Posts

Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts: Airtight Asset Protection For Your Child’s Inheritance—Part 2  

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed a unique planning tool known as a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust. Here we explain the benefits of these trusts in further detail. 

If you’re planning to leave your children an inheritance of any amount, you likely want to do everything you can to protect what you leave behind from being lost or squandered.

While most lawyers will advise you to distribute the assets you’re leaving to your kids outright at specific ages and stages, based on when you think they will be mature enough to handle an inheritance, there is a much better choice for safeguarding your family’s money.

A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust is a unique estate planning vehicle that’s specifically designed to protect your children’s inheritance from unfortunate life events such as divorce, debt, illness, and accidents. At the same time, you can give your children the ability to access and invest their inheritance, while retaining airtight asset protection for their entire lives.

Last week, we discussed how Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts differ from the standard way that most revocable living trusts and wills distribute assets to beneficiaries. Today, we’ll look at the Trustee’s role in the process and how these unique trusts can teach your kids to manage and grow their inheritance, so it can support your children to become wealth creators and enrich future generations.

Total discretion for the Trustee offers airtight asset protection

Most trusts require the Trustee to distribute assets to beneficiaries in a structured way, such as at certain ages or stages. Other times, a Trustee is required to distribute assets only for specific purposes, such as for the beneficiary’s “health, education, maintenance, and support,” also known as the “HEMS” standard.

In contrast, a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust gives the Trustee full discretion on whether to make distributions or not. The Trust leaves the decision of whether to release trust assets totally up to the Trustee. The Trustee has full authority to determine how and when the assets should be released based on the beneficiary’s needs and the circumstances going on in his or her life at the time.

For example, if your child was in the process of getting divorced or in the middle of a lawsuit, the Trustee would refuse to distribute any funds. Therefore, the Trust assets remain shielded from a future ex-spouse or a potential judgment creditor, should your child be ordered to pay damages resulting from a lawsuit.

Becuase the Trustee controls access to the inheritance, those assets are not only protected from outside threats like ex-spouses and creditors, but from your child’s own poor judgment, as well. For example, if your child develops a substance abuse or gambling problem, the Trustee could withhold distributions until he or she receives the appropriate treatment.

A lifetime of guidance and support

Given that distributions from a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust are 100% up to the Trustee, you might worry about the Trustee’s ability to know when to make distributions to your child and when to withhold them. Granting such power is vital for asset protection, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the Trustee. So you probably don’t want your named Trustee making these decisions in a vacuum.

To address this issue, you can write up guidelines to the Trustee, providing the Trustee with direction about how you’d like the trust assets to be used for your beneficiaries. This ensures the Trustee is aware of your values and wishes when making distributions, rather than simply guessing what you would’ve wanted, which often leads to problems down the road.

In fact, many of our clients add guidelines describing how they’d choose to make distributions in up to 10 different scenarios. These scenarios might involve the purchase of a home, a wedding, the start of a business, and/or travel. Some clients choose to provide guidelines around how they would make investment decisions, as well. This is something we can support you with if you decide to use a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust.

An educational opportunity

Beyond these benefits, a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust can also be set up to give your child hands-on experience managing financial matters, like investing, running a business, and charitable giving. And he or she will learn how to do these things with support from the Trustee you’ve chosen to guide them.

This is accomplished by adding provisions to the trust that allow your child to become a Co-Trustee at a predetermined age. Serving alongside the original Trustee, your child will have the opportunity to invest and manage the trust assets under the supervision and tutelage of a trusted mentor.

You can even allow your child to become Sole Trustee later in life, once he or she has gained enough experience and is ready to take full control. As Sole Trustee, your child would be able to resign and replace themselves with an independent trustee, if necessary, for continued asset protection.

Future generations


Regardless of whether or not your child becomes Co-Trustee or Sole Trustee, a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust gives you the opportunity to turn your child’s inheritance into a teaching tool.

