Would you like to reveal your assets to the public? How about paying unnecessary court costs to the treasurer, or unnecessary legal fees?
I know. Of course, the answer is “no.” No one likes to make personal assets public record, or pay unnecessary legal fees and court costs to the treasurer.
And most everyone wants to make sure things go smoothly for their loved ones when they pass. Some want to make sure something is left over for their kids, even if they have substantial long-term care costs.
In the legal world relative to estate planning, asset protection and Medicaid planning to address long-term care costs is the new frontier in the arena of estate planning.
For those in second marriages, it is critical to plan so ultimate distribution of assets will be as you wish. Otherwise, there can be family upset and discord.
We can leave survivor with life rights to use of real estate and a monthly payment for expenses, with remainder interest to children from first marriage, or to all children in equal shares.
There are many iterations when planning for couples with blended families. Care must be taken to make sure many wishes and objective will be fulfilled.
For those with real estate in other states, care should be taken to avoid unnecessary court expenses and legal fees in that state.
With a good legal plan, that can easily be avoided.
For those who have a paid off house and a goal to make sure their children inherit something, planning can be done to make sure the house will go the children, even if Medicaid pays for part of your long-term care.
The tools we use here are trusts and life estates. This can be very powerful and very beneficial planning for many. The upsides far outweigh the downsides in most cases.
For those with in-laws and a wish to keep the assets in the blood line, then a blood line trust is for you.
This is basically a legal arrangement that makes sure when your child passes, his or her share, or what is left of it, will go to your grandchildren, and not your in-law (his or her spouse).
In light of today’s high divorce rate, many people opt to leave assets to their children in trust so it is protected from lawsuits and divorce and guaranteed to stay in your family, as you wish.
For those with retirement plans, care should be taken to ensure income taxes can be deferred as much as possible.
In every family, a little planning can make a big difference.
Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate and elder law planning attorney. www.mwinnesq.com