San Diego Asset Protection Attorneys
California has more than its share of individuals and families with significant assets, and those assets may come under assault. The concept of asset protection is simple: find a way to keep your wealth out of the hands of people who want to take it from you. But that’s stated from the point of view of the people with the wealth. From the opposite perspective—that of the people who feel some claim on your wealth—asset protection devices are simply tricks used to deprive worthy claimants of the compensation to which they are entitled. Contact a San Diego asset protection strategies attorney for a free legal consultation and help with your asset protection strategies.
That, in a nutshell, is the asset protection battle: one side setting up obstacles, the other side diligently working on tearing those obstacles down. It’s a battle best fought with the help of experienced estate planning legal professionals who know the current rules of the game and are good at foreseeing how those rules may be changing. And it’s a battle that must be fought anew from time to time as laws change and the amount and type of assets you own changes.
When and Why You Need Asset Protection
The when part is easy: as soon as you have enough assets that losing them would be painful. In practical terms, losing assets is always painful, so the real decision is whether the value of your assets is significantly greater than what it would cost you to develop a plan to protect them.
There is one excellent reason for getting a protection plan as early as financially feasible. If you wait until someone is making a claim against your assets, any asset transfers you make will be challenged as fraudulent transfers.
The why part of the discussion is also pretty simple: there are several situations in which a legal proceeding could result in a court ordering you to pay large sums of money to someone else. Among the most common situations to consider during asset protection planning are:
- Personal injury liability claims against you or your business
- Tax claims, especially against your estate
- Other creditor claims, which can range from suppliers to your business to hospitals caring for you or someone for whose debts you’re liable
If you feel someone is threatening your assets, or see this happening sometime in the future, asset protection is a critical move. Retaining a San Diego asset protection lawyer for assistance could give you peace of mind about the current and future state of your real estate, business and other assets. The right protection strategy could make all the difference.
Using Limited Liability Business Entities
Modern law recognizes many different types of entities that can limit a person’s liability in the way that only corporations used to be able to do. They include the very popular Limited Liability Company (LLC), some forms of partnerships, and of course, both publicly traded and closely held corporations.
Conducting your business through an entity that offers limited liability limits your exposure to creditors and personal injury claimants. This device can even be used to divide a single business enterprise into several limited liability companies. For example, a dry cleaning operation may consist of a central limited liability company which contracts with multiple other limited liability companies: leasing the dry cleaning equipment from one company, the trucks from another company, and so on. If a customer is injured on the store premises, the assets of the equipment and truck companies would be protected.
Although there is some evidence that courts are becoming more willing to question the limited liability cloak–called “piercing the veil”–these entities provide much better asset protection than sole proprietorships and ordinary partnerships.
Other Asset Protection Strategies
There are numerous other asset protection planning strategies, with specific strategies geared to specific types of exposures. Choosing the correct one is important to fulfill your current needs and overcome potential future challenges. A lawyer can analyze your goals and assets to determine which liability protection strategy is ideal for your circumstances.
- In the personal injury liability arena, simple purchase of insurance to protect against liability from specific activities can be effective. Doctors and large corporations are not the only entities exposed to the risk of lawsuits. Any property owner could face a lawsuit, for example, if an accident occurs on his or her property. You can purchase insurance or pull the equity out of your assets for protection. If you own an apartment building, for instance, and took out a loan against its equity, the funds could go into an annuity or protected asset.
- In the marriage and divorce arena, strategies may include postnuptial and pre-nuptial marital agreements and a detailed plan for keeping assets separate from the marital estate. You could also look into legal offshore trusts to keep your assets safe from divorce. A divorce asset protection lawyer can help you lawfully keep your real estate and other assets safe in offshore accounts from a spouse during a divorce.
- In the tax and creditor claims arena, a variety of trusts can shield your assets from attacks. Many states offer asset protection trusts to safeguard annuities, life insurance policies and homesteads. Asset protection trusts enable you to transfer part of your assets into a trust under an independent trustee. This will protect them from most creditors, and may even allow you to protect the trusts for your children. Your trust must meet regulatory requirements to be valid, however, so work with an attorney.
If your main concern is real estate protection, a lawyer can help you determine the best strategy for protecting your unique assets. This may be insurance, an anonymous land trust, titling methods, qualifying for a homestead exemption or simply avoiding risky situations. Working with an attorney can help you understand your options and how best to protect the assets that mean the most to you.
Is an Asset Protection Trust Right for You?
Asset protection trusts have become a popular way for individuals and businesses to shield their assets from creditors and lawsuits. You are the settlor and beneficiary over an asset protection trust, and thus have control over the main use of the assets. You can place real estate, vehicles, stocks/bonds, cash, collections and personal property into a domestic asset protection trust in states that allow them.
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota,
You do not have to be a resident of the state to open an asset protection trust in that state, however. After placing your possessions into an asset protection trust, creditors and others can only pursue your personal assets. Assets in your trust will lawfully be separate from you – protecting them from liability in the event of a lawsuit, divorce or tax claim. A court would not be able to use the assets in the trust to satisfy a judgment award. Instead, only your personal assets will be up for grabs.
How Can a Lawyer Help With My Real Estate Protection Strategy?
A properly established and lawful asset protection trust will stand up to scrutiny by judges and creditors. Owners have tested them in courts with consistent success. If you believe an asset protection trust could be the right strategy for you, consult with an attorney in California about potentially setting one up outside the state. It is important to work with a lawyer regarding the legal jurisdiction in which to establish your trust, as well as to work through complicated tax issues and creditor/debtor laws to keep your assets truly safe. A lawyer can help protect your assets with tailored, sophisticated and proven protection strategies.
The family law attorneys at the Boyd Law Firm in San Diego, California, are sophisticated, trustworthy, and expert at financial matters, with extensive experience protecting the assets of our California high-asset clients. We not only know asset protection strategies, we have extensive experience in the kinds of proceedings for which asset protection plans are designed: liability claims, divorce, and probate litigation.
If you’re just thinking about getting an asset protection plan for the first time, or want to update and review an existing plan, contact us today. Our San Diego asset protection attorneys will review your assets, your concerns, and your potential exposures. We can help you sleep better at night.
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