Helpful Tips to Protect Your Family’s Assets By Jonathan A. Mintz, Partner at Matsen Voorhees Mintz LLP
Key Takeaways • Many people do not understand the nuances of life insurance or why it is so important to have it. • Retain all important documents (such as tax statements, debt statements, an original copy of your will and insurance documents), in a safe place that is not impossible to but you should also tell someone else where they are. • Many believe that only the wealthy should set up trusts, but this is far from true; even those with modest estates benefit from establishing trusts. • The most powerful income tax strategies are often funded with life insurance.
One of the most pressing matters to people is protecting their family’s wealth. They understand they won’t live forever, and they want to make sure the assets they have worked hard to accumulate will be passed on to their survivors in the way they want, while maintaining and encouraging family harmony. If you are concerned about how to preserve your assets for your survivors, here are some tips to help ease your mind as a result of estate planning. Create an Estate Plan This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but over 50% of adults in America do not have an estate plan, and the default plan – the state’s plan when you don’t have your own – is typically nothing close to what people want for themselves and their family. In its minimum form, a Will can dictate who will control your assets and will also detail who gets what. It can designate a guardian for your children and also set up a trust for minor children, where they can gain access to the funds once they become a legal adult. However, a Will must go through a court proceeding called probate to become effective, and probate is an expensive and very public process. Thus, most people can from more than just a Will. Plan for a Time When You Cannot Make Decisions Many of us like to think we’re invincible, even when we understand everyone dies. But the odds are that, before we pass away, most of us will become at least temporarily mentally or physically unable to make our own legal decisions. By setting up the proper documents before this happens, you can make sure you are cared for in the manner you desire, and you can also protect your assets at a time when you are decisions. not personally able to make your own
Also, make sure to keep your beneficiaries up-to-date on your insurance policies. When life changes bring additional children or a change in spouses, you should update the beneficiary designation form to reflect these changes.
For instance, a Power of Attorney will allow someone you designate to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do it yourself. You may also be unable to tell your loved ones what you want to happen at the end of your life, such as whether or not you want to be resuscitated or placed with a feeding tube if you cannot breathe or eat on your own. An Advance Directive will detail your decisions regarding these matters, so family members and your doctors know exactly what you intended for that time. Maintain Adequate Life Insurance Many people do not understand the nuances of life insurance or why it is so important to have it. First, a life insurance policy can provide your survivors with income in the event of your death, income which you will no longer be able to provide. This is particularly important if you have dependents at home, such as a spouse, children, or dependent parents. Make sure the coverage amount is enough to pay your final expenses, as well as any debts you owe. Your family will have enough to deal with while there are mourning. They should not have to worry about how to pay bills too.Â Second, life insurance can create a sum of money where you own illiquid assets (for example, when the primary asset is a family business) or to create or increase your legacy.
Also, make sure to keep your beneficiaries up-to-date on your insurance policies. When life changes bring additional children or a change in spouses, you should update the beneficiary designation form to reflect these changes. You also need to indicate a contingent beneficiary in the event your primary beneficiary dies before you do. Whoever you list as your beneficiary should be informed of your decision so they know how to proceed when you pass away.
Keep All Important Paperwork
Many believe that only the wealthy should set up trusts, but this is far from true; even those with modest estates benefit from establishing trusts.
According to a recent study by Consumer reports, there was over $1 billion in unclaimed life insurance benefits. In many of these cases, not only does the beneficiary not know he or she has unclaimed money, but if the deceased had kept better records, the insurance policy might have been discovered. Not only should you retain all your important documents (such as tax statements, debt statements, an original copy of your will and insurance documents), in a safe place that is not impossible to find, but you should also tell someone else where they are. Preferably, this would be the beneficiary of your policies or another trusted loved one.
Maintain and Diversify Your Portfolio Many employees make the mistake of allowing stock in their employerâ€™s company to dominate their retirement portfolios. They may believe that investing in their own company is a good strategy, but all it really does is places all their proverbial eggs in one basket. If the companyâ€™s stock plummets, not only will they face potentially losing their jobs but also their entire retirement savings. A more strategic approach is to diversify your investments and investigate various savings vehicles. A good time to use a majority of riskier investments is when you are well away from retirement age. This can help build the value of your portfolio at a time when you can afford to take a couple of hits. As you get closer to retirement, move to more stable and safe investments that yield lower earnings but offer more stability. Ideally, you would work with an investment professional to help you diversify and ensure that you have the right assetallocation mix.
Set Up Trusts
About the Author As a law partner with Matsen Voorhees Law, Jonathan Mintz utilizes his experience in case design and implementation for families to help these families achieve their unique objectives. Previously, Jonathan served at as Chief Operating WealthCounsel, LLC, overseeing the operations of the nation’s premier estate and business planning attorney membership organization, supporting thousands of attorneys throughout the United States.
Many believe that only the wealthy should set up trusts, but this is far from true; even those with modest estates from establishing trusts. There are many circumstances under which you will want to set up trusts to hold certain assets, including the following: wanting to avoid the time and expense of probate, having a special needs child; having a who is not responsible enough or capable of from managing inherited assets; wanting to protect your creditors or divorce. Leaving their inheritance in a trust can ensure not your former son-in-law or that the assets go to your daughter-in-law. Every family’s circumstances are different, but we are a team of experienced asset protection, estate planning, income tax planning and business and succession planning attorneys who can help you create highly effective plans for your family’s We have nearly 100 years of combined experience in helping families plan in the areas of asset protection, income tax and estate planning, and business and succession planning, and we are that we can help you. Contact us today to talk about how best to accomplish your objectives.
Matsen Voorhees Law LLP 695 Town Center Drive, 7th Floor, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Phone: 800-447-7090 or 949-878-9400 • Fax: 866-447-7090 Email: info@MatsenVoorhees.com
Readers of this document should consult with independent advisors regarding the tax, accounting and legal implications of the proposed strategies before any strategy is implemented. Nothing in this presentation is intended to offer securities or investment advice. Tax and regulatory rules affecting strategies in this document may change often and have varying interpretations. To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS under Circular 230, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.