Your legacy includes the work you do and how it supports your family, for many generations to come. You are not in business simply for the money, but for the impact you are leaving in the world. With our LIFT (legal, insurance, financial, and tax) planning model, we help you do things the right way and know that your family and your business are taken care of, without you being the one who has to do it all.
As an entrepreneur, a heavy thought in the back of your mind is probably how to pass down your legacy – how to stay true to what matters most to you, your family, and your work in the world.
The reality is that after you are gone or in the event of your incapacity, your loved ones, your family, your business partner, your clients, your vendors, and everyone you work with will miss you deeply. Your business needs to be able to go on to support them.
You will either leave them with a business that is meaningful, is easy to manage or easy to sell, and keeps supporting them – or you will leave them with a big mess to deal with.
Time and time again, this issue is overlooked by business owners and business lawyers serving their business owner clients
Whether you have a new business or an existing one, we help you shore up your legal, insurance, financial, and tax (LIFT) foundation with the right agreements, insurance, intellectual property protections, and financial systems so that your day-to-day runs smoothly and helps you sleep better at night.
Then we shift the conversation to the biggest question of all: the all-important exit (and there is always an exit, either voluntarily or involuntarily).
We will have an ongoing conversation throughout your life and the life of your business, exploring together what can we do today to ensure your business can and will continue to serve you and your clients no matter the situation. You will go on vacation, take a health break, perhaps become incapacitated, and pass away. You will know exactly what happens to your business in any of those events.
In addition, imagine you had a music album-length message from your great grandfather talking about his life during the Great Depression. He is talking about how he made his money, how he ran his business, and the most important lessons he learned along the way.
Through our unique life and legacy planning process, we will ensure you can do the same as your grandfather to leave your loved ones a tangible expression of your love for them far beyond your money and your business.
Would that be valuable to you and your family today?
Of course it would.
Read on for more…
Sole proprietors, partners, LLCs, and S-corps
Service businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses, and online businesses
Consultants and coaches
Everything in between if you have an idea you are working on, no matter how long you have been at it
Our Three-Step System So You Can Get Clear On The LIFT Foundation Your Business Needs
When you do not have a solid foundation of legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems in place for your business, you simply cannot sleep well at night. Our unique LIFT planning process helps reveal gaps in your business foundation so that you can make LIFT decisions for your business with your eyes wide open.
1. Foundation For Enough
Our primary focus at this stage is to separate your personal matters from your business. This includes getting your personal legal matters handled, establishing a foundation of insurance to protect you and your business, getting clear on how much money you need from your business to support your family, and ultimately knowing how much is enough.
2. Growth For Yield
Our primary focus here is t help you shift from a practice to a business. We help you map a three-year plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to go, and we will review things like systematizing your service, productizing it for leverage, establishing full team support, creating consistent cash flow, and maintaining the steady clarity that is required for you to truly be a leader of people.
3. Scale For Harvest
Our primary focus at this stage is to help you become a company and invest for legacy. We will plan for your exit or succession strategy, help you create a leadership team, advise on hiring on an operations executive, institute a business operating system that works for you, and help you get into your role as leader and visionary to do only what you can do.
What We Do
We help you to create a customized LIFT (legal, insurance, financial, and tax) foundation that includes elements of all of the following, depending on what is best for you, your family, and your business. We have thoughtfully packaged what we do into customizable options for you and your family, and all of our fees are flat-rate and agreed to in advance so there are no surprises.
Entity Formation and Maintenance
Small Business General Counsel Services
Intellectual Property Protection
Employee and Contractor Agreements, Handbooks, Hiring and Firing Strategies
Business Succession and Exit Planning
In Lost Sales After A Business Owner Dies
You as the business owner are the glue that holds your business together. Without a solid plan in place for your business to outlive you, you can expect sales to dip by at least 60% after you pass. Your family and your business likely cannot weather such a downward swing.
Successfully Leave Their Business To Their Family
Sadly, of the two-thirds of small business owners in the U.S. who want to pass their business to their family, only about a quarter of them are actually successful it. The other 3/4 simply did not do the right planning, or any planning at all.
