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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.

 

Protecting Assets: Jurisdiction And Entity Structure Are Key

May 28, 2015

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

The limited liability company has become the most popular entity for a small business owner to use, and they may also offer some benefits in the form of asset protection planning. Choosing the LLC instead of a corporation structure can be a wise decision, but it raises the question of where the entity should be established. There are a few different factors to consider when opting for an LLC. shutterstock_228478342

Some states have specific language in the statutes that serves to protect single-member LLCs, such as Alaska, Wyoming, and Nevada. Wyoming in particular was a popular choice for establishment because of the low cost and also the fact that managers and members within the LLC didn’t have to be disclosed publicly. A recent court case in that state, however, raises questions about the value of continuing to use Wyoming for planning.

That court case, Greenhunter Energy, Inc. v. Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc, upheld a previous ruling that allowed the corporate veil to be pierced. A creditor was able to pierce the veil to hold a parent company responsible for the subsidiary’s debt.

Under IRS guidelines, single-member LLCs are eligible for taxation as disregarded entities. In fact, one of the major advantages of a single-member LLC is this perception of greater liability protection when compared with a corporation in conjunction with this disregarded tax treatment.

As this one case indicates, planning and current knowledge of issues is critical for the proper structure of your business. Consult with an asset protection specialist about your concerns. Schedule an appointment today at info@lawesq.net.

Distinguishing Non-probate and Probate Assets

September 23, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 2:08 pm

Ensuring that your will is properly written and structured is critical for the will’s terms to be carried out in the manner you wish. Failing to properly distinguish probate from non-probate assets is a big mistake that could lead to your dispositive provisions being named ineffective.

Distinguishing Non-probate and Probate Assets

(Photo Credit: wills.about.com)

Probate property can be defined as items that are directly owned by you without a legally recognized designated beneficiary. Jewelry, family heirlooms, artwork, or bank accounts without a designated beneficiary to be paid on death are examples of probate property.

On the other hand, non-probate property is those assets which include a legally recognized beneficiary to be paid on your death. Property held in joint tenancy or bank accounts with a designated beneficiary are examples.

Why does this matter? Non-probate assets will not pass through the terms of the will. This means that if you outline wishes in your will for one person to receive all the assets, but your non-probate assets state another beneficiary, the terms of your will “surrender” to those beneficiary designations. This could have the unintended consequence of your planning falling through.

To learn more about the differences with assets, and how you can properly outline your wishes or create trusts to detail how these items are passed on, contact our offices today for a consultation. Call us at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net to begin.

Summer Wrap Up: Estate Planning For Your Vacation Homes

September 22, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection — Tags: , — Neel Shah @ 2:03 pm

The close of another summer is a great time to think about your future plans for any family-owned vacation homes. It can be really hard to sell a property where it requires approval from all children, and it’s often difficult to make these “equally split” arrangements work.

Summer Wrap Up Estate Planning For Your Vacation Homes

(Photo Credit: gsacpas.com)

Start by thinking about your goal for the home: do you want it sustained for future generations, do you want it to become the property of just one or two children, or do you not have anyone to establish as the asset recipient at all? These are important questions that will help guide the future of your vacation home.

Trusts can be a great way to manage the future of vacation homes. They can be used to help pay for expenses or create a usage schedule, which is especially helpful when there could be multiple owners. To figure out the proper amount to put aside for expenses, you can create a list of what’s needed on an annual basis, including property taxes, insurance, routine maintenance, and repairs. This can help to eliminate arguments later on.

In the trust, it’s also important to outline the rules under which the house can be sold. This should be done even if there are no immediate plans to sell the house. Talk with an estate planning attorney to determine the best way to structure your vacation home future plans and possible trust. Reach out to us at info@lawesq.net or over the phone at 732-521-9455.

How Did Shelly Sterling Control the Clippers Sale Decision?

July 23, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,Trusts — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 5:09 pm

The Los Angeles Clippers sale recently seemed to go ahead just the way that most players, fans, and the NBA commission wanted it, leading to an agreement that sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The control behind the sale, however, went to Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, causing many to wonder just how she managed it.

How Did Shelly Sterling Control the Clippers Sale Decision
(Photo Credit: wallerz.net)

Shelly made her move with a boilerplate provision included in the Sterling family trust, which maintained ownership over the Sterling’s interest in the Clippers. Since both Shelly and Donald were co-trustees holding equal authority over that trust, she was eligible to make the decision based on another standard trust provision regarding mental competency.

Shelly had already had Donald evaluated for mental competency. Under the trust’s guidelines, if either Shelly or Donald were found by two qualified physicians to have “an inability to conduct business affairs in a reasonable and normal manner”, that individual could be removed as co-trustee. As a result, Shelly would have become the sole trustee with the decision making power and authority to sell or manage the business how she saw fit and that is her strategy.

