Traditional “Estate Planning” very often fails! That’s why we do things differently. Our primary goal for our clients is what we call “Wealth Preservation Planning” or “WPP”.
What exactly is WPP? And who needs wealth preservation planning anyway?
At Monteforte Law, P.C., we understand that your assets are more than just numbers on a balance sheet. They represent the hard work and dedication that you have put into building a life for yourself and your family. That's why we are committed to helping you protect your assets and your legacy for generations to come. With our wealth preservation planning approach, you can have peace of mind knowing that your assets are in good hands.
We recognize that traditional estate planning may not be enough to protect your assets and ensure that your loved ones receive them according to your wishes. That's why we offer a unique approach to estate planning called "wealth preservation planning" (WPP).
Wealth preservation planning is a comprehensive approach that goes beyond the typical “death-based” focus of traditional estate planning and considers the complexities of preserving wealth for the long-term and for multiple generations. At Monteforte Law, we understand that you want to protect your assets not just for your loved ones, but for yourself as well. That's why our WPP approach is focused on your overall financial health, not just passing down assets when you die.
Traditional estate planning is narrowly focused on death, but wealth preservation planning looks beyond that. With our approach, we consider not just what happens when you die, but also what happens during your life. We focus on keeping your wealth where you want it, protecting assets from long-term care costs, business succession, and minimizing estate taxes. We can even help you with the overwhelming task of applying for MassHealth long-term care benefits, which most lawyers run away from!
Our firm focuses on moderate to high-net-worth individuals because they are the ones who 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.
How does “wealth preservation planning ” work?
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.
We've seen many clients who have done some estate planning, but their documents don't cover all the important bases. Often, no consideration has been given to planning for estate taxes, dementia or Alzheimer’s, business succession, or long-term care. Wealth preservation planning includes everything that estate planning does, but we also fill in those missing pieces.
Our approach to wealth preservation planning is holistic, meaning that we take a comprehensive look at your assets, family situation, and long-term goals. This allows us to create a plan that protects your assets, minimizes taxes, and ensures that your wealth is passed on to your intended beneficiaries with as little disruption as possible.
How does traditional estate planning fail?
Sadly, it fails for several reasons. Most of the time, it is too narrowly focused and misses crucial aspects of your life, your family, and your finances. How so? Here’s a short list:
- Traditional Estate Planning is focused on death and often neglects the more likely scenario of living into retirement and old age.
- Traditional Estate Planning often neglects to account for estate taxes.
- Traditional Estate Planning often neglects to plan for long-term care or protect assets from nursing homes and Medicaid liens.
- Traditional Estate Planning is often a one-shot deal, where it is completed based on the client’s current situation and is never looked at again after the client has changes in their life or there are changes in the law that would negatively impact the plan.
- Traditional Estate Planning often neglects to account for avoiding probate, retirement plans, or life insurance.
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.
- Apply for MassHealth long-term care benefits in a nursing home or in-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.
What Makes WPP Different?
WPP is different from traditional estate planning in several ways. Look at our list to see the difference.
Don’t other firms do WPP?
Rarely. At Monteforte Law, we have seen first-hand how traditional estate planning can fall short and leave clients vulnerable. That's why we have left traditional estate planning to the attorneys with less expertise at other firms and focused our efforts on providing the far superior WPP. As we said, estate planning stinks! Our comprehensive approach and customized plans ensure that our clients have everything they need to protect their assets and loved ones for years to come. In fact, our expertise has become so widely recognized that other firms frequently reach out to us with questions, seeking guidance on how to improve their own practices. We take pride in being leaders in the field of estate planning and are always willing to share our knowledge with others.
As your life changes, your plan has to change with you.
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 firm 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.
When structuring your plan, we use numerous tools to accomplish your goals. We protect your assets, your home, your retirement, your business, and even your life insurance. The idea is to preserve your generational wealth. We want to help you avoid probate, and pass on as much money as you can while protecting it from Uncle Sam!
Our tools start with our “Big Three” documents. Learn more about them HERE.
We also have a variety of trusts at our disposal, depending on your specific needs. Some examples are:
- 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.
- 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. The trust will also keep your assets out of probate.
- A Credit Shelter Trust. The Credit Shelter Trust helps protect your assets from Massachusetts Estate Taxes. 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.
- To learn more about trusts, read our free report, 5 Trusts That Can Wreck Your Estate Plan.
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.