Do you want to give your child the ability to leave trust assets to a surviving spouse or a charity upon their death? Or would you prefer that the assets are only distributed to his or her biological or adopted children? You might even want your child to create their own Lifetime Asset Protection Trust for their heirs.

We offer you a wide variety of options that can be tailored to fit your particular values and family dynamics. Be sure to ask us which options might be best for your particular situation.

Is a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust right for you?


Of course, Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts aren’t for everyone. If your kids are going to spend most of their inheritance on everyday expenses and consumables, they probably don’t make much sense. But if you want the assets you are leaving behind to be invested and grown over the long term, a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust can be immensely valuable.

Meet with us to see if a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust is the right option for your family.

In the end, it’s not about how much you’re leaving your loved ones that matters. It’s about ensuring that what you do pass on is there when it’s needed most and put to the best use possible. Schedule a Planning Session today to learn more.

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.

Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts: Airtight Asset Protection For Your Child’s Inheritance- Part 1

If you’re a parent, you probably want to leave your children an inheritance. But without taking the proper precautions, the wealth you pass could accidentally be lost or squandered. In some instances, an inheritance can even wind up hurting your kids instead of helping them.

Creating a will or a revocable living trust offers some protection, but in most cases, you’ll be guided to distribute assets through your will or trust to your children at specific ages and stages, such as one-third at age 25, half the balance at 30, and the rest at 35.

If you’ve created estate planning documents, check to see if this is how your will or trust leaves assets to your children. If so, you may not have been told about another option that can give your children access, control, and airtight asset protection for whatever assets they inherit from you.

We always offer parents the option of creating a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust for your children’s inheritance. A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust safeguards the inheritance from being lost to common life events, such as divorce, serious illness, lawsuits, or even bankruptcy.

But that’s not all they do.

Indeed, the best part of these trusts is that they offer you—and your kids—the best of both worlds: airtight asset protection AND use and control of the inheritance. What’s more, you can even use the trust to incentivize your children to invest and grow their inheritance.

Not just for the super rich

Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts are not just for the super wealthy. Indeed, these protective trusts are even more useful if you’re leaving a relatively modest inheritance because they can be used to educate your children about how to grow your family wealth, instead of quickly blowing through it.

And without such guidance, most people blow through their inheritance very quickly. In fact, one study found that, on average, an inheritance is totally gone in about five years due to debt and poor investment. Another study found that one-third of people who receive an inheritance actually had a negative savings within just two years.

Also, the smaller the inheritance, the more at risk it is of getting wiped out by a single unfortunate event like a medical emergency.

Regardless of how much financial wealth you have (or don’t have), if you plan to leave your kids anything at all, you should do everything you can to make it more likely that they grow what’s left behind, instead of losing it. This way, your resources can have a truly beneficial effect on their lives—and even the lives of future generations.

A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust can achieve each of those goals and so much more.

Not all trusts are created equal

Most lawyers will advise you to put the assets you’re leaving your kids in a revocable living trust—and this is the right move. But as mentioned earlier, most lawyers would structure the trust to distribute those assets outright to your children at certain ages or stages.

And if you’ve used an online do-it-yourself will or trust-preparation service like LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer,® or any of the newer options frequently coming online now, you will most likely be offered only two options: outright distribution of the entire inheritance to your kids when you die, or partial distributions when they reach specific ages and stages as described above.

Either of those options leaves their inheritance—and your hard-earned and well-saved money—at risk. Indeed, once assets pass into your child’s name, all of the protection previously offered by your trust disappears.

For example, say your son racked up debt while in college, which can sometimes happen. If he were to receive one-third of his inheritance at age 25, creditors could take his inheritance if it’s paid to him in an outright distribution.

The same thing would be true if your daughter gets a divorce after receiving her inheritance, only it would be her soon-to-be ex-spouse who would claim a right to the funds in a divorce settlement. And despite what you may have heard about an inheritance remaining separate property, once it’s in your child’s hands, outright and unprotected, those assets are at risk.

