One of our primary goals for our clients is what we call “wealth preservation”. First, who needs wealth preservation anyway? And what exactly is it?
Clients who need wealth preservation are those who have acquired a certain degree of, well, wealth. Our firm focuses on higher net worth individuals because they are the ones that benefit most from our unique and customized services. The clients that can derive the most benefit from our recommendations and panning tools are clients that have amassed a certain level of wealth and assets. That level of assets brings unique challenges, like estate taxes and gifting to the next generation. We are one of the most sought-after firms in Massachusetts because we are the best in class at meeting those challenges.
Now that we know who needs wealth preservation, what does “wealth preservation” even mean? Well, it means a few things.
Every client is put through Monteforte Law’s very own Monteforte Law Wealth Preservation System™. It’s our own trademarked system that Attorney Michael Monteforte created, that we use to evaluate our clients’ needs and help decide what would be the best plan for them. While every client is different, most of our clients have similar goals, those being to pass down wealth to their children and families with as little being eaten up by estate taxes as possible and to protect their assets from long-term care costs. Our Monteforte Law Wealth Preservation System™ helps us to evaluate and recommend the best possible plan to help achieve their goals.
What problems do we solve? Here are some examples – we will help you to:
- Securely pass on your assets to your children or other beneficiaries, either all at once or over a period.
- Keep Uncle Sam’s hands out of your pocket and minimize estate taxes.
- Name guardians for your underage children.
- Provide for children of a previous marriage or relationship to make sure they get their share and can’t be disinherited by a current spouse.
- Keep a vacation home or rental property in the family for future generations.
- Provide for a loved one with special needs, to make sure they are cared for while maximizing government benefits.
- Keep your child’s spouse from taking your child’s inheritance in a divorce.
- Pass on your business.
- Maximize your veteran’s benefits to get the most out of what you have earned with your service.
- Protect your home and other assets from long-term care costs and nursing homes.
- Pass on your wealth while avoiding the long and expensive probate process.
- Position your assets now so that you can qualify for long-term care benefits in the future, instead of spending your life’s savings on nursing home care.
We can solve these problems and accomplish these goals! We can also save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, also known as death taxes. We specialize in servicing higher net worth clients, so if that’s you, you know that we specialize in helping people like you. We know how to solve the problems that face upper-middle-class families (and up) in the world today. It’s a dangerous labyrinth of tax rules and limitations on the passing down of wealth.
Our estate plans are custom-made for each client.
We use our Monteforte Law Wealth Preservation System™ to help determine the best recommendations, and we create an individualized plan for you and your family. Then, with our VIP Program, we can make sure that the plan is updated as your life changes, and as the law changes. Why is that important? Well, you can have the greatest plan in the world based on today’s rules, but tomorrow, all those rules can change. Estate planning, tax, and long-term care regulations are in a constant state of flux. Your estate plan needs to be able to adapt to those changes. Put it this way – a home built 100 years ago might have been top of the line at the time, but if no one ever went back and added indoor plumbing or a modern heating system, who would ever want to live there? Our VIP program makes sure your plan is always “up to code”. We take the responsibility of keeping in regular contact with you and advising you of changes in the laws. We will also stay on top of changes in your family, your job, and your assets. We want your plan to always be the right one for you. A plan that doesn’t change is the same as that 100-year-old house with no updates.
We care about protecting your legacy and your family.
We want to make sure your money is used for your family and flows according to your wishes.
When structuring your plan, we always look at protecting your retirement assets to help ensure that if something were to happen to you, your retirement assets flow to your beneficiaries in the most efficient way possible, with a minimum of taxes. In some cases, we might recommend what is called a Stand-alone Retirement Trust. The Stand-alone Retirement Trust helps your beneficiaries minimize the taxes on your retirement accounts, and allows them to receive the money over time, rather than all at once. That way, an adult of your choosing controls the money. This is especially useful with second marriages and in cases of divorce, where a divorced spouse might be your children's guardian, but you do not want them controlling the cash. Retirement planning protects your money for your family’s future.
Asset protection is another way of saying “keep my money in my own family, and away from Uncle Sam’s reaching arms”. We will evaluate your individual circumstances and recommend a plan that might include a Testament, along with a Family Trust or Credit Shelter Trust. The Last Will allows you to set up instructions for your probate assets. Then, depending on your family situation, we may recommend a Family Trust. The Family Trust allows your money to be given to your beneficiaries in installments while having another adult use the funds on their behalf until they are old enough. Installments over time help the beneficiaries deal with money management a little at a time, so that they cannot spend it all at once, and so that they can get some insulation from a divorce if they were to get married or divorced young. We may also recommend a Credit Shelter Trust. The Credit Shelter Trust helps protect your assets from Massachusetts Estate Taxes. To learn more about estate taxes, read our free report, 5 Trusts That Can Wreck Your Estate Plan. The Massachusetts Estate tax can easily reach six figures in some cases, and the CST allows a married couple to each receive their maximum estate tax exemption under the law. Without the CST, many couples (or their children) will end up with a huge estate tax bill. After your Strategic Planning Session, one of our attorneys will tell you whether the Credit Shelter Trust is right for you.
The protection of your primary home is another big concern for most people.
One of the most common questions asked is “Can I protect my home from Medicaid and Nursing homes? Or, can they take my house?” During your Strategic Planning Session, our attorneys will answer all of your questions about long-term care. To learn the three ways to pay for Long-Term Care read our free report, How To Pay For Long-Term Care.
While we can use a variety of different tools to protect your home, one of the best options is what we refer to as a Medicaid Trust. A Medicaid Trust is a highly specialized tool and should not be attempted without expert assistance. At Monteforte Law P.C., we specialize in this type of planning, and for the sake of your house, you need to make sure it is done correctly. Using the wrong type of Trust can cause you to lose Medicaid protection and render the Trust virtually useless. With the right Trust, we can help you protect your home so that it cannot be counted against you as an asset and keep it away from Medicaid MassHealth liens. At the same time, the Trust helps to minimize estate taxes and it keeps your home out of probate. This means your home will go to your beneficiaries automatically at your passing, without any court intervention.
Life Insurance planning is another consideration.
Many people forget to count their life insurance death benefits as part of their estate, and therefore forget to consider the Massachusetts estate tax. Many folks stay under the Massachusetts limit until they add in their life insurance, and it puts them over the estate limit. This results in a large estate tax bill! In those situations, we look for ways to carve out your life insurance benefits from your taxable estate. In that instance, our attorneys might recommend a Life Insurance Trust or ILIT. The ILIT pulls the life insurance death benefit out of your taxable estate and can help keep you below the limit. For people with $500k or $1 million life insurance policies, the ILIT carries a HUGE benefit.
Life insurance planning can be especially useful for business owners and self-employed individuals. Beyond just death benefits, the right policies can help you save for retirement, pay for your children’s college, and even pay for long-term care. In situations where we cannot eliminate the estate tax, a life insurance policy can even be used to pay those taxes, and minimize the tax hit to your beneficiaries.
The bottom line is that every client and every family is different, and so is every estate plan. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Do not let a lawyer convince you to accept a “simple” or “canned” solution. They do not work and can leave major problems for your loved ones. No one else is exactly like you, and no two families should have the same plan. We take the time to get to know you and your family. Our attorneys use your Strategic Planning Session to learn about you, your goals, your worries, and your individual finances.
We create a custom estate plan just for you and your needs.
Do not settle for less than that.