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Estate Planning: Wills for Heroes

July 1, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Putting together wills and powers of attorney are cornerstones of estate planning. In the aftermath of 9/11, an attorney in South Carolina approached first responders and firefighters only to learn that as many as 80 percent were without these critical documents. shutterstock_255529753

While we often suggest on this blog that everyone have a will, it’s especially important for individuals in these special situations to plan ahead. While it’s hoped that your loved ones don’t have to worry about what should happen if you were to pass away, planning can help to limit the trauma and grief faced by your family members in an already difficult time.

If you have never put together a will or amended it recently, consider the challenges your loved ones might face if something happened to you. The last known location of your will could be unknown or other family members could argue that it’s not valid. Lack of clarity could mean that some of your beneficiaries don’t know what they are entitled to. All of these issues can be avoided with a little bit of planning.

It’s never easy to plan for these worst case scenarios, but doing so can give you great peace of mind and help your own family in the event that something ever does happen to you. We’re proud to help those who put their lives on the line discuss these critical details and make plans that reflect your needs and wishes. Contact us today to learn more about the value of estate planning.

Fast Facts on Holding Companies: Part 2

June 30, 2015

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you tuned into yesterday’s post, you saw the basic information about how holding companies work and the general situations where they make sense for either an individual or a corporation. Today, we’re going into a little more detail about holding companies.

Many large holding companies will put the entity receiving income from subsidiaries in a country with a low income tax rate. One such example is the Isle of Man. This is a complicated process and should be handled by an asset protection specialist who can advise you about the benefits of locating the company in specific places. shutterstock_50352346

Transferring assets to others can be quite simple using a holding company. Instead of issuing stock certificates out to many separate companies, there is only one certificate that comes from the actual holding company.

The taxation of a holding company is such a big issue that is requires the top attorneys and accountants to help you put it together and manage it. If the company is structured as a c-corporation, a holding company tax can be levied if 5 or less individuals own more than half the stock. One solution to this is structuring the business as a limited liability company or limited partnership, wherein each party can select pass-through taxation and pay out on their own personal returns.

For a wealthy investors, the holding company is a great place for thinking, planning, and putting in money to do the maximum amount of good.

Fast Facts on Holding Companies: Part 1

June 29, 2015

Filed under: Business Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you’ve been wondering about whether a holding company could benefit you, read on through this first part of a two-part post. A holding company is a special entity equipped to hold investments, serving as a conduit through which the company controls and enables the underlying businesses. shutterstock_209711911

It can be used for both individuals and corporations. From the individual perspective, it can be used as an investment vehicle. For corporations, a holding company can benefit a risk-management strategy. The key benefit of this structure is that it leverages money and has the ability to make a small investment hold control over a much bigger portfolio.

As an example, a holding company might be used to invest $1 million as 33% holding share in order to finance a $6 million apartment building. Outside investors would contribute $2 million and the other $3 million is financed through a bank. This means that a $6 million asset has been created from a $1 million investment, offering tremendous leverage. Creating a series of distinct subsidiaries (known as silos), allows for others to remain intact even if one fails. Contact us today to learn more about holding companies- we’re here to help you determine if this is a great opportunity for your business or individual needs. Reach out to info@lawesq.net.

 

5 Common Estate Traps To Be Aware Of

June 26, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Leaving behind a legacy after you pass away requires perceiving and planning to avoid several common pitfalls. Make sure you’ve completed the estate planning process at least once in a comprehensive manner, with yearly check-ins scheduled. Watch out for these common issues:shutterstock_235021402

  • Failing to include contingency beneficiaries on a retirement account
  • Not planning for the potential of your spouse remarrying someone new, and thus making that new spouse eligible for money you had intended to set aside for children
  • Failing to account for the impact of aging parents
  • Failing to think about incapacity and what your plans would be if something left you with a disability
  • Not thinking carefully enough about trustee appointments or power of attorney selections

Although these might seem minor, they can have major implications for your estate and for the loved ones you leave behind. You can prevent mistakes and mismanagement by doing the work in advance and reviewing it on a regular basis.

Estate planning is certainly more complex than these basic five issues, but getting your plan in working order can be as simple as fixing the issues related to these concerns. Contact an estate planning attorney to learn more. Get our help by contacting info@lawesq.net.

