It is especially urgent for individuals whose assets are considerable and connected in complex ways to develop an estate plan. If you have grown a family business into a multi-billion dollar global company, if you have shares, interests, and proprietary rights in a number of companies, if you own properties around the world and have tied them to different enterprises, then it is essential that you clarify who is to assume control and ownership when you are gone.
The livelihoods of hundreds or even thousands of people will depend on the soundness and transparency of your estate plan. You may have the utmost love and fondness for your spouse and your children. You may want to ensure that they are comfortable when you have passed on. However, the control and administration of any companies that you own or are connected is a different matter. It may be your wish that the people that you have worked with, trained up, and have the utmost confidence in be left with the sole responsibility of running businesses when you are gone.
Without a clear, detailed, and irrefutable estate plan issues related to the control and ownership of your assets will be thrown into the courts. They will need to be adjudicated, and the result may be contrary to your intentions at best. At worst, it could plunge your enterprises into extreme chaos and lead to the unraveling of all that you spent your life putting together.
You may still be relatively young and vigorous, or you may be getting on in years and nearing retirement. No matter your age or physical condition, you never know when illness or accident might incapacitate or kill you. If you have accumulated the kinds of assets discussed above, then you should sit down with a lawyer and start developing an estate plan.
If you already have a lawyer that you consider a confidant, then you should speak with them about your desire to put an estate plan in place. Such legal documents should be drawn up by a specialist, and your family counsel can help you choose one.
An estate planning lawyer will prevent your money, capital, and business interests from going to probate court when you are gone. They will also draw up a will, trusts, and powers of attorney. Issues involving a second marriage, multiple businesses, multi-state and multi-nation real estate holdings, step children, problem children, charity bequests, IRAs and 401(k)s, and estate taxes can all be sorted through with the help of a qualified estate planning attorney.
The rather delicate subject of incapacitation and end of life services can also be included in the estate plan. If you are stricken by an illness that prevents you from exercising executive functions, you can decide now who gets to make decisions concerning your health care, and who will make decisions concerning your businesses and assets.
You have worked hard to establish solid companies and a stable family. You do not want it torn apart because of mistakes and neglect. Developing an estate plan is not something you can do on your own. Only a professional with deep insight into the law can help you draw up a plan that will actually withstand legal scrutiny. Working with an estate planning lawyer will allow you to leave the people who have come to depend on you with a clear and unambiguous document on which to build their own futures.