Retirement Planning, Asset Protection, and Life Insurance Planning
Not sure if you're subject to estate taxes?
We offer several options designed to help you keep money in your OWN pocket and keep it out of the government’s! For many of our clients, the primary goal is to minimize taxes and maximize the inheritance that goes to their beneficiaries.
How do we do that? Well, the options vary based on your individual situation. After your Strategic Planning Session, we make comprehensive recommendations for a customized plan suited to your specific needs and goals. You will receive several different options to choose from. Our advice covers the steps to take right now, what to do in the next 1-2 years, and the things to do long-term.
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, or SRT. The SRT 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 Last Will and 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 it can get some insulation from a divorce if they were to get married or divorced young. We may also recommend a Credit Shelter Trust or CST. The CST 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, Attorney Michael Monteforte will tell you whether the CST 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, Attorney Michael Monteforte 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, Michael 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 completely 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 exact same plan. We take the time to get to know you and your family. Attorney Michael Monteforte uses 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.