July 31

Game of Thrones – Troubled Heirs

Credit- Home Box Office, Inc, http://i.lv3.hbo.com/assets/images/series/game-of-thrones/episodes/2/11

**SPOILERS**

This week, Season 7 Episode 3 of Game of Thrones aired, entitled The Queen’s Justice. Throughout much of the episode, the sinister Queen Cersei Lannister sought her long-awaited revenge on those who have previously wronged her (now deceased) children. There is no doubt that Cersei Lannister came out on top, due to her strategic planning. However, one might argue that Cersei would still have her children in her arms if she had just made sure to plan for one thing in particular—how to protect her children from themselves.

After Cersei’s husband’s death, her thirteen year old son, King Joffrey Baratheon was  given too much power too quickly. Instead of being a responsible and noble king, young Joffrey wasted his time by spending money on women in brothels, as well as torturing and killing many innocent people. This behavior ultimately led to his murder. Perhaps if Cersei and her husband had appropriately planned for their son to take over the Iron Throne, she would have protected him from himself. Now, Cersei’s legacy will end with her.

As legacy planners, we find it extremely important to educate others on the many benefits of a Guardian Angel Trust. One of these benefits is that the “Guardian Angel” Trust can provide exact limitations or guidelines on what the named beneficiaries can do with the assets that are being passed to them. Think about it– a parent has an 18-year-old child who is known for (or at risk of) spending his/her money on drugs and alcohol. If the parent passes away, the child is given an inheritance, and there is no limitation on how the child can spend the money. This is a classic fact pattern that brings up the concerns of many parents. Wouldn’t you want to make sure that the money you are giving to your child is being used in the way you would have wanted?

Guardian Angel Trust provide a “blank canvas” that allows for customized instructions on how and when distributions can be made. Instead of leaving your assets to the questionable judgment of an 18-year-old, you are given the opportunity to protect them from the many temptations and negative influences that they may face daily. You can rest easy knowing that your loved ones are being responsible with the assets given to them.

Now, ask yourself—who are you leaving your legacy to? And more importantly—how are you going to protect them?

July 24

Game of Thrones – Predators

Credit- Home Box Office, Inc, www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/episodes/7/62-62-stormborn

This week Season 7 Episode 2 of Game of Thrones aired, titled Stormborn. As you may know by now, everyone in our firm is a huge fan of Game of Thrones.  As the plot thickens, we cannot help but consider the #Legacy planning we do every day and think about how these skills could be applied to Westeros.

 

**SPOILERS**


One of the most important things we do is protect your loved ones from Predators. Predators are people that influence your heirs to ultimately rob them of their wealth, freedom, and individuality. There is no doubt Game of Thrones is full of Predators. Sometimes we wonder if creating a Guardian Angel Trust (our signature Asset Protection Trust) could save the young Lords and Ladies from being taken advantage of. Below, we outline a few of the biggest Predators in Game of Thrones… which character do you want influencing your children?


Petyr Baelish – Petyr, also known as Littlefinger, is the consummate Predator in the show. Littlefinger is shifty, deceitful, and cunning. He is known for his financial acumen and has built an empire of brothels, allowing him to carefully climb the social ladder.  Petyr continually lingers on the sidelines while making sure he stays close to the people of power. Littlefinger has shown his manipulation by being able to convince Jon Arryn’s widow, Lysa Tully, to marry him. This move ultimately gave him considerable influence over young Robin Arryn’s lordship. Littlefinger has effectively risen to be “puppet master” of the Vale. Now, Littlefinger has his sights on Sansa Stark. What’s next on Littlefinger’s agenda? Only time will tell. One thing is true, you surely would not want your children to be subject to such a cunning Predator!


