Protecting Senior Assets

Financial planning is always important, but as we age, changes to our lives happen. Those changes can have a major impact on you and your assets. Without a plan in place to protect them, you may even lose valuable assets. 

The goal for many older adults is to leave financial support for their families when they’re gone. Sadly, certain problems put this reality at risk. Many seniors find long-term medical care, scams, and other concerns take away from their estate, which leaves their families with fewer assets. 

Financial security is a big concern for many adults over 65 and their children. Protecting your assets now can ensure you can provide for your family when the time comes. Matthew Karr, Esq., at The Heritage Law Center is an experienced asset protection lawyer who can help you build the right plan for your assets, so reach out to learn your best options for your specific situation. 

Scams and Elder Fraud

It’s an unfortunate reality that advancing technology has created advanced scammers. Many people become victims of elder fraud every year and may lose thousands of dollars to these scams. Many scammers take advantage of older adults by claiming to represent businesses over the phone, only to use their financial information. 

If an older adult falls victim to a scam, it can be difficult to recoup one’s losses. Those over the age of 65 tend to be targeted because scammers assume they have a larger amount of savings than younger adults. Because of this, protecting your or your loved one’s assets through trusts can help safeguard them from these situations. 

For information about the types of scams to look out for and tips to help you avoid scammers, check out this booklet by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Trusts Can Help Protect Your Assets

If you’d like to leave certain assets to specific people, you can designate who and what you want to leave them in a will, but a will has to go through probate. Probate is the process a court takes to finalize your legal and financial matters after your death, and it costs money and takes many months. A will offers no protection of your assets.

A trust allows a trustee (which may be you or a person you choose) to manage the assets included in the trust. A trust can contain many assets, including funds, life insurance policies, and even your house. Quite often trusts are set to distribute assets to beneficiaries when the person who created the trust passes away.

There are two types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Both trusts protect your assets from having to go through probate, saving you money and time. A revocable trust can be changed or revoked. You can name a successor trustee who can continue to manage and protect your assets if you ever become incapacitated. If you’re the trustee, you can name a co-trustee who would have the power to help you monitor your accounts for fraud.

A revocable trust offers control over your assets beyond the management options a will offers. You can establish specific terms for your trust like leaving a portion of the inheritance to a beneficiary at different ages during their lifetime. A downside of revocable trusts is that the assets held in one are seen as personal assets when it comes to creditors and lawsuits, so they don’t offer that type of asset protection.

An irrevocable trust offers the most protection from creditors and lawsuits, but you can’t make changes to your trust or terminate it. Every asset in the trust is seen as being owned by the trust; not owned by you. Also, as the creator of the trust, you can’t control the trust and you need to name a trustee to manage it.

The key element of an irrevocable trust is that your assets can be protected from certain concerns that may impact older adults. For example, a Medicaid trust is a type of irrevocable trust to protect your assets if you want to plan for the possible need for MassHealth Standard (Medicaid for Massachusetts residents) to cover long-term care in the future. MassHealth Standard has asset and income limits. By putting your assets in a Medicaid trust, you can safeguard them from affecting your MassHealth eligibility. 

However, as the person who created the trust, you no longer have access or control over the assets in a Medicaid trust. Also, the assets must be in the trust for five years before you apply for MassHealth for them to not be considered countable toward your MassHealth eligibility. 

Long-term care expenses can take away assets that should go to your family, but a Medicaid trust can protect assets and help you qualify for MassHealth coverage. 

Looking for information about estate planning and asset protection options? Check out our free reports on estate planning and protecting your assets. 

Safeguard your Assets with the Right Legal Counsel

As we age, building a plan to protect our assets and prevent fraud is vital and can help you pass down your assets to your loved ones. Trusts and a strong estate plan are important forms of protection. With many different documents and strategies to protect you, a knowledgeable attorney like Matthew Karr, Esq., can provide you with case-specific guidance to put the right protections in place when building an estate plan. 

Ready to get started with a consultation? Contact The Heritage Law Center today by calling 617-299-6976 or completing the online form below to learn about what financial plan is right for you.