When many people think of estate planning, they tend to think of it as deciding who gets what when they die. This is not untrue, but there is certainly more to estate planning than simply deciding how your property should be distributed when you die.
One of the important aspects, and challenges, of thorough estate planning is finding appropriate strategies to protect one’s assets from creditors. This is an important task, because various types of liability can prevent the distribution of property according to one’s wishes, if measures are not taken to protect against the risk. In some cases, heirs may find that they are required to liquidate assets in order to pay off creditors, which is obviously not a situation one wants to have happen.
There are various ways of addressing potential liabilities in one’s estate plan. As a recent AARP article explains, these include putting assets into a trust to prevent creditors from accessing those assets, as well as making sure that accounts with beneficiary designations are in order, and that jointly owned assets are titled properly.
Trusts, as some readers know, are quite useful tools in estate planning and can be adapted to a variety of goals. In terms of protection from creditors, trusts are particularly useful because they avoid the probate process. To be effective, though, they must be set up properly. Assets with beneficiary designations and jointly titled assets also bypass the probate process, but there are certain pitfalls to avoid in both of these areas as well.
Estate planning is generally not something one should try to do on their own, of course, and it is important to always work with experienced legal counsel to ensure one’s interests are effective protected.