Succession planning is important not only for retirement and death but also for disability. What would happen to your clients and your practice, if, tomorrow, you were struck with an illness that resulted in your being away from the office for an extended period of time? Would you have a practice to return to, upon your recovery?
To avoid the chaos, the added expense, and the tremendous stress that results when no plan is in place for any of these happenings, it is important that you begin now to put a succession plan in place.
Developing an Action Plan
It is important to keep in mind that a succession planning initiative itself is intended to:
- protect your client’s interests;
- minimize financial risk and emotional upset to your family; and
- maximize the value of your practice.
Specific Goals to Consider When Developing Your Action Plan
- Identify and come to an agreement with an assisting lawyer – one who will step in and deal with your practice on either on an emergency or a long-term basis in the event of your death or disability;
- Organize your practice and your files to allow for an orderly transition of your practice;
- Review trust account balances – determine why funds are still being held in trust and disburse where possible. Make any necessary application to dispose of undistributed trust funds;
- Develop file retention and destruction policies and review your files to determine:
- what can be culled from files;
- what must be maintained; and
- Who will keep your closed files when you retire or on your death Letter from assisting lawyer advising that planning lawyer Is unable to continue in practice
- Remember to consider Client ID Regulations [see Regulation 4.13] and other Legal Profession Act Regulations, including those relating to the maintenance of real property foundation documents.
[See Part 13 of the Legal Profession Act Regulations here]
- Insurance needs – look at all the insurance coverage you have – errors and omissions, (including excess insurance) as well as personal life, disability and business expense coverage, to determine if what you have is adequate and how your retirement might impact this coverage.
All of the succession planning resources and practice aids enclosed or referenced in the PDF package below are provided to assist practitioners. They are not meant to be a complete analysis of the topic, or necessarily to be used as is.
You should also do your own appropriate legal research and modify documents to reflect the facts and agreement in each situation.
Review the NSBS “Succession Planning & Exiting Practice” page for more information and resources