In an earlier blog, we talked about some of the most important factors that you have to take into consideration while you are planning for your elder years. As a law firm that is dedicated to helping …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.
Three Ways To Protect Your Assets
In addition to the trusts that we mentioned above, there are many methods to protect what you have worked for. As an asset protection and estate planning law firm, we understand the many different options that exist and we will help guide you through this admittedly complicated process. Contact us in Syracuse or Watertown today so that we can set up a preliminary appointment where we can discuss what your concerns are and how we can help alleviate your worries.
Below, you will find three simple ways that may help you protect your assets. While each of these ideas may not be appropriate for your given circumstances, hopefully all of them will show you the importance of thinking and planning ahead. If you would like to see if these options would work for you, make sure to ask our attorney.
Consider More Insurance
Insurance is a form of asset protection that almost everyone has but few people realize just how important it can be in regards to keeping their assets safe. While it is obvious that health insurance is designed to help us ward off financial ruin in case of injury or illness, car insurance is one of the easiest and most crucial steps you can take to safeguard your belongings. All states that require liability insurance for drivers set a minimum coverage amount that guarantees at least that much protection in case of an accident. While liability has undoubtedly saved many people from ruin, if someone decides to sue you for an amount over the covered amount, you may be liable for covering the difference.
To avoid a situation like that, it is never a bad idea to check with your insurance agent and find out what other coverage options are available to you. Some insurers may be able to increase the covered amount or offer you other choices that would protect you from predatory suits. Don’t forget to find out what kind of coverage you have at your home and place of business, too. If someone is injured on your property and you aren’t protected, you may have a large suit to pay for.
Maximize the Right Kinds of Contributions
While everything from the funds in your checking and savings accounts, to your home, cars, and other belongings, may be taken to pay for a settlement, there are some assets that may be protected thanks to certain laws. Check to see if 401(k) accounts and IRAs are protected. If they are, maximize your contributions to them. Not only will these contributions make your retirement more comfortable, they may help save you from complete financial collapse.
Don’t Wait for Something Bad to Happen
This cannot be overstressed: you cannot wait until after something has happened to try to protect your assets. Not only will these protective measures not hold up to scrutiny, but they also may be criminal acts. While you might feel that you would go broke trying to pay for the most effective asset protection methods, with the right lawyer on your side, it doesn’t take a lot to be prepared. Our attorney will take a detailed look at your situation and find the most effective and efficient means of shielding you from any troubles that may arise.
If you are ready to start moving forward with your asset protection and estate planning, give us a call at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Watertown and Syracuse. Our attorney would love to craft a plan that is made just for you in order to protect your assets in the most effective way possible. Don’t wait until something has happened; the earlier you have a plan in place, the better.
Asset Protection Do’s and Don’ts
Trying to protect your assets without help can quickly prove disastrous. Without the knowledge that an experienced asset protection attorney provides, it is all too easy to fall into some common traps. If you are beginning the process of protecting what is yours, take the following tips into consideration, and make sure that the attorney you choose does the same.
If you need an asset protection lawyer who will work to protect everything you have worked for, call us at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse and Watertown. We have years of experience that will help preserve your assets. Our firm specializes in asset protection, elder law, and estate planning, which means that we understand these laws better than a general practice attorney, which will benefit you greatly.
DO Start Planning Early
Any attorney will tell you that the earlier you get in front of a problem, the better. Even if there is nothing on the radar that could jeopardize your assets, by planning ahead, you greatly reduce the risk of losing everything. While you may not need to create a comprehensive irrevocable trust when you are in your twenties, by the time you start a business, have children, or purchase real estate, you should speak to our attorney about the best ways to shield your assets from lawsuits and creditors.
DON’T Settle for Prepackaged Plans
While it would be wonderful if there was a simple, legal solution that would best secure everyone’s wealth, that just isn’t the case. With the large number of asset protection options available to you, it may be tempting to sign up for a plan that says it works for everyone. It won’t. In order to keep yourself and your family safe, you need to have a knowledgeable attorney build a plan specifically for your circumstances.
DO Keep Business Assets Apart From Personal Assets
If you started your business when you were young or you entered into a partnership before you understood the legal disadvantages of this arrangement, you need to have a lawyer help you extricate your personal assets from your business assets. This may be difficult to do, as many business owners have invested heavily in their company, but it will benefit both you and your business in the event that a suit is brought against yourself or company.
DON’T Forget Insurance
Asset protection, including trusts, are an excellent way to safeguard your wealth, but they aren’t appropriate for every situation. If your house burns down or you are in a car accident, you still need insurance to help cushion the financial blow that you take. Insurance is a vital component of asset protection, not an optional addition. While some states do allow you to forego insurance if you have a certain amount of wealth, it isn’t a good idea to take that hit yourself when a simple insurance policy could take the brunt of an accident.
DO Be Thorough
In order for an asset protection attorney to best serve you and your financial interests, you need to have a thorough accounting of what your assets and risks are. Put together a list of the real property you own, the assets in your bank accounts, retirement plans, and insurance policies, and bring them with you to your first meeting. These numbers will give your lawyer everything that they need to craft a plan that takes all of these factors into account.
Contact Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse and Watertown today. We would like to help you plan for and protect your assets. Our experience and understanding of the laws and regulations governing asset protection make us the natural choice to assist you.
Why You Need to Protect Your Assets
When most people hear the phrase “asset protection” they think of extremely wealthy people moving money around in order to avoid paying taxes or to continue to grow their wealth. The truth, however, is very different. Asset protection is all about making sure that you and your family are protected from certain kinds of lawsuits and from predatory practices that can be associated with long-term care. Asset protection is also an important step when you want to ensure that you can give your beneficiaries what you want them to have after you have passed away.
At Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we have the knowledge and experience to help you plan for the future and protect your assets. Contact our Syracuse or Watertown offices today for more information. In addition to asset protection, we can also assist you if you need to create a will or if you or a family member is experiencing an elder law emergency. Our attorney is also well-versed in the complexities surrounding the Medicaid application process.
There Are Many Different Ways to Protect Your Assets
Whether you want to protect your assets for retirement or as a way of providing long-term care, you have many options available to you. No two people are the same, which means that no two asset protection plans are the same. At Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts, we will help you determine what the best choices are for you.
You Have to Protect Your Assets Early
No matter how much money you have, the process of protecting your assets should begin early. Whether you are trying to plan for the future or protect yourself from unforeseen lawsuits or costs, putting measures into place early is the key to successfully keeping what you have worked for safe.
Early protection also means that you are ready to adapt your strategy if things change. We recommend a thorough reexamination of your asset protection plan every time you experience a major life change.
Some of these life changes may include:
- The birth of a child or grandchild
- Buying or selling a home or any kind of real estate
- A marriage
- A divorce
- The death of a beneficiary
- Times when you inherited assets
Asset Protection Can Benefit Almost Anyone
As we mentioned above, you don’t have to be wealthy to profit from protecting your assets. If you would like to protect what you have earned and keep it separate from your business or if you are trying to plan for your long-term goals, asset protection and estate planning is an important step for any responsible person to take.
Contact Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts today to find out how we can help you plan your estate and protect your assets. We have offices in Watertown and Syracuse to make it as easy as possible for you to speak with us. Whether you already have an asset protection plan in place or you are just beginning the process, please contact us. Our practice understands this field in a way that few others do.