On September 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln retold a story to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in Milwaukee that has been around since at least the medieval Persian poets:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.”
In simple words change is inevitable. It is this recognition that should provide motivation to all of us to plan for uncertain futures. Working with an experienced attorney to prepare for future change in circumstances and the accompanying challenges in the front end is generally the less expensive option and often saves a great deal of suffering and anxiety in the back end.
While few enter into marriage with anything but the best of intentions, approximately half of all marriages now end in divorce. While the our firm assists clients in divorce, child custody, child support, and alimony issues, many issues regarding separation can be resolved prior to marriage through a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements help clients to discuss and agree to important issues in contemplation of the event of divorce.
Similarly, partners preparing to open a business together should consult with an attorney about a partnership, operating agreement, or buy-sell agreement prior to beginning their endeavor. While most businesses, like marriages, are founded with the best of intentions, a well-written agreement should be drafted with the expectation the partners will, at some future point, no longer desire to work together. What happens when partners cannot agree on a business strategy or investment? When the business runs out of money? How should disagreements be resolved? In the event disagreements cannot be resolved, should one partner have the right to buy out another? All of these important circumstances should be addressed prior to the first disagreement.
Finally, Isaac Asimov once wryly noted, “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” A good attorney can assist you not only in preparing for a peaceful death, through the creation of a will, but also in the preparation for the troublesome transition: a period of incapacity or disability. The creation of durable powers of attorney for healthcare and financial matters can prevent the need of going to court for a guardianship or conservatorship. This simple planning can provide peace of mind as well as preserve and protect your estate.
“And this, too, shall pass away.” Change is inevitable, but proper planning ahead of a crisis is the best way to ensure the least disruption in your life in times of change. An experienced attorney can help you prepare for issues and events before they arise, helping to protect you and your family.