Helping You Protect Your Assets For The Next Generation

Many people work hard their entire lives, accumulating assets and wealth with the desire to pass their legacy on to their loved ones. Unless you create an estate plan, however, you lose control over how your assets are passed on to the next generation.

At Terrazas Clark Henkel, P.C., we know how hard you've worked. Our goal is to help you preserve your assets for your children and grandchildren.

Ways Your Estate Can Be Reduced — And How To Preserve Your Assets

Today, individuals are living longer, and there is a greater likelihood that many people will need some level of nursing or heath care in their final years. While Medicaid covers the costs of much of this long-term care, it only kicks in once your personal assets have been depleted. With soaring health care and long-term care costs, even a large estate can quickly be exhausted.

Federal estate taxes are another concern. Large estates are subject to a 40 percent federal tax upon transfer. This means almost half of a large estate could be lost to taxes.

If you have a special-needs child, transferring money or property into his or her name is a mistake. Not only will these assets be used to pay for that child's care, but they can also jeopardize his or her ability to qualify for certain special-needs services.

Through strategic planning, however, there are ways to protect your assets against depletion. Common asset preservation strategies include:

  • Trusts — Trusts are one of the most effective ways to protect assets against depletion and from creditors. Our attorneys will sit down with you, review your assets and discuss your goals, then establish the type of trust that is best for you and your family.
  • Lifetime gifts — Gifting is another effective way to transfer assets. However, it must be done strategically. There is a federal gift tax on transfers over a certain amount. Our firm will develop a gifting plan that allows you to transfer large assets, such as interests in a ranch, to other individuals while minimizing estate and transfer taxes.
  • Beneficiary deeds and designations — Certain properties and bank accounts can be transferred immediately upon death. This can help reduce the need for probate and the costs associated with it. Our lawyers will examine your assets to determine whether transfer or pay on death can be established. We can also review your beneficiary designations to ensure that they are consistent with your estate plan.

Many of these strategies can also provide tax savings. If your estate is large enough that it will be subject to federal estate taxes, transferring assets out of your estate can effectively reduce its size so as to avoid these taxes.

Learn More About Asset Preservation

For more information about our estate planning and asset preservation strategies, call 406-541-2550 or contact our firm online. Our office is in Missoula, and we serve clients throughout western Montana.