When It's Time To Update Your Estate Plan: A Guide for Dental Entrepreneurs


As a successful dentist who has built a thriving practice, estate planning—the process of how you transfer your wealth to heirs and others—is crucial. It ensures that your loved ones, including your family and perhaps key staff members, are adequately provided for and taken care of.

As a successful dentist who has built a thriving practice, estate planning—the process of how you transfer your wealth to heirs and others—is crucial. It ensures that your loved ones, including your family and perhaps key staff members, are adequately provided for and taken care of.

​You likely already have an estate plan in place. However, if you believe your current plan is sufficient, you might want to reconsider. We often find that the estate plans of affluent dental professionals are more than three years old. Here's why that could be a significant problem:

  • Ongoing changes in tax laws mean that older estate plans may not fully leverage current opportunities to transfer dental practice assets and personal wealth optimally.
  • Tax law changes could also render some aspects of an older estate plan ineffective.*
  • Changes in your dental practice's value or your personal wealth mean that your estate plan may no longer accurately reflect your financial situation.
  • Changes in your personal and family situation may make your estate plan ineffective in accomplishing what you actually want it to do given those changes.

The bottom line: It's crucial to stay on top of your plan and revise it when appropriate—especially when events occur that could potentially affect your wealth as a dental entrepreneur.

​We believe that strong estate plans for dentists involve two key components: technical expertise and the human element.

Technical expertise

Exceptional estate planning for dental professionals requires exceptional technical expertise about estate planning laws, rules, and strategies (some of which can be very complex).

The tools and techniques of exceptional estate planning can range from the basic to the cutting edge. From the technical side, some estate planning strategies and tools you might consider as a dentist are:

Trusts. Trusts are often cornerstone solutions for many successful dentists and their families. A trust is a means of transferring property using a third party (the trust). Specifically, a trust lets you transfer title of your assets—which may include your dental practice—to trustees for the benefit of the people you want to take care of, known as your designated beneficiaries. The trustee will carry out your wishes on behalf of your beneficiaries.

Partnerships. As with trusts, there are many types of partnerships. They can determine how the partners of a dental practice address ownership issues, and they have varying tax benefits. For example, disharmony among family members or unrelated dental partners can mean a higher tax bill if the owners are forced to divide assets among the partnership's members. Through the use of sophisticated partnership structures, dental practice owners can divide their companies—and possibly reduce taxes.

*Tax laws are subject to change, which may affect how any given strategy may perform. Always consult with a tax advisor.


The human element

The true goal of exceptional estate planning is to transfer your wealth—including your dental practice—in accordance with your wishes. The role of an estate planner—who may be a top lawyer, accountant, or wealth manager familiar with the dental industry—is to make it possible for you to achieve your desired agenda and to be as tax-efficient as possible in pursuit of that agenda.

That's where the human element comes into play. While technical expertise is absolutely required, it is the human element—understanding your agenda as a dentist on a deep level and then designing a plan around that agenda—that distinguishes exceptional estate planning from merely good estate planning.

That's because today, most estate planning legal strategies and financial products are commonly accessible. So a big difference among estate plans and planners is the ability to put the pieces together so that you get the results you're seeking for your dental practice and personal wealth.

Clearly, then, an estate planner you work with should have a deep understanding of you—your situation as a dental professional, your values, your goals for your practice and family, and your concerns. Without that knowledge, the tools themselves (good as they may be, technically) might not get you what you want because they're not the appropriate ones for the job you want done.

A process for dental entrepreneurs to follow

There is a process you can follow that we believe can potentially increase your chances of ending up with an exceptional estate plan that satisfies the technical and human aspects and reflects your latest thinking on your needs and goals as a dentist.

1. Start with the end in mind. Start by thinking through what you want to have happen—the outcomes you ideally want to see occur. For each possibility, you'll need to specify what happens to your assets, including your dental practice. You'll also need to decide who is in control at different points in time—making decisions such as when your children or key employees will have control of the practice assets.

2. Determine your desired results. Share your desired results in each scenario with an estate planner who is highly capable and understands the unique needs of dental professionals. They should be able to come up with ways to enable you to best achieve your preferred results.

3. Make a decision. Based on input and insights from the estate planner, choose a course of action that best suits your dental practice and personal situation.

4. Implement the plan. Once you have made a decision, the estate planner will formalize everything and create the estate plan tailored to your needs as a dental entrepreneur.

Important: Don't ignore your plan once it's done. Revisiting an estate plan every few years should be part of your agenda as a dentist. It's best to think about your exceptional estate plan as perpetually being a work in progress, adapting to changes in your practice and personal life.

​If you have any doubts about whether your estate plan is likely to achieve your wishes for your dental practice and personal wealth, consider having a wealth manager review the plan and your particular situation to answer two questions:

  • Is the plan likely to deliver the outcomes you currently want for your dental practice and family?
  • Is the plan missing anything that can make it more effective or efficient in the context of your dental business?


​Estate planning should be a part of ensuring the outcomes you want in your financial life as a dental entrepreneur and the lives of the people you care about most. What's more, your existing estate plan needs to be reexamined every so often—and revised if necessary to reflect changes in your dental practice and personal circumstances.

Schedule Your True Wealth Consultation Now!


See other posts like this one:

Punk Rock & Dental Entrepreneurship

Habitual Generosity: Why Giving More Can Mean Getting More for Driven Dental Entrepreneurs

Should You Un-Retire from Dentistry?

The Art of Valuing a Dental Practice: Essential Insights for 7 & 8 Figure Dental Entrepreneurs

Securing Your Dental Legacy: A Comprehensive Guide to Wills and Trusts

What’s Your High-Net-Worth Personality?

The Road to Longevity: Living to 120—and Beyond?

Five Reasons Dentists Should Make Philanthropy a Family Affair

The Billionaire Money Rules for Dentists

Smart Ways for Dentists to Build a Moat Around Their Wealth

Proud to Be in Bakersfield.
Serving Dental Entrepreneurs & Executives Nationwide

Tim McNeely
Advisor to Dental Entrepreneurs
​Click here to book a call with Tim

© The Dental Wealth Alliance is a LifeStone Company - All Rights Reserved

This material is intended to be used for educational purposes and does not constitute a solicitation to purchase a security or investment advisory services. Some material on this site has been researched and prepared by BSW Inner Circle and its affiliates, CEG Worldwide, LLC and AES Nation, LLC. Timothy J McNeely has retained AES Nation to conduct research and prepare informational materials for his use. Mr. McNeely is a member of CEG Roundtable and pays an annual fee for these services. Mr. McNeely is involved in these activities through The LifeStone Companies.

Some materials is published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright by AES Nation, LLC. This report is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation to purchase any security or advisory services. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. An investment in any security involves significant risks and any investment may lose value. Refer to all risk disclosures related to each security product carefully before investing..

*Timothy J McNeely is an Investment Advisor Representative.  All investment advisory services are offered through a RIA. The LifeStone Companies are not owned or legally affiliated with RIA and the activities conducted by Mr. McNeely under The LifeStone Companies are considered educational activities and are separate outside business activities.

Privacy, Cookie Policy, Terms, and Conditions