For so long, you have worked at a job and at home, cultivating a successful career and a loving family. Focus on the future may have been limited to next year or even next week. However, as the years progress, it is important to consider what will happen when you are no longer able to make decisions about your own health, finances, or business. Life is unpredictable. One never knows when sudden medical needs will arise or an unexpected death will occur. Having a plan already in place can ease some of the worry in these stressful situations. Though it can be difficult and emotional, it is important to formulate to get a plan in place today.
If you are seeking more information because you have already considered the uncertainty of the future, our website can provide information to help get you started planning your estate. If an unanticipated change has occurred and you need help now, don’t hesitate to call our office today at (803) 358-7214 to have your questions answered by an experienced member of our team.
How Estate Planning Now Can Avoid Future Trouble for Lexington Residents
Devising a plan before a need arises can help families save time and money, while avoiding disputes during emotional moments. With a plan already in place, it is possible that families can:
- Avoid probate. Estates can end up in probate for years, bleeding the estate of its resources and leaving families with little or nothing when the litigation resolves and final debts are paid. With the right planning, it is possible to avoid probate entirely.
- Preserve family relationships. All too often, when there is no clear plan, surviving family members argue over the assets. The rifts created in these situations are sometimes never repaired. A comprehensive estate plan leaves no uncertainty; family members have no reason for a dispute.
- Protect assets. Proper planning can protect the estate from taxes, creditors, or anyone else claiming a right to your money or property, preserving the maximum amount of your resources for loved ones.
Every family situation is unique, and each estate plan designed by the team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, is formulated with the specific needs and goals of the client in mind. Preserving your legacy and providing for your family can be done with the aid of a skilled attorney and the foresight to have these difficult discussions now.
Types of Estate Planning Services Our South Carolina Firm Offers
While a will is a commonly used estate planning tool, it is just one piece in what can be a much larger puzzle. The knowledgeable team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, offers comprehensive services to cover a wide variety of situations, including some that you may have not considered before. Our services include:
- Last Will and Testament – Commonly known as a will, this document can tell the Court who you want to receive your things, name guardians of minor children, and state how you would like your remains disposed of, among other things.
- Financial Power of Attorney – A financial power of attorney names a person (or persons) to make financial decisions for you should you become unable to make them yourself. Taking this step early prevents the need for the court to appoint someone and could potentially save your family thousands of dollars.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney – Similar to the financial power of attorney, this document names a person who can make decisions regarding your healthcare if you are incapacitated. It also allows you to make clear your wishes regarding organ donation and the degree of life-sustaining measures you desire.
- Trusts – Contrary to popular belief, trusts are not just for the extremely wealthy. Trusts offer greater flexibility in determining how and when your assets will be made available to your beneficiaries. They can also offer protection against probate, creditors, and tax liability. Additionally, trusts are an essential component in protecting the future of a special needs child.
- Family Limited Partnerships – Commonly called an FLP, this estate planning tool is used to transfer assets more easily from generation to generation.
- Limited Liability Companies – Known as an LLC, this type of entity offers business owners protection from personal liability.
If you are unsure exactly what your estate or business planning needs are, don’t hesitate to visit our website and fill out a contact form. We offer free, no-obligation consultations and can help you learn more about what might be appropriate for your estate.
Planning for the Future of Your Business
When most people hear “estate planning,” they assume it’s a personal matter. It is also crucial, however, to address the future of a business, especially a family-owned business. Every business and structure is unique, so there is no blanket plan that is best for every business. The skilled attorneys at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, take the time to discuss the details of each business and family, what the future goals may be for the business, and how best to proceed with changing ownership. You’ve worked hard to grow or maintain a business that is prosperous, and our team can help continue that tradition of excellence.
Statistically, four out of five family-owned businesses fail to succeed the original owner’s children. So, it is imperative to proactively address the future of the business now. Common issues that should be addressed include:
- A timeline for the changing of hands. Typically, a longer timeline reaps the most tax benefit. It is best to start this process as early as 10 years before you plan to officially retire. Also, going ahead and discussing how control is going to be transitioned and whether there will be an income stream for the original owner after retirement should be addressed well in advance of the actual transition.
- The future structure of the business. This is especially important if multiple children will inherit the business. Who will run the day-to-day operations? Will there be voting and non-voting shares? Will different children run different departments? Do they need to start gathering experience now?
- A plan for the sale of the business. If you don’t have children or your children are not interested in taking over the business, planning for the sale of the business as early as possible allows time to make the business as desirable as possible to future buyers. Additionally, would you want to consider giving employees the option to buy you out?
- How to minimize taxes while transitioning the business. Transferring a business to your children or other heirs can involve significant tax consequences. However, the good news is that by building a plan in advance, it is often possible to significantly reduce or even completely eliminate these taxes.
You may feel far removed from the time when you will no longer work at your business, but it is never too early to start planning. Life changes quickly, and it is best to be prepared. This can preserve as much of your assets as possible and leave a lasting legacy of your hard work and sacrifice.
Call Our Experienced South Carolina Estate Planning Team Today
At Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, we understand how estate and business planning can be a difficult, emotional task. Let our team help you plan for the future and protect your assets for a lasting legacy. If you are ready to starting taking control of your estate, call our Lexington office at (803) 358-7214 for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can also download our free books, 5 Reasons a Simple Will Might Not Be Enough and The Top 10 Mistakes Personal Representatives Make and How to Avoid Them, to get started today.