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Asset Protection ABC’s: They Won’t Protect Themselves.

Lawsuits are filed for all sorts of reasons. Some are justified, some are frivolous and meant to shake down a settlement. Unexpected things also happen, and sometimes they lead to suits. And people who are perceived as having assets are easy targets to blame . . . and sue.

So how do you hedge the bet? Do some common sense things to protect your assets. They won’t protect themselves.

I can wait, right? Waiting for something to happen or for a lawsuit to be filed against you before acting is locking the barn door after the proverbial horse is out. Waiting for a judgment before acting is like locking that barn door after the horse is glue. [Read more…]

Fish, Yodels, and Why You Can’t Always Beat Probate.

Remember “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  But teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  So said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism.

Not quite as wise: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to yodel and you make him eat alone.”

Groucho Marx once said “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like bananas.” Occasionally you hear this, too.

You’d think that if something was said often enough, it would be true.  Or it would become true.

Well here’s one that isn’t always true, no matter who’s saying it and how often they repeat it: “Do a revocable trust and avoid probate.”

Hah. Because often, you can’t.

[Read more…]

A Gift from the New Tax Act: Kill that Trust.

The new Tax Act makes one thing a lot simpler: you can be left alone when your spouse dies.  You won’t have to ask for something from, and you don’t have to answer to, someone supposedly on your side (i.e., a trustee).

In other words: you don’t need a trust for any estate tax savings if you and your spouse don’t have assets over $22 million.

You may be stuck, though, with no choice in the matter, if your estate documents now have certain trust things in them.  Do words like Credit Shelter Trust, Bypass Trust, A-B Trust, Marital Trust or Family Trust sound familiar? [Read more…]

You Have Five Minutes. . .

On January 28, 1986, Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik and Sharon Christa McAuliffe were killed when the Challenger shuttle mission failed. We know that part.

What’s not commonly known is how quickly – really how slowly – they died. According to news reports, after the initial explosion, the rockets were still working so the shuttle cabin continued to climb. Then it began its tragic, downward descent into the ocean.

The drop could have taken as long as five minutes. [Read more…]

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