“To my Valentine.  I love you and want to be sure you’ll be ok if something happens to me…”  Important considerations when leaving assets to a loved one.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s the perfect time to tell that special person how much you love them.  If you’re married, or in a committed relationship, you probably want to be sure that your spouse or significant other is taken care of after your death.  And you probably believe that the best way to do so is by leaving everything you have to him or her.

However, consider this statement — “I love you, Honey, but it may be best if I don’t leave everything outright to you when I die.”  This seems to be exactly opposite of what most people in a loving relationship would ever say to their spouse or significant other.  However, this may actually be the best planning that you can do for that person, and even for your children or other loved ones for whom you wish to provide.

If you leave your assets outright to someone at your death, that person has unlimited access to those assets, which means that their creditors, a future spouse, or a divorcing spouse, also have access to those assets.  Instead, you can provide for them in a safer way by designating that the assets you wish to leave to them can be held in a trust for their benefit.  This can be done for your spouse, your children, or any other person you care about and wish to leave something for at your death.

In this type of a trust, you would choose a trustee (an individual or corporate trustee) to manage the assets held in the trust, and also to make distributions for the benefit of the trust beneficiary (i.e., your spouse, your child or grandchild, or any other person you name).  In the trust, you would provide when, and for what reasons, distributions would be made to the trust beneficiary, and at what age/ages, if any, the beneficiary would be able to withdraw assets from his/her trust.  You will also specify who will receive any remaining trust property following your loved one’s death.

Depending on your choice of trustee and the types of distribution and withdrawal right provisions you include in such a trust, you can provide your loved one with a significant amount of asset protection, or just a little bit of protection, or somewhere in between.  By doing this type of planning for your family, you can safeguard their inheritance from their potential creditors, divorcing or future spouses, other occurrences that may arise during their lifetime, or simply immature or bad decisions they may otherwise make.

So take care of your spouse or other loved ones, but also take steps to ensure that whatever assets may be left will go those who you choose.  We would be happy to discuss how you can incorporate this type of protection into your estate plan.  Please contact our office if you would like to schedule a free initial consultation, with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.