Creating a comprehensive estate plan requires you to do more than just decide how your assets should be distributed upon your death. It also requires you to protect those assets while you are alive so that they are still available to pass down upon your death. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the numerous threats to their assets. Consequently, it does not occur to them to consult with an attorney about those threats. In order to avoid making that mistake yourself, you need to know when it is time to consult with an asset protection attorney.
Why Would I Need an Asset Protection Attorney?
People often make the mistake of assuming that only someone with a significant fortune needs to worry about protecting assets. The truth is that whatever assets you have, you undoubtedly worked hard to acquire them. Therefore, you should work equally hard to protect and retain them. Furthermore, your assets may very well be at risk in ways you do not even realize. Consider, for a minute, the following potential threats to your assets, some of which you may never have considered:
- Divorce – you may have considered the impact that your own divorce could have on your assets; however, have you considered how the divorce of a child, or other beneficiary, could impact your hard-earned assets? If you gift your estate to a child when you are gone, and that child is not careful and co-mingles his/her inheritance, your gift could be lost to your child’s spouse in a divorce – just like it could be lost to your spouse in a divorce.
- Economy – no matter how careful you are with your assets, and how good the financial advice is that you receive, the reality is that the economy can be a threat to anyone’s assets. A drastic downturn or recession can put all your assets at risk.
- Business failure – if you own a small business, or an interest in a business, you may be under the impression that you have protected yourself from any personal liability for the debts or errors of the company; however, you could be wrong. Simply creating a corporation, for example, is not always sufficient to protect yourself from personal liability.
- Medicaid eligibility – you may not need it now, but there is a very good chance that you will need to qualify for Medicaid during your retirement years to help cover the high cost of long-term care. If you have failed to plan ahead, qualifying for Medicaid will probably put your assets at risk. You may be required to “spend-down” your assets in order to be eligible for benefits. In essence, this means you will have to rely on your hard-earned assets to pay for your care before Medicaid will start helping. You could lose your nest egg in a very short period of time if you failed to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan.
- Beneficiaries – your own beneficiaries could be the biggest threat to your hard-earned assets. Once a direct gift is made to a beneficiary, there is nothing anyone can do about how the beneficiary spends those funds or handles those assets. A beneficiary could lose everything as a result of a drug or gambling problem or simply because he or she is bad with money.
- Spouse – even if you and your spouse remain happily married, your spouse could still be a threat to your assets because you can be held legally liable for your spouse’s debts. At the same time, if you leave everything to your spouse, and your spouse doesn’t protect those assets after you are gone, everything you did while you were alive to protect those assets will be for nothing.
You Need to Consult with an Asset Protection Attorney
Very few people can truly say that their assets are not threatened in one way or another. The truth is that given the numerous and varied ways in which assets can be at risk, almost everyone’s assets are threatened in one way or another. With that in mind, it only makes sense to include asset protection strategies in your comprehensive estate plan. That, in turn, means that you need the assistance of an experienced asset protection attorney to help you develop strategies that will protect your assets both now and in the future.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the need for an asset protection attorney, contact the experienced Massachusetts asset protection attorneys at Debruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.