Estate Planning for LGBT Couples

June 25, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Under federal guidelines, couples operating under the protections of marriage are eligible to pass on assets without facing gift taxes or other taxes. In combination with the fact that the $5.34 million estate tax exclusion is now portable (meaning that it can be passed on to a surviving spouse), there’s never been a better time for all couples to visit with their estate planning attorney. shutterstock_263179907

Situations like this require careful planning and advanced estate planning knowledge, so you should find an attorney who is sensitive to the unique needs of every client.  You may have a number of different needs with regard to estate planning, especially as it relates to wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. State specific laws also apply, so it’s imperative your documents line up with state requirements.

Especially if you intend to grow your family, it’s important to be involved in the process of evaluating your estate and ensuring that all of your documents match up with your wishes. Having things outlined in legal documents helps to clarify any concerns and give you the protection that you need. To learn more about your needs in planning, contact an estate lawyer today to talk options. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

Asset Protection and the Cyprus Trust

June 24, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Have you ever heard of the Cyprus Trust? Using an international trust could be an option for you if you’re hoping for effective asset protection, but you should always walk through the specifics with your estate planning attorney. shutterstock_14579227

In order to set up a Cyprus international trust, it’s not required that either beneficiary be tied to Cyprus. No immovable property has to be located there, either. In 2000, laws were adjusted such that investments in Cyprus were allowed. The control of the trust simply requires that the creator form a company wherein that same individual serves as sole director and shareholder. The company, then, serves as the sole trustee. Assets are protected in some ways from creditors, who would need to file suit in the courts of Cyprus to bear the burden of proof that assets were transferred with the purpose of defrauding someone. The process there also has a statute of limitations that expires within two years.

To determine if this kind of trust or another planning option makes sense for you, please contact your asset protection planning attorney for more information. Contact us at info@lawesq.net for more information.

Why is Family Business Succession Planning So Difficult?

June 23, 2015

Filed under: Business Planning,Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Business succession planning is difficult to begin with, which is why so many people avoid doing it at all. That’s not a good approach, however, because poor planning could turn into a real problem down the road. When it comes to businesses owned by a family, it seems like this one area where multiple challenges make it harder than ever to have the planning conversation. shutterstock_143515135

There are many factors involved in why family business succession planning often takes a backseat. First of all, there’s a smaller pool of potential successors. Sibling rivalries can inflame arguments, especially when some siblings want to stick with the business and others want to move on after the parents have exited the company or passed away. Larger generational differences between stakeholders is another reason why it’s hard to figure out the future of a family business.

Finally, there’s a strong connection between family and work for anyone who works in the family business. Without proper care and planning, this can lead to more emotional conflicts at work and at home. That being said, you can minimize future conflicts by planning ahead and thinking especially about how you want your legacy to be carried on. Need help? Email info@lawesq.net.

When Will Medicaid Cover the Nursing Home?

June 22, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

The costs of nursing home care are stifling at best and exorbitant at worst. Even a loved one who considers himself or herself to have a fair amount of savings might find it frustrating to realize how quickly that money can be spent after just one nursing home incident. shutterstock_288365435

Less than five percent of elderly individuals have long-term care insurance, a vital form of protection that can help mitigate against these rising costs. If an individual receives Social Security, he or she may be eligible for coverage under Medicaid. Without SS, income limits do apply. If you have too high of an income to be eligible for Medicaid at this time, you need to consult with an elder law specialist.

The reason for a consultation is that you need to carefully consider spending down your assets in order to qualify for government assistance. You need to take thoughtful action and evaluate how spending down could influence you and your family members. Remember that Medicaid has a five-year look back system to see if you have tried to give away too many of your assets. An attorney can help you understand when and how Medicaid can help you plan. It’s definitely beneficial to have Medicaid supporting you if you need care in the nursing home, but having someone counsel you has a high level of value, too. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

How Does Divorce Affect Estate Planning?

June 19, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Each state has individual divorce laws, which means that what’s true in one place is not necessarily true in another. Interpretation varies a lot from state to state when it comes to wills following divorce. This is why both spouses need to be informed and aware of relevant issues. It’s a good idea to set up a meeting with your estate planning attorney early on in the divorce process, if not immediately after you have the relevant paperwork. 1abmezJR5hYDJHyjc0VPrGTiJDHfxxLZ5f_TLBPizE8

If a will is private, or if a death happens before the individual has had time to update it post-divorce, there is no guarantee of intent that will be honored. That’s why it’s valuable to re-draft a second will, outlining a revocation clause for the previous will at all. This reduces confusion and opportunities for argument.

