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Updated: March 7, 2022 10 Things

10 Things I know about ... Protecting your family's money

10) Plan for the worst. Make sure your money will never go to scam artists or angry creditors, or be wasted unnecessarily on long-term care.

Eileen Y. Lee Breger is an attorney with Worcester law firm Bowditch & Dewey, specializing in estate planning, tax strategies, special needs planning, and long-term care planning.

9) Don’t go it alone. All adults need a durable power of attorney, who is a person legally authorized to manage their affairs if they become incapacitated.

8) Protect your children. Set up a healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney when they turn 18. Unless you get legal permission to serve as their agents before they become seriously ill, you’ll need court approval to make healthcare and financial decisions for them.

7) A person’s biggest potential creditor is a divorcing spouse. A spouse can take half of a person’s inheritance in a divorce. Set up a lifetime asset protection trust to make sure your child’s inheritance cannot be accessed.

6) Trusts can be financial lifesavers. Create this legal vehicle to hold money for safekeeping for your family. It will be overseen by an independent called a trustee working as a financial watchdog.

5) Trusts are not just for the 1%. They can help anyone who can’t manage their money, ranging from someone with special needs to those with substance abuse problems.

4) You can guarantee all your assets will be passed to blood relatives. You can set up a trust, so the funds only go to your children or grandchildren, avoiding a child’s spouse.

3) Keep creditors at bay. Trusts can prevent money from going to creditors, such as someone suing an heir over a traffic accident. 

2) Don’t use up all your lifesavings on long-term care. MassHealth will pay for long-term care, if your net worth is low enough, and can’t consider trusts designed to preserve assets. 

1) You don’t need to put money in trusts during your life. You can set up a trust to be funded with money after you die.

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