A common question that I receive nearly every day from Tennessee families is how do I protect my family and our wealth from creditors and lawsuits. Invariably, many people believe that by simply having a trust that your assets will be protected from creditors, lawsuits, and even divorce. Essentially, many people are under the impression that a trust will make you “judgment proof.”
This is a very common misconception and unfortunately it is simply not true. There are more than 300 different types of trusts that can be used for a variety of different legal strategies. However, a simple revocable living trust will not protect your assets from creditors, lawsuits, and divorce. Although, with the passage of the Tennessee Investment Services Act, you can establish a domestic asset protection trust that can provide you with a great deal of asset protection of the wealth that you accumulated during your lifetime. However, as with any estate planning, asset protection planning, and legal life planning, you should speak with a knowledgeable estate planning before engaging in this type of planning.
Now, what about the protection of your wealth for your children and other heirs. As with many families, myself included, I would hate the thought of all the wealth that I worked to accumulate during my life being used to pay taxes, costs, lawyers, and other unnecessary expenses after I pass away. In addition, the thought of financial accounts being frozen and my loved ones going through a complicated estate settlement process is even more troublesome.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what many of us will experience if we do not engage in proper estate planning. However, even more unfortunate, is that many people are under the assumption that they do have their estate planning in order because they have a Will. Although, a Last Will and Testament, commonly referred to as a Will, is still going to result in the surviving family going through a long, complicated, public, and expensive estate settlement process through the probate court system. This can have the result of the surviving family being stuck in two year long probate court case and having 15 to 20% of the estate being reduced to pay lawyer fees, taxes, estate costs, executor fees, and all the miscellaneous other costs involved.
However, with a proper estate planning strategy, it is easy to avoid this headache for your family. One way to avoid this is with a Revocable Living Trust. A revocable living trust, when properly drafted and funded, can have the effect of the entire estate settlement process operating outside of probate and the estate settlement process lasting days to weeks as opposed to months to years. If you would like to learn more about Trusts, please contact my office for additional information.
A revocable living trust can also be designed and customized in such a manner as to reduce the risk of loss of a children’s inheritance from creditors, lawsuits, divorce, or other potential predators.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the proper comprehensive estate plan to put in place for your family to ensure a smooth transition of your wealth to the next generation, then please contact our office for a complimentary visit and planning session so that we can discuss your estate planning needs in further details.
We look forward to hearing from you!