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Three Tips for Asset Protection Planning

October 5, 2015

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

Making sure you’ve reduced risks associated with your assets is an important part of your overall planning for finances and your estate. Read on to learn more about five key tips to get started. shutterstock_60555508

Consider the Pros and Cons of Offshore Money

Unfortunately, some recent cases involve courts mandating that debtors bring back overseas assets through “repatriation orders”. If you do not comply, the court can issue a bench warrant leading to contempt of court. Make sure you know the rules and current interpretations in the U.S.

Make Sure You Can Explain Your Asset Protection Plan

It’s not very valuable to you if you cannot walk through how it works. Imagine being asked about your planning structure in deposition- could you easily explain the setup? The best plans are those that you can understand and see the benefit of. Make sure you work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Know That the Planning May Become Completely Visible to Creditors 

Even if your plan is successful in shielding your assets, creditors might be able t know what’s in it. A plan that requires secrecy usually has other complex elements like ensuring that a former spouse does not speak to creditors or help from an experienced tax specialist when you must report the activity on returns. Talk with your asset protection attorney about the best structure for your plan.






Is Estate Planning Fatigue Keeping You From an Important Task?

October 2, 2015

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

According to the CNBC Millionaire Study, up to one third of individuals with a minimum of $1 million in assets have not yet engaged a professional for estate planning purposes. While having an estate planner is important for people of all wealth levels, it becomes all the more important when someone has assets above this number.shutterstock_226490380

One of the reasons that people in this bracket tend to avoid setting up a meeting is known as estate planning fatigue. With the nature of federal estate tax laws constantly shifting, most people have already made some effort to update their plans in line with these changes. But the fact that these changes have occurred so often has made some people want to throw in the towel entirely, especially if they have already updated their documents more than once. This is in addition to the fact that it’s relatively well-known that the federal estate tax exemption amount sits at $5.43 million, leading many people to believe that an estate with assets less than that does not need planning.

It’s important to understand that there are benefits beyond tax savings, such as avoiding probate, designating where assets will go, assisting beneficiaries with special needs, and appointment guardians for minors, among others. The three primary barriers that those suffering from estate planning fatigue face are a lack of urgency, the inability to make a decision, and unwillingness to revise an existing plan. Even if this describes you, it is critical to have an estate plan that both reflects your needs and makes the most of current laws and regulations. To keep the updating to a minimum and to meet these goals, set up a minimum of one meeting per year with your planner.


Could This Unconventional Estate Planning Tip Help You?

October 1, 2015

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

We’ve long shared on this blog that estate planning is about more than having the proper paperwork in place. While it is definitely vital to have the right paperwork prepared for your passing, it is just as important to consider the people who will be involved in that process as well. That’s why this unconventional estate planning tip is to take the paperwork one step further and make sure someone knows what to do with it.shutterstock_279906161

Many of the important people in your life are likely to be uncomfortable talking about the subject of death, but at a minimum these individuals must know where to find the documents outlining your plan. There is little value to that paperwork if no one knows where to locate it.

There is a fine line you need to walk between providing people the right information and giving them too much. Perhaps it does not make sense to put your spouse under the stress of maintaining all these documents- in that case, find a trusted estate planner and give them instructions about what details need to be provided to that spouse in the event of your passing.  When leaving details for your spouse, include a business card for the estate planning attorney so your spouse remembers who to contact.



Why Entertainers Need Advanced Planning

September 30, 2015

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

There is a myth out there that only the wealthiest of entertainers are in need of advanced estate planning strategies. This is not true, because every entertainer could benefit from putting these plans in place before they hit “the big time”. Being skyrocketed into the spotlight highlights the paramount importance of planning, because spending habits and income potential could make these same individuals a target for frivolous lawsuits. shutterstock_125810294

One of the other issues faced by any entertainer or artist is that there are unique assets. This could include residuals, deferments, or royalties. One tool that is especially helpful for individuals in the entertainment world is the captive insurance company. An estate planning attorney can help you create custom coverage to maximize wealth and minimize taxes.

