Top 10 Misconceptions on Asset Protection Planning
After many years of answering asset protection questions from the public, I’ve come across a number of common misconceptions on the subject. I’ve compiled a Top 10 List of these common misconceptions and I’d like to share them with you.
I’ll wait until someone threatens me with a lawsuit – This is probably the most common mistake. When a lawsuit has been filed or is expected, it is too late. No asset protection plan will work. The judge will most likely rule that any structures created or assets transferred after the fact as fraudulent. An asset protection plan has to be put in place long before the threat of a lawsuit to be effective. It’s like life insurance. When you are lying in the intensive care unit in the hospital, you can’t buy a life insurance policy. You have to plan ahead.
No one will sue me – You better think twice on your exposure. With over 19 million lawsuits filed each year in the U.S., just about everyone with assets is at risk of a lawsuit. According to the American Bar Association, there are close to 700,000 lawyers in practice in America. That’s one lawyer for every 400 men, women and children! Many of these lawyers make a living solely on suing others for part of the winnings. So, if you own a business or practice a profession you have a one in three chance of being named in a lawsuit THIS YEAR! Do you want to win or lose in this lawsuit lottery?
I don’t have much to protect so I am not worried – Unless the equity you have in your home is lower than the homestead exemption provided in your state, a creditor can come after the equity in your house. Collection attorneys know that the best way to get you to pony up money is to threaten a foreclosure on your home. If you have a sizeable equity in your home, you are vulnerable. Just because your net worth is not in the millions doesn’t mean that you don’t need protection. Someone with a $ 3 million net worth can probably absorb $ 250,000 of loss from a lawsuit but someone with a $ 200,000 net worth can ill afford the same loss.
Only a lawyer can help me do this – Lawyers are knowledgeable on a number of subjects but asset protection is not usually one of them. Asset protection is not taught in law schools and most lawyers have not even traveled overseas. Therefore, unless a lawyer has a great deal of experience in collection or offshore planning, he/she is almost as clueless as the general public on this subject. As a matter of fact, many attorneys, knowing their lack of experience in asset protection, actually refer clients to Asset Protection Consulting Group to take advantage of our expertise.
A trust is what I need for asset protection – Many people have been told that trusts can provide all the asset protection necessary. Well, they are wrong. trusts are primarily estate planning tools. They do not provide asset protection in most cases. There have been too many cases where trusts were busted by lawsuits and assets were lost. So they are unreliable as asset protection tools.
I will just transfer my assets to my spouse or relatives – This is probably the worst thing you can do. Any competent collection attorney will sue you as well as your family members to collect the debt. In addition, your relatives or friends could refuse to return your assets when you want them back. Worst yet, they can be sued for their own liabilities such as a car accident and your assets are therefore exposed to their lawsuits as well as yours. Transferring assets to relatives is no protection at all and increases your risks of losing them.
It costs a lot of money to set up an asset protection plan – This is true when you talk to a high priced attorney and he recommends forming very complicated entity structures and asks for upwards of $ 25,000 to $ 50,0000. Affordable asset protection planning can be done with very experienced asset protection experts using simple but battle-tested strategies and entities that cost only a few thousand dollars.
With an offshore corporation, I can avoid paying taxes on my income – Anyone thinking about evading taxes with an offshore corporation is in for a big surprise when the IRS knocks on the door. So many law-abiding people are sucked in by illegal tax schemes that they end up losing much more than they try to save. If there was any legal way of avoiding taxes, every one would be doing it! Therefore, if anyone tells you that you can avoid paying taxes with an offshore corporation or trust, etc. run the other way!
Offshore planning is too risky – Offshore planning is not risky if you do it properly. Now there are many illegal schemes out there so you need to do your due diligence before you entrust your money to someone. Not everyone needs offshore planning. However, for those with high net worth, taking your assets out of the jurisdiction of the United States provides you with maximum protection from judgments handed down by U.S. courts. Most asset protection firms have no offshore planning experience, so using one that does is paramount to an effective asset protection plan.
This can’t be legal. The government will go after me if I do this – The U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Setting up an asset protection plan is perfectly within these rights. We have never heard of anyone getting into trouble with the government for setting up an asset protection plan as long as it is not used to illegally evade taxes. Hiding gold bars in the ground is a form of asset protection even tough it might be a bit primitive. It is perfectly legal, isn’t it? So why wouldn’t an asset protection plan using Nevada or offshore corporations to make your assets invisible be legal?
Whatever you do to protect your assets, it must be done long before any legal problems surface. So get moving before your hard-earned assets are threatened.