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Jul 11, 2017

Sasquatch Your Immortality

Wikipedia defines immortality as “eternal life”, the “ability to live forever.”

Maybe this would be a good thing. I’m not so sure.

Apparently there are scientists who truly predict that mankind will achieve immortality in the next few decades ahead. Brings to mind this guy…

Whatever your belief about your own immortality,

you are probably like most of us who don’t prefer to think about dying.

Or even getting older.

This aversion to discussing end-of-life scenarios is a top reason many people kick important planning decisions to the curb.

I am talking about estate planning.

And it’s not JUST the aging topic that causes people to brush off planning.

Many people believe they are too young or don’t have enough assets to warrant any sort of planning.

In a similar fashion to the problem with estate planning, people also cast aside even basic asset protection planning.

But more on that later.

Here is how I like to describe estate planning versus asset protection planning:

Estate planning is going to happen to all of us no matter what. Because we all get older and eventually pass away.

And most of us have at least SOME assets to pass along and important beneficiaries such as children.

If you don’t make decisions about your estate planning,

then the courts are going to step in and make decisions for you. And nobody wants this!

Estate planning is not just about dying and choosing “who gets what.”

It’s about taking control of your planning right now.

Because, for example, estate planning involves you naming trusted people to make financial and medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

Like paying your mortgage or directing the doctors who are caring for you.

These people you include in your planning must share your values and carry out your wishes according to your very personal beliefs.

Let me give you an example of one very important component of estate planning.

The Advanced Medical Directive.

This is the document where you name the person who makes medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

If you don’t have this and there is conflict among your family, then the courts will step in. Ouch!

Doctor talking with patient in hospital

ALERT! IMPORTANT INFORMATION!

Your advance medical directive must contain provisions to comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA.

Some states, such as California, have also enacted their own laws that are similar to HIPAA and these must be met as well.

Although HIPAA was enacted in 1996,

Congress did not put the rules that govern HIPAA into place until 2001. If you have an advance medical directive but the document was created before 2001, it may not be HIPAA-compliant. You will have to redo the document to ensure that it works as you expect it to.

Now back to the asset protection part of your planning.

Asset protection is a separate discipline from estate planning but should be integrated with estate planning in many scenarios.

Asset protection is the process of organizing your affairs and assets, IN ADVANCE, so as to guard yourself from one of life’s curve balls.

And unlike estate planning which is going to happen to all of us, asset protection MAY OR MAY NOT happen to you. Broadly speaking.

Life curve balls could be:

  • Tenant activities at one of your rentals that leads to lawsuit.
    Employee activities that lead to lawsuit.
  • Business partnership break-up.
  • Divorce – your ex-spouse becomes a creditor.
  • Bad planning in a blended family leads to assets going to step-children instead of your own kids.
  • The new 16 year old driver in your family crashes the car and injures someone. They won’t sue your kid, it’s the parents who will get attacked.
  • A personal liability “away” from your business involving your spouse, your business partner, your business partner’s spouse – bleeds into YOUR personal assets.

Asset protection involves your personal beliefs about risk and probability.

It’s good to think about your “liability footprint.” By this I mean, how exposed are you to potential liabilities that could lead to an attack on your assets?

You have a tiny little baby footprint

if you are single, no kids, don’t own business or rental property, don’t have stocks, bonds or cash, don’t drive & you take the bus to work.

You are Sasquatch if you ARE tied to the areas I just mentioned.

The bigger your liability footprint, the higher the probability that one of life’s unforeseen events comes your way.

How deep of an impression does your footprint make in the mud?

Then reflect on your personal feelings about risk and liability.

I want to pass along one interesting asset protection tool.

It’s the Limited Liability Company (LLC).

The LLC, in most cases, can protect these type of assets:

  • Stocks, bonds & cash.
  • Rental income property.
  • A business.

We have an excellent short video highlight on the LLC,

CLICK HERE to check it out.

Thanks for checking out this week’s blog and don’t ever hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Paul

Paul Hitchcock
Director of Business Development
BarthCalderon, LLP
714-704-4828

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