VA Benefits, Trusts And Asset Protection
If you are one of the men and women who have served our country, we know you will come to depend on your Veterans benefits to provide financial assistance for yourself and your spouse during your retirement years.
Veterans benefits can make all the difference, particularly for struggling families and there is a need for long-term care.
If some sort of tragedy strikes and your VA benefits are threatened in a lawsuit, it’s important that you protect them. Asset Protection works by removing the economic incentive for a person, and that person’s attorney to pursue you in a court of law. The best way to protect your assets is to take legal steps to make you unattractive to potential predators.
The point is that you never know if someone will attempt to sue you. In this litigious society, thousands of lawsuits are filed every single day. A proactive approach is wise and may keep you and your family financially secure.
Irrevocable Trusts Are Popular Protection Option
The use of irrevocable trusts has become a popular tool among some attorneys who assist clients in planning for VA pension benefits. While trusts have become a popular tool, there are many landmines and pitfalls in using irrevocable trusts when it comes to VA pension planning. In part, this is because there is very little guidance under existing law or precedent related to irrevocable trusts.
If you decide to consult with an attorney about asset protection planning for VA pension benefits, you need to be aware of what important qualifications will make an attorney most helpful for you.
Make Sure The Attorney Is Familiar With VA Basics
First of all, any attorney you work with should be familiar with the basics of the VA pension program and must be accredited by the Veterans Administration. They should first and foremost know what the VA pension is and the other names it is known as, for instance, non-service connected pension. They should know that it is a benefit paid to wartime veterans and certain dependents who qualify based on the following five basic requirements.
1. The veteran must be age 65 or older, or permanently and totally disabled, not due to the veteran’s own willful misconduct. The attorney should also know that there is no age requirement for a surviving spouse to qualify for widow’s pension.
2. The veteran must have been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable;
3. Certain service requirements must have been met. For the majority of the clients applying for this pension entered active duty prior to September 7, 1980, the result of which is that the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was during a wartime;
4. Net worth must not be excessive; and…
5. Countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by law.
The GI Bill will be undergoing major changes beginning next year, but for the most part only new servicemembers will see any of those changes. Your attorney should be aware of the impending changes and recognize if such changes may in any way impact the asset protection plan being discussed.
Also, many veterans may not realize they can sometimes qualify for both VA and Social Security benefits. An attorney experienced in working with veterans will know this and will find out if his or her clients are eligible to receive both.
If you are interested in exploring asset protection measures that include your VA benefits, call The Estate & Asset Protection Law Firm for a consultation. Helping veterans has been one of our primary areas of expertise since the inception of our law firm.