Legacy Assurance Plan is an exclusive, member-based estate planning services company that approaches estate planning differently. Instead of focusing simply on legal documents, we take a holistic approach by integrating the legal, financial, tax and risk-related aspects of estate planning.
Visit our video library, where you can watch informative videos on various estate planning topics presented to you by Legacy Assurance Plan. Don't forget to check out our review videos where you will hear from real Legacy Assurance Plan members about their experience working with our company.
At Legacy Assurance Plan, we make it a simple process to get in contact with us by offering you several options for contact. You can email us, schedule a consultation through our website or simply just give us a call at your convenience.
An important part of operating your small business is protecting your personal assets from business liabilities and your business assets from personal liabilities. Most small business owners use either a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation to limit their personal liability for business losses. An LLC may also protect your business assets from personal liabilities.
End-of-life planning typically refers to the plan you create to document your health care and medical treatment wishes for the end of life when you might not have the ability to communicate them yourself. This planning process includes making decisions about which kinds of medical interventions you wish or do not wish to have and involves documenting your wishes properly so that a hospital or other health care facility will be aware of them.
Even in traditional families, estate planning can be an uncomfortable or difficult topic to broach. This tends to be even more challenging with a second or subsequent marriage, especially if you both have children from previous marriages or relationships. A significant difference in age and financial resources can also be causes of difficulty and potential delay. However, the consequences of avoiding this conversation are even more dire in a blended family because laws affecting estate distribution have been written to better fit the needs of a traditional first marriage.
Estate planning for beneficiaries with disabilities (a “special needs beneficiary”) is different from estate planning for able-bodied individuals, and these differences affect the planning of parents, grandparents and other loved ones of the person with a disability. If you have a beneficiary with a disability, your estate plan needs to be structured to protect inherited assets from being counted against the recipient for certain means-tested government benefit programs.
When you have a loved one who is receiving disability benefits, you know how important it is that nothing occurs to interrupt or stop the benefits they need. As a result, you may be concerned about the potential impact of an inheritance on their benefits. Some types of benefits can be lost when an inheritance is received, while others are not impacted.
The goals married couples have for estate planning can often be achieved with the statutory defaults. While additional preparations are still necessary to ensure their wishes are carried out, the basics would still be covered if they fail to plan. Unmarried partners, however, are not legal heirs of each other. For inheritance purposes, the law treats them as complete strangers. When one partner dies without conducting any estate planning, their blood relatives – not their partner – will inherit their property.
Estate planning for LGBTQ people is essential because their goals are often very different from the results created by the default statutes. The basic estate planning documents needed by LGBTQ people and straight people are essentially the same – a will, trust, medical directive and financial powers of attorney. However, the drafting of these documents can look considerably different for them and may need to consider factors that many straight people are not concerned about.
When creating your estate plan, the most difficult choices can often involve selecting your agents, or people who will act on your behalf in certain circumstances, including incapacity and death. The traditional view is that these positions are filled with immediate family and close friends. For the growing number of people who do not have a spouse, children, siblings or close friends, the selection of estate plan agents is especially challenging since they don't have any of the traditional choices to rely upon.
More and more Americans are choosing not to get married, and many are deciding against having children. That's why today more people than ever before may believe they do not need an estate plan because they don't have a family to protect. As a result, the default plan in their state's laws controls how their assets are distributed and who will serve as their guardian should they become incapacitated during their lifetime.
Many people overestimate the effect of a divorce decree on their estate plan. It is a common mistake to believe that the decree automatically invalidates all of the estate planning documents and beneficiary designations of both former spouses. It is much more complicated than that. The effect of a divorce decree on your estate plan depends on both the type of estate planning document used and the state that you live in.
A number of obstacles exist to preserving a vacation property for the use of future generations, including the preferences of the owner's heirs, the life circumstances of the owner's heirs, the need to qualify for Medicaid, the expense of maintaining the property and family disputes over the use and management of the property. Any of the obstacles can result in the property being sold and proceeds distributed.
A common estate planning goal is for your property to go to the intended beneficiaries and not be diverted to third parties. Parents are often concerned that an inheritance will go to their married child and not get diverted to their son-in-law or daughter-in-law in a divorce – or be lost to a creditor or other debt.
Medicaid has income and asset qualifications. The income limits are set by the individual states. The asset limit is generally $2,000 in countable assets. Essentially, every asset is countable, unless a specific exemption applies. Countable assets include items such as real estate other than a primary residence, retirement accounts, cash, securities and other property that easily can be liquidated to pay for long-term care.
The Medicaid program is intended for those with very minimal assets. As a result, it has provisions to penalize giving assets away just before a Medicaid application is submitted. For this reason, giving your assets to your family to meet the asset threshold when you need long-term care coverage is not a successful strategy.
