Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of speaking to several groups of seniors and their loved ones about estate planning and asset protection at local community enters in Massachusetts. In the question and answer portion of my presentations, one theme seemed particularly dominant; seniors want to protect their assets but don’t want to give up control.
This simple concept caused me to take a step back and think about where Massachusetts seniors are coming from when they come to the table to discuss creating or modifying their estate plan. On one hand, their estate planning goals are similar to those of people in any walk of life; avoiding unnecessary taxes, protecting assets from creditors, keeping assets in the family, reducing or eliminating probate costs and ensuring their family’s well-being. On the other hand, they may be feeling more vulnerable than most and anxious that their control over what they have worked their whole lives to achieve is slowly being taken away.
One common refrain is that seniors “don’t want to ask the kids for an allowance.” And why should they? Just because you are protecting assets for the future, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t control and enjoy those assets today. In fact, part of creating an effective estate plan involves assessing a client’s lifestyle and how their assets can be used to promote and enhance independence while simultaneously sheltering assets from devastating costs, such as those associated with long-term care or estate tax and probate. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.
Once seniors realize that they can protect their wealth while staying in the driver’s seat, I often see a great sense of relief come over them. By utilizing powers of appointment, gifting strategies and various trust formats, gaining protection does not have to mean losing control. With proper planning, your estate plan should work for you just as much as it protects your loved ones.
Call the Heritage Law Center today for a free consultation on how you can protect your family and your assets without giving up control.