Asset Protection Trust – Planning for the Family Farm, Lakehouse, or Cabin

Estate Planning can be overwhelming.  Especially when it comes to decisions on dividing property holding an emotional tie or includes a family-run business.  This includes the family’s farm handed down from generation to generation.  Intertwined with the land are fond memories of children playing and family get-togethers.  The land itself often includes momentous events, like a child’s first steps, proposals, and family holidays.  Planning for the family farm, lakehouse, or cabin has its own set of issues to be resolved.      

Although death is not a pleasant subject to think about, doing so is necessary to ensure that your assets are protected and do not end up in probate.  Even worse than probate, you certainly don’t want your precious assets to end up going to the government, unintended family members, or even skipping to step-children or those not in your blood-line.       

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

Estate Planning for the Family Farm, Lakehouse, or Cabin 

The primary purpose of creating an estate plan is to set your affairs in order so your wishes are carried out as you desire and intend.  With that said, the first issue to address with your attorney is your goals and their priority.  The information you give your attorney will define the order of the issues to evaluate so the attorney can provide you with options to meet those goals.  

As stated, when planning for the family farm, lakehouse, or cabin, emotions can run high in determining how to divide the estate, and that property in particular.  Common questions are, “Who should I leave my property to?” or “Will the family business be run with the same morals and values handed down from previous generations?”  Due to the emotions, it is also important to ask, “Will the property be lovingly cared for as I have cared for it over the years?” or “Will my choices cause strife in the family after I pass?”   

property planning family

It is easy to envision discontent among family members based on the division of property.  One common situation is for one child wishing to carry on as usual after incapacity or death of a parent and another child anxious for the family farm, lakehouse, or cabin to be sold.  If the estate plan is not laid out in a way clearly defining the division, sale terms, and/or set time frame, it is likely to cause more disputes or legal battles than a scenario where no estate plan exists at all.   Just imagine the dynamics of a blended family and the increase of complexity developing as time passes.  There are his children, her children, and their children.  When the family farm is needed to provide for the surviving spouse, the bloodline of the spouse who died first may wonder, or even feel threatened, that the farm may pass to non-family members. 

Since we are dealing with individuals, over much time, each scenario, and the options available, could be quite simple or extremely complicated.  Therefore, it’s important to have a good estate plan in place.  This is especially true when there are unique assets such as family farms, vacation homes, or cabins involved. 

Some common goals of estate planning include providing for your family, avoiding probate, minimizing taxes, the orderly distribution of assets, protecting assets, and planning for incapacity. 

Asset Protection for the Family Farm, Lakehouse, or Cabin

A common concern people have as they age is the cost of long-term care.  This can have a significant impact on their finances during their life, and an even greater impact on the legacy they leave behind when they pass.  When family farms or vacation properties are part of an individual’s assets, the exposure of loss increases due to the emotional attachment to those assets.  An asset protection trust is one of the best tools used to protect property from creditors, judgments, scammers, or nefarious family members.  In addition, an asset protection trust can be used instead of a prenuptial agreement, to protect your financial future and provide peace of mind.

A primary goal of an asset protection trust is to reduce your financial profile while maintaining a beneficial interest, and often some control, in your assets.  It also prevents future creditors, including the cost of care, from having the ability to seize your assets.  This also makes you a less attractive target for potential litigation.  Assets placed (or titled) into this type of trust are protected from creditors, and court orders, depending on the jurisdiction, to satisfy judgments. 

property trust

Structuring Your Asset Protection Plan

When you decide to place your properties in an asset protection trust, your assets have a legal structure to protect them.  One of the most important decisions you can make with an asset protection trust is the legal jurisdiction in which the trust is established.  The trust’s jurisdiction will determine the laws governing the protection of the trust’s assets.  The jurisdiction can be in any of the 50 states, or for even more protection, it may be offshore.  There are pros and cons to which jurisdiction you choose and should be handled by a qualified attorney.  

