Lawyers are notorious for thinking of ways things can go wrong for their clients and then determining the best ways to protect their clients from them. One calamity few lawyers ever consider, however, is their own unexpected disability that puts their career on hold—or worse, their death.
If you’re like most other lawyers out there, you don’t have an incapacity plan or succession plan in place. Let’s see what consequences you’re potentially courting by failing to make these plans.
If you are a practicing attorney, just think about what would happen if one day, without any warning to anyone, you pass away. Who will be burdened?
You can avoid these calamitous consequences by taking steps today to create a succession plan that considers both incapacity and death. The best succession plans involve these two items:
Moreover, every plan needs to cover answers to these two questions that arise in every practice:
Here’s a to-do list that you should memorialize in your written succession plan.
People tend to forget that while solo and small firm lawyers are professional service providers, at the end of the day, they are also small business owners. As such, there are accompanying liabilities and responsibilities above and beyond their professional liabilities and responsibilities that must be tended to upon incapacity or death.
Here’s a checklist to add to your plan that covers the business-related issues involved in a successful succession.
Many malpractice carriers offer information about succession planning and so do many bar associations—many of which can be accessed online.
When an attorney dies, the successor works on the behalf of the deceased law yer’s estate. It is therefore important for the attorney’s heirs to know the identity of the successor and vice versa. Whether you’ve already created a plan or you are starting one as soon as you’re done reading this article, ensure that part of your process includes sharing your completed plan with all relevant parties.
Although no doubt some lawyers would vehemently disagree, lawyers still have a 100% mortality rate. Practicing forever is simply not an option. Plan for the unexpected and the inevitable. Without proper planning, your calamity will become your family’s and clients’ calamity. You all deserve better than that.