Shikuma Law Offices, PLLC in Seattle Washington is dedicated to providing personalized estate planning counsel and asset protection planning at a reasonable price. We can also assist you with medicaid planning, probate, trust administration, VA pension benefits planning, charity planning, pet trusts and much more. See our services and practice areas for more deatils.

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Asset Protection for IRAs How can I protect an inherited IRA? What is a Standalone Trust?

Asset Protection

A determination of this issue by the US Supreme Court is forthcoming in 2014.

The WA statute protects a participant’s IRAs from creditors’ attacks (personal injury lawsuits, divorcing spouses’ property division lawsuit (other than the Community Property exception, etc.) and the Federal Bankruptcy Act protects a Washington participant’s IRAs up to $1 million (indexed with an inflation). However, such a protection is not accorded to an Inherited IRA when the beneficiary is not a surviving spouse. Recently, there are more than a few bankruptcy court cases wherein this creditor attack of an inherited IRA was an issue, and the beneficiary lost in all cases and all inherited IRAs were subject to creditors’ attachment. The reasoning behind this decision making is that the purpose of the statutory protection of an IRA is solely to protect a participant’s retirement needs. Therefore, when a beneficiary (usually a child) is supposed to work and make his/her own living, the statutory protection does not extend to such a beneficiary. Therefore, when a child beneficiary goes through a divorce proceeding, his/her divorcing spouse might be able to successfully attach the child beneficiary’s right to an inherited IRA. A plaintiff in an auto accident might be able to successfully attach the child beneficiary’s right to an inherited IRA, too.

Then how can you protect an inherited IRA for your beneficiary (non-spouse)?
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category: Asset Protection

Asset Protection for Limited Liability Companies Asset Protection for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

‘LLCs v. Corporations’ — Creditor’s rights, Judgment Creditor and Charging Order, and Tax

An LLC can have the limited liability that a corporation affords its shareholders and the single level tax that a partnership affords its partners. In a nutshell, an LLC can have the best of both worlds of a corporation and a partnership. An LLC is a great form of business entity for closely held business owners.

Generally, members, managers and managing members of an LLC are not liable for the debts, obligations or liabilities of the LLC, although these can be expanded and stipulated in the LLC operating agreement.

Continue reading Asset Protection for LLCs

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category: Asset Protection

special needs trust Special Needs Planning

When your loved one receives needs-based governmental benefits, a traditional estate planning technique does not work very often. If you make outright distributions of your assets to a child who receives SSI/Medicaid benefits by a will or in a trust, the child’s SSI/Medicaid might be terminated. If you leave assets to your healthy child hoping that the healthy child will take care of the disabled child with the assets, the assets might be taken by the healthy child’s divorcing spouse during the property settlement procedure. The healthy child might be involved in a personal injury lawsuit (most likely car accidents) and the entire assets that you leave to the healthy child for the benefit of the disabled child might be attached by the plaintiff in a lawsuit against your healthy child. Or the assets might be in the hands of the healthy child’s bankruptcy trustee to be distributed to the healthy child’s creditors. All these factors must be carefully reviewed before you establish your estate plan when your loved one receives government needs-based benefits. You do not know if your loved one will ever be disabled after you die. Then you might want to establish a stand-by special needs plan in your estate planning documents. Also, you cannot rely on government benefits to take care of your special needs beneficiary for the rest of his/her life due to the uncertainty of the economic future in this country. It is possible that the government might reduce the amount of money spent for needs-based health programs in the future.

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category: Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning

pet trusts What will Happen to Your Pets When You Become Incapacitated or Die?—Pet Trusts

Over 67% of U.S residents treat their pets like family members, but only 12% include their pets in their estate planning. Consequently, 500,000 pets per year are tragically euthanized when their owners become incapacitated or die.

Is a Will the Best Way to Provide for My Pets?

  • A Will takes effect only upon your death and does not provide for your pets in the event of your incapacity. This is when the owner most needs the pets’ companionship.
  • Upon your death, a Will has to be probated. It takes a long time to complete probate procedure and, if disputes arise, it can take years before the final settlement of your property is made. Therefore, it may take way too long before your pets’ care can be carried out.

Continue reading about Pet Trusts

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category: Trusts, Wills

Protect your loved ones Does your estate plan really protect your loved ones?

I saw an advertisement which said, “Let’s protect your loved ones with a Simple Will.” Does a Simple Will really protect the assets distributed to the beneficiaries? The answer is, NO. Any property devised to your beneficiaries via Simple Will has no asset protection feature and the beneficiary may lose all the assets devised by a will maker in a divorce, lawsuits, or bankruptcy. Also, Community Property Agreement has no asset protection mechanism provided to the surviving spouse, either. The surviving spouse may lose all the assets distributed to her/him by Community Property Agreement in one lawsuit involving a motor vehicle accident or some other form of litigation.

Continue reading Does Your Estate Plan Really Protect Your Loved Ones?

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category: Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills