Estate Planning for Doctors

Physician Financial Services

Physician Financial PlanningIn a recent meeting, a surgeon’s wife made a statement that rings true for many physicians, “We’ve been meaning to get our wills updated for months, but we’re always too busy. Now he’s busy for the next four months because everyone has met their insurance deductibles, and wants to get their procedures done fast. Please make sure we stay on it and get it done early next year. What is it again that we need to fix?” Stories like this are all too common. Because you are busy, estate planning for doctors is easily pushed aside for the future to deal with the present. We are talking about your children’s well being though. We encourage you to review your progress in estate planning in light of the information contained in this article regardless of your current financial phase.

If you have not yet taken the time to establish a proper estate plan, it is now time to get started. Work with your financial team to make sure that all of these issues are being properly addressed. It is often best to work with an attorney that is recognized as specialist in the area of law in which you need assistance.

The Larson Law Firm specializes in meeting these needs for physicians and their families. They also have access to a great network of attorneys around the country in event they are not well suited for your situation.
Please visit www.rsllawfirm.com.

Estate planning cannot be done properly without coordination with the rest of your financial plan. If tax considerations or asset protection considerations are overlooked, it can be devastating to your plan.

Important: Make sure that someone is helping to quarterback this overall process.

Discussion Starters for Estate Planning

This requires participation from your spouse. Our best advice is to schedule a date night out to discuss some of these important issues over dinner. Go through these questions, and have a list of answers ready for your attorney. Then seek your attorney’s input on implementing these ideas into your plan.

If you have young children:

  • Who would you want to raise your children if you cannot? What if this person is not available? Who is your alternative?
  • Do any of your children have any special behavioral or health challenges?
  • If while living, you had $2 million to give to each of your children, how would you do it? Should this be different if you die? If so, what would you change?
  • Is there anyone you trust completely with your children’s financial future? If not, has your advisor recommended a bank or trust company to serve as the trustee of your assets, should something happen to you?

Other issues to address:

  • Do your children have needs that cannot be met on their own? Will leaving your assets to your children help or harm them?
  • Is there a certain piece of property, vacation home, or family retreat that you want to make sure is kept in the family?
  • Do you own real estate in multiple states?
  • Do you have any concerns about the stability of any of your children’s marriages?
  • Who would you want to manage your family’s investments if something happened to you?
  • Do you have HIPPA documentation signed and accessible by your appropriate loved ones?
  • Is there anyone that you would want to have access to important health information, outside of your spouse and minor children? A parent? A grown child?
  • Are there any charities you are currently supporting that you would like to continue supporting in death?
  • Would you be willing to use at least $1 million of your assets to establish a family foundation today to carry out your charitable endeavors?

Financial issues to consider:

  • Do you have any highly appreciated assets?
  • Is your net worth, including life insurance benefits, over $1 million?
  • If so, have you taken steps to solve your potential estate/death tax problems?
  • Are you or your spouse not a U.S. citizen?
  • Is asset protection of extreme importance to you?

Take your answers when you meet with your attorney who will have other questions for you to consider, but this will be a good starting point in your discussions.