A life estate is a form of joint ownership that gives a person (the life tenant) and a beneficiary (the remainderman) ownership rights in the property. The life tenant has the sole right to occupy and use the property during their lifetime. When the life tenant dies, the property is fully owned by the remainderman without any probate process being needed.
Most people would never want to give up control over their personal finances or health care decisions. However, that's exactly what happens to those who fail to plan. The distribution and management of assets after your lifetime is just a small part of the estate planning process, but most people would still prefer to decide how their property is managed and distributed. Without an estate plan, you are handing these decisions over to a legal framework that does not work well in many family situations.
In general, there are four basic planning choices. Those options include: Taking no action, creating only a will, creating a will and powers of attorney or creating a comprehensive estate plan. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. However, the best choice for almost everyone is to create a comprehensive estate plan.
You might have already considered which family members or friends you wish to receive certain assets or gifts through your estate. But have you determined when they should receive those assets? Many people are unaware that the timing of when your beneficiaries receive their inheritance can be critical to ensure that your vision for your loved ones and your assets is realized.
If the estate meets the qualifications for administrative probate, a small estate affidavit (the actual document title is state-specific) is prepared. This document is sufficient to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries without opening an estate or appointing a personal representative. Administrative probate is inexpensive since the required form is usually available from the court clerk's office and an attorney is not needed. It's typically used for bank accounts with nominal balances.
Generally, a will that was validly drafted and executed in one state is valid in another state under the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, the states have very different requirements for a valid will and different approaches to interpreting wills. As a result, a probate judge may decline to admit an out-of-state will to probate or interpret a will differently than it would have been interpreted in the state where it was signed.
The trust is formed through the signing of a trust agreement that contains all of the needed provisions detailing how the trust's property is to be managed and distributed both during and after your lifetime. A revocable living trust includes three parties: the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiaries.
Funding is the process of transferring property to a trust. Ownership of assets is transferred from your individual name into the name of your trust. An asset that is not transferred to the trust is not owned by the trust. Assets titled in the name of the trust can avoid probate and be managed by your successor trustee if you become incapacitated.
The first step in estate planning is selecting the principal document for your plan. The two main choices are a will or a trust (otherwise known as a revocable living trust). Determining which document is best for you depends on your situation and your goals.
The most common kind of trust used in estate planning is a revocable living trust. You should, however, also consider another option that might be better suited for your needs and goals called an irrevocable trust. While these two kinds of trusts have some similarities in how they function, there are critical differences that determine which one would be best for you and your needs.
An irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is an irrevocable trust that owns a life insurance policy (usually on the life of the grantor or the grantor and their spouse) that allows the death benefit to pass outside of their taxable estate. It both owns the policy and is the policy's beneficiary. The trust is structured so that its creation and funding do not create an estate tax issue.
An intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) is a type of irrevocable trust used to transfer property (often the ownership interest in a business) to a subsequent generation while minimizing gift and estate taxes. As an irrevocable trust, the IDGT's grantor losses control of the assets, does not retain the right to revoke the trust, cannot be the trustee, cannot control the trust and is not a beneficiary. They are considered “defective” because any income generated by the trust's assets is taxed to the grantor.
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency used as both a medium of exchange and an investment. It is also considered personal property that is subject to probate. A person's crypto assets can be a substantial portion of the value their estate. It has the same types of access and distribution issues as more traditional digital assets. Cryptocurrency is held in a “digital wallet” secured by an extensive password. If your family is not aware that you own cryptocurrency and how to access it, its value will be lost upon your incapacity or death.
A pay-on-death (PoD) designation names the person to receive the balance in an account on the account owner's passing. They are used to transfer the balance of a bank or credit union account or certificate of deposit. Transfer-on-death (ToD) designations transfer the ownership of an account or asset at the death of the owner to the listed beneficiary. Unlike a PoD designation, the account is not automatically liquidated.
Many people mistakenly believe that you cannot change your estate plan during the legal proceedings. Both separation and divorce require action to update your estate planning. The need to revise your estate planning starts as the relationship ends, not when the marriage is formally ended. Separated spouses do not have to notify the other spouse of changes to their estate planning. Developing a new plan is especially important in these circumstances since spouses usually name each other as both their agent and beneficiary.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Questions and answers commonly associated with the probate process.
Questions and answers commonly associated with wills (Last will and testament).
Questions and answers commonly associated with living trusts (Revocable living trusts).
Questions and answers commonly associated with intestacy.
Questions and answers commonly associated with powers of attorney.
Questions and answers commonly associated with advance directives (Living wills).