Pros and Cons of a Domestic Asset  Protection Trust

Domestic trusts can be less expensive to set up when creating a complete asset protection plan.  However, they are in the US legal system which can put them at risk of a court order, federal bankruptcy laws, and state laws.  These laws have been adopted in the US by many states, however, this type of trust is also new and lacks much case law actually demonstrating or defining the protection against judgments or lawsuits.  Likewise, though, these same considerations may make the domestic asset protection trust more attractive.

Components of Your Asset Protection Plan

An asset protection plan structured properly will often include the trust component, but also a bank account, a limited liability company, or another business entity.  The investment and banking accounts are managed based on the trust provisions.  As mentioned, another, possibly additional element of control, is the Limited Liability Company (LLC).  An LLC can be used to control the financial accounts of a family business.  This structure is one way of allowing you to be the day-to-day manager of the business operations.  This type of structure is the most flexible while granting you control in times of prosperity and calm and having a trustee step in if any issues arise and protection is needed.  It is best to appoint someone other than yourself as the trustee to ensure that you are safeguarded.

asset protection trust

Statutes of Limitations 

While there are many options on the structure of your plan, as well as decisions to make on assignments of the settlor (you), and the trustee, there are also considerations to be made regarding the transfer of ownership.  This can include decisions to make regarding transfer to a well or ill spouse and statutes of limitations through gifting or transfer of title. 

There are several significant laws regarding statutes of limitation.  These include, but are not limited to, Medicaid laws, VA Laws, and tax laws.  All of these must be considered when putting your asset protection plan in place.  Each statute or law has specific rules of which you should evaluate the impact on your plan. Some examples include,    

    • Five-Year: This states of limitations states that if you or your spouse enter a nursing care facility and has sold assets at a price that is considered to be below market value within 60 days of applying for assistance through Medicaid, eligibility will be denied.  This is referred to as the “penalty period” and starts on the date you would otherwise be considered eligible. 
    • Three-Year: There are two three-year statutes of limitations that should be considered during asset protection planning related to Veterans Administration (VA) and Tax Law.
      1. VA – The VA has a look-back period of 36 months related to any transfer or sale of property for what is considered to be less than fair market value when there is intent to apply and qualify for benefits through the VA.
      2. Tax Law – Tax returns are also considered.  The IRS statute of limitations is such that the IRS can review taxpayers’ gifts within a 3-year time period based on the due date of the tax return due for the individual gifts.  Additional considerations are the annual gift tax exclusion amount, currently $15,000.  Gifts valued less than $15,000 in value, per donor, per donee don’t require a gift tax return to be filed.  Further, the official estate and gift tax exemption limit for 2020 is $11.58 million per individual, up from $11.4 million in 2019.
    • Two-Year: federal law allows a bankruptcy trustee to void any transfer of an interest of a debtor in property made within 2 years prior to the date of the bankruptcy petition being filed.  Exemptions from such a ruling exist, but the availability of use has declined dramatically over recent years.
planning for the family farm lakehouse or cabin

Evaluation of Assets

Asset evaluation is an important step in your asset protection plan.  While it includes the value of the property, it goes beyond writing down the figures of the financial value.   When it comes to planning for the family farm, lakehouse, or cabin, it is important to consider not only the value but also the current title and the type of asset.

  • Title: This step in the evaluation confirms that the title of the property is valid.  Whenever a family property is involved, it is always possible interim transactions since the title was acquired may have taken place.  This step is to make sure the title is free and clear and there are no issues affecting good title currently or potential transfer problems of title in the future.  One common example is the failure of a lender to record or provide a deed of release.  After a loan is paid, any property securing the loan requires a release by the lender so no encumbrance remains on the property.  Frequently, lenders are not diligent in providing the release, and dealing with the situation in the future can be complicated and expensive.
  • Jurisdiction: The state in which your property is located can have a big impact on the evaluation of your property.  Each state has the right to recognize ownership independent of other states, therefore this is an important step.  Below are a few of the many different types of property ownership  
  • Value: Lastly, it is especially important to define the financial value of the family farm, lakehouse, or cabin in relation to the total estate value.  At times conflicts may arise if the value of the family property is significant in comparison to the rest of the estate.  Especially when its time to divide the inheritance and or co-ownership of property.

estate protection trust

At The End    

The family property passed down through the generations is a wonderful privilege.  Planning to pass down the family treasure to the next, younger generations are also a way to honor those who came before you and to keep the tradition going.  Before you do, be sure to have a well laid out plan and know what your options are. 

