June 2020
Lawyers With Purpose Insights

In This Issue

Avoid Being Trapped In The Gaps

Benefits of LWP's Inside/Outside Layered Funding Strategy: It's More than Just Retirement Accounts!

Upcoming Events & Materials

Businessman using headseat while on a conference call with a client

Avoid Being Trapped In The Gaps

By Phil Miner, LWP Practice Coach & Implementation Specialist

Don't allow yourself to get caught in either "Gap," the "Looking Forward Gap" or the "Looking Backward Gap." The Looking Forward Gap is that never-never land between where you are and where you desire to be. It manifests itself in behaviors like chasing the horizon, but not determining how much is enough. It is full of discontent and dissatisfaction, because no matter how much you acquire or accomplish, it's not enough. In contrast, the "Looking Backward Gap" is just as dangerous, because our focus is always on the past, and it can create a feeling of arrogance or fear depending on what that Gap holds.

You may think that as the Gap behind you grows, that the Gap in front of you shrinks, but that's not true. As our knowledge and skills grow, and as we plan for our future, we desire more, so that Gap actually gets larger. When we do not answer the question of how much is enough, or have clear measurable goals, nothing is ever enough. Have you seen a cartoon in which there is bait on a pole in front of the character, but the character can never catch it no matter how fast he runs? How demoralizing is it to never reach a goal because it is not clearly defined? We don't get any closer no matter how hard we work, or how hard we try. The Gap is also a terrible place from which to lead, because not only are you unable to define what is enough for you, but you are also unable to define it for those whom you lead. Nothing they do may ever seem good enough, because it can always be a little bit better. This kind of leadership is a breeding ground for cynicism and hopelessness and leads to an ineffective and inefficient team. This is a recipe for a discontented, dissatisfied life, as it doesn't allow you to celebrate your successes because you are focused on what you haven't accomplished yet. How much do you need to be content, satisfied, and at peace?

The second Gap is looking behind us. Landmark teaches us that we have a blank canvas on which to paint every day. We make every new day what we want it to be. If we are looking back, we may already see a picture there and lose the opportunity to build a new path, set new goals or create the future we seek. We allow the past to define our future. We are not looking back to celebrate how far we have come, but we are looking back at all of our failures, our challenges, our negative experiences, and having them limit our future success without even realizing it. Both of these Gaps can be very dangerous if we get caught in them, so how do we avoid getting stuck in a Gap?

Prioritize on the here and now because where you are now is the key. Don't lie to yourself; rather, face the brutal facts of your current reality, and understand where you are is a process to help get to where you want to be. Make sure you acknowledge how far you have come. You are not the same as you once were. Just as COVID-19 has shown us, the "new" normal is here and now; it is not like it used to be. The difference between who we are and who we want to be or where we are and where we want to be is determined by what we are doing now. I once saw a pastor stand next to a clock and ask, "What's next?" As the second hand changed, he pointed at it and said, "Now." That challenged my thinking, but then it made sense. What's next is "Now," and the decisions we make right now determine what's next. We should be planning for the future by setting goals to have a direction and a road map for how we get to where we want to be, but it is the decision we make now that has to be our priority. We have a great tool for this in LWP that is available on the member website. It is called the "Progress Focuser." It asks you to look at the accomplishments that are giving you confidence in your progress since your last focuser, acknowledging your successes. Then, it takes you out of looking back and into the present by asking what is giving you the most excitement now. The following sections ask, looking forward, what you choose to accomplish, taking you from the present into the Looking Forward Gap and helping you identify where you want to be, what you want to accomplish, and what you need to be doing now to have the future you seek. This tool allows you to see the best in the Gaps, but not get caught up in them.