For entertainers, handing off to heirs can be made more complex by the unique nature of assets like copyrights and trademarks. Life insurance may be another planning opportunity in these situations.

How Can An Elder Law Attorney Be Good For My Health?

September 29, 2015

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

It’s common knowledge that people do better with their health when other aspects of their life are low on the stress scale. Even a perso who suffers from serious illness is likely to combat it more effectively if other issues like health insurance, financial concerns, and legal problems are kept to a bare minimum.

This is especially true for anyone battling cancer. According to recent research, cancer is now the second leading causing of death across the country. It’s anticipated that there will be more than 18 million cancer survivors in the U.S. alone by 2020- this reflects that half of all men and one third of women will develop cancer at some point. Even though survival rates have improved with modern medicine, the costs of dealing with a major diagnosis can take a toll on your emotions, too. Trying to deal with outside issues pulls your focus away from the mental and physical stamina you need to battle cancer or other serious medical issues.  shutterstock_182522420

An elder law attorney, though, can help make non-medical issues easier to deal with, allowing the patient to focus on treatment and recovery. Identifying and obtaining health coverage or assisting with healthcare disputes are two key ways to do this. Qualifying for Medicaid can also be a difficult process in and of itself where an attorney’s guidance becomes all the more important. Having an experienced attorney help you in times of need sets you up for a recovery focused on your needs and not drained by outside problems. Need help? We’ve got you covered:

Succession Planning and Boomers: Avoid Being Set Up to Fail

September 28, 2015

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

More than two-thirds of U.S. businesses are currently owned by someone aged 67 or older. This number is growing, too, as ten thousand people per day are turning 65. Against this backdrop, up to three-quarters of companies in the United States will come up for sale in the next 5-10 years. According to UNC’s Business School, nearly two-thirds of companies in that category have not planned yet for the departure of an owner and the organizational change that follows.shutterstock_145835411

Key issues involved in this discussion about ownership shifts include ignoring retirement, failing to plan for the unexpected, not adequately training takeover staff, and a lack of younger managers in the picture ready to be trained for a bigger role. There are also challenges associated with over-valuing the business or assuming that trusted colleagues or family members wish to succeed the departing owner. While this might be the case, it is always valuable to set up a conversation confirming this sooner rather than later so that there are no unpleasant surprises that could halt the flow of business down the road when the owner does depart.

It’s time for a conversation about business succession planning, even if you’re feeling guilt over not having tackled it yet. Contact our offices today to learn more and to set up your meeting. Contact us at

How Living Trusts Help Avoid Probate

September 25, 2015

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

If you want your loved ones to have an easy experience with your estate after you pass away, one of the most popular methods of doing this is by avoiding probate. Leaving as much as possible to your loved ones is possible with some common estate planning methods that can also help avoid costly probate fees. shutterstock_46713349

A simple living trust can help your loved ones avoid probate and to allow the passage of your property to happen in a relatively smooth manner. In order to create a living trust, you would need a document called a declaration of trust. You’ll put yourself as the trustee, or you and your spouse as co-trustees. At this point, you would then transfer either some or all of your property into the trust. As the owner, you would not lose any control over the items in the trust. You would then name either the organizations or the people you want to receive that property as beneficiaries. With a revocable trust, this is something you can change later on, too.

To learn more about how the living trust can work together with your other estate planning, contact our offices today.

Buying Out a Parent’s Share in a Family Business

September 24, 2015

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

There are some situations where it simply makes sense for a child to buy out a share in the family business. The other option is for the parent to gift shares or to leave shares in a will, trust, or foundation. The challenge is that these same parents might need capital to rely on in retirement, so selling shares in a business to a child is one way to help finance this shift in life.  shutterstock_95576026

In order to do this, an outright sale can be conducted or financing can be arrange. The amount of the total financing depends on several factors like which assets are secured by the business in order to leverage the buyout and what money is currently being borrowed by the business, if any.

