Succession Planning for Lawyers
The Ontario Lawyers Gazette recently published a helpful article titled “Succession Planning Protects You and Your Clients”, which reminds licensees of the importance of planning for the future.
According to a 2006 survey, 80% of sole practitioners do not have a plan detailing who would service their clients in the event of their death or incapacity. This is an alarming number of sole practitioners who are putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
Under the provisions of the Law Society Act, the Trustee Services department of the Law Society may intervene in a practitioner’s practice and obtain a variety of orders which would have the effect of winding up the practitioner’s practice in the event that the practitioner became incapacitated or deceased. Margaret Cowtan, manager of Trustee Services states that “it can be a very intrusive and often expensive undertaking if Trustee Services is required to resort to an order to enable a practice to be wound up.”
One alternative that we can consider in planning for our future is to “name a licensed lawyer as a limited trustee in their wills for the sole purpose of winding up the practice. By appointing another lawyer as a trustee for the purposes of the practice, on death, that lawyer can not only take professional responsibility for the trust account and make appropriate distributions to clients he or she can review client files, continue matters should clients elect to engage them, or return files to clients as appropriate.” We can also give signing authority on the trust account to another lawyer in the event of an emergency. Only licensed lawyers or paralegals are permitted to deal with trust accounts.
If you are interested in learning more about planning for your future, please click the following link which will take you to the Law Society’s Succession Planning Toolkit.
Thank you for reading,