If there is a trust involved, it depends on whether the trust was created as revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable trust can be updated, but a revocable one may require that divorce papers declare the ability to amend or dissolve it. Consult with your estate planning specialist for more information.

Hidden Dangers of Estate Planning Procrastination

June 18, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Many people enjoy focusing on the accumulation of wealth throughout their life. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s equally as important as planning out your estate and taking steps to protect your assets. Planning for the accurate distribution of assets requires timely effort and focus, and it’s not a step that should be ignored. estate-planning

Don’t make the assumption that putting together a will is all you’ll need for your estate planning. This triggers action on death, but not necessarily on disability. A will is great for addressing simple distribution needs and allowing for court supervision in the event that something is contested, but you may need more complex assistance. You also strongly want to consider what documents are in place to aid in the event of disability.

You might consider putting assets into a trust to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and establish a plan for disability. It’s imperative that you also keep trusts and wills current with accurate beneficiary designations and asset registrations, too.

Avoid Asset Protection Scams

June 17, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Although there is plenty of good advice out there about asset protection, there are also some unfortunate scams you should be aware of. Make sure that whoever you work with on asset protection has credentials to back up their experience; this may involve a background in international law or taxes. cHNJKxQ6aFTXJCWUbFJfGlrcutbJWAlqQ_C3xebLfSI

Be aware that sometimes what is passed off as decent advice can land you in hot water: for example, it’s a common misconception that offshore accounts are not searchable. This is not entirely true, and you should consult with an experienced asset protection attorney to learn more about the best way to guard your wealth.

Before meeting with an advisor, review his or her background and consider asking for references from current clients. You’ll want to get a complete picture of the individual you’re working with before agreeing to sign on the dotted line. Your asset protection is extremely important, and it’s worth verifying that you’re working with a highly-qualified individual or team at the outset. We’re here to help: info@lawesq.net.

Elder Law Costs Compared: Assisted Living, Nursing Home, and In-Home Care

June 16, 2015

Filed under: Aging In Place,Baby Boomer Generation — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

The baby boomer generation is a big one, and the impact on health care services is reported widely throughout the news. According to US News and World Report, over the course of the next two decades, more than 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65 every single day. This statistic is causing more individuals to think about planning ahead for long-term care and the inevitable costs associated with it. Whether you’re nearing this category yourself or whether you’re helping a parent plan, it pays to be informed about care options. 18scG5olSFcN_T7nAvlyJR0UuPaAw6Op6b14U7fh3j8

Many people are not aware that in-home care can exceed the costs of assisted living-location is also a factor, especially if you or your loved one lives in the city. The costs in urban areas surpass non-urban areas by as much as 15 percent.

Bear in mind as well that quality and cost can also vary quite a bit between independent care and agency staff, although the latter usually fall under licensing and accreditation standards. The average costs for the various types of care nationwide are as follows:

  • In-home care: Monthly cost of $4500
  • Nursing home care: Monthly cost of $550-6200
  • Assisted living: Monthly cost of $3000

Many people are not informed about just how easy it is to spend though assets and leave a healthy spouse with the financial fallout. Protect yourself by planning ahead- contact our office today for more information. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

What to Do When You Need to Exit Your Small Business Quickly

June 15, 2015

Filed under: Business Planning,Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Certainly, planning ahead for a small business exit is a wise decision, but it’s not always an option. Sometimes, business owners need a quick exit for one reason or another, and putting forth a quick plan of action can be crucial to following through properly. 5HeZmh6ZnnsYGxPbT0bM2RzZFsLirU3oUPu_Hs2PNxM

New research from BizBuySell.com reveals that the time to sell a business decreased by 23 percent recently, from 200 days to only 153 during the final quarter of 2014. Five months, though, may be too long for some business owners who need immediate action.

