What is Asset Protection?
Asset protection is a form of risk management planning that is designed as a preventative measure to protect a client's assets from creditors. Asset protection planning is the legal and ethical process of reviewing a client's financial holdings and restructuring those holdings to take advantage of various techniques and legal exemptions that seek to place those assets beyond the reach of potential creditors. In addition to insulating assets from creditor attack, asset protection planning can allow you to negotiate a favorable settlement with creditors from a position of strength.
The first defense against liability is generally adequate insurance. However, insurance policies often do not cover you for punitive damages or intentional wrongdoing. In addition, the potential lawsuit can involve an amount that exceeds your insurance coverage or the insurance carrier may deny coverage. Further, the cost of adequate insurance may be prohibitive.
A well designed asset protection plan should not include bankruptcy as an element. In fact, we counsel our clients to avoid bankruptcy.
Asset protection planning commences with an analysis of each of your assets. We evaluate the current and potential liabilities for each asset. Depending on your situation, various techniques can be utilized including (i) statutorily exempted plans including homestead, pensions, and life insurance and annuity products, (ii) United States domiciled plans which include limited partnerships, limited liability companies, corporations and domestic trusts and (iii) offshore trusts. In our experience, it is best to include asset protection planning as part of the overall estate planning for our clients. Our integrated international estate planning includes offshore trusts which are integrated with revocable trusts prepared under state law in the United States.
Anyone who is a professional, business owner, corporate director or officer with liability exposure or anyone who has accumulated assets (real estate, stocks, bonds and other investments) is a target and should review their holdings from the perspective of "What will happen if I get sued?"
Limited Partnerships / Limited Liability Companies
Offshore Asset Protection Trusts
Tax Consequences of Offshore Trust