- Use Trusts Instead of Outright Distributions: An outright distribution offers no protection to your loved ones and you have no control to ensure the inheritance stays in your bloodlines. Asset protection is crucial if you want your estate plan to work through the years and perhaps generations to come. Asset protection is important to prevent risks including divorce, lawsuits and creditors from eating up an inheritance. Also, asset protection can protect beneficiaries from themselves, if they have issues that would prevent them from managing an inheritance properly.
- Create a Long-Term Care Plan: Previously, tax planning was what motivated clients to plan their estates. Because estate taxes are no longer an issue for most people, the new estate planning is long-term care planning. The question to ask yourself is, what will happen if I need to go into a nursing home or need long-term care? Long-term care costs can significantly diminish an estate leaving nothing for your spouse and loved ones. Insurance is an option but not the only option. The use of Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts are also a possibility. Build a long-term care plan today to ensure you preserve at least part of your estate for your heirs.
- Regularly Update Your Estate Plan: Updating your estate plan on a regular basis will bring you peace of mind and ensure that the plan will work the way it should work. Normally, it’s best to update your plan at least every 3-5 years, or sooner if a major family event occurs, or circumstances change. As your life changes, your plan must change with it.
- Ensure Your IRA Becomes a Stretch IRA: Your will does not control your IRA. If you create asset protection trusts in your will for your heirs, those trusts will not protect the IRA. IRA’s pass by beneficiary form, and you run the risk of your heirs cashing out the IRA’s as lump sum distributions, taking the “Stretch IRA” off the table. It’s called a Stretch IRA because a younger beneficiary can keep the account as an IRA and stretch it out over his or her lifetime. You can use a special retirement account trust to ensure the beneficiary takes the Stretch IRA, the IRA has asset protection, and the money stays in the bloodlines.
- Consider Life Insurance: Life insurance is tax free cash for your loved ones, that can help pay for final expenses, debts, taxes and administration costs. In other words, life insurance can be a great way to leverage your estate. Life insurance may also have benefits for you while you’re living—it can be used as an investment tool, or you can choose a policy that has a long-term care rider, allowing you to use the death benefit towards your long-term care costs.
These are just a few ideas to improve your estate plan now. Always consult with a professional when planning your estate.
For a complimentary estate planning consultation, contact our office today at (215) 706-0200.