In case this describes your situation, here are five steps you can take for immediate action to sell your business, according to inc.com:

  1. Contact potential buyers. As a business owner, you might already know interested parties.
  2. Incorporate a business partner. A business partner could help manage portions of the business you’re not interested in, giving you more time to find the ideal buyer.
  3. Pass on the business to employees. Creating an Employee Stock Ownership Plan gives you more opportunities and helps you move forward a sale more quickly.
  4. Provide incentives. The more attractive you can make the sale opportunity, the more likely you are to sell it quickly.
  5. Liquidate assets. While this is certainly not going to be your first option, it is a potential one if you find you need to exit quickly without taking a huge financial hit.

Need help planning ahead or in crunch time with a business sale? Contact our offices today for a consultation.

Types of Wills Differ in Purpose and Effect

June 12, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Although the will is often referred to as the most basic tool for estate planning, it’s important that it’s put together properly with an eye for small details. You need to be sure that the type of will you select is valid for your state. A self-proving affidavit is one tool you might use to increase the speed of acceptance in probate court. The idea that a will is simple has led many to turn online or to generic forms for creation. These are limited in use and not always valid, generating more problems down the road. Jfj0wvjHJhbIQ49XqaA8Bkb7vK4y6UNZwtXMJqhO6Ts

If a living trust is included in your estate, you might consider what’s known as a pour-over will. This means that all assets not titled in the name of the trustee will flow into the trust. Your estate planning professional can provide more insight over will alternatives and different types of wills that might be used based on your needs.

If there’s a concern over imminent death, a holographic will, made in the testator’s own handwriting, may be done. This will could be more open to challenges and should only be done if there are three or more witnesses present. Planning ahead and having a comprehensive will put together in advance can alleviate last-minute concerns and reduce the opportunities for the will to be challenged into the future. Email our office at info@lawesq.net.

The Value of Protecting Your Assets Long Before a Nursing Home Stay

June 11, 2015

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A nursing home stay, even a brief one, can quickly deplete retirement savings. Even when you are in relatively good health, it’s a good idea to think about planning ahead for nursing home care in order to prevent sudden and surprising costs. This process is usually referred to as Medicaid planning. DGx9ikR2D8Oer1b8oF2BV7u6VvggRJW0MAFZ_OizYBk

Medicaid planning is very valuable, since the government agency determining eligibility looks back over the previous five years to determine whether you have attempted to transfer any assets. This is why planning when a potential event is not on the horizon is even better, because a sudden medical event can be crippling to a retired couple or widow/widower.

The sooner you contact an elder law professional to talk about your options, the better. The specifics of your planning will depend largely on your circumstances, but there are strategies you can employ in order to protect your estate in a meaningful way.  Scrutiny can be an issue for individuals or couples that appear to be wealthy, but taking some steps now to give away some assets or set up a plan to prepare over the course of several years may pay off in spades if you or your spouse ever need nursing home care.

There’s a lot of confusion over what Medicaid does and doesn’t allow- make sure you’ve received the most accurate information from your elder law professional. Send us a message today at info@lawesq.net.

What You Need to Know About Intestate Succession

June 10, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you die without a will, your estate will pass through probate. For the most part, your assets will go to your closest relatives under the intestate succession laws of your state. It’s also important that you know which assets don’t go through your will and are not affected by intestate succession laws mentioned above. 0qMys92qVjGIBYTesh8yV8NIZL6MvgwJyAGQmn3FEBo

Some examples of property that doesn’t go through your will includes:

  • Life insurance policy proceeds
  • IRA funds
  • Property transferred into a living trust
  • Securities in a transfer-on-death account
  • Property owned by a joint tenancy
  • Bank accounts considered “payable-on-death”

Avoiding probate is a good idea if you’d like to save your heirs from the confusion that can occur after you have passed. Putting together a will allows for you to stipulate clear outlines about how you want your estate handled.

Contact an estate planning professional to learn more about how you plan ahead. Reach out to us for an initial consultation at info@lawesq.net.

Key Facts and Factors in Business Succession

June 9, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

The American Bar Association reports that only 30 percent of family businesses successfully pass on to the second generation- were you counting on your loved ones picking up the business baton and running with it? The reality is that there are many challenges faced in the process of trying to figure out business succession. The best way to prepare for the future is to set in place a plan that either outlines the transition or makes clear the processes by which that decision emerges. 0nYcQa6EllM1xUxN-_jgh5aswwFlz_zMbFUsjmNuYYM

If you’re considering selling, you need to think about how that might look for you and your company. Did you know that 75 percent of individuals who sold felt unhappy about it a year later? The root causes of this unhappiness include retirement plans falling short of expectations, the business legacy not being carried out, or disappointment over employees who lost their jobs in the transition. Make sure you carefully consider the return on investment from selling the company versus passing it on to someone else.

