Every person should have an estate plan, however medical professionals have additional needs and considerations. Several options are available to protect your assets and to ensure that the practice you spent years building benefits your heirs when you pass away. Learning the different ways to not only preserve your assets but protect them through estate planning can help you understand your rights and help you make the best choices as you create your estate plan.
Standard Estate Planning
Every person needs a solid and comprehensive estate plan in which retirement planning, tax planning, business planning, and estate planning work in unison. While medical professionals need a traditional estate plan, they have additional concerns and issues that others outside the medical community may not face.
Additionally, although doctors and dentists may be making a lot of income, they may not have a high net worth. Without a solid retirement plan, they may not be setting enough aside for retirement, or failing to strategically save in a way that would reduce their income tax liability. Estate planning for medical professionals can be a unique process in that there are certain advantages available, such as irrevocable trusts for minor children, that can help not only prepare for retirement but also ensure that your estate passes to your beneficiaries with minimal tax penalties.
As a medical practitioner, you are likely aware of the potential for medical malpractice lawsuits. There is a saying among medical professionals, “There are two kinds of doctors – those who have been sued, and those who will be sued.” Given our litigious society, it is important to create a plan that will protect the practice’s business assets.
There are two types of trusts that may assist in asset protection for medical professionals: domestic asset protection trusts and foreign asset protection trusts. Visiting with an estate planning attorney can help you understand how these types of trusts could be useful or advantageous to you financially.
The assets that your medical practice owns are likely considerable. Property, equipment, and receivables are just some of the assets of your business. Who will buy your interest in this property when you pass away? Who knows the true value of your business?
A buy-sell agreement is a tool that eliminates the complicated transaction of selling a business after a medical professional passes away. The agreement decides ahead of time who will buy the interest and the value of your business and eliminates the uncertainty regarding not only who will buy the business, but at what price. There are even options for you to pre-fund the buy-sell agreement with an insurance policy, which would ensure that funds are available to any beneficiaries, therefore avoiding any disruption in the course of your business.
Protecting your business interests and ensuring that your beneficiaries receive the benefit of your practice after you pass away can be done through a properly executed buy-sell agreement. Consider visiting with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine if this estate planning option is right for your business.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you are a medical professional, you have distinct and unique financial situations to examine as you create your estate plan. Contact the Law Office of Kris Mukherji at (858) 442-5747 to learn your best plan for ensuring that your beneficiaries receive the assets from your practice that took you years to build.
Unless you have not had to access to social media, a newspaper, or television in recent weeks, it is likely you have heard the name, Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is now widely known for his alleged sexual assault of underage girls spanning a number of years. Allegations include assaulting girls in New York, Florida, and other locations, and more recently, he was charged with one count of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He pled not guilty to these crimes and was being held in jail in New York.
Two days before committing suicide in his jail cell, Epstein signed a will. Victims who allege assault by Epstein have filed a lawsuit against his estate. In his will, Epstein left his estate to a private trust. It is estimated that his estate is worth more than $577 million. The victims of Epstein suing the estate might have a difficult time making a claim on his assets now that they have been left to a private trust.
The use of a private trust in an individual’s estate is not new. Using a trust is often a strategic move based on the needs and wants of the individual preparing the estate documents. Accusers who filed a civil suit against Epstein’s estate face a tough legal battle for monetary damages. The criminal suit against Epstein died with him, but his estate is still subject to civil suits. If the criminal case had gone to court and Epstein had been convicted, it would have likely been easier to collect monetary damages in a civil suit. The elimination of the criminal suit does not eliminate the possibility of recovering in a civil suit, however.
One possible scenario for those suing Epstein’s estate is that they will be locked in a legal battle for many years. Epstein’s will was filed in the Virgin Islands. There will be no money leaving the trust until all claims are settled.
While the use of a trust could create some legal roadblocks, there is the possibility that all of Epstein’s assets were not transferred into the trust before his death, especially since it was signed only two days before his death. Additionally, even if all assets were transferred before his death, there is a possibility that the transfer could be deemed fraudulent. This is because Epstein was facing criminal charges when the transfer was made and the courts could rule the transfer of property as fraudulent and therefore the assets would be available to those pursuing damages because they are not a part of the trust.
While your estate plan will likely never be as contested as Jeffrey Epstein’s, it is important to have a solid and legal plan nonetheless. Knowing that your assets will be handled in your preferred way after death provides peace of mind to most people. The estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji are here to help you create an estate plan specifically tailored to your needs and wants. Contact us today for a consultation.Read More
Key Elements in a Buy-Sell Agreement and Their Importance
Those individuals successful in business know that there is an advantage to forward-thinking. Being prepared for the future, unexpected challenges or a changing business climate all need to be in the forefront of a business owner’s mind. Preparation is a key element of any business. There are many ways in which a business owner can be prepared, such as through the use of a buy-sell agreement.
A buy-sell agreement is a “legally binding contract that stipulates how a partner’s share of a business may be reassigned if that partner dies or otherwise leaves the business.” It is a contract among co-owners of a business that outlines a plan of action if a partner leaves the business. Many of the terms and conditions of a buy-sell agreement will be heavily dependent on the type of business entity involved, the number of business owners, nature of the business, and other considerations. The specifics of every buy-sell agreement will be different between each individual business, but there are key elements that anyone involved with a buy-sell agreement will want to consider:
- Triggering Events: It is essential to have language in the agreement that outlines when the agreement is triggered and the conditions contained within it can be enforced. Is this agreement only applicable to the death of an owner? Can events like termination of employment, losing required professional licenses, or even bankruptcy trigger the agreement?
