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Practice Exit Strategies

In planning your life goals, what are your plans for your work strategy? Even young graduates, in thinking about their careers, will benefit from thinking about where they want to be in 30 or 40 years. Some of you love what you are doing and are hoping to “die with your stethoscope on”. Others want to retire or at least change direction at 50 or 55 or some other age. There is no right or wrong answer.

However, no matter what direction you want your life to take, it is important to have some idea of what is involved in helping your choice become a reality.

If you are an associate and all you ever want to be is an associate, the execution of your choices is a bit easier. It is important that you have a personal financial plan, that you monitor it periodically, and that if you are off track from achieving your goals, you seek help from someone who can put you back on target. It is important that you keep your skills up to date and that you keep yourself valuable to your employer so that you can maintain your life style in the manner to which you are comfortable.

If you are a practice owner, it is never too early to be concerned with your exit strategy. If you are part of a multiple doctor owner practice, having well drafted buy-sell agreements is very important. These agreements need to be reviewed periodically by your legal, accounting and consulting team, as well obviously, by yourself to be sure they fit your needs. The areas that especially require review are the formula for determining the sales price for the practice, any discussion of ownership of the practice that may change as more doctors become owners, definitions requiring the exercise of the buyout terms as well as other areas that may change simply due to the passage of time and law changes. If there is an age difference between the owners, the formula for determining the sales price is well written and supported by facts, then your exit strategy may be well under control.

If you are a multiple doctor owner practice and all of the doctors have the same time frame for retirement and the practice cannot support the price you each want for your shares, you need to spend more time and effort on getting things in line. 

At Lacher McDonald & Co., CPA’s, we have helped many veterinarians transition their practices to the next generation of practice owners.  We have helped clients draft, evaluate, and revise the buy-sell agreements.  In addition, we not only provide sellers and purchasers with a realistic value of the practice being considered, but continue to help with the actual transfer of ownership.  Having someone there, who has been down the road before, can help make a major life change much less stressful.

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