Trusts are an excellent tool for estate planning and asset protection purposes. The most common type of trust is a Revocable Living Trust, which holds your assets and helps avoid the probate process when you pass away. However, Revocable Living Trusts do not help much when it comes to asset protection planning.
What Can I Do with a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is an essential tool for avoiding probate. If you own enough assets to qualify for a full probate proceeding when you pass away, then you will most likely benefit from a Revocable Living Trust. Assets placed in the trust, such as a home and financial accounts, can pass to your beneficiaries without going through the probate process. This saves your loved ones time and money and provides a level of privacy for your personal affairs. A successor trustee of your choosing can also manage any finances you place in your Revocable Living Trust if you ever become incapacitated, or even if you just do not care to handle your own financial affairs anymore.
Will a Revocable Living Trust Protect My Assets?
Revocable Living Trusts do not protect assets from financial predators. If you owe money to creditors, then those creditors may take assets from your trust, even though the trust is technically the legal owner of the assets. Your Revocable Living Trust is not suitable for asset protection purposes because you are still considered the owner of the assets if you are the trustee because you have complete control over the trust. There are no restrictions on how you can spend the assets in the Revocable Living Trust, and you can revoke the trust at any time. Revoking the trust means the assets will revert to your direct ownership, putting them back under your control. In addition, all assets in the Revocable Living Trust are reported to the IRS for tax purposes under your Social Security number, meaning there is even less separation between you as an individual and the Revocable Living Trust. This is different from Irrevocable Trusts, which have their own tax identification numbers.
If you are interested in learning more about how certain Irrevocable Trusts can be used for asset protection purposes, or if you’d like to learn more about estate planning with a Revocable Living Trust, simply set up a consultation with a our Nashville trust attorney to talk about how we can help.
It is well known that probate in Tennessee can be costly and has the potential to be very time-consuming. Many look for loopholes in the system as an attempt to shorten or eliminate the probate process. Some believe that adding their child’s name to their bank accounts or even placing their child’s name on their property deed can help speed the process along. While this strategy might give your child quicker access to money and could potentially help transfer ownership of your property faster after you pass, as a Davidson County estate planning lawyer, I warn that it is likely to cause headaches in the long run. Here are just a few things to consider before taking this action.
- Your Child Has a Say in Important Decisions
By adding your child’s name to your deed, you have named them as a joint owner of the property. This creates a need for both parties to be in agreement regarding the sale or refinance of said property while you are still alive. The potential for intense family conflict exists if you and your child are not on the same page.
2. Sharing Creditors
Before deciding to add your child to your assets as joint owner, you must have a comprehensive understanding of your child’s credit situation. If they are in financial trouble, you could be at risk if you add them to your accounts. That’s because when you share ownership of assets, your child’s creditors could come after your assets for payment. Or, if your child is sued or gets a divorce, half of your assets could be up for the taking!
3. Your final wishes may not be honored.
Having your child named as joint owner of your assets makes them the sole owner when you pass. Regardless of any verbal agreement with your child as to how you want your assets distributed, they will have complete authority over such decisions. This could be a problem if you have other children or you have specific wishes about how you want your assets split up when you are gone. Legally, your child who becomes the sole owner of your property does not have to share a penny with anyone else.
The good news is that there are safer and more efficient ways to help your children avoid probate without encountering some of the drawbacks and problems detailed above. Consider talking to a Davidson County estate planning attorney before taking the step of adding your child’s name to your assets. We can help you get started. Contact us at (615) 846–6201 to set up a consultation with April.
If you plan on leaving money to minor children in your Last Will and Testament, you’ll have an important issue to consider: Who will be in charge of managing the inheritance and keeping the child’s money safe from being lost or squandered if the parents pass away?
Estate planning is often easier for married couples in this situation. One spouse leaves everything to the other spouse, and the surviving parent will take care of the children. But what happens if something happens to both parents, either at the same time or within a short span of time?
Unfortunately, a Nashville Will lawyer can tell you that there is no easy answer. Young beneficiaries usually require someone else to be named to manage their inheritance because they are legally unable (as in the case of a minor) or too immature to manage the inheritance themselves.
Parents often will ask the people named as guardians to also take responsibility for their children’s money and property. However, if you do not name anyone to manage finances for your children, the probate court will do it for you by appointing someone – perhaps a complete stranger – to serve as the children’s financial guardian. The financial guardian selected by the probate court must report frequently and has limited authority to make decisions.