Of Business Owners Stop Being Owners Eventually
We know that you will exit your business, but what we do not know is how exactly how or when that will happen. When it does happen, it could compromise the whole financial foundation you have built, unless you have done proper planning so you can sleep at night.
About Susan Ford
Hello, I am your neighborhood Personal Family Lawyer specializing in life, legacy, and LIFT Planning for families and business owners.
What I know is that your legacy is about more than wills and trusts, it is about more than just your business, and it is about more than money. As your trusted advisor, I help you make the very best legal decisions for your family and business with the kind of guidance usually reserved for only very high net worth business owners.
Our LIFT planning model covers not just what happens with your family and your business, but sets you up to pass on what matters most to you: Your values. Your priorities. Your relationships. Your life. Your legacy.
Schedule Your Free 15-Minute Consult
With our life and legacy planning model, we help you confidently make legal and financial decisions so you know you have a plan to keep everyone you love out of court and out of conflict after you pass. Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Business Planning
Do I need an LLC?
Yes, if you are the owner of a business of any size, you need at least some legal entity that is separate from you. This could include a limited liability company (LLC), limited liability partnership (LLP), or other professional legal entities specifically for lawyers, doctors, etc. No matter the situation or what kind of business you have, the first most important thing you can do to sleep better at night is to ensure you have established a separate legal entity for your business, otherwise your personal assets such as your home, your savings, or your nest egg are at risk of being wiped out if you find yourself in a personal lawsuit related to your business.
I rely on my financial advisor or CPA for advice. Why do I need an attorney?
In the world of business planning – especially in the world of protecting your personal assets from business liability, the best outcome for you, your family, and your business will be achieved only by working with a lawyer who encounters business planning situations daily. You have worked your whole life for what you have and the business you have created. While financial advisors and CPAs play an important role in your planning, they cannot give you legal advice. Unfortunately, some businesses collapse after the death of the business owner because they either did no planning at all, or if they did, they left gaping holes where they need professional advice. We encourage a lifelong relationship between you and your group of trust advisors (your financial professional, your CPA, and yes your lawyer) so that you can rely an advisory group for life to be there for your family and your business when you cannot be.
How much does it cost?
This is the most often asked question when it comes to our LIFT planning model, and that is okay – we know the topic of cost is a sensitive one when it comes to choosing a professional to guide you, and we have designed our fees on a flat-fee basis only so that you know exactly what you are committing to, leaving no surprises. While we cannot quote fees online or over the phone, we invite you to check out our upcoming educational events where we teach you what you should know about our unique LIFT planning model and how we help you through each stage of your business: foundation for enough, growth for yield, and foundation for harvest.
What is an S-Corp?
S-corp tax treatment is a popular election for many small business owners because of the potential tax savings. To be an s-corp, you have to first establish your business as a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. The reason you do that step first is because to be an “s-corp” means simply that you are a business entity electing a certain tax treatment; an “s-corp” is not an entity type in and of itself. Once you have established your business as an LLC or corporation with your state, then you can complete the appropriate IRS form to elect s-corp tax treatment. Whether or not you should elect s-corp tax treatment depends on many factors, and before making any decision we recommend you explore the question with your business lawyer, as there is not a cookie-cutter answer as to whether s-corp status is right for any particular business.
My business is only a side hustle. Do I really need "LIFT" planning?
Whether you have a job, a side hustle, a practice, a business, or a company that you can sell one day, it can be easy to get lost along the way to becoming the CEO of your life and your business. No matter where your income comes from and how much it is, we know that you want to keep your hard-earned money, and that you cannot afford to keep losing money on the wrong investments, advisors, or simple errors that are easy to avoid when you have clear guidance on your legal, insurance, financial, and tax foundations.
Can I deduct what I spend on LIFT planning?
Yes! Any legitimate business expense is deductible, and proper legal, insurance, financial, and tax planning is a legitimate business expense. Of course, check with your CPA for any exact tax rules on how to treat certain types of business expenses. In any event, expenses to get the right LIFT foundation in place for your business is deductible and not subject to personal income tax.