There’s just no way to foresee what the future has in store for your kids—these kind of events happen to families every day. And that’s not even taking into consideration that your kids might simply blow through the money and spend it all on unnecessary luxuries.

Airtight asset protection – and easy access

Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts are specifically designed to prevent your hard-earned assets from being wiped out by such risks. And at the same time, your children will still be able to use and invest the funds held in trust as needed.

For example, even though the assets are held in trust, your kids would be able to invest those funds in things like stocks, a business, or real estate, provided they do so in the name of the trust. Plus, if your child needs to pull money out to pay for college, a new home, or medical bills, they can do that by asking a Trustee—who’s chosen by you to oversee the money—for a distribution.

Or, as will cover next week, you may even allow your child to become Sole Trustee at some point in the future, allowing him or her to make decisions about the trust’s management.

Obviously, creating a trust like this requires significant understanding of how to properly draft the trust, so don’t attempt to do create one without our guidance. And as you’ll see next week, Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts offer additional benefits that can be used to teach your kids how to invest and grow their inheritance, so that the assets you leave behind can be passed on to their children and beyond.

Next week, we’ll continue with part two in this series on Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts.

We can guide you to make informed, educated, and empowered choices to protect yourself and the ones you love most. Contact us today to get started with a Planning Session.

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session,  during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

Call our office today to schedule a  Planning Session. Mention this article to learn how to get this $500 session at no charge.

FAQs: Personal Liability Umbrella Insurance

It’s no secret that we live in a lawsuit-crazy culture. It’s especially true if you have substantial wealth, but even people with relatively few assets can end up in court.

If you’re sued, your traditional homeowner’s and/or auto insurance will likely offer you some liability coverage. But those policies only protect you up to certain limits before they max out. So you should consider adding an extra layer of protection by investing in personal liability umbrella insurance.

What is umbrella insurance?

Umbrella insurance offers a backup level of protection against lawsuits above and beyond what’s covered by your homeowners, auto, watercraft, and/or other personal insurance policies. For example, if someone gets hurt at your house, they might sue you for their medical bills and lost wages. Your homeowner’s insurance will cover you up to a certain dollar amount, but you’re personally liable for anything beyond that limit. That’s where the umbrella insurance kicks in.

Once your underlying insurance maxes out, the umbrella policy will help pay for the damages and legal expenses if you lose the case. If you win, it can help cover your lawyer’s fees.

Who should buy it?

Umbrella insurance is very important for people that have a high net worth. But since everyone has the potential to be sued, it’s a good idea even for those without substantial assets to consider umbrella insurance.

If you’re sued and lose, the judgment against you may exceed the value of your current assets. In that case, a court could let the plaintiff go after your future earnings, potentially garnishing your wages for years. So umbrella insurance not only protects your current assets, but your future ones as well.

How much coverage do I need?

Most people will be adequately covered with a $1 million umbrella policy. If you earn more than $100,000 a year or have more than $1 million in assets, you may want to invest in additional coverage.

A good rule of thumb is to buy an umbrella policy with coverage limits that are at least equal to your net worth.

How much does umbrella insurance cost?

Umbrella insurance is fairly inexpensive. You can buy a $1 million umbrella liability policy for between $150 and $300 per year. An additional million in coverage will run you about $1oo and roughly $50 for every million beyond that.

Umbrella policies are inexpensive because they only go into effect after your underlying homeowners or auto policy is exhausted. In light of this, most insurers require you to have at least $250,000 in liability on your auto policy and $300,000 on your homeowner’s policy before they’ll sell you a $1 million umbrella policy.

How can I buy umbrella insurance?

Many times you can buy an umbrella policy from the same insurance company you use for your other policies. And you might even be eligible for a discount for bundling those policies.

Umbrella insurance is one of the many ways that you can protect your family’s current and future wealth. For help in evaluating your family’s situation and for help getting the best plans in place to protect what you’ve worked so hard for, contact our office.

This article is a service of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for your sake and your loved ones. That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you’ll get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session for FREE.