If you are thinking about the best way to protect yourself, regardless of the current political laws surrounding estate and tax planning, it’s a good idea to engage with a lawyer who also has a background in asset protection planning.
Most people don’t understand what asset protection planning includes until it’s too late. Shielding your assets from creditors and predators in advance, however, is essential if you don’t want to learn the lesson the hard way.
As a client, you will want to consider all real estate, family business, investments accounts and life insurance interests by transferring them into a trust, if possible. Issues like a family business can complicate your estate planning significantly. Since a family business usually seen as a long-term investment, you might want to sell it into a trust. This will give an income stream to older people who want to give up the day to day operations and responsibilities of the business without losing all of their access to the security of the financial security provided by the asset. Business interests should typically be sold when the value is modest, so that growth can occur outside of the individual person’s estate. Selling off a business interest also allows for things known as valuation discounts, such that greater equity goes into the trust. Life insurance can also be sold into a trust in order to avoid three years look back issues.
In the event that you choose to gift life insurance into an irrevocable trust and pass away within three years, typically the internal revenue service will put that asset back into the estate, but a sale of the life insurance policy into a trust can avoid this problem. Finally, real estate can be sold into a trust for similar reasons as family businesses.
If you wait until a legal claim or issue has already come up, the options for really protecting your assets are much more limited. That’s why you need the support of an attorney months or years in advance.
Protecting these assets and also considering the different ways that a family business or an individual could be exposed to the risk of lawsuits and other challenges should be carefully considered with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney when you are planning to look forward into the future and to do as much as possible to prevent problems and personal liabilities.