Asset Protection & Business Planning
A comprehensive estate plan should do much more than just focus on the distribution of your assets at the end of your life. It should also help you grow and protect those assets throughout the course of your lifetime. Protecting your assets is particularly vital if you are a business owner. Incorporating asset protection tools and strategies into your estate plan is the best way to ensure that the assets you have acquired are not at risk. At The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A. we are keenly aware of the numerous and varied potential threats to your assets and your business. We are dedicated to helping you create an estate plan that protects everything you have worked so hard to acquire through the use of innovative asset protection and business planning tools and strategies.
Are Your Assets at Risk?
If you have worked hard, saved habitually, and invested wisely to amass a respectable estate, you must be vigilant when it comes to protecting those assets from potential threats. Some of those threats are well-known; however, your estate assets may also be threatened in ways you never considered. Creditors, for example, are an obvious threat to your assets. Other threats may be less obvious but no less dangerous, such as:
- Divorce – people often rely on the concept of “separate” property when they contemplate the impact divorce could have on their assets. While many states do differentiate between separate and marital property, your separate property can become marital property through co-mingling if you are not careful.
- Business failure – incorporating your business can prevent personal liability for business debts; however, incorporating is not an absolute shield. Persistent creditors can try to “pierce the corporate veil” which, if successful, could open you up to personal liability for the debts of the corporation.
- Long-term care – at an average yearly cost of over $100,000 in Maryland, long-term care costs could put your retirement nest egg at risk given that Medicare will not help cover those costs. Medicaid will pay LTC expenses; however, you must first qualify. Qualifying for Medicaid could also threaten your assets if you are forced to “spend-down” those assets in order to meet the eligibility requirements.
- Estate taxes — federal gift and estate taxes are a potential threat to every estate. At a tax rate of 40 percent, your estate could be significantly diminished in value if estate taxes are levied on your estate after your death. Gift and estate taxes can be particularly worrisome if you own a small business that lacks sufficient liquidity to pay the tax debt.
How Can You Protect Your Assets?
Fortunately, there are numerous asset protection tools and strategies that can be incorporated into your comprehensive estate plan to help you hold onto the assets you have acquired. For example, there are several specialized irrevocable living trusts that are tailor made to help protect your assets. Once assets are transferred into the trust they become trust property, making them inaccessible to creditors. A living trust can also be used to prevent the unintentional co-mingling that can transform separate property into marital property. To protect assets from being lost as a result of the need for long-term care, incorporate Medicaid planning into your overall estate plan long before that care is needed. Finally, the key to avoiding the imposition of federal gift and estate taxes is to reduce your taxable estate. One popular strategy for transferring wealth tax-free is to make use of the yearly exemption which allows you to make annual gifts valued at up to $15,000 to an unlimited number of beneficiaries tax-free. By working with one of our experienced asset protection attorneys you can decide what tools and strategies will work best in your estate plan to protect against the various threats to your assets.
Do You Need Business Planning Services?
Owning a business is a dream come true for many people. If you are one of those people, you already know the hard work and sacrifice it takes to get a new venture off the ground and to the point where it is turning a profit. To keep it there, you need to incorporate business planning tools and strategies into your comprehensive estate plan.
Business planning looks at everything from the legal structure of your business to the legal fate of your business upon your death. An experienced business planning attorney can help you choose a legal structure that minimizes your liability and maximizes profits. Local, state, and federal laws will be reviewed to ensure that your business is in compliance. Contracts that the business is a party to may also be reviewed and/or negotiated on your behalf to ensure that they are fair and in compliance with all applicable laws. Finally, a business succession planning component will likely be incorporated into your overall estate plan to provide a roadmap for the disposition of your business upon your death or incapacity.
The asset protection and business planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A., have the experience and skills necessary to help you protect your assets and to help grow and protect your business. Contact the team today by calling 410-531-1700 or fill out our online contact form so we can help you get started today.