A lifetime of hard work went into building your wealth.
But without careful planning, taxes, a medical emergency, or even a lawsuit could threaten everything you’ve built.
Smith Legacy Law provides experienced legal counsel and advice to high-net-worth individuals and businesses nationwide. As your lawyers for life, our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys can ensure your legacy remains intact by establishing necessary guardrails against future legal claims and predatory creditors.
What Asset Protection Planning Is and What It Isn’t
Asset protection planning allows high-net-worth individuals to safeguard their personal assets from any liability that could significantly deplete their wealth.
Such a plan can’t be approached as a one-size-fits-all endeavor and must instead be tailored to fit the specific needs of each individual. While a business owner might want to protect assets from future creditors, a doctor needs to shield their wealth from future medical malpractice claims. An individual preparing to marry and start a family will also have far different asset protection needs than someone nearing retirement.
It’s also important to understand that asset protection plans are put in place for the future. They are not intended to protect against current liabilities or enable you to avoid paying bills already owed. In such a case, a court may require that any property transferred to an asset protection vehicle be returned so creditors seeking to satisfy legal judgments can access the property.
What are My Options for Asset Protection?
There are many options for preserving assets against future threats:
Transferring Assets to a Trust
Trusts are among the most powerful asset protection tools available to you. A few to consider include:
- Domestic Asset Protection Trusts: There are 18 states that allow individuals to establish DAPTs to protect assets from future creditors while still allowing the owner to benefit from them.
- Qualified Personal Residence Trust: A QPRT allows an individual or married couple to transfer their personal residence to a trust while retaining the right to live there for a term of years. The residence transfers to the trust beneficiaries once that term expires.
- Medicaid Asset Protect Trust: This type of trust ensures you won’t have to spend yourself into poverty should you ever require long-term care.
Protected Accounts and Homestead Exemptions
Some accounts – including certain IRAs and retirement accounts – are provided special protection in bankruptcy. A Homestead Exemption can also be employed to protect a personal residence in similar circumstances.
Adequate Insurance Coverage
Having adequate health, long-term care, auto, and homeowners insurance, helps safeguard your financial well-being in case of an accident, injury, or illness. Some life insurance policies and annuities are exempt from creditor judgments. Depending on the nature of your profession or business, you may need specific insurance coverage to protect against various forms of professional and commercial liability.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Provisions
Including mediation and arbitration clauses in all business contracts and employment agreements reduces the likelihood of being sued and helps avoid costly litigation when disputes do arise.
Incorporating Your Business
Your personal assets could be vulnerable if your business is organized as a sole proprietorship or partnership. Organizing your business as a limited liability entity, such as a LLC, corporation or LLP, protects your personal assets from business bankruptcy, litigation involving your company, or significant debts incurred by your business.
Matrimonial Asset Protection
Pre and post-nuptial agreements are among the tools you can use to protect any property or assets – including an interest in a family trust or shares in a business– you owned before marriage.
Learn More About Our Asset Protection Planning Service
Safeguarding your legacy requires sound legal counsel.
Our experienced and knowledgeable asset protection planning attorneys are uniquely qualified to assess your exposure and identify the legal tools that best meet your needs. To learn more, please contact Smith Legacy Law today to arrange for a free consultation.
Contact an Experienced Asset Protection Attorney Today
Asset protection can be complex. You may need to adjust an existing plan to account for changing circumstances or develop a longer-term plan for the eventual transfer of assets to family members.
As your lawyers for life, Smith Legacy Law can help you determine which asset protection tools are suitable for you and your family.