Ryan Conklin

Financial planning an essential succession effort

By Ryan Conklin, Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA

A few months ago, I was presenting in Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual financial essentials workshops. The goal of these programs is to provide members with the legal, financial, and risk-management tools that accompany the succession planning process. Farm Bureau has diligently identified experts across the state to advise members on all these areas and many others.

As a frequent presenter on the legal front, I have observed a superb roster of financial professionals outlining retirement goals, insurance considerations, healthcare costs, long-term care planning, and other areas. For this article, I would like to expand upon the relationship between your attorney and your financial planner and how both advisors can help accomplish your goals.

Probate management

The first area your attorney and financial planner can address is probate management. If your investment or insurance products are not titled correctly, or if there are no beneficiaries designated, the accounts may require a probate estate to transfer to the next generation. Since each financial institution has different rules regarding titling and beneficiaries, a financial planner is in a great position to help you navigate those obstacles and avoid a long and costly probate estate.

Help with liquidity

Sometimes an attorney drafts a succession plan that features business, land, or equipment buyouts, equalizing distributions with cash payments, or providing cash-only to an heir. For many farm businesses, cash is typically not available to complete a buyout, equalization, or cash distribution. Insurance or financial products may be able to help with these transactions by providing much-needed liquidity to a trust, estate, or business. As you explore your options with a financial planner, keep your cash flow in mind with premium payments.  

Funding your goals

Furthermore, some families identify retirement, healthcare costs, and long-term care as goals or problem areas for their plans. While these subjects may involve a legal component, oftentimes they have a financial component. Though it seems obvious, attorneys are not financial planners. We are not experts on products that can generate cash for your retirement or for your care. Financial advisors are in a much better position to assist in these areas. 

Finding a financial expert

Lastly, your financial planner can be the party to help get your plan off the ground. Some planners have many years of experience with a family and can serve as a mediator. In other instances, you can consult a financial planner who is certified as a Nationwide Land As Your Legacy agent. These agents are specially trained to help get your plan off the ground before bringing your legal counsel into the fold.

The title “financial essentials workshops” is not an overemphasis.  The seminars address crucial parts of the succession planning process and how they work together. This piece only presents four ways that an attorney and financial planner can work together, there may be several more. As you work to accomplish your plan, make sure your professional team, which includes a financial planner and attorney, is working together on your goals.

Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA is a proud partner with Ohio Farm Bureau. Since 1988, our firm has assisted farmers, rural residents, and landowners from all over the state with their farm succession planning and agricultural legal needs. To learn more about Wright & Moore, visit OhioFarmLaw.com.