Many people are aware that the foundation of a proper estate plan is a Revocable Living Trust (though sometimes a Last Will and Testament may suffice) but may not realize that they can also benefit from lifetime asset protection planning. Asset protection planning is not about what happens to your assets when you pass away but rather about how you can protect your assets from creditors and predators during life.
A San Diego asset protection attorney with a comprehensive estate planning process, one that doesn’t just put in place template form documents but rather digs deeps into each client’s particular facts and circumstances, can help you accomplish asset protection goals and ensure that your assets are as well protected as the law allows. After all, these are assets that you have worked a lifetime for and they should not be lost to an unscrupulous creditor or predator.
How to Use a San Diego Asset Protection Lawyer to Help You
There are specific steps that you should take to protect your assets from creditors and predators and an experienced asset protection lawyer can guide you through these steps. Protecting assets from lawsuits in California is extremely important. We live in a litigious society. These days, it is not just certain professionals such as doctors and lawyers who may be exposed to a higher risk of litigation that could take their assets, but real estate investors and startup founders all too often find themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Asset protection is for anyone that wants to rest easy knowing they have done the best they can under the law to protect a material amount of their assets should the proverbial rainy day occur.
Shielding assets from creditors or other predators such as a child’s spouse from whom your child may ultimately get divorced is a crucial part of estate planning, business planning, and asset protection. You can take the first step to protect your assets, and discover if asset protection planning is right for you, by sitting down with an experienced asset protection lawyer to figure out your risk level and to identify an appropriate strategy to guard against potential risk exposure.
Why Asset Protection Planning is So Important
It is commonly understood that not just in California, but across the country, we live in a world that is very prone to disputes and the record number of litigation cases filed in recent years support this. The more assets you have, the more your line of work raises the risk of litigation, the more there is at stake.
Only those who have no assets or no income are essentially judgement proof. If you have worked extremely hard to build your personal or business wealth, then all of that could be exposed to being lost in a lawsuit. You stand to lose a substantial amount if something happens in a lawsuit or if you are exposed to other types of creditors if you haven’t planned proactively.
You need an asset protection attorney who can look at your individual situation, assess your risk level, and put together appropriate strategies – be they domestic asset protection planning or something offshore. One of the most critical steps that you can take to protect your family, your business and yourself, is to have an asset protection plan that is comprehensive in nature.
A knowledgeable San Diego asset protection attorney can help to articulate, in plain language (not legalese!) all of the choices available to you. You should also understand who is most at risk of losing things in a judgement or lawsuit. Litigation has unfortunately become one way of doing business for a lot of people in this day and age.
Who Needs Asset Protection Planning?
There are some professions that are more likely to be named in legal claims than others. Architects, doctors and lawyers are quite possibly the most at risk to lose their assets without having undertaken asset protection planning. Insulating their personal assets from judgements that relate directly to their professional liabilities is extremely important. Property owners however, are also at great risk of being exposed to liability.
Whether you are an owner of a commercial or a rental property or an individual homeowner, there is always the possibility for a liability claim that relates to injuries on your property. If your homeowner’s insurance coverage does not properly cover all of these risks, then you could find your personal assets being seized to pay for an injured person’s medical bills. An asset protection planning attorney can take a look at your risk level and determine the best way to mitigate those risks.
There are certainly some baseline steps that we suggest everyone have in place regardless of whether or not they have undertaken asset protection planning. Always max out your liability and related insurance coverages. Never co-mingle personal funds with business funds. While there are specific business entities that are created with the sole purpose of protecting the assets of the owner, if those assets are not kept separate from personal assets, then any asset protection may well be lost.
What You Need to Know About the Process of Asset Protection Planning
Asset protection planning is a legal process that involves reviewing your assets, discussing asset protection planning options with a knowledgeable and caring attorney, and structuring things in a way that gives you the best possible asset protection in lawsuits and against other predators. If you use asset protection planning appropriately with the assistance of an experienced lawyer, the process is entirely above-board, legal, and you may be able to protect many or all of these assets from a surprise risk of loss, without any allegations of tax evasion or fraud. If you do not have any protection, you could not only find yourself with less assets to live on but you’ll leave less behind for your family than you meant to, simply because the creditors will have already taken it from you.
Many people are under the impression that asset protection planning is illegal and has to do with under the table transactions that are intended to deceive. However, this is not the case. Asset protection is legal, permitted by various state statutes, and case law. That being said, you must generate an asset protection plan well in advance of any creditor concerns because putting in place asset protection planning when you know of a creditor problem is illegal. Like many things in life, by being proactive you can provide your assets with significantly more protection than they otherwise would have had if you ignored things until a problem arose.