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Gainesville, FL Estate Planning, Will & Trust Law Blog

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How You Can Build an Estate Plan that Includes Asset Protection

How You Can Build an Estate Plan that Includes Asset Protection

 

Much of estate planning has to do with the way a person’s assets will be distributed upon their death. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. From smart incapacity planning to legacy planning, there is a lot that goes into crafting a comprehensive estate plan. One important factor to consider is asset protection. 

Asset protection is the process of positioning one’s assets in such a fashion that they are difficult to be reached by a judgment creditor or divorcing spouse. One of the most important things to understand about asset protection is that not much good can come from trying to protect your assets reactively when surprised by situations like bankruptcy or divorce. The most effective asset protection is put in place proactively long before these situations ever come to pass - and hopefully they never will. Asset protection involves not only your own assets, but those you leave behind for your beneficiaries. 

 

Asset protection for yourself: 

Various strategies are available to protect your assets to a greater or lesser degree. Some assets are exempt by statute, and some others can be protected by proper titling or the use of trusts. In all events, the planning must be done long before any proceedings that might threaten your assets, such as bankruptcy, divorce, or judgments. As there are many highly-detailed rules and regulations surrounding the various strategies, it’s important to rely on your estate planning attorney’s expertise.

 

Asset protection for your heirs: 

It’s actually much easier to protect assets for your beneficiaries than it is for yourself. A strategy  we often recommend involves setting up discretionary lifetime trusts for beneficiaries rather than leaving them an outright inheritance. There are varying grades of protection and many, many nuances offered by different trust terms. For example, a trust that has an independent distribution trustee who is the only person empowered to make discretionary distributions offers much better protection than a trust that allows for so-called ascertainable standards distributions.

 

This complex area of estate planning is full of potential miscalculation, so it's crucial to obtain qualified advice and not solely rely on common knowledge about what's possible and what isn't. Every plan should be tailored to an individual’s exact circumstances. Give us a call today to discuss your estate plan’s asset protection strategies. 


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From our office in Gainesville, the estate planning firm of White, Crouch & Mills, P.A. advises and represents clients in communities throughout Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Putnam County, Clay County, Bradford County, Union County and Gilchrist County in North Central Florida. Call us at 352-372-1011 or contact the firm by email to arrange an initial consultation with us today.



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