Legal-Ease: Never too late to do our best

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of this column. Over the last decade, I have often addressed client questions or traits that the amazing and hardworking people of our region embody.

Consistent with that practice, today I am reminded that my family’s standard for success is that we do our best. We need not win in competition against anyone else, but if we do our best, we have experienced our definition of success.

In the context of time, which is an appropriate consideration on this column’s decennial anniversary, when it comes to organizing, planning and coordinating our legal affairs, there is no deadline for doing our best.

It is never too late to prepare a first or new last will and testament. It is never too late to make accounts payable or transfer on death or to create and fund a trust. It is never too late to organize a new or small business into a legally recognized structure or to formalize a succession plan for a family business. It is never too late to consider options to protect assets from nursing home care, even if long-term/nursing home care is already needed. It is never too late to change actions and habits to be more consistent with the expectations, requirements and opportunities presented by our legal system.

We can wish that we took certain legal steps earlier, but here and now and going forward is all we can affect.

Sure, it would have been nice to have an LLC before our small business had an accident. But, if we organize an LLC now, we can be ready before we encounter a second accident.

Of course, it would have been nice to have protected all of our assets five years before we needed nursing home care. However, we did not have a crystal ball, and we may still be able to protect some assets and money, even near the last minute.

Obviously, we can wish we had not violated a particular traffic law or neglected to wear our seat belt before law enforcement (or other adverse consequences) reminded us of that responsibility. We cannot go back in time, but we can do our best to comply with the law going forward.

This is not to mean that we should intentionally wait to do anything that is in our best interest. Instead, we should forgive ourselves for our perceived tardiness and understand that we can always do our best beginning now.

As for this column, I promise to continue to do my best for you. Thank you for every moment of your attention. I also thank all of my past and present co-workers, family, friends, clients and acquaintances for your inspiration, feedback and support over the last decade.

My fellow legal professionals and I take very seriously our role in guiding you through a legal system that can be confusing and intimidating. With God’s grace and with all glory to God, I hope this column plays a part in that inspiring task.

Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.