Most lawyers acknowledge the need to plan their estates for the benefit of their families and loved ones. But have you ever thought about what will happen to your practice and your clients after your demise? This is especially important for a solo practitioner or a lawyer with no obvious successor to take over his or her practice. The solo should make a strategic alliance, and possibly an agreement, with another lawyer to assume the solo’s practice after death.
Consider a couple of examples. First, we have Fred, a solo with a personal injury practice. Fred has contracted with most — if not all — of his clients for contingent fees. Now suppose Fred has gone on to glory. What will happen to Fred’s clients and Fred’s contingent fees? Choose an executor who is capable of winding up your practice. The personal representative for Fred’s estate will want to collect as much of the contingent fees as possible. Fred’s personal representative will negotiate with each succeeding lawyer to divide the fee in an equitable way to reflect the value of Fred’s efforts on the particular case.
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