John C Maxwell said, "The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives. When you want something you have never had, you must do something you've never done to get it. Otherwise, you keep getting the same results." No matter what your current reality looks like, keep going, move forward, take the steps and choices that will help you succeed. For me that is walking in faith, even if I don't understand everything, and accepting I am where I am for a reason, and it is an opportunity for growth and gratitude. Do you have gratitude for not only how far you have come, but for where you are now, no matter what that looks like? Gratitude is a core value of LWP as Dave reviewed in TAPER on Why Day! We need grace from both Gaps. If you think you have arrived, arrogance will follow. If you think the failures of the past will stop you, they will, and if you don't acknowledge your accomplishments, it may feel like you will never be where you want to be. The revelation of next only comes with the responsibility of now. What we are guaranteed in life is "Now"! What are you doing now to head in the direction you want to be? Be who you want to be, and accomplish what you want to accomplish every day.

Benefits of LWP's Inside/Outside Layered Funding Strategy: It's More than Just Retirement Accounts!

By Brittney Shearin, Esq.

Business woman holding a pen and looking over paperwork

With the passing of the SECURE Act, and the upcoming changes to our software, I thought we should do a quick review of layered funding and why it is important. However, the concept of layered funding is farther reaching than just retirement plans! Layered funding is the strategy of naming the trust (or a sub-trust) as the beneficiary of an asset, instead of the individual beneficiary or beneficiaries ("Outside Funding") coupled with the plan design and beneficiary choices made within the trust document ("Inside Funding").

If your office does funding for clients, I am sure you have had the conversations with the financial advisors who relentlessly push back on the funding instructions you meticulously provided to the client. After fighti-, I mean, enrolling the financial advisor into the iPug® and your funding strategies, the paperwork is submitted, and a few quick weeks later all your ownership and beneficiary designation changes are complete!

Then, it happens – your clients call you because their daughter is involved with "the wrong, slimy guy" and now they only want her to receive 10% of the trust property instead of her original 50%. Clear your calendar, time to get back on the phone with the financial advisor, plan administrator, or start downloading those forms yourself, to change that beneficiary designation. Not if you do inside funding!

When the trust is the beneficiary of the account, there is no need to update the beneficiary change forms, and instead you just need to exercise the Grantors' power of appointment to change the amount allocated to the beneficiary under the Trust. This is far less paperwork and hassle than financial forms.

Maybe more importantly, layered funding is essential for asset protection for the beneficiaries. If your client chooses an enhanced plan and wants to leave assets in a Separate Share Trust to their beneficiaries, the asset should be beneficiary designated to either the main trust, or each Separate Share Trust upon the death of the Grantor. If the beneficiary is instead the individual, that asset will not be distributed to the Separate Share Trust and will not achieve the client's original goal.

Back to those Retirement Accounts, as a result of SECURE Act changes, the software now asks whether the Grantor or Grantors have retirement assets that are intended for surviving spouse inside the trust. We go further to allow you to designate how much of that retirement asset is going to the surviving spouse – it does not have to be the full amount. Maybe surviving spouse does not need access to that money, or maybe clients are concerned about the remarriage of the surviving spouse and want to ensure those retirement assets get to the intended beneficiaries. This is a prime example of Inside Funding.

Often, clients want to leave retirement accounts to their surviving spouse outright, because they want them to have full access to those funds during their lifetime. But, as clients get older, those plans may change; we recommend naming the Trust the primary beneficiary, and surviving spouse the contingent beneficiary on your Outside Funding beneficiary designation forms. That way, the Trustee (often, surviving spouse) can make the decision at the time whether the funds should go to the Trust, or if the Trustee should disclaim so the funds can go to surviving spouse outright. Failing to name the trust as the primary beneficiary on your Outside Funding designations completely removes this flexible planning strategy upon the first spouse's death.

LWP has always promoted this layered funding strategy, because it makes changing beneficiaries easier and ensures the plan is exactly what the clients want. Without concern for the Inside Funding, the Outside Funding done via beneficiary designations threaten the plan working as intended, including who inherits and how.

Upcoming Events & Materials

1 Day LIVE LWP Virtual Medicaid Workshop

Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 9am – 5pm EST

Health Care Concept. Doctor holding a jigsaw puzzle with MEDICAID word.


Platinum Members: Free.
Bronze, Silver, and Gold members: email info@lawyerswithpurpose.com for discounted pricing.


Watch your email for an invitation to register.

