Estate planning is one of those big tasks that many of us just keep putting off. Even when we know that we need to get to it in order to make sure that our assets go where we want them to, something e…Read More
Asset Protection is something people do every day, without thinking about it. Car insurance, fire insurance, health insurance – these are all limited forms of Asset Protection. These products are designed to protect your family against financial ruin should economic disaster strike. However, the amount that they will protect is limited to the value of the policies.
Another form of Asset Protection is to insulate, or shield, your assets from potential creditors. This is most easily done with Safe Harbor Wills and Trusts’ specifically designed Asset Protection Trusts.
A properly designed Asset Protection Trust will keep you in control of your assets, but will shield them from potential lawsuits, creditors and even nursing homes or Medicaid.
Only by taking the time before financial disaster strikes can you be sure that there will be something to leave behind for your loved ones. By taking steps to protect your assets now, you are also starting the estate planning process.
Please do not hesitate to call our office at 315-451-4700 to get started with the Asset Protection and Estate Planning process.
At Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we have dedicated our practice to helping people prepare for the possibility that, at some point in the near or distant future, something may happen that could lead to financial ruin. Whether you, your spouse, or your parent suddenly falls ill or is injured in a way that forces you into a nursing home or a long-term care facility, or someone files a suit against you or your business, financial hardship could be lurking around almost every corner.
How Long-Term Care Costs Affect Savings and Assets
Our job, as a law firm that specializes in asset protection, is to help you keep what is rightfully yours. As time marches on, the costs of long-term care have skyrocketed. According to Genworth’s “Cost of Care” survey, (a survey that seeks to learn the costs associated with nursing home care), the country saw an average increase of 5.5 percent for a private room between 2016 and 2017. This is part of a larger trend where these costs have continued to soar, but the increase seen last year was much higher than it was even a year earlier. In fact, the median cost of a private room in 2017 jumped up to $97,455 per year. Semi-private rooms weren’t much better; for a shared room, the median cost was $85,775 per year.
Nursing homes aren’t the only providers of long-term care whose prices have seen a hike. Assisted living facilities increased almost three-and-a-half percent to reach a median rate of more than $3,700 per month, adult day care increased from $68 a day to $70, and home health aides’ rates went up from $20 an hour to $22.
Medicare generally does not pay for long-term care in a nursing home, which means that you will be stuck holding the bill. While some supplemental plans might pay for your care, many do not, or they only pay for a portion of the overall costs.
Faced with all of these facts and numbers, it is easy to see just how quickly your savings and assets could evaporate in the face of an emergency. This is the reason that you need to make sure that your assets are protected and that you have a way to help pay for any long-term care that you may end up needing.
We Have the Skills Necessary to Protect Your Assets
Luckily, at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we have the expertise and experience you need in order to avoid dealing with a situation where your assets might be taken away from you in order to pay for long-term care. We deal exclusively with asset protection, probate, and elder law, which means that we stay on top of all of the new developments in regards to laws that might affect our clients, insurance company policies, and the most cutting-edge asset protection methods.
We see asset protection as an important service within the community because we have seen the consequences of poor estate planning and asset protection within our family. It was this moment that led us to create a firm that is focused on helping other people avoid the same terrible fate.
How We Help You Protect Your Assets
There is no single right way to help someone keep their assets protected. There are, unfortunately, no “one-size-fits-all” asset protection plans that will stop predatory nursing homes or creditors from snatching up everything you own. The amorphous nature of asset protection is what creates the need for dedicated attorneys like John M. Murphy, Jr., Esq. Thanks to his background and years of practice in this field, Mr. Murphy is ready and able to help you, no matter what your situation may be.
Start Estate Planning Early
While the phrase “estate planning” can carry some negative connotations, it isn’t something that you should ever be afraid of. Instead of focusing on the portion of estate planning that deals with what happens to your assets after you have passed away, instead consider all of the great things that estate planning can do to help you retain what is yours. Below, you’ll find several ways that estate planning can make your life easier and less stressful here and now.
Trusts are fairly simple to explain, but they can be very complicated to set up and manage. At Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we can guide you through the process in a way that answers all of your questions while simultaneously helping you protect your assets in the most effective way possible.
Simply put, a trust is a financial arrangement where the assets of a person are transferred to another party, the trustee, who holds those assets for a beneficiary. When someone starts a trust, they transfer their personal assets to the trust, which means that, legally, the original owner does not own these assets any longer. It is common for people to set up trusts to protect their assets from lawsuits, or to provide something for their family members after they pass away.
What is a Trust?
It is becoming more and more common for people to set up what is known as a living trust, which allows you some of the benefits of a trust (reduced personal worth for tax purposes, avoiding probate) and still allows you to control your assets as you see fit. One of the main benefits of a properly designed living trust is that it allows for someone — a designated trustee named in the document — to take over the management of the trust if you were to get sick or otherwise be unable to discharge your duties.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust is exactly what it sounds like: a living trust that can be changed or revoked at any time. This option is useful because it provides you with a greater degree of flexibility in how you manage the trust, while still allowing you and your beneficiaries to avoid probate and retain privacy in the event of your death, a perk they won’t see if you only have a will, as wills are in the public record. With a revocable living trust, you and your beneficiaries are still responsible for estate taxes, though the document may be able to save your beneficiaries some money later, and a revocable living trust is still vulnerable to creditors and lawsuits.
One of the most important factors of a living trust is one that we mentioned above — your appointed trustee to take over the management of the trust if you were to become incapacitated. Hopefully you have developed a plan that outlines your caretaking preferences in an event of that kind, but if you have not, it falls to your trustee to plan and carry out your care. It can be a huge weight off of your shoulders to know that in any event, you will be taken care of.
An irrevocable trust is funded with a person’s assets and is administered according to the guidelines set out during the creation of the trust, but it cannot be changed under any circumstances. Once the beneficiaries and terms are set, that’s it. An irrevocable trust may be a good idea if you wish to leave a certain amount to your children or grandchildren, or if you may need to protect yourself from spurious lawsuits. Because none of the assets in an irrevocable trust are yours, they cannot be taken away from you. Using an irrevocable trust can help you qualify for entitlements that you may not otherwise have qualified for, including Medicare. Creating an irrevocable trust keeps what you have worked for out of the hands of nursing homes and other creditors that might come after your assets when you require long-term care.
There are many different kinds of trusts that you and your estate can benefit from and, at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we will work with you to determine which trust, or trusts, will be best for you. Thanks to our knowledge and experience helping you plan for the future, we can quickly and accurately determine the kind of trusts that will benefit you and your family when it’s needed the most. Contact us today to find out about out asset protection trusts, as well as other steps you can take to make your future less uncertain.