Euron Greyjoy –  Euron is the classic banished uncle who returns to usurp the throne and steal your children’s wealth. After a long outcast from the Iron Isles, Euron Greyjoy returns home to murder his brother and put the kingdom’s heir-ship in jeopardy. He does this just in time to make a claim above that of the rightful heirs, Theon Greyjoy or Yara Greyjoy. The end of this episode surely shows that some of the biggest threats to your legacy can be family.  Sometimes you need to be cautious of family influencing your children – or in this case – stabbing you and them in the back!


Cersei Lannister –  Believe it or not, one of the most common types of Predators can be your children’s own mother. We affectionately refer to this as “Baby-Mama-Drama.”  Whatever your reasons for not trusting the mother (or father) of your children, you may want to make sure that your children are protected from these negative influences in the future. Would you rather have the unpredictable and sinister Cersei Lannister look over your children, or the noble and trustworthy Lord Ned Stark? Many of us would choose to trust Lord Ned Stark to guide and raise our children as opposed to Cersei Lannister. As we all know, Robert Baratheon attempted to choose Lord Ned Stark to watch over his children in Season 1. This ultimately led to both of their deaths.  If Robert had planned more effectively using our Guardian Angel Trust, this probably would have been avoided.


What language would you place in a Guardian Angel Trust to prepare your children for the Predators that lurk after death? We invite you to protect your Legacy! Click here to learn how.

July 18

Game of Thrones – Legacy

 

Credit- Home Box Office, Inc, www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/episodes/7/61-61-dragonstone

This week Season 7 Episode 1 of Game of Thrones aired, titled Dragonstone. This episode draws an interesting comparison of the three main characters’ legacies.

**SPOILERS**


#Stark– First, we are introduced to the King of the North, Jon Snow of Family Stark.  We find him in Winterfell, his ancestral home, with a tomb full of several generations of his family.  The Stark line has stood guard of the North for hundreds of years defying countless harsh winters. This family has shown a tremendous amount of ability to overcome adversity, and still their dynasty stands ready to take on the next generation. This family’s legacy, of honor and respect has been passed down from generation to generation remaining as united and strong as Winterfell’s castle walls.  Even losing countless heirs could not shatter this family’s plan.


#Lannister – Second, we consider the Lannisters. After a lifetime of planning, scheming, and ladder-climbing Cersei finds herself Queen of the Seven err… Three Kingdoms. She has devoted her entire life to reach this important apex, but upon arriving, she questions whether it was worth it. All the wealth in the world, but no family to share it with. All of her dreams accomplished, yet the price of the climb has left her alone. What is her incentive to keep on working? Regardless of how high she climbs, there is no one to share her accomplishments. Cersei must decide what cause, ideal, or memory to transfer her legacy.


#Targaryen – Finally, Daenerys reaches her family’s ancestral home, Dragonstone. She finds her family’s legacy in ruins, abandoned with no family to support her. Years of the Mad King’s decadence and recklessness destroyed the once great Targaryen Legacy.  Throughout the many seasons of Game of Thrones, there is no doubt that Daenerys is determined to create her own Legacy. However, now on the tarnished steps of her once great family, she is left with nothing but a drive and determination to build her own empire. She must plan carefully to ensure that her Legacy carries on and thrives!


At Wiley Etter we can help you plan regardless of which family you closely associate with. Whether your family is #Stark and you just need a review of your current plan, #Lannister needing to come up with a “Plan B”, or #Targaryen and you are laying the foundation for a dynasty that could grow for a 100 years.  At Wiley Etter we help you build, grow, and protect your #Legacy.

April 10

LLC or Sole Proprietorship? Key Considerations for the Small Business Owner.

Many small business owners launch as a sole proprietorship, where the business and its owner are deemed to be the same entity, using the social security number of the owner, and reporting income on the owner’s personal tax return.  However, by operating as a limited liability company (LLC), small business owners enjoy significant advantages, most importantly the protection of personal assets from the debts or legal judgments of the business.  The advantages of operating your small business as an LLC can include the following:

Personal Asset Protection 

If sole proprietorship is sued by a customer, courts can look to your personal assets (e.g. your home, bank accounts, etc.) to satisfy a judgment against your business.  By choosing to operate as an LLC, and observe certain corporate formalities, the court cannot look to your personal assets to satisfy the judgment.  Further, if your sole proprietorship is bankrupt, creditors may look to your personal assets to satisfy the debts of the sole proprietorship.  The members of an LLC are only liable for the debts and obligations of the LLC, meaning your personal assets cannot be reached by creditors of your business.