Whether planning for your family’s assets or for those of an NBA team owner, when in generating trusts’ planning attorneys may recommend that provisions like the one above are put into the language for the protection of both individuals. If not included, the co-trustee (or business partner, as it may be) could be exposed to serious risk in the event of some form of incapacity. If not planned at all, it could all be left up to a court to decide. Get more details about trust planning today by contacting us at info@lawesq.net or at 732-521-9455.

Hoteliers & Moteliers: What Security Challenges Do Today’s Hotel Owners Face?

July 11, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Captive Insurance Companies,Hospitality,Hotel Owners — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 3:23 pm

Hotel owners face a broad array of challenges when it comes to mitigating risks. Whether you’re a single motel or part of a chain, you need to be concerned with protecting and maintaining assets. You’ll need to be concerned with physical, human, and intangible assets.

Hoteliers & Moteliers What Security Challenges Do Todays Hotel Owners Face
(Photo Credit: e27.co)

Some of the major concerns that hotel owners are faced with include sabotage, natural disaster, injury, criminal activities, terrorism, and fire. On a more common basis, you might be concerned with injuries and claims or injuries on hotel property, or the theft of services or merchandise.

There’s no doubt that as a hotel owner, you frequently feel pulled in many different directions to deal with immediate problems and trying to prepare for the future. One of the best ways to reduce your risks is to consider whether a captive insurance company can help you with some of your concerns in the long run. Policies for a captive insurance company contain many of the same provisions as typical commercial insurance contracts but they go above and beyond by reinsuring your particular risk needs.

As an added benefit, maintaining control over that captive company may even give you investment control over assets for that company. If you’ve got risks that cannot be covered under the typical umbrella of a commercial insurance contract, you’ve got to look elsewhere. A captive insurance company may alleviate your concerns, protect your assets, and allow you to build a long-term plan. Email us at info@lawesq.net or call 732-521-9455 to begin.

Estate Planning For Your House: Irrevocable Trusts

May 23, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 1:26 pm

A transfer of assets outright may not be the best solution as this has been known to create undesirable outcomes. In the case when planning to avoid probate and conservatorships, it makes more sense to use an irrevocable trust. In many cases, the biggest and/or most important asset to be transferred is a home.

Estate Planning For Your House Irrevocable Trusts
(Photo Credit: nwkidsmagazine.com/2012/01/1560/)

An outright transfer could cause problems: if it ever becomes necessary or desired to sell the property to buy a new one elsewhere, this can be difficult. Also the new owners might lose the residence to creditors or divorce or sell it on their own. That’s why it may be preferable to use an irrevocable trust to ensure protections and flexibility in planning. This can be done using lifetime retaining benefits held by the transferor.

There are benefits to using an irrevocable trust to manage the house transfer. First, the residence is protected from the threats of creditors or ex-spouses of death beneficiaries or the trustee. Second, if there is interest or need to sell the home to acquire a new one, the trustee can navigate this move fairly easily, If drafted properly. To talk more about how to plan for the transfer of your home, we can help. Email us at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Side Business? Silent Partner? What’s the Risk? Duties of non-manager members of LLCs

May 9, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,Estate Planning,LLCs — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 6:30 pm

If you are interested in creating a managed multi-member LLC, one of the most popular questions for individuals in this position is whether non-manager members are held to the same standards (or have the same liability) with regards to fiduciary duties like care and loyalty. The answer is “it depends”.

Side Business Silent Partner Whats the Risk Duties of nonmanager members of LLCs
(Photo Credit: serpent.com)

In the non-manager members are involved in some significant aspect of the business, the operating agreement should generally include an expression of such duties for these individuals. Looking at the landscape of typical non-manager member involvement in the business of these LLCs, significant duties are typically rare with smaller businesses that are closely held.

There are some cases where the operating agreement might not address this question specifically. In this scenario, the LLC act governs and can provide some important insight. A lot of these acts, however, are quiet when it comes to this particular question. Some agreements, however, do have specific information about these duties included. An example is the Delaware Limited Liability Company Act, which actually negatives any duties for the non-manager members unless an express clause in the LLC agreement states anything to the contrary.

LLC formation and agreement construction can be aided significantly with the watchful eye of an attorney. Call us at 732-521-9455 or send us an email to info@lawesq.net to discuss your needs.

For Hoteliers: Hotel Business Protection Using Captive Insurance

April 28, 2014

Filed under: Business Planning,Hotel Owners — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 8:32 am

For hotel business owners, there are big benefits to setting up a captive insurance company. This can be a valuable way to protect your company and save money at the same time, since captive insurance companies are known for tax flexibility. A captive insurance company is an affiliate of a business that is created to reinsure particular risks of that business. The captive can be formed in the U.S. or in a foreign jurisdiction. Policies can contain all of the basic terms that are included in commercial insurance contracts and premiums are determined by independent actuaries.

