Estate Planning, Asset Protection, & Probate
Do I need a will or a trust? How do I protect my assets if I need nursing home care? How do I structure my children’s inheritance to protect it from their creditors or in the event of divorce? These are questions that many of the firm’s estate planning clients have, and we can help you with the answers.
Your Last Will and Testament:
- A will is useful in some situations and can be a good tool to identify guardians of minor children, but the following are a few drawbacks to consider when a will is your only estate planning tool:
- A will has no legal authority until after death, so it has no ability to govern your affairs if you become incapacitated.
- A will does not help avoid probate. A will is a legal document that is submitted to the probate court to distribute your assets.
- A will cannot be used to protect your assets from creditors.
- There are many different types of trusts. Trusts can be simple or complex and can be used for a variety of personal, business, investment, or tax planning purposes. Depending on your needs, there may be several advantages to establishing some form of trust including:
- Avoiding probate at your death.
- Providing tax advantages for both the trust maker and the beneficiary.
- Protecting your property from creditors.
- Allowing someone designated by the trust maker(s) to manage and invest property for the trust makers(s) and beneficiaries.
- Providing the ability to provide for a mentally or physically disabled person without reducing that person’s eligibility for public assistance benefits such as social security disability insurance or Medicaid.
- Trusts can also be used to assist in long-term care planning for seniors. One of the most pressing concerns for those entering their later years is the cost of long-term nursing home care or assistance. Nursing home care can range from $80,000 to $160,000 depending on your needs and location and many people end up depleting their assets to provide for this care. Careful planning, and properly drafted trust documents, however, can help protect your assets for your beneficiaries while allowing you to have access to the benefits of Medicaid to cover your long-term care needs.