As you reach middle-age, if you don’t plan for yourself and your family, no one else will do it for you. You may have retirement savings, children, disabled parents, and own your home. However, without planning for your asset protection, one unexpected event could destroy all you’ve worked for so hard. Let’s look at why you need an asset protection attorney to have peace of mind.
Whether you go through a divorce yourself or have a grown child going through one, protection of assets must be a number one priority in this process. Look at these situations in particular with your asset protection attorney:
- Retirement Account Beneficiaries
- Life Insurance Beneficiaries
- Heirs named in trusts
- Joint Bank Accounts or bank accounts payable on death
- Mortgage debt held with an ex
- Real Estate joint holdings with right-of-survivorship
- Guardianship of children in cases of death
Changing your beneficiary designations is paramount to your inheritance distribution effectiveness. For example, change your beneficiaries to family members if you’ve named the ex-spouse a beneficiary on any trust, retirement, or insurance account. Changing designations on joint-owned homes with the right-of-survivorship is also a part of the process.
You don’t want your hard-earned assets given away to ex-family members who are no longer a part of your family. Without working through every detail, your family may lose precious assets meant for their future.
Beneficiary Designations and Your Will
In addition to property or monies going to the wrong person in the case of divorce, you can create situations of strife within your family without the proper designations on all accounts.
Don’t forget to update your will. Assets listed there will not go to the named heir unless the beneficiary designations on your accounts agree with your will. Always ensure that your will and beneficiary designations line up precisely to reduce strife and unnecessary loss to your family.
Disagreements within a family can waste untold amounts of resources. If you don’t have a well-thought-out plan, including a will and other crucial legal documents, your family must face stressful situations if the unexpected happens. These planning issues cost your family peace of mind and eat into the inheritance you leave behind.
For example, if your beneficiary designations do not match your will, the beneficiary designations stand. The name in the will has no legal standing.
Let’s say you named your first granddaughter as the beneficiary of a retirement account but named her younger sister in the will. This discrepancy is a big problem for your family. What will happen between the sisters? What about the parents? No one may truly understand what your wishes were.
In this case, family members may argue and take sides. One family member may take another to court. Family dramas playing out in court cost their inheritance.
Probate court is another common situation where family strife costs an emotional toll in addition to taking money from your estate. If your will was poorly written and has ambiguous language, the court may struggle to make sense of your wishes.
Many phrases are open to interpretation in a poorly written will. In this case, an ex-spouse may hire an attorney to fight for her rights. A second spouse may then hire an attorney to fight for hers. These kinds of arguments can go on for years and drain an estate of all assets.
If you face an unexpected medical event, you could lose your home and assets almost overnight. For example, let’s say you become medically incapacitated and lie in a coma at a hospital.
Your son and your wife (his new stepmother) fight over who will make healthcare decisions. Your ex-wife sides with your son while your mother sides with your new wife. Emotions run high and relational disputes erupt daily.
If you’ve not made any advanced directives or a living will to specify what medical treatments are acceptable to you, no one knows your wishes. If you didn’t think ahead to designate a power of attorney, your family is left reeling with fear and uncertainty. If you had defined someone as your durable general power of attorney, they could make medical decisions for you. However, since you have no power of attorney, everyone is confused. Your family doesn’t know how to help you, and they express their fear in anger and frustration with each other.
Let’s say your wife petitions for guardianship, and your son hires an attorney to fight this. Court and attorney fees add up as family members take sides and testify who should make medical decisions for you.
By the time you recover three months later, your home has another mortgage that your wife took out. Your son has run up all of his credit cards fighting for you and comes to you now for help paying them off. Your mother is refusing to talk to anyone but you. You are at your wit’s end trying to recover physically and emotionally at home while paying off debts and rethinking your financial situation.
These types of situations happen daily to those who do not protect their assets by planning ahead. Talk with your asset planning attorney today and make the simple plans needed to reduce daily strife and asset loss.
We Can Help
At Vail Gardner Law, we understand the legal documents you need to have in place to protect your assets. We work with you to make the preparations you need to keep yourself and your family ready for whatever may come next. With proper planning, you can prevent family strife and protect your assets to pass on to the next generation. Our estate planning team specializes in asset protection planning using available legal frameworks such as trusts, power of attorneys, and advanced directives. Contact us today and find out how we can help.