There are a few key benefits to buying out rather than waiting to pass on the shares in another way:

  • This generates cash for the parents in retirement
  • The parents can easily remove themselves from bank obligations
  • The child may have extra motivation as far as the ownership of the business is concerned, giving him or her a bigger stake in succeed.

Do you have questions about succession planning? Reach out to our office today.

Will My Estate Have to Pay Taxes: A Review of Exemptions/Deductions

September 23, 2015

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

While most estates will not owe federal estate or gift tax because of the fact that you can give away or leave much behind without tax consequences, you should still be aware of the estate tax. More people are growing their wealth into a position of needing to plan for estate taxes.shutterstock_250210348

Even if you’re not necessarily concerned about estate taxes, you should be planning ahead to leave the most possible behind for your beneficiaries with one of several planning tools. Read on to learn more about some of the most common deductions and exemptions as they relate to your estate:

  • Marital deduction: Property left to a surviving spouse is generally free of estate tax, but you’ll need to speak with your estate planning specialist about how to structure this. Surviving spouses usually get a big tax break if the deceased spouse never used up his or her personal estate tax exemption.
  • Personal estate tax exemption: In 2015, the amount allowed to pass without tax consequences is $5.43 million.
  • Charitable deduction: If you leave property behind to a tax-exempt charity, this is done so tax-free.


As suggested, you need to consult with your estate planning attorney to learn how these might impact your estate.

How Financial Power of Attorney Works

September 22, 2015

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

If you are concerned about being able to manage your finances as a result of incapacitation or another challenge in the future, you might be considering financial power of attorney. This is a simple and cost-effective way for someone else to step in to play this role if you become unable to do so. shutterstock_152093909

Without a financial power of attorney, your family members might have to request a court proceeding in order to obtain authority for the management of your finances. You can draft this document to go into effect as soon as it’s signed, or you can specify that it becomes active when a doctor determines your incapacity. This is what is known as a springing durable power of attorney. Discuss with your estate planning attorney whether this makes sense for you.


The person you give authority to regarding your financial affairs is known as your agent. He or she can manage various parts of your finances like collecting government benefits, investing your money in mutual funds or other vehicles, paying taxes on or buying/selling real estate, or even using your assets to help pay for the everday assets of you and your family. To learn more about a financial power of attorney and what it can do for you, contact our offices today.

How to Evaluate an Estate Planning Attorney

September 21, 2015

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

Setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney is about more than a quick solution like the drafting of a will. Done properly, it is about building a long-term relationship with someone you can trust to give you advice and insight about how to plan for now and well into the future. Read on to learn more about how to evaluate someone you are considering hiring in the position of estate planning lawyer. shutterstock_265836425

Pay attention to the following aspects when you consult with a new attorney:

  • Commitment to personalized attention: You need to feel comfortable that there is someone (or even multiple staff members at the firm) you are confident in working with. Having a point of contact makes it easier to work through a challenging situation or when you have an urgent need.
  • Experience: It goes without saying that experience is crucial for all kinds of estates from small to large and complex to relatively simple.
  • References: Other happy clients indicate that a firm is reliable and well-liked. It should not be difficult to find some positive social proof that a firm has develoepd a solid reputation in the community.
  • Willingness to focus on your needs: Not all estates are alike, and this is where experience and commitment to personalized attention come together. Your attorney needs to be willing to listen to you and formulate a plan based on your situation.

To learn more about setting up a consultation with an attorney, contact us at

A Key Tip for Passing an IRA On to Children

September 18, 2015

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

Many retired individuals have access to both a tax-deferred account and a tax-free IRA. As a result, common advice from financial advisors includes suggestions for leaving the Roth behind to your children as it allows a tax-free withdrawal system over the course of their life. This is not always true, however. shutterstock_264759869

If you instead use the Roth for your own needs and set aside the traditional IRA for your children, they may ultimately get a bigger inheritance even after the income taxes on each withdrawal are factored in. The critical factor here is to compare your own tax rate with the tax rate of your beneficiary.