- Rights and Obligations: There is a difference in something being considered a right versus an obligation. If a triggering event happens, are conditions in the agreement mandatory? Or do the parties to the agreement have the option to enforce the terms?
- Tax Implications: Buying and selling a business can have serious tax implications. The implications for all parties to the agreement need to be considered before signing.
- Valuation of the Business: In many agreements, owners are given the option to buy the leaving owner’s share of the business. This comes for the need to valuing the business. Business owners do not know what the value of their business will definitely be in the future, but the agreement can set forth the manner in which the business will be valued when it needs to be.
- Funding and Buy-Out Term: The buy-sell agreement needs to contain terms that outline the timeline of buying the business. It needs to be done efficiently so that the goals of both the buyer and the seller are considered. The timing of the buyout needs to be considered in the funding. You never want to leave your business in a vulnerable cash position, so timing the buyout with the funding required is essential.
The business law attorneys at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji know the importance of being prepared and the importance a buy-sell agreement can have on your business. We want your business to be set up for success, and part of that success is having properly drafted language in contracts. Contact us today for a consultation.Read More
The Dangers of Using Online Contract Forms
Everything is available at the click of a button via the internet. This includes free contract forms
that are downloadable and can be used for various business transactions. These online contract
forms might seem like a convenient, cost-effective tool to meet your business’s needs. You have
probably heard the phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, it is probably not true.” When it
comes to online fillable business contract forms, this phrase is appropriate. Sure, it might be
convenient to use forms available at the click of a button, but these forms come with some
Using the Wrong Form
Even forms that are labeled might be misleading. Contract law is complicated and nuanced. The
name of the form might not be the legal consequence that the parties to the contract are seeking.
Names or titles that a layperson might think are interchangeable could have serious legal
consequences. An experienced business attorney can make sure that the appropriate contracts
being used and that they contain the correct language throughout.
Missing Crucial Terms
Many form contracts use what is known as boilerplate language. This is a language that is inserted
into every contract as a “one size fits all” situation. There may be language contained in these
boilerplate language contracts, or language missing, that can alter your intended meaning and
result of the contract.
Not Having All the Knowledge
Simply put, no one knows everything about any subject. When it comes to legal matters, it is best
to go with an experienced and trusted attorney who has undergone extensive training to be
licensed to practice law. When entering into any legal matter, you want to have the most
information possible. Simply put, you do not know what information you might be missing, and
that information might completely change the nature and effectiveness of your business contract.
Not Meeting Specific Needs
As stated above, many form contracts use boilerplate information that is not altered based on the
needs of the parties using the contract. Each situation is unique and might require additional
information or the parties to the contract might prefer that there be additional information or
terms included in the contract.
Specific State Laws
Every state might be different in their use, interpretation, and contract requirements. When using
a form contract, there is no guarantee that the contract is acceptable and valid in your state.
Should an issue arise between the parties of a contract, you do not want there to be issues
regarding the enforceability of said contract because it does not meet the requirements dictated
by the state.
At the end of the day, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced business law attorney
when you are putting together any business contract. The business attorneys at the Law Offices
of Kris Mukherji are here to help. We take the time to fully understand your goals with a contract
so that your needs are met. You would not trust a doctor to work on your car, so why would you
trust the internet for legal advice? Contact us today for a consultation.
Why Transferring Property Via Deed may not be a Good Idea
Deciding what to do with your property and assets after death can be quite difficult. Who do you
want to own your property? How does property get transferred? What is probate? Should I just
transfer ownership during my lifetime instead of waiting until after death? These are frequently
asked questions for individuals who are making their estate plans. For some, they think that
transferring ownership of the property during their lifetime is the way to go. They think that by
adding their children, grandchildren, or other intended beneficiary to the deed, they can avoid
any issues that might arise after their death. While on the surface this might seem like the best
option, transferring property to another individual before your death might result in unintended
and undesirable consequences.
The issues surrounding transferring property via deed to another person stem from the ownership
rights the other person would then have to your property. For example, an individual who owns a
home and wishes to leave it to a child after death might consider putting that child on the deed
now. The child who is included on the property’s deed is now a co-owner of the property. This
might not seem like an issue, but sharing ownership with someone is a risk in and of itself.
The following are issues that might arise when sharing ownership:
- Civil suits: If the co-owner of your property is sued, your property could be at risk. You
do not want to lose your home because someone else is being sued.
- Even if you are the co-owner of the property with your child, you do not know what someone
else is capable of. The co-owner might try to evict you or otherwise take away your
ability to live in your own home, even if you are currently living there. A California
couple in 2016 found themselves in this situation.
- Untimely death: If the co-owner passes away before the other individual, there is the
possibility of the other owner being subjected to paying taxes including capital gains
taxes due to not receiving a step-up in basis.
- Lines of Credit: The co-owner of the property can take out a mortgage or other equity
without your consent. Beyond just knowing what lines of credit are tied to your property,
if the co-owner falls behind in payments, then your property is in danger.
In order to avoid any issues with the co-ownership of property, you can pass along that property
through a trust or a will. An experienced estate attorney can help you determine the best way to
handle your property after death. The estate attorneys at the Law Offices of Kris Mukherji are
here to help you create an estate plan that works. We know that it can be confusing to determine
what to do with your assets and property after death. We want to eliminate this confusion and set
you up with an estate plan that addresses issues and gives you the peace of mind that your
property is taken care of following your death. Contact us today for a consultation.