Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To Be Forewarned is to be Forearmed!

By Lou Ann

An industry exists in which lawyers, accountants and other unethical participants, sometimes with complicity from probate courts, can separate any of us from our property when certain (not that unusual) circumstances occur. These circumstances can be orchestrated and lead to an Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA). This often occurs with wills, trusts, guardianships or other probate-related situations.

To think that property and assets are your own and that you have control over their ultimate distribution is a mistake. Situations such as are described at occur more often than most people would ever believe. A close study of this issue leads one to recognize that going to court is not a path that necessarily provides reasonable resolution. This course too easily leads to lawyers or administrators becoming the functional beneficiaries while the intended beneficiaries are left with reduced or no assets as well as potentially significant legal expenses.

With regard to targeting the elderly, I would especially caution anyone living in a retirement community or area which attracts older folks (maybe because of medical facilities). I refer to attorneys or other professionals who seek this type clientele as “walker stalkers.”

Through the transfer of wealth that is getting ready to occur in the next 20 or so years, Involuntary Redistribution of Assets cases will likely skyrocket. People think proper estate planning will protect them – wrong! People think they don’t have enough assets to be a target –wrong!! There is no inoculation from the threat of IRA. Forewarned, however, is forearmed.

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