A child who has a lower tax rate than you do will be able to take a bigger inheritance if you leave them the traditional IRA. If the opposite is true, you may want to consider leaving the Roth instead. These calculations might be easy to accomplish when there is one heir to the retirement funds, but it becomes much more complicated when a parent has two or more children falling in different tax brackets. Make sure to set up an appointment with your financial advisor to determine how to best equalize the inheritances.

To learn more about passing on your retirement benefits and how to best accomplish this with estate planning, set up a meeting with our office today.

Benefits of Going from Sole Proprietor to LLC

September 17, 2015

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

If you are currently running a business set up as a sole proprietor, perhaps this structure served you in the past but it might be time to move on. Upleveling your structure can be beneficial from the perspective of protecting assets. It is not the right choice for everyone, though, so you should consult directly with your asset protecting attorney to determine the right move for you. shutterstock_192058409

A sole proprietorship converting to an LLC may help protect your individual assets from debts and judgments, but it could also carry potential tax benefits as well. Even if there are multiple individuals involved in the running of your company, creation of an LLC could help to tax profit distribution and have it taxed at an individual rate.

An LLC does not need to be a complicated structure, but it is often a logical next step for the business owner who has operated under sole proprietor status in the past. In addition to providing asset protection, it also signifies a sense of credibility regardless of what industry your company is in. If you want to learn more about the structures to consider when moving from a sole proprietorship, contact an asset protection attorney today. Your business is critical for your future, and your structure should reflect your growing needs.



Succession is a Critical Conversation for the Family Business

September 16, 2015

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


In the post-recession era, family businesses have become extremely important. Many disenfranchised workers took the opportunity to launch their own companies during this time, and now home businesses make up 50 percent of gross domestic product and nearly 60 percent of all jobs in the U.S.

Despite this rapid growth in the home business sector, many of the owners of such companies do not believe that their businesses will succeed beyond the current generation. Much of this has to do with generational differences, financial priorities, interests, or even familial disputes. In order to survive, even a home-based business has to have goals and objectives based on a collective vision. shutterstock_312773633

If you own a home-based or family business and would like to consider passing it on to the next generation, make sure you consider all decision-making processes in writing. If you plan to pass the company on, successors should be identified clearly and early on. Estate planning for you and for any concerns related to the business should be conducted by factoring in transfer scenarios and tax ramifications.

Contact us for more information about planning for business succession. Set up a meeting today by contacting

Are Concerns About Private Medicare Founded?

September 15, 2015

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

Several of the country’s biggest health insurance companies are planning to merge, but this is raising concerns about a serious lack of competition in the Medicare marketplace. According to a new report, in fact, there is not enough competition anywhere in the country when it comes to Medicare. Research comes from the Commonwealth Fund, which found that up to 97 percent of markets in counties across the United States were “highly concentrated”, meaning that a handful of companies controlled the market. In rural locations, this concentration was even more pronounced, leaving little room for competition. shutterstock_288255239

Over the past few decades, insurance companies have encouraged private plans as alternatives to traditional Medicare options. Medicare provides coverage to about 66 percent of all beneficiaries. Some of the leading players in the private insurance market for Medicare are Humana, Aetna, and UnitedHealth Group. Those who support private insurance options believe that Medicare costs are reduced while the quality of care is boosted.

If you are concerned about healthcare costs associated with aging, you likely have questions about both Medicare and Medicaid. Long-term care costs funded with assistance from Medicaid can be a critical way to help a loved one receive the care and support he or she needs, but there are specific qualifications in order to receive the benefits. To learn more about qualifying for Medicaid, contact our offices to learn more.

Do I Really Need an Estate Lawyer?

