You already know that we live in a litigious society. That means being subjected to lawsuits for doing nothing wrong by claimants looking to manufacture what we call a “nuisance settlement;” i.e. pay them to go away. Alternatively, you can be sued for actually doing something wrong but the claimant may try to recover an exponential amount of damages than is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. In either case, you’re forced to begrudgingly invest your time, energy and money to defend yourself! By investing your money, that means hiring qualified attorneys who will charge 300-600+/hour for their time, and if you were unaware, litigation can be hundreds of hours of time. Do the math. That can and likely will be $10,000-$15,000 invoices every month for potentially years! If you lose, the winner, called a “judgment creditor”, can garnish your wages or look at your assets like a menu and pick and choose which of your property to take possession and sell to satisfy the debt. Moreover judgements harm your credit and create problems for you in the future when it comes to anything that pulls your credit, like buying a car, home or taking a line of credit on your house or for your business. If this is the landscape in which we live, why not fight back and position yourself in a way that (i) makes you less attractive of a candidate to sue, and if that doesn’t dissuade someone, (ii) makes it more difficult for creditors’ to take what you’ve worked so hard to acquire even if they’re successful against you in court?
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What is Asset Protection?
In its simplest form, asset protection planning means using the laws to your advantage. Some assets by virtue of their type, title, location and character have significant restrictions on creditors’ ability to access them to satisfy a debt. Other assets are off limits all together or are just out of reach. There are also ways of insulating and isolating assets from each other and you. There are different vehicles to employ and jurisdictions’ laws to utilize. Wouldn’t you rather invest in that instead of a significant amount more money defending each case?
A Word of Caution
Asset protection means using the laws to your advantage but it does mean remaining compliant with and respecting the laws. To that end, timing is critical because it can be too late to begin engaging in asset protection. The Fraudulent Conveyance Act, which is governed by Florida Statute Chapter 726, can kick in to unwind your planning if you’re either intentionally defrauding creditors or if a judge deems you to be intentionally defrauding creditors based on a laundry list of factors called the “badges of fraud”. The point here is that thoughtful planning is key to successfully protecting your assets, and doing so now while you’re not involved with creditors is the time to get started.
So How Do You Get Started?
Get started by first scheduling a consultation with our firm. We will invest our time to get to know you, your family and your estate planning, business planning and asset protection goals to maximize the likelihood that your family keeps your hard earned money and property. We become familiar with your balance sheet and provide you with a few options to achieve your goals and tailor the plan to your needs. It’s important to us that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of planning so that you are making an informed decision that best fits your needs, goals and risk tolerance.
If you’re ready to put the law on your side, protect your assets and preserve wealth your money and property for your family, give us a call today. We’d be happy to work with you.