The Seacoast BankNote

Expert Interview Series: David Goldman, A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer, Discusses Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Posted by Seacoast Bank on Aug 17, 2016 8:55:43 AM

David Goldman is nationally recognized for his ability to adapt trusts for unique solutions and asset protection. He runs his own law office, the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC.

How did you become interested in the area of estate planning and elder law?

Before attending law school, I was a serial entrepreneur. Protecting assets and keeping taxes low were always a priority in business and it was a natural fit when I learned about estate planning and elder law. I enjoy teaching others how to protect their assets.

What is asset protection? What are the benefits?

Asset protection can be obtained by relatively simple changes in ownership. As we accumulate wealth, it is important to separate risk of assets. By looking at the typical risks in one's life, we can create a series of containers to hold the assets which limit the risk of loss.

What makes estate planning in Florida unique? What should individuals know early on in the process?

Florida is very creditor / consumer friendly and offers many benefits that are not available in other states. Many of these protections have exclusions or limitations that can create immediate exposure. It is important to work with someone who understands the benefits as well as the risks. Clients often do not know what they need. Only be doing a complete evaluation of assets and risks, can a good recommendation be made.

What are some of the biggest challenges of estate planning for individuals and families?

Funding. For many years, our clients and the clients of other lawyers have failed to fund or improperly funded their estate plan. Funding is the process of making beneficiary designations and changing the title on bank accounts. It appears that as many as 9 out of 10 people improperly fund their estate plan. As a result, in 2015 we began including funding with our estate planning, elder law, and asset protection plans.

What types of questions should individuals ask or considerations should they make when starting the estate planning process?

Individuals should feel comfortable with the professionals they work with, they should ask if there are benefits to using a trust or series of trusts in their situation. If the individual is approaching or has reached the age of 60, they should ask how the plan will affect Medicaid eligibility. Most estate plans may save probate fees, but inadvertently keep a majority of the assets at risk of loss because of Nursing home expenses.

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see clients making when planning their estates?

The biggest mistakes I see are with the plans people do on their own. Often in an attempt to save a few dollars on probate, clients take an action that exposes the entire asset to loss. An example is adding a child's name to a bank account. We have had many parents who loose the funds in a bank account because the child gets into trouble, becomes subject to a lawsuit, or has a car accident.

What can individuals do to prevent headaches for their families when it comes time to settling the estate?

Families must consider their goals and objectives as well as create a plan on how to achieve them. The most important thing to do is to start. Once you make a decision, you need to complete the process. Many children come to my office with a binder full of beautiful papers. Those papers are often well written and consider many potential issues that may arise in the future. Unfornatutly, we often find that they were never used or used incorrectly. As this is a process that we will only do once or twice in our life, find a professional who will hold your hand and take care of the funding for you.

What advice do you find yourself repeating over and over again?

Fund your trust and review your beneficiary designations.

How has the nature of estate planning evolved since you started your career?

In the past estate planning often concerned reducing estate taxes. Today, 99.7% of the US population will not pay any Federal Estate Tax. Only those with over 10.9 Million in assets need to deal with estate taxes, The big problems today are family relationships, protecting from creditors, protecting assets for use in the event that long term care is needed. It is important to do this in the most tax efficient way possible. Sometimes the homegrown solution or one you hear about from a friend that worked in New York can create huge problems.

What are your favorite estate planning tools?

I love trusts. Revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, asset protection trusts. Medicaid trusts, automobile trusts, firearms trusts, Land trusts. The list goes on and on. You can do almost anything with a trust if you're creative enough to understand and think about it. The problem with most estate plans, is that they are designed around the software that a lawyer uses instead of the needs of the clients. When we evaluate a client's needs, we create unique solutions or when it makes sense use the solutions we have already created.

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