At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we advise clients in New Jersey about asset protection as part of a comprehensive estate planning strategy. Regardless of how careful you are with your money, the value of your estate can be adversely impacted by estate taxes, medical emergencies, and creditors’ claims.
When you meet with us, we will help plan your estate and protect your assets so that your loved ones receive the inheritance you intend. Estate planning may seem challenging, but it need not be as long as you have trustworthy advice and guidance. Contact our Morristown office today to speak with an experienced asset protection attorney.
Why Asset Protection Matters
Many people are aware of the importance of estate planning, but more than half of all Americans do not even have a will in place. A will is the most basic estate planning document that determines how your assets will be managed and distributed after you pass away.
Estate planning is not just about deciding who gets what, however. It’s a matter of preparing for your financial future. A well-conceived estate plan will consider the potential risks to your assets and the measures you can take to protect those assets.
What Are the Biggest Risks to Your Assets?
Asset protection starts by identifying the potential risks both while you are accumulating assets and after you die. Confronting your mortality is daunting, but it is critically important in order to protect your assets now and in the future. There are several potential risks to your assets, including:
- Damage and theft
- Unexpected medical expenses
- Divorce agreements (e.g. property division, spousal support, child support)
- Personal or business bankruptcy
- Creditors’ claims
- Federal estate taxes
- Loved ones with special needs
- Irresponsible heirs
This is where the experienced estate planning attorneys at E.A. Goodman Law can help. By understanding your objectives and assessing the risks to your assets, we will work with you to protect your assets, your family, and your future.
Must-Have Asset Protection Tools
Although everyone has unique circumstances, many of us face the same or similar risks. Anyone can suffer a serious illness or injury that results in unforeseen medical expenses. Similarly, your property is at risk from fires, floods, and other catastrophic events. Given these risks, it is essential to have a well-conceived asset protection strategy. Some important asset protection tools include:
Adequate Insurance Coverage
If you own a home, or if you have business interests, you need to have sufficient insurance coverage. Individuals must have adequate automobile and homeowner’s insurance to protect their property from damage and premises liability. Similarly, business owners should have, at a minimum, general liability insurance to protect themselves against lawsuits, business interruption, and other risks.
A will is the cornerstone of your estate plan that not only determines how your assets will be distributed to your heirs but also names guardians for your minor children if you and their other parent die simultaneously. A will-based plan is a good start, but many estate planners can benefit from establishing trusts.
Generally, there are two types of trusts – revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts. A living trust takes ownership of your property but allows you to continue managing it during your lifetime. The main benefit of a revocable living trust is that it avoids probate since you no longer legally own the assets. This type of trust is also an effective incapacity planning tool because the trustee is appointed to manage your assets if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury.
An irrevocable trust cannot be revoked, amended, or modified. There are many different types of irrevocable trusts that can help to achieve objectives such as:
- Providing for a loved one with special needs
- Protecting an irresponsible heir
- Qualifying for Medicaid
- Avoiding estate taxes
By working with our capable trusts and estate lawyers, you can design a trust-based estate plan that best protects your assets.
Powers of Attorney
A well-thought estate plan will also include powers of attorney. The essential documents you should have include:
- Durable power of attorney – This legal document appoints a trusted person – spouse, close relative, or friend – to act as your agent to manage your property and financial affairs should you become incapacitated. Above all, the person you appoint must be trustworthy and capable of taking on these responsibilities.
- Advance Healthcare Directive – This legal document, which is also referred to as a power of attorney for health care, names a representative to coordinate your medical needs with your doctors when you cannot communicate about your healthcare preferences.
By creating powers of attorney, you will have peace of mind knowing your assets and your well-being will be protected.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Asset Protection Attorney
Regardless of your financial status, having a comprehensive estate plan is the best way to protect your assets and your loved ones. Trust E.A. Goodman Law to tailor an asset protection strategy to your needs and objectives. Contact us today for a consultation.