Asset protection ensures the assets you build over your lifetime are not susceptible to being lost to the government, nursing homes, lawsuits, divorce, bankruptcy, or other predators. Asset protection is broken down into two key considerations; protection while you are alive and protection after your death. If protection during life is sought, the question is whether you want to protect from creditors and predators or nursing homes, or alternatively protect from taxes at your death. There are strict rules on how to protect your assets during life or after death, but they are easy to accomplish when done properly.
Planning for tax protection is very different from planning to protect from other creditors. There are a variety of asset protection trusts available but they all work very differently. Some allow individuals to retain control of their assets, and even use or benefit from them, without subjecting them to your creditors and predators. Others, however, prohibit the owner from controlling or benefiting from the assets. Some asset protection permits the individuals creating the trust to change and modify the trust during their lifetime and utilize the trust assets for family members and other intended beneficiaries, but others prohibit any such changes.
The estate planning landscape has changed. A careful balance between protection during life and after death and protection from taxes or from other creditors or nursing home is critical. Asset protection planning is not what it used to be. There are many new opportunities that did not exist even ten years ago. Call The Law Offices of Antoinette Middleton to discover all the ways you can protect what you’ve worked a lifetime for.
While a Revocable Trust permits you to maintain full control (as Trustee) and have access to all your assets (as beneficiary), an Irrevocable Trust, once created, may prohibit your right to control the trust (as Trustee) or have access to your assets, but you get to decide to what extent.
It is a common misconception that irrevocable trusts, once created, cannot be changed. While that is true of many irrevocable trusts created to avoid taxes (tax reduction or avoidance trusts), it is not true of all irrevocable trusts. An irrevocable trust is a trust you create for the benefit of yourself or others and once created, you, as Grantor, must give up your right to something.
Debtor/Creditor law provides that whatever you can get, your creditors can get. You can have known creditors (i.e., bank/credit card debt) or unknown potential creditors (unforeseen lawsuits, nursing home, and divorce). A typical “income only” irrevocable trust permits you to receive the income on your assets, but you must give up your right to your principal. In some irrevocable trusts, you can retain the right to change who gets your assets during your life and after your death, and maintain 100% control of your assets until your mental disability or death (asset protection trusts).
Tax reduction/avoidance trusts are much more restrictive than asset protection trusts. Typically, you cannot retain any right to control or access any of the assets in an irrevocable tax reduction/avoidance trust. There are many irrevocable trusts available that are quite flexible and grantor-friendly. You should consult a qualified estate planning attorney to get counseled on all your options before creating an irrevocable trust.
Charitable giving techniques are typically used for those who have accumulated wealth that is subject to estate tax at death.
The estate tax rates are as high as 40% and those who have worked hard to create and accumulate assets will opt to utilize charitable giving techniques to minimize taxation while creating a lasting legacy without necessarily depriving family from benefitting from your assets.
Charitable planning is also utilized to minimize income taxes (which can exceed 40%), and you can retain full control of your assets. Charitable planning can also be effective when selling your business. When properly utilized, you can avoid paying income taxes on the sale of your business when sold.
Utilizing a charitable giving plan enables the donor to direct the use of his or her assets that would otherwise go to the IRS. Your assets can pass to your family, charities, or the IRS, but you must choose two out of the three. If you don’t, the IRS wins by default.
Business Planning and Succession
Professionals and business owners face unique problems when it comes to running their business and providing their services while protecting their assets for their family. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and many other professionals are exposed to personal liability every day. Simply having a corporation for your business does not protect your personal assets.
There are unique asset protection trusts we can use so that you will have the comfort of knowing you won’t lose your house. We can make sure that your house and other personal assets will still be available for you and your family.
Gain the peace of mind knowing you won’t lose your house if something goes wrong in your business !
While in many states there is Medicaid, California has its own version known as Medi-Cal, which is funded by federal government but is administered by the State. It provides help to pay for long term care expenses of those who do not have much income or assets and if they do not qualify for insurance. Unlike Medicare, Medi-Cal does not have a minimum age limit. Particularly, it will pay for long term care in a skilled nursing facility, or pay to have caregivers come to your home and take care of you. The qualification requirements are much more restrictive than that for nursing home, but can easily be met with some planning.
To qualify for Medi-Cal, you must be over 65 years of age, blind or disabled. You may also qualify if you are under age 65 and disabled for two years. An application at the Social Security office will get your benefits started.
Medi-Cal keeps track of the total amount of benefits it pays out over the lifetime of the recipient and attempts to recover that amount from the beneficiary’s remaining estate. A proper Medi-Cal eligibility plan will not only qualify an individual for Medi-Cal benefits, but provide asset protection from potential Medi-Cal estate recovery. Our firm can prepare and implement effective asset protection plans for single or married Medi-Cal recipients.
Veterans’s benefits are payable to those who actively served in a branch of the military and received a discharge “other than dishonorable”. The active service is further divided into “wartime” or “peacetime” categories, with wartime veterans receiving significantly enhanced benefits.
It does not matter whether the veteran personally engaged in conflict; service is wartime if conducted during the relevant period.
War Era Veterans are eligible for benefits through the VA to help pay for in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home costs. Depending on whether you are single, married or the surviving spouse of a veteran, you may be able to receive $1,000 to over $2,000 per month tax free benefits to help pay for these costs!
In order for a veteran to qualify for the VA benefits, he or she must: have served 90 days or more of active military service with at least one day during wartime » have received a military discharge, other than dishonorable » be permanently and totally disablebe in need of daily aid and attendance of another person in order to avoid the everyday hazards of their environment » have “low monthly income” » have “nominal assets”.
As of June 23, 2008 the VA began requiring that anyone who assists a veteran or family member with the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim for Veterans Benefits be accredited by and through the Department of Veteran Affairs before they can legally provide assistance. It is important that an accredited Attorney, such as Antoinette Middleton, assist you through the VA process.