A trust is an especially good idea for those with sizable insurance policies, large estates, and/or a lot of kids. If these characteristics apply to your mom, talk to an estate planning attorney about setting up this legal entity. 

We want to protect the ones we love and, of course, our moms are no exception. Estate planning is a long-term gift with long-term benefits. Consider setting up a meeting for your mother this holiday and visit our website to learn more about our services. 

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