At Paths Elder law, we are a Kansas City metro area estate planning law firm.  We have the expertise to help you create a well laid out plan for your entire estate and to ensure the protection of your assets.    We take a holistic approach to provide legal counsel.  And, we work with you and your family to provide you with options that meet your specific needs.  Our legal counsel is here to help.  If you or someone you know is ready to start their customized estate plan, contact Paths Law Firm to schedule a consultation. 

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Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Jeane Fracassa – a dedicated and accomplished professional who retired with an impressive 38-year service record from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Throughout her illustrious career, Jeane served as a Civian Supervisor in the Communications Unit, where she played a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and effective communication within the department.

Even in retirement, Jeane’s commitment to community service remains unwavering. Currently, she serves in various capacities within Community Relations at Paths Law Firm. Actively engaged in the Lee’s Summit and Overland Park communities, she proudly represents the law firm.

In all aspects of her life, Jeane Fracassa exemplifies the values of community, compassion, and family. Her commitment to making a difference and her love for exploration make her a remarkable individual, whose presence brightens the lives of those she encounters. Whether at work, with family, or during her travels, Jeane’s genuine care for others and her zest for life make her a truly remarkable and inspiring person.

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Laura is the Law Firm’s marketing assistant, supporting all marketing tasks, including managing calendars, researching upcoming events, updating marketing software and spreadsheets, and partnering with organizations to maintain relationships that benefit Paths Law Firm’s clients.  Laura is also the law firm’s professional photographer as she provides the professional photographs for the headshots, organizations, events, and networking.

Laura has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer.  She is also Adobe and Microsoft Certified.  She graduated from Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri with her Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Behavioral Psychology (minors in Social Work and Criminal Justice), and her Photographic Craftsman degree from Professional Photographers of America. She is certified as a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Certified Gentle Teacher, Medicaid Billing Certified, Crisis Intervention Counselor, and a Missouri Notary.

Laura has been married more than 26 years and has a daughter and a son. She has four brothers, a niece, and a nephew. Her four spoiled pets that love her attention. A lot of Laura’s off time is spent taking photos and she is an internationally published photographer. Laura owns a studio on the historic Independence Square. 

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Holly is our newest member of the administrative team. She is hardworking, has proven organizational skills and excellent communication skills. Holly has transitioned to the Estate Planning field from healthcare administration where she gained valuable knowledge that has contributed to her success here at Paths.

Holly enjoys spending time with loved ones, cheering for the Chiefs, and relaxing on the beach.

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Tressa has the important role of being a client’s initial point of contact as the law firm’s receptionist for all locations.  She also welcomes, assists, and cares for clients at the Lee’s Summit office. Additionally, she provides support in an administrative capacity for the attorneys, staff, and clients.  When you meet Tressa, the first quality many note is her readiness to be of assistance.

 

Tressa is a graduate of Park Hill High School with extensive administrative experience and executive level management. Tressa brings a stability and comfort to the law firm experience having worked in a variety of industries and having lived in six different major metropolitan cities.

 

Tressa has a daughter, two sons, and one grandchild.  In her free time, she enjoys her family and friends, loves being outdoors, gardening, bike riding and bird watching. Indoor hobbies include scrapbooking, painting cookies, and cheering on Chiefs football. She is a Kansas City native but enjoys traveling but is always happy to be back in her hometown.  

