Florida Asset Protection and Estate Planning
When the average person hears the phrase ‘asset protection,’ it likely conjures up images of rich people hiding assets from the reach of the law. However, in reality, asset protection is for everyone who has assets, regardless of wealth – it is far too easy for a deceased person’s beneficiaries to lose assets to probate or to estate creditors, flying in the face of the deceased’s wishes. Enlisting an experienced estate planning attorney to protect familial assets is generally a good idea.
Know What Is Right For You
Many people are content to begin and end their estate planning with a simple will, or a revocable trust. While these instruments are important and can help many people, they are not enough for some estates, especially those that have creditors who will come to collect. While it is illegal to hide assets, it is perfectly aboveboard to try and structure your assets so as to potentially avoid losing those assets to creditors. The primary steps in asset protection are to identify what may be at risk, and to take steps to eliminate those risks, if at all possible.
Florida is seen as one of the best places to protect assets, because Florida law is viewed as debtor friendly – while obviously, state laws enforce creditors being paid for legitimate debts, Florida also exempts certain assets from civil judgments, so that a debtor will not be left with nothing after legal proceedings. Perhaps the most well-known example is Florida’s homestead exemption, which protects a debtor’s primary home from being sold to satisfy creditors. However, there are other laws which can help shield personal assets from creditors that many remain unaware of. It is a good idea to consult an estate planning attorney to shed light on these options.
Non-Probate Assets Are Protected
If you are planning your estate and want to ensure your assets make it to your beneficiaries, one of the best things that you can do is try to ensure that the assets do not require probate in order to be transferred. While there are always exceptions, it is true certain assets (such as life insurance, retirement plans, or assets that you and your spouse own as tenants by the entirety) are not available to estate creditors.
If you are in a position where you worry that long-term care may be required as you age, properly providing for nursing home care can also insulate some assets from creditors as well. Annuities are perhaps the most commonly used for elder care, though other financial instruments and trusts are protected as well. Getting in touch with an experienced Florida asset protection attorney can help to illuminate other ways to keep assets away from creditors and preserve them for your family and other beneficiaries.
Contact A Naples Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning is an issue that few people ever want to address, but it is crucial to get an early start, so as to give yourself the best chance to protect the assets you have worked so hard to earn. If you have questions or concerns about asset protection, an experienced Naples asset protection attorney at the Nici Law Firm may be able to assist you. We have handled many of these cases, and we are ready to assist you with yours. Contact us today either via our website or on the phone at (239) 449-6150 to speak to an attorney.