One of the most important things you can do now is to prepare your company to constantly be improving value. Think about the long term, and what structures would need to be in place for your company to succeed long after you’re gone. Consult with a business succession planning professional to get more details about how you can accomplish your goals.

Elder Law Tips: 7 Scams That Target Seniors

June 8, 2015

Filed under: Asset Protection,Baby Boomer Generation — Tags: , — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Unfortunately, the elderly are frequently targeted in fraudulent schemes because the individuals carrying out these scams believe these individuals are more vulnerable and are more likely to have accumulated wealth. What follows are seven of the most recent and common scams targeting elderly individuals. 1D1iOB5glGAXlnOxXmQJ2CG7dNc6GG0GXY-G8vdLRBE

IRS Phone Scam

Recently seniors received phone calls threatening arrest and driver’s license suspension for nonpayment of back taxes. The fraud earned the scammers more than $5 million.

Health Care Scam

Seniors in this fraud scheme are asked to provide personal information in order to receive help with health insurance. That information can be used for identity theft.

Great Grandchild Claims

Sometimes, elderly individuals will receive communication from an alleged great grandchild asking for money. They are advised to verify the identity before sending any funds.

Unethical Financial Advice

Some individuals will claim to be professional financial advisors, making investments on a senior’s behalf. Individuals should always be carefully vetted before being used for financial management or advice.

Obituary Scheme

In this situation, individuals will call the family of a recently-deceased relative and claim that money is owed or that a package needs to be delivered. The “package” is then sent to the family cash-on-delivery, but it’s usually empty or worthless.

Prescription Drug Ruse

With prescription costs being a primary concern for elderly individuals, many turn to the Internet for cheaper prices. Sometimes, this can mean that money is taken without the delivery of any drugs. Make sure you fully investigate a site or service before signing up.

Funeral Plot/Service Scams

Unfortunately, some funeral homes might encourage seniors to purchase a casket or burial plot when they intend to use cremation. Read the fine print and make sure a family member knows your wishes.

Sadly, these scams are all too common. One of the best ways to combat scams is to ensure your estate planning and elder planning have considered many options. Get advice from an experienced attorney today at info@lawesq.net.

 

Estate Planning and the Dangers of Probate

June 5, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

When you pass away without a will, the court takes over the distribution of your estate. During this process, the court determines the most appropriate way to distribute your assets, but allowing this to happen does present some dangers. shutterstock_263647079

The first challenge has to do with time. Average settlement lengths for probate are between nine months to two years, which may not be what you had hoped for or in the best interests of your loved ones. Any emergencies or time-sensitive issues your heirs may face could be crippling while your estate is being sorted out.

If you don’t have a will, the costs for probate can be extensive: they can end up being up to 10 percent of the total estate value.

To add to the challenges, there’s a big lack of privacy when your estate goes through the probate process. There are many estate planning tools that, when used properly, can provide you some clarity about how your assets will be handled and give privacy to your heirs.

Thankfully, with a little careful planning you can make the process easier on your heirs. Contact our offices today for a consultation designed to address your estate planning needs at info@lawesq.net.

Estate Planning: Avoiding the Top 3 Mistakes

June 4, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Make sure you avoid the most common estate planning mistakes both to give you peace of mind and to increase the chances that your loved ones have minimal challenges when you pass away. shutterstock_213954391

No Estate Plan

Too many people avoid putting together a plan at all, which puts their estate at risk of being determined by the courts. You need to consider more than just your will, too- what about the complicated decisions surrounding your end of life? Don’t force your family to figure that out- instead put your wishes in writing.

Failing to Gift Assets Before Death

One of the best ways to reduce the size of your taxable estate is to give assets before you pass away. As an added bonus, it’s also your chance to see if your beneficiaries are capable of handling larger gifts. Talk to your estate planning specialist to determine what you can do during your life.

Failing to Correct Beneficiary Designations

Small mistakes can cause big problems down the road if you’re not clear about your beneficiary designations. This can change, especially if the main beneficiary passes away before you do or you get divorced. Make sure your papers are in line with your life changes.

Contact us for an appointment at info@lawesq.net.

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