Chatting with CPA & Attorney Merrell Bailey: Asset Protection and Estate Planning, Part 2
August 14, 2023

We are excited to be back with Merrell Bailey, a seasoned estate attorney, CPA, and MBA, for part two of our conversation. In this episode, Merrell discusses the importance of an umbrella policy for asset protection, proper account titling, and the four ways assets transfer after death. Discover when to seek professional help, like a durable power of attorney, and scenarios where a qualified estate attorney’s guidance is invaluable. Listen in as she stresses early planning and the benefits of seeking expert advice for a secure retirement.

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript was produced using AI, so please excuse any typos and inaccuracies…

Marc Killian 00:11
Welcome into another edition of plan wise retire free with Jude Wilson, holistic wealth manager and centrist financial strategies. back for part two with our conversation with Merrill Bailey, who’s here to talk with us to continue the conversation that her and Jude, were discussing on the prior episode, and really talk about some actionable steps that you can go through. So if you checked out the first part of the podcast, it will certainly go a long way towards helping with the second one. So if you haven’t, consider going over and listening to that it is on Apple, Google, Spotify, all those places, you can find it simply by typing in plan wise, retire free in the search box, or you can simply stop by the website at centrist That’s interest And don’t forget, if you find that you’re in a situation where you need some help, or you’d like to learn more about how estate planning is essential to your financial plan, or reach out to the team by calling them at 800-779-4592 or email them at info at sin trust Alright, let’s get started with part two.

Jude Wilson 01:13
So let’s let’s move on to some solutions that people actionable things that people could could walk away with and go take care of either today or pretty soon. So I want to break it down into two sections, things that people can possibly do on their own, and things that they need to see someone like you about. So things that they can do on their own. We kind of already touched on this. But the importance of an umbrella policy, how important Would you write that?

Merrell Bailey 01:45
I’m a fan. Well, if you’ve got a minor driving your car, please have an umbrella policy. If you’ve got well, if you have children at all, because children tend to have friends, and they want to have their friends come over and friends can slip and fall in your pool, I want you to have really good insurance because you there’s you know, accidents happen. And I want to have the ability for you to settle that claim. Without it ruining your life or the people who got hurt life I want I want them to be whole. And I want you not to be devastated. So I’m a big fan of insurance as a first line of defense.

Jude Wilson 02:22
My brother is also an attorney, he doesn’t practice estate, but I’ve been around attorneys my whole life. And what I have seen with property casualty insurance, because that’s where you would get your umbrella policy. The default, when you buy a home is usually something very low, like 500,000, maybe even a million. But with clients that have significant assets, they really should be looking at a bigger policy. Because for an insurance company to pay a $500,000 claim, that’s kind of a no brainer to make it go away. And the client may not want to make it go away, they may want to actually have some representation on this. So it’s really important that that’s one of the issues that you talk about in building a financial plan. One of the other simple things that I think clients can do, and is often not talk of talked about is titling of accounts. How important is titling of accounts.

Merrell Bailey 03:24
I’m a bit of a freak about this, the CPA and me. The OCD of the CPA me is all about the titles being proper. But again, when you think about asset protection, I’m sorry, when you think about estate planning, there’s only four ways assets transfer title after death. That’s it, there’s only four ways. One is if you own an asset that is titled jointly with rights of survivorship, or if you’re married, it’s its tenants by the entirety, but it’s the same thing. The two or more people own it together. When one dies, it goes to the other naturally by the title. That’s one way of transferring title after death. A second way is using beneficiary designations or payable on death designations. So if you own something jointly with your spouse, then then it says but payable on death to my three kids, you don’t need an estate planning attorney because the documents are going to go, I could do an estate plan that says you’re leaving everything to the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and those elephants are going to starve because the title and the beneficiary designation takes precedence over my documents. But sometimes you don’t want to leave money outright to your kids. If you’ve got minors, you don’t want to leave money outright to a minor on their eighth you know it goes through the court through a guardianship until they turn 18. And then on 18 they’re handed a check. I don’t know many 18 year olds that can handle a wad of money, particularly when you layer on to the fact that the reason they got the money was because their parents are dead. And they don’t have the parents there as the guider to help them with this transition to being rich. So there’s The third way to transfer title after death is adding a revocable living trust to your repertoire. And that’s you need a lawyer for that. And the fourth way of transferring title is through the probate court. And we don’t always want to go there. So we’ve got four paths to take. My goal generally, is to use three of them, not the probate. I’ve tried to avoid probate if I can, but it’s not the worst place, but I try to avoid it. So I look at the title and make sure the title matches what the clients want. So that things go easily quickly and privately where we want them to go.