For Hoteliers Hotel Business Protection Using Captive Insurance
(Photo Credit: gamasutra.com)

The goal of a captive is to help pick up the risk that has already been held by a business that “self-insured”. This means that the business has some kind of specific need for which it is too expensive or impossible to get typical insurance. In this case, the captive serves a very important role of improving the risk protection capability for the business. Some examples include earthquake coverage, food-borne illness concerns, or cyber theft.

Surplus that is not used to pay out claims can be distributed out to shareholders as dividends. Control over this captive also gives the client investment control over the assets with the captive in certain situations. Captive insurance companies benefit from special tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code. As a result of all these benefits, business owners for thousands of companies have been able to accumulate a great deal of pre-tax wealth through captive insurance companies. Hotel owners take note: you should consider how a captive insurance company suits your needs and helps you insure specialized risk. To get started, contact us at 732-521-9455 or email us at info@lawesq.net

Risky Business? Manage that Risk: Captive Insurance Companies

April 23, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Planning,Business Succession Planning,Captive Insurance Companies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 12:43 pm

A captive insurance company is a company created by a business owner to help insure risks of affiliated businesses. When set up appropriately, a captive allows a business to manage risks while allowing the affiliated company to reap benefits, too.

Risky Business Manage that Risk Captive Insurance Companies
(Photo Credit: business2community.com)

A Captive will receive premiums that are then invested as opposed to premiums sent to a traditional unrelated insurer, which are essentially “lost”. Over time, those premiums accumulate. In the event of a risk loss, the premiums are available to be paid for those self-insured losses, thus protecting the business’s bottom line. This crucial benefit is the biggest advantage for business owners.

A Captive can issue casualty or property insurance to protect against a broad array of risks. Where the business owner has the most potential to capitalize on this opportunity is through risk protection for those risks that are typically too expensive to coverage or uninsurable, period. With possible major tax increases coming in the future, the Captive Insurance company remains situated as one of the most effective solutions for business owners. Captive Insurance benefits go beyond tax advantages by providing business owners with opportunities in wealth transfer, estate planning, and asset protection, too.

At Shah and Associates, we work with you individually to determine how a Captive can best suit your business needs. With vast experience in the field, we have helped our clients use Captives to minimize taxes, protect assets, manage risks, and improve cash flow. We understand the peace of mind and confidence that comes from a comprehensive approach to risk management, and that’s why we remain committed to the business community.

Hoteliers Beware: Lessons to learn from the Neiman Marcus and Target Breaches

April 14, 2014

Filed under: Hotel Owners — Tags: , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 7:17 pm

Security breaches seem to be on the rise. Target’s customer data breach impacted 110 million Americans and the Neiman Marcus breach affected 40 million, and it seems like we are hearing about new breaches every few weeks. Staying ahead of the curve is critical for those in the hospitality industry, and hoteliers have an excellent opportunity to consider their own risk reduction and planning tools in the wake of security breaches across other industries.

Hoteliers Beware: Lessons to learn from the Neiman Marcus and Target Breaches
(Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_Corporation)

Hotels are major targets for financial and identity theft. Since all hotels work through credit and debit cards on file, this already exposes a lot of risk for private customer information. Those credit cards can be accessed and digitally “swiped” any number of times during a guest’s hotel stay- whether it’s at the bar, ordering room service, or for a spa charge. Every swipe opens the door for identity theft without the hotel’s knowledge.

One common gaping hole for hoteliers is unsecured wireless internet. While a hotel owner may think he or she is doing the right thing by providing free and easy access, an unsecured network really poses a big threat. Hackers can more easily access your network and programs in order to steal information and records from your service.

There are a few steps hoteliers can take to beef up security. Restricting access to data and collection of data is one way to protect customer privacy. Critical identifying information should be stored securely and a database should be created about under which computers and servers various information is kept. Encryption is one easy way that hotels can store information safely, reducing the risk of guest identity or financial theft. This is a great opportunity to review your existing procedures and policies to determine the risks.

If you’d like to talk more about how planning can help you prevent problems & how asset protection planning can help you to shield your assets from such liabilities, contact us at 732-521-9455 or info@lawesq.net today.

Loop Hole or Opportunity? High State Tax Residents Use Nevada and Delaware Trusts to Avoid Tax.

April 11, 2014

Filed under: Taxes — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:07 pm

Today’s high net worth individuals are deeply sensitive to the risks they face with state income taxes. Since state income taxes can be such a burden for a wealthy person, more individuals are transferring billions of dollars’ worth of assets to trusts in states without tax, like Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware.