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton is an attorney and owner at Paths Law Firm. She has more than 17 years of experience advocating for those with special needs and navigating the state and federal agencies formed to help the disabled and elderly. At Paths Law Firm, Kathleen’s practice focuses on helping the elderly qualify for nursing home Medicaid, creating estate plans to protect beneficiaries, as well as a lot of time planning and forming businesses. Kathleen also enjoys helping clients form non-profit organizations and obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

 

After attending law school at the University of Oklahoma, Kathleen began representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Eventually her practice switched to federal court appeals and Kathleen spent years representing clients before the Eastern and Western District of Missouri, the District of Kansas, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kathleen has since focused her practice on estate planning and elder law after watching clients struggle to find ways to financially care for loved ones with special needs or aging parents.

 

Kathleen lives in the Northland with her husband and four children. She spends her free time attending soccer matches and ballet performances with her children and starting endless home improvement projects with her husband. 

Medicaid paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Medicaid Paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Tena is a Medicaid Paralegal.  She is very meticulous and organized.  She works closely with the attorneys, clients, and State representatives. 

Tena has an associate in applied science and has over 20 years of office management experience. She has two daughters and one grandson.

Tena enjoys spending time with her family.  She enjoys everything outdoors and her hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

Sydney is the law firm’s internal accountant and one of their experienced paralegals having been with Paths Law Firm since 2017. She is a primary point of contact for estate planning and business planning.

Sydney graduated with honors from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2022 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She is a Bloch Launchpad, Phi Theta Kappa, and National Honor Society alumni.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, baking and going on long walks. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

Christy has three years of experience in elder law working for seniors and their families. She is currently the Senior Administrative Assistant and organizes the day to day functions of the office and makes sure everything runs smoothly. When asked why she loved what she does, Christy said at Paths Law Firm, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite parts of the job are getting to know the clients and helping them get their questions answered. 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as the Senior Administrative Assistant. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to the relationship she had with her grandparents. 

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has been with her high school sweetheart for 25 years and they have two beautiful children together. Her daughter works in the medical industry, and her son currently attends High School and plays Baseball. When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her family and friends.

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.

 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits

 

Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

In her spare time, René is currently quite active managing multiple generations of her family, including parents and grandkids.  René has had great impact on the lives of many women teaching discipling and teaching and abundance of Bible Studies. Her former career in management and event planning trained her well to juggle all the activity.

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hilary plays a vital role in managing the Marketing Department at Paths Law Firm.  She is excellent at bringing new ideas and sharing valuable resources with the law firm and our community. Hilary has been with the law firm since the beginning, working in nearly every role which is invaluable in her marketing endeavors as she brings a unique set of skills into the Marketing Department.

Hilary is nearly complete in her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Marketing at Park University.  She has earned the honor of being listed in National Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Dean’s List. Hilary is always looking for new and innovative ways to share the law firm’s message.

While not working, Hilary spends her time with her family at their rural home. They tend to their chickens and honeybees and enjoy the solitude of country living.

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer is the Sr. Paralegal and Operations Manager at Paths Law Firm.  She oversees the firm’s probate department as well developing, implementing, and managing all the firm’s administrative processes having been with the law firm almost from the beginning.  She enjoys client contact as well as behind-the-scenes operations.

 

Jennifer began her legal career in 1990 as a legal secretary.  She has worked in small and medium sized firms, as well as court operations.  She has her Paralegal Certificate from Boston University, Law Office Management Certificate from University of Central Missouri, and she is a Master Financial Coach. 

 

Jennifer has two daughters, twin sons, and twin grandsons.  She spends as much time as she can with them.  She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and tending her yard. 

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings more than 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was an accountant and his first couple years practicing law was as a tax attorney. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty’s focus is helping protect seniors’ assets from taxes and long-term care costs, benefit qualification, and navigating more complex family scenarios in their estate planning.

Rusty has personally experienced the loss every parent fears, caring for a spouse suffering with cancer and the treatment, and working with aging parents through all stages of their lives.  He intimately understands the challenges faced by individuals and their caretakers when capacity or health declines, how to prepare for it, and the legal matters while in the midst of it.  He may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

Rusty has multiple degrees and advanced study spanning his Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Administration – Accounting at Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), Masters of Arts in Accounting and in Intercultural Studies, as well as his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

Practice Areas

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education

 

BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City


Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri


Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate