Orlando Asset Protection Planning Lawyer
You work a lifetime to generate wealth for your family’s needs and security. You want to be sure you are financially comfortable during your lifetime, that your spouse and children are looked after when you are gone, and that you are able to leave a legacy for future generations. Unfortunately, taxes, creditors, a long-term illness or divorce can all operate to wipe out your savings in the blink of an eye. Happily, tragedies like this can be avoided with thoughtful and careful asset protection planning. Learn more about asset protection below, and contact Gierach and Gierach for a no-cost, confidential consultation with knowledgeable and dedicated Orlando asset protection planning lawyer.
What is asset protection?
Asset protection is a form of financial planning conducted with the goal of protecting your assets from claims creditors may have over your estate. Personal lawsuits are a particular danger to one’s hard-earned assets. These include lawsuits based on a serious car accident or slip and fall on your property. If you are a small business owner, your business can be at risk for an accident involving company property, and you could be personally liable as well. Also, if you are a medical or legal professional, you are always potentially exposed to significant liability for medical or legal malpractice. Having adequate liability insurance in place can help, but sometimes damages exceed coverage or coverage does not apply. It seems the more assets someone has, the more appealing they become as a target for lawsuits.
Asset protection involves a host of strategies designed to keep assets in the family, plan for incapacity, avoid or minimize probate, shift income to a lower tax bracket, minimize estate taxes, protect against creditors and more. Here are some of the ways asset protection planning can assist you.
Supplemental Needs Trusts
If you have a child with special needs, making sure that child is eligible for public assistance can be critical to getting him or her the medical care and financial assistance to enable your child to live independently and successfully to his or her maximum potential. Government benefits are often means-tested, however, and having too many assets in one’s name can make one ineligible for government assistance. A supplemental needs trust or special needs trust can provide vital funding to a child with special needs, while maintaining eligibility for government benefits and protecting that source of funds from being encumbered or owed to creditors.
Family Limited Partnerships
A family limited partnership (FLP) is a closely held business entity that can be an excellent vehicle to hold a family business or property and leave that asset to your grown kids or grandkids when the time is right. In an FLP, typically an older family member assumes the role of general partner with management and control over the business or property; younger generations serve as limited partners with an interest or share in the asset but a smaller role in making major business decisions. Eventually, the younger generation obtains the business or real estate property without being hit with a capital gains tax as could occur with other types of transfers.
A limited liability company (LLC) is another means of protecting personal assets from business creditors. You’ll want to make sure both your business and your personal property are covered with insurance, and that you maintain the LLC as a separate entity and not just your “alter ego.” Other important steps including establishing credit for the LLC so you will not find yourself having to personally guarantee loans to the business, and managing how much money you keep in the LLC at any one time.
Medicaid and Long-Term Care Planning
Americans on average are living longer and healthier lives, but there still comes a time when many will need assisted living or skilled nursing care for an extended period. Sadly, the cost of these services puts quality care out of the reach of most people. Medicaid can provide much-needed assistance with long-term care, but this means-tested program requires people to spend down their life savings simply to qualify for Medicaid and get the care they need. Through careful planning and sensible instruments such as trusts, annuities or long-term care insurance, you can make sure long-term care is affordable when you need it, without losing all the wealth you have built. Advance planning in this area is essential, as Medicaid can look back as far as five years for asset transfers they believe are improper under their rules.
Our Orlando Estate Planning Lawyers are Ready to Help You with Comprehensive Asset Protection Planning Now
If you wait until a lawsuit is filed against you or until it is time to apply for Medicaid to try and protect your assets, you have waited too long. Act now by calling the Orlando estate planning attorneys at Gierach and Gierach for a free initial consultation. We’ll help you set up the right combination of testamentary trusts, immediate annuities and other instruments to protect your assets and ability to afford the things you need for yourself and future generations.