Planning for the future of your loved ones and your assets is somewhat more complicated for physicians than the average person. There are a number of key items doctors and medical professionals must consider when engaged in the estate planning process. In fact, setting up a sound estate plan should be a foundation of your overall financial planning strategies.
One of the most common mistakes physicians make is to put off estate planning, focusing priorities instead on things like earnings, investments and taxes. Even if they do set up key estate planning documents, doctors often fail to update them as time goes on, believing that a will or trust is a one-time, permanent fix. The fact is that these documents should be updated every few years to account for changing income, assets and circumstances.
Many physicians also make the mistake of failing to share key information with spouses or loved ones, especially when it comes to business succession issues for a practice or clinic. All beneficiaries should be aware of your estate plan, even if you don’t want to disclose the details of how much they will receive. Further, your spouse should have access to copies of any business documents, such as operating agreements, that spell out what happens to the interest in the medical practice in the event of a practitioner’s death.
Once you’ve started the estate planning process, don’t forget to account for your digital assets — particularly software and online systems that keep track of financial data and accounting. Your will should include critical information like passwords and account numbers so that the right people can access them later on.
Estate planning is one task that most people would like to put off indefinitely. If you’re a physician, however, it’s important to get this done as soon as possible in the best interests of the people close to you. A Jacksonville attorney with knowledge of healthcare and estate planning laws can help you address unique estate planning issues and protect your assets for your heirs.
Jacksonville, Florida healthcare attorney Andrea Jevic also contributed to this blog post.