Jude Wilson 05:36
That’s perfect. I mean, we focus on this a lot, because when clients, new clients come in, typically they’ve already had an advisor, or maybe they haven’t had an advisor, and they just had the default titling of their account. And one of the one of the things that we see most commonly is mistakes made with titling because it’s a blended family. It’s a second marriage. And if the account is entitled correctly, one spouse passes, and they could be disinheriting their kids because their accounts were titled correctly. So I think this is one of those simple things that although I, we refer to you a lot, these are things that can be handled, with proper guidance, why a financial professional, that’s really giving good advice to their clients.

Merrell Bailey 06:28
It’s interesting, because when a client comes to meet with us, and when I know when they meet with you, you’ve got to do a forensic analysis, basically, and have them figure out what they own. And I’m always so tickled when clients come in, and they’re like, We had no idea we were worth this much, or we had no idea we own this, or I forgot I had this policy, or I forgot I had this account. And think of if it was a pain in the neck for you to figure out what you own. How awful will it be for your loved ones to figure that out while they’re grieving, and the house is a mess, and they don’t even know where you keep the papers. So just again, a little bit of upfront work by figuring out what you own and helping figure out a path for it to go quickly and easily to your loved ones. It makes such a difference.

Jude Wilson 07:13
Well, you and I could talk all day, but I want to round the corner and talk about the things. What are two things that you think are most important that a client would need to see you about or a qualified estate attorney,

Merrell Bailey 07:28
everyone should have a durable power of attorney, if you only have one document, that should be it and you should go to a lawyer to get it. Because the one you buy at Office Depot is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Me surprised and interest, like I tell people a lot, I will meet with clients a lot. And I’ll say You know, you don’t need to spend a lot in legal fees, because they might not need a last will and testament if the way they’re leaving their assets matches what the Florida statute means. And we can do it with beneficiary designations and titling, they may not need to spend a lot of money on legal fees, but someone has to guide them through that and figure it out. Then there’s people that have minor children or in or in an unmarried relationship, or they have adult children who are in a bad marriage, or they have adult children who are have substance abuse issues. Do you there’s all sorts of things that I can help straighten out so that we don’t give people enough money to kill themselves when they’re in a vulnerable position. I can leave the money to children in an asset protection manner. So it goes on for multiple generations, I can just solve the problem if that child doesn’t talk to this child, or if you have, this has come up a couple times recently. If you have a child with mental health issues, and that child is violent and a threat to the other children, I can help leave the money so that the violent child does not know what anybody else inherited. So they don’t feel threatened that their spouse or their sibling got more and maybe reduce some of the threat. You know, there’s there’s as many different situations as there are people and I just tried to help organize them.

Jude Wilson 09:16
I think that’s perfect. And I want to kind of end on this note. Everyone, regardless of whether you believe you are affluent or not, should speak to a qualified professional about their estate plan and possibly asset protection. And my preference is that they go see you so can you again tell us where your offices are located. And what’s your website?

Merrell Bailey 09:48
Sure. The law firm is your caring law firm that’s at 2323 Lee Road in Winter Park and the website is your caring law

Jude Wilson 10:00
Well, we’re gonna have links to your website. Oh, and one thing I forgot, you have your own podcast. Tell us about that before we before we sign off?

Merrell Bailey 10:09
I do I have a podcast called Tax boss. And it’s tax is the website. But I, I use tax boss to talk about interesting things that have happened or things that have come up with tax law that I find that I find interesting or interesting client situations. And I try to inform people and mostly other professionals about things to look out for when they’re dealing with their clients so that we can I have found that if you play nice in the sandbox, and you get along with the clients, other advisors, it is a much better situation for the client. So that’s my philosophy

Jude Wilson 10:44
100% We like to tell clients we want to be your financial quarterback will coordinate the other players on the team willing to work with

Merrell Bailey 10:53
teams I am special teams

Jude Wilson 10:57
will work with either the players you have or bring on special team players like yourself. And since you are a UCF grad, real advice say Go Knights my second favorite team, you know, I’m a Seminole.

Merrell Bailey 11:16
I love you anyway.

Jude Wilson 11:17
Yes, big Virtual hug. Thank you for being on the podcast today. We appreciate it. We hope that podcast listeners got a lot of value out of our time together.

Merrell Bailey 11:27
Thank you, dude.

Marc Killian 11:28
And that’s gonna take care of our podcast Special Edition here with Merrill Bailey joining us here on the show. Thanks so much for her time and information. And as always, thanks to Jude for being here as well. And we look forward to helping you folks with little useful nuggets of information to help you get onto the right path for your retirement so that you can plan wise and retire free reach out to Jude and his team at centrist For more information, send trust or subscribe to the podcast to catch future episodes as well as past episodes. And you can find it online by typing in plan wise, retire free in the search box of Apple or Google or Spotify podcast wherever you get your podcasting information. 800-779-4592 was a number to call if you got some questions and need to talk with the team 800-779-4592 And we’ll see you next time here on Plan wise retire free.

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