6,000 reasons to make a retirement plan

There are 6,000 reasons to make a retirement plan: the 6,000 days that potentially await you after you retire.

You could go on indefinitely practicing law and never officially retire, but then your law practice will die with you - and so will the potential inheritance for your heirs from that law practice. You must sell your law practice for your heirs to realize its monetary value. And to sell your practice, you must plan to retire.

You need to understand what you want to do with the 6,000 days, because if you have no plan, no desire to do something different, there's no motivation for you to sell the practice. You must want to do something to get over that hurdle.

And if you don't sell, if you don't bring somebody in, if you don't merge - if you don't do something - then when nature makes its call, or you just get so tired that you don't want to practice law anymore, you have nothing left to provide in a legacy or something of value for your family.

Remember Ozzie Nelson? He and his wife, Harriet, were a real-life couple featured on the "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." Ozzie Nelson was a lawyer. When he died, he didn't have a will and most of his estate went to the government.

Earlier this year, my wife decided she wanted to downsize. We live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and I continue to work even though I'm beyond traditional "retirement age." Her desire to downsize was hard for me to hear. However, I was blessed by having an event occur that caused me to look at the situation: A serious health issue forced me to take a "vacation" for a while. I'm back into my business now, but while I was down, I thought of my own 6,000 days.

During that process, my mindset switched. Although I've been writing about this since 1991 (a long time, by any standard), I haven't always followed my own advice about planning for the next 6,000 days. I'm not ready to retire, but I'm still at an age at which I should take care of other business affairs.

One thing I did was go into our storage area and cull the files. I shredded the contents of dozens of bankers' boxes. I threw out many other bankers' boxes of material that didn't need to be shredded.

That was a gift for my kids - a gift they probably will never appreciate. If I hadn't done it, my kids would have had to someday. I did that when my mother died two years after my father. I could not go into the garage and do anything after my father died because I was so emotionally tied to him. But when my mother died, I had to.

And I remember that process. I remember how many hours I spent, and how many emotional travails I had with it. My kids must simply get rid of my books and my clothes. That's it.

Lawyers - perhaps even more than most - may perceive that they're immortal, but no one is. Everyone should plan for those 6,000 days.

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Edward Poll is the principal of LawBiz Management. He coaches lawyers to greater profits with less stress and is the creator of the new "Life After Law" coaching program, which enables lawyers to plan for profitable exits. He can be contacted at edpoll@lawbiz.com. Also visit www.lawbiz.com.

Published: Wed, Nov 05, 2014

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