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Asset Protection Planning

Image by Elena Mozhvilo

Nobody expects to be sued. Just ask the 20 million people involved in lawsuits last year.

Divorce, inheritance, health issues, creditors, employees, theft, changing markets, malpractice suits, sexual harassment claims, natural disasters, and disgruntled business partners are just a few issues that can result in devastating lawsuits for unprepared business owners. The highest level of risk falls on those who think they are immune.

Americans are now more concerned than ever about protecting their assets from creditor claims, taxes, divorce and other disasters. And rightly so.

The more success you have (especially in business, professional practice, or real estate activities), the more at risk you are as others see your success grow.

Here’s some of the “risky behavior” you may be engaging in right now:

Will you be signing loan documents, a personal guarantee, or a lease? Do you have rental properties or employees? Are you an attorney or physician? Do you work in construction or perform professional services? Are you getting married and have children from a prior marriage or separate property assets you are bringing into the marriage?

Here’s the thing: all of these activities are the kind you should do more of! They are, in many ways, the spice of life. But that spice can't become too hot and impact your life negatively.

That’s where Cruz Law comes in. Blyss can set up your business and life structures to ensure that you can take maximum risk with minimum worry.

Blyss assists her clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances. She considers insurance, prenuptial agreements, asset segregation, choice of jurisdiction, gifting, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and asset protection trusts. Customized combinations are layered depending on the needs of the client and as appropriate.

There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets while you are alive and after you are gone. To find out which strategies may be right for you, contact Blyss to set up a Family Wealth Planning Session.

Credit Assessment

Estate Tax Protection & Planning

You work your entire life to save and have enough money to comfortably retire—and ideally, leave something for your loved ones when you pass away. During your life, you pay all kinds of federal and state taxes: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and so on. And at the end, the government even wants to tax you on the assets you have left at your death. 

This is known as the estate tax, sometimes called the inheritance tax or death tax. Alaska does not have a state estate tax or gift tax. The best way to protect your assets and your family’s future from excessive federal taxation is to hire an attorney who specializes in estate tax planning. Blyss Cruz can help you reduce — if not entirely avoid — the federal estate tax burden. 

How Estate Tax Works

The estate tax is totally separate from federal income taxes and is paid on the net value of all your assets owned at your death. However, there are fairly sizable exemptions to the estate tax, so it’s primarily high net-worth individuals and their families who are affected. 

That said, the estate tax rate can go as high as a whopping 40%, so that's potentially massive sums of money being owed by one’s heirs. And that bill must be paid to the IRS within nine months of the decedent’s death. 

The 2023 federal estate tax exemption for individuals is $12.92 million and is $25.84 million for married couples, which is $860,000 higher than the 2022 exemption, per person.

So unless your individual estate is valued at more than that, you won’t have to worry about the estate tax at this time. But for those who are affected, there are numerous estate planning strategies available that can greatly reduce the amount owed. Blyss Cruz can advise you on the best options for your family.

Exemptions to the Estate Tax

Advanced Estate Planning Strategies

Families with high-value estates face several complex legal and tax issues — and the estate tax is only one of them. At Cruz Law, Blyss offers a number of advanced estate planning strategies that are primarily aimed at reducing a family’s tax burden. In addition to the federal estate tax, we also help families navigate the federal gift tax and federal generation-skipping tax to pass assets on for successive generations without the risk of estate tax decimating the estate at each generation.

Some of our most popular advanced estate planning tools and strategies include:

  • Life insurance trusts

  • Qualified personal residence trusts

  • Grantor retained annuity trusts

  • Asset protection trusts

  • Land trusts

  • Dynasty Trusts 

  • Family limited partnerships or limited liability companies

  • Asset gifting

You worked hard to build your family’s wealth and legacy, so it makes sense to put similar effort into protecting those assets — and that includes protecting them against excessive taxes. Contact Blyss, an estate tax planning attorney at Cruz Law, to minimize the potential tax burden faced by your family, so you can maximize the inheritance you pass to them. 

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