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Helping You Optimize Estate Planning To Protect Your Hard-Earned Assets

There’s an old saying that goes: “a fool and his money are soon parted.” That’s a warning to make wise financial decisions in everyday life, but it also applies to planning your estate. Unless you take steps to protect the wealth that you’ve worked so hard to acquire, much of it could be lost to taxes, state regulations, unscrupulous creditors and more. A comprehensive estate plan includes many considerations to ensure that your family members are protected. A critical part of any strategic plan should include forecasting how your assets can best be protected should your economic situation change dramatically.

When you contact Daniel W. Uhlfelder, P.A., our Santa Rosa Beach estate planning lawyer will work with you to develop a plan that provides you with all the necessary components for asset protection. Mr. Uhlfelder has more than 25 years of legal experience in estate law, business law and real estate law, much of which is spent in complex courtroom litigation. Whatever your needs may be, he is ideally suited to assist you. Our firm even offers free initial consultations to make it easy to explore your legal options. To get started, call us at 850-909-2225 or reach out online.

What Is Asset Protection And Who Needs It?

In the context of estate planning, asset protection is a series of steps that a person can take to minimize the loss of their assets due to excessive estate and gift taxes, probate costs and estate creditors. Ideally, the planning should also minimize the risks of estate litigation among heirs and beneficiaries. Such litigation causes family strife and depletes the very assets at issue.

Who needs asset protection strategies? Chances are good that you do – particularly if you own real estate and have substantial savings or business investments. Careful planning can allow you to legally pass these assets to heirs with minimal court or government involvement.

Answer These Questions To Know If Your Assets Are Protected

Do I have adequate insurance coverage?

A review of your liability insurance coverage is an important first step in your asset protection planning. You will want to review your plans to make sure that you are carrying a sufficient policy that will cover any likely claims against you.

Can my assets be protected from creditors?

Many people assume that if they transfer their assets, potential creditors will not be able to gain access to the asset. Asset protection does not mean hiding assets or making fraudulent transfers. Generally speaking, you will not be able to transfer assets once a creditor has a claim — or the potential for a claim — against your assets. If the transfer appears to have tried to defraud a creditor, a court will likely undo or reverse the transfer.

The following assets are generally protected from creditor claims:

  • Homestead property (including up to half an acre of property within city limits or up to 160 contiguous acres outside of the city limits)
  • Life insurance
  • Annuities
  • Qualified retirement plans and IRAs
  • Select college savings plans

While Florida law may help protect the above assets from creditors, these assets may not be exempt from government claims, mortgages or mechanic’s liens. In addition, the protections available to you in a bankruptcy proceeding will be different and depend on your situation.

Can asset protection affect my eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid?

In situations involving eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, there are specific “look back” periods. This means that any transfers that occur a certain amount of time prior to your application for federal health care benefits will be considered and used to determine your eligibility for benefits. This is just one of the reasons it is important to consult with a knowledgeable Destin estate planning law firm if you are planning to transfer assets.

How often should I review my overall estate plan?

One of the most important things to remember when estate planning is to treat your plan as something that changes over time. While the initial development of the plan can take some time to complete, you should also review your plan each year. Some reasons to review your plan on an annual basis include:

  • Taking advantage of or making corrections because of changes in the law
  • If you move to a different state, make sure your plan complies with the state laws in your new home
  • Opportunity to make adjustments to your plan based on changes in your family situation, including births, deaths, marriages or divorces

Our firm can help you quickly and efficiently make changes to your existing estate plan, even if it was written by attorneys at other firms.

We Answer Your Questions With Confidence. Call An Experienced Asset Planning Lawyer

Asset protection is just one part of your larger estate plan. Call our office at 850-909-2225 or contact the firm online to schedule a free initial consultation. Together, we can work to find options to protect your rights and future.

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