September 14, 2015

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

With so many services and websites promoting do-it-yourself options these days, it’s tempting to think that you can handle the majority of your estate planning needs on your own. These services make it seem like a basic approach to managing your estate will completely protect you. There are two primary problems with this approach: it assumes that one size fits all (and this is rarely the case with individual situations or with state laws) and the margin for error is quite large. In fact, errors made in these “do it yourself” approaches could end up invalidating what you thought you were planning for. shutterstock_255529753

If you do not follow state laws with regard to your estate, your loved ones may be the one paying the price down the road. Even if you want to start with a base document to have a lawyer review it, this is essential so that you know that your document is valid and complies with any necessary laws.

A good estate planning attorney can help you with more than the basic documents you need for estate planning, too. Someone in this position can help you plan ahead for the future by thinking about ways to successfully pass on your assets with minimal tax consequences. Having clarity in your plan also gives you a better sense of how what you’re passing on influences your loved ones or any charities you are leaving money to.



Estate Planning Tips: Transfers to Make Today

September 11, 2015

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

It is expected that the IRS will shortly announce changes to the transfer of corporate shares, limited liability corporation interests, and limited partnership interests to family members. In 1990, rulings pronounced the elimination of discounting the valued of such transferred assets, but it looks like these benefits could be in jeopardy entirely. shutterstock_247781833

The courts have allowed these options to continue on the grounds that something transferred on the basis of market value would always carry less overall value than an asset being held outside the possibility of being purchased.

This September, however, the goal may be to eliminate any discounts at all. If this potentially impacts you, or you have had this on your to-do list for some time, it is now a good time to contact your estate planning specialist to determine if you should move forward with any such transfers. Getting expert advice about changing rules and regulations is always recommended when it comes to your asset protection planning or your estate planning. Contact us at

Protecting Yourself From Lawsuits With Proper Planning

September 10, 2015

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


Although most people are aware of the litigious nature of society today, they often do not follow this up with the proper planning necessary to protect their assets. It is well worth your time to put structures in place to protect you from future litigation. Without any planning, you could be putting your assets in jeopardy.shutterstock_228287125

One of the most basic ways to approach this is to put together an LLC. Even if it is basic to start with, it helps to put a distinction between you and your business. Without official making this distinction, the courts might assume there is no clear boundary. This leaves your personal assets at risk.

Additionally, be savvy about insurance. Make sure that you have considered all possible areas in which you might be exposed. Business interruption service, liability, and property and casualty insurance policies should all be considered. Review these documents annually so that you are clear that they match your evolving needs.

Contact us at

What to Do With Sudden Wealth

September 9, 2015

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

Suddenly having assets that you didn’t anticipate can be difficult to manage even when you’re excited about the new prosperity. A sudden influx of wealth presents its own set of problems that require a measured and deliberate response. shutterstock_234386854

Give yourself a little bit of time to adjust to the shock first. During this period, avoid making any major decisions. It might feel as though you have overwhelming possibilities in the short term, and it is a good idea to take some time to decompress before making any final determinations.

Make sure that you seek out passions and endeavors that are a joy, but you should also set up a consultation with an asset protection specialist in addition to your accountant or financial manager. You may want to consider setting up plans for your future beneficiaries or talk about how you could gift to charity. All of these are important options that should be considered with care.

Reach out to our offices today to set up a consultation to discuss how an influx of wealth impacts your present and your future.

Managing Conflict in the Family Business

September 8, 2015

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

The foundation of a healthy family business is in adopting and using standard policies and procedures that help to avoid the informal setting that many family companies might be tempted to default to. When business and ownership interests overlap with family relationships, conflict is naturally more likely to emerge. shutterstock_246742507

One of the keys to handling this successfully is to keep clarity: no family should be on the payroll for the company unless his or her role is clearly defined. No double standards should exist about the way that family members versus unrelated employees are treated. Just as family members should not be given preferential treatment, they should also not be abused simply because of their status as a relative, either. Communication throughout the company should remain consistent.

Ensure that the line between family and business is clear. Boundaries should be established in written format and should be reviewed regularly to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Learn more about family business succession planning tips by staying tuned to our blog.

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