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Asset Protection
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The Basics - Asset Protection

Before we outline the Basics of Asset Protection let us be clear about the fact that we live in an overly litigious society where the consequences of words like justice, fair and reasonable do not hold strictly to their definitions. Most people have a moral grasp of right and wrong, but this does not protect us from accidents, business decisions, medical situations and circumstances we cannot control. The most basic of all human needs is security. Asset protection Plans merely give you security and control over your assets.

Specifically, when we refer to assets, we are referring to a person's home, car, furniture, savings, investments and business. Essentially, assets are anything of value that can be seized by another resulting from a lawsuit, court order or through the action of a government agency. In reality, everything worth value is worth protecting.

Before going further, we would like to remind you that each individual's situation is unique. Each principle we will be discussing is applicable when the unique circumstances of each asset meet the criteria. This is why we encourage personal and private consultations

Insurance

When the subject of Asset Protection comes up, one of the first things that come to mind is insurance. Yes, having insurance is a great way of providing security for both yourself and your family. In fact, acquiring insurance is usually the first step. Life, property, casualty, liability and disability are all important methods that provide this protection. We encourage proper insurance and it would be our recommendation that insurance policies work side-by-side with an Asset Protection Plan. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your insurance coverage is adequate and appropriate. However, insurance, at its heart, has little to do with control and more to do with compensation after you have lost control. We view insurance as the last wall when all else has failed.

Trusts

Another method of asset protection is trusts. An Asset Protection Trust should direct your assets while you are alive and make provisions for you to maintain control and beneficiary enjoyment even under creditor attack. This is why you must protect your assets before the attack (it is hard to dodge a bullet in midstream). In the proper circumstances and with proper construction various types of trusts serve to detour creditors and diminish the incentives that they may have for taking your assets. Some types of trusts maintain a higher level of privacy while they legally hold up under duress.

Depending on the assets you seek to protect, it is possible that a plan can encompass your business and family affairs entirety. Although Estate Planning is important, a Living Trust alone will not stand the test of creditors, since a Living Trust is an Estate Planning vehicle enacted through death. A Living Trust will not guard your possessions from creditors because it is within a judge’s power to penetrate the trust and award your assets to your creditors instead of your named beneficiaries. An Asset Protection Trust will also enable your estate to avoid probate for all of the assets in the Trust.

Corporations

Corporations have long been recognized as excellent forms of asset protection. The "corporate veil" alone may not be enough to keep your assets safe. Just as inheritance is “passed on”, so to can liability pass on, sometimes referred to as “flow through liability.” However, if you plan the course of liability you may be able to wrap some types of assets into the corporate veil enabling greater protection and security than you would have if you claim personal ownership.

The Big Question

Inventory all of your assets and ask, “In a situation where I am put under creditor attack (regardless of the circumstances leading to duress), is this asset under my control?

These days all assets are discoverable by regulations of IRS reporting or court order. This is a principal reason to protect your assets and keep them from the reach of others. You will be able to define the words justice, fair and reasonable when it comes to the property and assets that you control. This is a feeling of security.