Succession Planning: A Business Strategy in the Event of Death or Disability
(One of which is Inevitable)
First – Find the Right Person: Preferable an attorney to cover your cases or be able to assist with closing down your practice. Define the role:
- Is the assisting attorney acting as your attorney and therefore not able to represent your clients; or
- Will this attorney represent your clients?
- Be sure a conflicts check is done.
Second – Trust Accounts: Consider appointing a different person as the authorized signer on your trust account contingent upon a specific event. Check with your bank for their requirements. Choose carefully as you will be held responsible for the authorized signer’s actions.
Third – Signed Consent Form: Between you and the assisting attorney defining the responsibility to contact your clients for instructions on transferring their files, authorizations to obtain extensions of time in litigation matters, and authorization to provide all relevant people with notice of the closure of your law practice.
Fourth – Financial Affairs: Define the assisting attorney’s authority to wind down your financial affairs, provide a final accounting to clients, collect fees on your behalf, liquidate or sell your practice, close your IOLTA account, etc.
Fifth – Client Notification: Provide your clients with advance notice of your plan by including it on your Retainer Agreement or Engagement letter.
Sixth – Office Procedures: 1) Do not keep original client documents such as wills or other estate plans; 2) Maintain current time, calendar, and billing records; 3) Maintain a manual with office procedures, including how to produce a list of active client names/addresses.
For more detailed information and sample forms, visit:
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