August 30, 2016

Have a Plan in Place for When You're Not Able to Work

The Hon. William D. Missouri


The Voice of Experience this month is pleased that two of our attorneys have submitted useful articles that address certain areas of Trust Planning. Many Americans, attorneys included, fail to have necessary plans in place upon their death or in the event that they are no longer able to work.

Donna J. Jackson addresses succession planning in two articles, What Happens When an Attorney Dies or Becomes Incapacitated and The Importance of Business Succession Planning. These articles point out the importance and necessary avenues for having a business succession plan in place in the event of death or illness. Her articles give detailed and valuable information on developing a plan to ensure the survival of the business and problems that can arise when no attorney succession plan is in place.

The article by Karren Jo Pope-Onwukwe titled Grave Matters: What About the Children gives the legal mechanisms such as guardianship, irrevocable trust and discretionary needs trust that should be in place in order to prepare relatives to deal with matters following the death of a parent or grandparent, particularly when minor children are involved.

Members of the legal profession are very versed in planning for future events. We all advise our family members, our friends, our clients and even our neighbors that they are remiss in not creating a will to provide for the distribution of their property after their demise. However, it seems we are loath to follow that advice for ourselves because often attorneys die intestate and the probate court has to determine how the estate should be divided. The probate courts are often confronted with internecine fighting over who should inherit what from the deceased attorney. It is instructive therefore for us all to take the information provided by Karen in her article and make a roadmap for ourselves in addition to those that we advise.

Donna's articles are really an illustration for the solo practitioner as well as for closely held businesses. I've had the occasion to close out a practice as the Administrative Judge for my county. That is not an easy task because it is emotionally draining and intellectually challenging. Therefore every business owner should take a look at Donna's article and keep it by his or her desk as a reference when they are creating a succession plan for their offices.

We are grateful to the two authors this month for penning insightful and informational articles for our membership. Donna J. Jackson, an Oklahoma City attorney, is a CPA with an LLM in Elder Law. She specializes in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate and Taxes. She also serves as the Chair of the SLD's Estate Committee as well as a member of several other committees.

Karen Jo Pope-Onwukwe is a Maryland attorney, and a resident of Prince George's County, Maryland. She has a BA from Eastern Kentucky University, a BS from the University of Maryland University College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Karen specializes in Elder Law and Disability Rights. She serves as the Co-Chair of the SLD's Program Planning Committee for 2016-2017.

Obviously we all need to plan even if we are not solo practitioners, for there will come a day that we will not be in the land of the living and what we do as far as planning is concerned will be of upmost utility to those we leave behind.

This is the beginning of a new administration for the Senior Lawyers Division and I am excited about the writings that will be forthcoming in the Voice of Experience. We are the division of experienced lawyers who have, as the commercial says, "… seen a lot ‘cause we've done a lot." We are ready, willing and able to assist less experienced ABA members in whatever they would consider a subject of collaboration. As we move forward this year, we intend to be proactive and think outside of the box to provide intellectually challenging issues for our Division of more than 64,000 members. To that end we ask those new members to please make us aware of what they expect from their new home. The Senior Lawyers Division is anxious to have all new members play an active role in the Division's activities. As the chair I welcome everyone's participation in our committees and if there is a committee that you would be interested in but you do not see it among those that exist, there is no prohibition against establishing committees that will better serve your talents.

Welcome to the Voice of Experience and I ask you to come back each month and take a look at the information that will be coming through this publication. 

Respectfully with best regards,
William D. Missouri, Chair

The Hon. William D. Missouri