While these moves are currently quite legal, they are getting attention from officials in places like New York. New York officials have recognized a $150 million a year loss from avoiding taxes using out of state trusts. Wise wealth planners are clued in to these kinds of strategies, recognizing that many clients are concerned about the negative hit their assets will take when subject to such taxes. Wealth planners report that more clients are asking for assistance in protecting their money wherever possible, and out of state trusts are proving to be a vibrant market with many opportunities.

Loop Hole or Opportunity High State Tax Residents Use Nevada and Delaware Trusts to Avoid Tax
(Photo Credit: localsmile.com)

Although these transfers are happening at the individual level, they seem to mirror corporation behavior, too. Companies like Google have moved across national borders in order to cut down on the high taxes they are forced to pay if they stay in the U.S. Likewise, some people who want to sell their companies move shares out of home states and into out-of-state trusts to protect gains from state income taxes.

Estate attorneys that are in the know look at every aspect of a client’s portfolio to find the best ways to promote growth and protect from risk. Any client with a substantial portfolio might want to consider this strategy to cut down on the high state taxes that would otherwise be paid. Clients have been successful and satisfied with moving assets across the spectrum from several hundred thousand all the way up to hundreds of millions.

Nevada and Delaware have been engaged in a decades-long battle to get business from wealthy Americans through trusts. Part of the strategy for getting this business is by writing laws that make it simpler to transfer property across several generations and reduce the risk that assets will be attacked by creditors. As a result, Nevada has no state income tax and Delaware doesn’t place a tax on any out-of-state beneficiaries.

One of the most popular strategies is to use a Non-Grantor Trust, known as NING (Nevada Non-Grantor Trust) and DING (Delaware Non-Grantor Trust). Wealthy individuals who live in high-tax states can make the best of friendly policies in other states without the fear of violating any state or federal laws. In fact, a growing number of individuals are moving the assets just far enough outside their control so that they aren’t responsible for state income tax while also protecting them from being hit with a 40 percent gift tax. Most of these trusts are private, so there’s no clear data yet about just how many people are taking advantage of these incredible trust opportunities, but planners and attorneys are both reporting higher numbers of clients getting on board.

Guarding Against Risk, While Saving on Taxes: Biggest Advantages of Captive Insurance Companies

April 8, 2014

Filed under: Captive Insurance Companies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 2:15 pm

Captive insurance companies are private insurers that are owned by a parent company. Although a captive insurance company has some of the same benefits of a regular insurance company, captives collect the premiums that a company would have paid over to a regular insurer while taking the responsibility for any claims against the parent company. Captive insurance companies are uniquely situated for certain situations.

saveourpostoffice
(Photo Credit: saveourpostoffice.com)

Manage Risk and Protect Assets

Many businesses have particular needs for risk management because the risk it outside the typical market. In that case, insurance either can’t be purchased or the price is so high that the company is forced to self-insure. In still other cases, the business might have insurance for some risks, but that comes at a cost of premiums and deductibles. This is just the type of risk that sits well with a captive insurance company. Typical general liability insurance seems like a “coverall”, but in reality there are so many exclusions that a business still stands exposed to high risk. That’s where insurance from a captive company can help by filling in the gaps from those exclusions.

Every dollar spent by the company and sent to the captive serves as a $1 reduction in operating business assets. In the event that the business collapses, the company is not at risk of losing those dollars that have been transferred out of company property and over to the captive insurance company. Captive insurance companies are known for accumulating high amounts of assets through reserves and surplus. In certain disaster situations, some of those funds may be available for a business owner. Although a business owner might face some tax consequences of doing so, you can think of those funds as an emergency fund that could be there if you need it. It’s an extra layer of protection that can give a business owner peace of mind.

Exert More Control

Captive insurance companies typically create customized policies for the needs of each specific business. Unlike many commercial policies, policies through captives have the added benefit of drafting the policy in a manner that makes it virtually impossible for third-party claims against the business from being approved. The individualized nature of policies means that protection is aligned directly with business needs rather than generally accepted amounts and terms.

Going through a commercial carrier has another downside: you give up the option to select your own attorney. Defense counsel connected with insurance companies often handle large volumes of cases, taking away that personalized attention for your case. The fact that these counsel handle upwards of 200 cases each year from referrals also calls into question whether that attorney is looking out for your best interests- or the hand that feeds them. Since insurance companies that hire counsel are budget-minded, you also don’t know the quality of attorney you’ll be receiving through the appointment process. With captive insurance carriers, business owners control the captive and therefore maintain control over selection of an attorney.

From a business owner perspective, these few advantages represent big benefits. Guard yourself against risks, protect existing and growing assets, and exercise more control over how things are handle by working with a captive.