Business Asset Protection

As a sole proprietor, there is no distinction between the business and personal aspects of your life.  Say you’re involved in an accident and sued personally.  A court can look to your business assets to satisfy the judgment against you.

Tax Flexibility

A sole proprietorship is taxed at the same rate as an LLC, but without protecting the owner’s personal assets.  Alternatively, an LLC may choose how it will be treated for tax purposes.  For instance, an LLC may opt to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, corporation or partnership.

Business Name Protection

Your business name must be distinguishable from any other existing business’ name.  Because sole proprietorships are not registered with the state in which they’re operating, there is nothing stopping another business from starting and operating under the name of your business.  In fact, if you later decide to register your business as an LLC and the name has been taken, you’re prohibited from using that name.

Perpetual Existence

The life of an LLC starts upon registration with the Secretary of State, and ends only upon dissolution of the entity with the Secretary of State.  Your ownership interest in your LLC is fully transferable, descendible and devisable.  A sole proprietorship lives and dies with its owner, making business succession impossible.

 

Selecting the proper structure for your business can maximize your opportunities for success, but can be a challenge to navigate on your own.  At Wiley Etter, LLC our attorneys are experienced in the creation and incorporation of new businesses, protecting businesses from legal pitfalls and developing creative solutions to common legal issues.  Contact us today for a free 1-hour consultation.

February 1

Why You Should Set Up an Irrevocable Trust

You should have an Irrevocable Trust for the protection of your assets!

 

An Irrevocable Trust is a trust that you generally cannot revoke or change. You may want to set up an Irrevocable Trust to reduce estate taxes, or even protect your property against Divorces, Lawsuits and/or Creditors. Here’s how Irrevocable Trusts are structured, and the benefits they can provide…

An Irrevocable Trust typically involves three key players: the Grantor, the Trustee and the Beneficiary/Beneficiaries. The Grantor is the person who creates the trust, the Trustee administers the trust and is the Beneficiary or Beneficiaries are entitled to receive the benefit of the trust and any distributions the trust states. These trusts are established by a Trust agreement, which is a writing that sets forth the individuals filling the three key roles described above, as well as describes how the trust property will be managed and distributed. The trust agreement, which is generally drafted by an attorney, is then precisely executed in a manner that is governed by state law.

 

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Assets owned by an Irrevocable Trust generally are EXCLUDED from the Grantor’s taxable estate.  This is extremely important in the context of large estates, which may trigger the dreaded federal estate tax (40% on all assets above 5.49M per individual in 2017).  There is also a Connecticut estate tax that applies to assets north of 2M per individual.  Excluding the value of assets held in an Irrevocable Trust has the potential to save your family a substantial tax liability upon your death.

Additionally, customized distribution instructions are available for trust Beneficiaries. You may not want a child or a loved one to receive all the property that they are inheriting at once (an “outright” distribution). As an alternative, trusts provide an opportunity for the Trustee to oversee and manage all trust property. The assets are still earmarked for the Beneficiary, but to the extent that the property remains safeguarded in trust, the property enjoys significant protection against divorces, lawsuits and creditor attacks.  Appointing an independent Trustee is also an effective way to ensure that the Beneficiary can’t directly access the money, which could lead to inappropriate spending decisions that you wouldn’t have approved of!

 

Overall, the time and money that you spend on the services of an Estate Planning attorney to assist you with your Irrevocable Trust will absolutely pay off in the long-run.  These trusts protect your hard-earned money and other assets for those you care about the most, and can also greatly reduce your estate’s exposure to estate taxes.