It’s also important to note that, unless otherwise noted, children who are 18 or older will have complete control of the property and money left to them. That being said, you should consider raising the age at which your child gains financial responsibility to age 25 or older. This reduces the risk of your child’s inheritance being mismanaged or lost.
A Revocable Living Trust is often the best way to manage your children’s inheritance so that they do not receive a lump sum of money before they are mature enough to handle it. A Revocable Living Trust allows you to raise the age or lay out key milestones in which the children receive their money. It also allows you to specify a trustee who oversees the distribution of funds to your children according to your wishes for their future and how their inheritance is to be spent.
If you have any questions about naming a person to manage a minor child’s finances, or if you are interested in learning more about setting up a Revocable Living Trust, please give our law firm a call at (615) 846–6201 to set up a consultation with our Nashville will lawyer.
National Healthcare Decisions Day is on April 16th, and it’s an important reminder for every adult to begin having conversations with loved ones about their most private wishes for medical and end-of-life care.
Far too many people assume that their families would make the choices they would want in an emergency. Yet every day we hear stories of adult children, siblings, or other relatives battling during a healthcare crisis over “what their loved one would have wanted” in that situation.
Incapacity Can Happen at Any Age
The coronavirus pandemic has been a reminder to all of us that illness and even incapacity can happen at any age. Over the past year, many adults, for the first time ever, expressed their thoughts about being placed on a ventilator and/or receiving experimental medication should they become seriously ill with COVID-19.
But planning must go beyond an initial discussion. You must also clearly and legally document your preferences, as well as choose an “Agent” whom you trust to make such decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Documenting Your Wishes Takes Pressure Off of Loved Ones
Remember, emotions can run high during a healthcare crisis, and it might be hard for your loved ones to stop life support, for example, when they desperately want you around. Having your wishes spelled out in writing helps provide guidance during a stressful time and makes these types of decisions easier for your loved ones, especially in cases when other family members don’t agree.
How to Start “Tough Conversations” About Medical Care
In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day, set aside time this month to have conversations with loved ones about your personal preferences for medical or long-term care. Here are some important issues to consider:
- Whom do you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf?
- How do you feel about feeding tubes, life support, and other artificial life-saving devices?
- Is there any type of medical care you would NEVER want?
- If you were permanently disabled or incapacitated, what would contribute or take away from your quality of life?
- What are your thoughts on nursing home vs. in-home healthcare?
- How would you like your family to pay for the care you may need if co-pays become excessive or insurance does not cover your treatment?
We love The Conversation Project for guides to help families have these hard, but important, conversations.
A Final Consideration About Your Choice of Healthcare Agent
One final point to consider when documenting your wishes and choosing a healthcare agent that will ultimately carry them out is that the person you nominate should want to have this responsibility. There are people who do not want or cannot handle making medical decisions– even for their own spouse.
Remember, if the time comes that the healthcare directive needs to be used, it is going to be a very stressful and emotional time for this person. Are they up for the job? Do they want the job? Take the time to have an additional conversation with whomever you are considering ensuring that they can, and are willing to, make the decisions that you would want in a crisis situation.
More than half of Americans now have at least one chronic health condition, mental health concern, or substance abuse issue. That is a staggering statistic that our Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer who works with sick and disabled clients confronts every day.
There are varying definitions of what it means to be “chronically ill.” One definition is having a disease that a person will live with for many years. These types of illnesses include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis c, and asthma. Alternatively, some define chronic illness as an inability to perform at least two activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, and dressing. Or, the patient may require constant supervision by someone else for health or safety issues.
Regardless of how “chronic illness” is defined, every adult living with a long-term diagnosis should have a few basic legal documents in place to ensure that their wishes are honored and that they are legally and financially positioned to receive the best care possible in the least restrictive environment as possible.
For example, an experienced Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer can help create legal documents such as Powers of Attorney or Healthcare Directives that appoint someone you trust to pay your bills, access bank accounts, and make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable.
Additionally, a Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer can help you utilize tools such as trusts to protect hard-earned assets from nursing homes, creditors, or predators. A living trust also offers control, as you can set rules and parameters as to how your assets are to be used and managed by a trustee who is overseeing your affairs. A trust can also help pass down your assets outside of probate, which can be a long and expensive process that most Tennessee residents would prefer to avoid.
The bottom line is this: Do not assume that because you are suffering from a chronic illness that it is too late to take steps to better your financial situation or safeguard your family. Even if you (or a loved one) are currently in a nursing home, there may still be options! The first step is to simply contact our office. We will schedule a planning session with you and walk through all of the avenues of protection that could work best for your family.