Medicaid crisis planning is immune to the coronavirus. People in need of long-term care must find a way to pay for it ASAP, regardless of what the virus and the economy are doing. In addition, this is the greatest opportunity for Medicaid preplanning since 2008.

If you're not doing Medicaid crisis and preplanning already, now is the time to start. We are offering a 1 Day LIVE virtual Medicaid workshop, hosted by Amanda Smith, LWP Director of Education and Technology on Thursday, June 18, 2020 from 9am – 5pm EST.

During this one-day session, Amanda will teach you everything you need to know to master Medicaid planning and add it to your practice within 30 days. You will learn:

  • Medicaid Crisis and Preplanning
  • Medicaid Planning Principles: The Rules, Exceptions, Strategies, and Secrets
  • How to Accurately Complete the Medicaid Qualification Worksheet™
  • Spend-Down Methods and Calculations
  • The Value Proposition Conversation and Asset Risk Analysis™
  • Funding Strategies, including the Funding Roadmap™
  • How to Determine Medicaid Eligibility (Real World Case Studies Will Be Utilized)

This virtual workshop will incorporate our proprietary Teach, Show, Do, Go process... the same process we use during our Practice With Purpose (PWP) events. It's the difference between "hearing" how to create proper Medicaid plans and actually designing them. So you can add Medicaid planning to your practice with confidence… the confidence that enables you to demonstrate your value and convert prospects into clients. By completing this workshop, you will also earn CLE credits (the precise number is pending and varies by state).

Protecting Assets While Qualifying for Government Benefits & Medicaid Spend-downs CLE

90-Minute Telephonic Seminar Hosted by Rossdale CLE
Thursday, June 18, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Presented by Rebecca A. Hobbs, a Partner at O'Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C.; Michael J. Keenan a Partner at Keenan Law, LLC, and our own David Zumpano.

Registration includes access to complete course & reference material.

Click here for pricing, CLE, and registration information.

The costs of healthcare & long-term care have dramatically increased in recent years for the elderly and disabled. Yet, only a small minority of clients possess adequate insurance and funding for such costs. At the same time, the protecting assets & using spend-downs to qualify for government & elder benefits have changed over the years and become more complex. For most of the population, public benefits, including Medicaid & other government benefits, provide the principal funding of care. This has caused an unprecedented need for counsel fluent in asset planning & protection techniques to assist clients needing to qualify for government assistance. The faculty for this program features three national authorities in the subject, who will cover tools for developments on Medicaid & Medicare access, spend-down's, exempt vs. non-exempt assets, other government assistance, the effect of future medical expenses on government benefits, and the landscape of Medicare, Medicaid, medical expense planning, and asset protection to qualify for government assistance. Registration includes online access to course and reference materials that serve as a helpful guide to the numerous topics and techniques discussed in the program.


  • Essential Spend-down Techniques
  • Effective Wealth Preservation Planning
  • Qualifying for Medicaid & Other Benefits When Your Assets Exceed the Limit
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Determining Ideal Timing to Protect Assets
  • Medicaid Asset Protection
  • Planning for Critical Needs
  • Use of Annuities & Insurance
  • Understanding the Application Process
  • Insight on the Appeals Process
  • Exempt vs. Non-exempt Assets

Interactive Question & Answer Session

Daily Check-ins: Protect & Even Boost Your Firm's Bottom Line

Please join us for our daily check-in calls at 12 Noon EST Monday - Friday. During these check-ins, you'll take part in Q/A and get support from not just the LWP team, but from the entire LWP community who shares many of the same issues and concerns that your firm may be facing right now. Together, we'll strive not only to protect, but even boost our firms' bottom lines.

The link to our recurring 12PM EST "check in" Zoom meetings is https://zoom.us/j/586217608

COVID-19 Practice Essentials

We have a number of tools available to help your firm during the pandemic.

Dave Zumpano's Video: Running an Efficient, Proficient, and Profitable Firm During the Pandemic

Lisa Roser's Video: Marketing Your Firm During the Pandemic

Dave Zumpano's Video: Medicaid Planning Opportunities During the Crisis

Get COVID-19 Practice Essentials Now

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