Fresno Financial Advisor News
What is Asset Protection?
Asset protection refers to a set of techniques, strategies, and laws that aims to protect assets belonging to individuals and businesses against the claims of creditors who are attempting to legally seize the assets.
If you have substantial assets or are coming into a windfall from a sudden wealth event such as an inheritance, lawsuit, stock options sale, business sale or from a sports/entertainment contract, there are several money moves you should consider to best protect your new wealth against lawsuits and from others.
How Does Asset Protection Work?
Asset protection planning is based on the analysis of various factors that determine the degree of protection required. The following diagram shows the most important factors:
Identity of the Debtor
If the debtor is an individual, it is important to consider any transmutation agreements (agreements that determine whether properties are equally shared by spouses or separate) between the individual and their spouse. It is also important to consider the likelihood of a lawsuit for each spouse – so that property rights for assets can be transferred to the ‘safer’ individual before lawsuits are filed.
If the debtor is an entity, then the individual who guaranteed the repayment is liable to asset seizure in the event of a lawsuit. For asset protection planning, it is important to take note of any clause that obliges an individual to personally repay an organization’s/entity’s debt and the likelihood of creditors seizing personal assets.
Identity of the Creditor
The identity and type of creditor are important for asset protection planning. If the creditor is a powerful organization, like the government, they are likely to possess more power over asset seizure compared to private lenders. Individuals who are liable to an aggressive creditor may require stronger asset protection strategies and vice versa.
Nature of the Claim
The specific types of claims and limitations included in lending agreements determine the strength and type of asset protection required. For example, dischargeable claims (claims that can be written off or “injuncted” by the court) can be used to protect personal assets in the event of bankruptcy and require a relatively lower degree of asset protection.
Consider keeping assets separate. Depending on the state in which you live and the source of your windfall, if you deposit the money into a joint account with your spouse, this money could instantly become half theirs. For some, this isn’t an issue, but for others, this could pose a problem. For example, if you have children from a previous marriage and commingle an inheritance you receive with your new spouse, your children may get less than you expect when you pass away. This problem becomes even more damaging if you are contemplating a divorce.
Review all jointly held accounts. Any money you deposit into a joint account with your children, elderly parents, roommate, or business partner is at risk. If the joint owner files for divorce, incurs a tax lien, or lawsuit judgment, the entire account could be wiped out.
Create business entities to shield assets. If you have a small business or do part-time work on the side without having a formal business structure such as an LLC or a corporation, you are operating as a sole proprietorship. The “sole” means it’s just you, so unlike a partnership, you don’t have to worry about a partner’s actions . . . but all of your personal assets are at risk if you are sued.
Fresno Retirement Consultant Takeaways
Fresno portfolio advisor– Soutas Financial appreciated these points: If you have substantial assets or are coming into a windfall from a sudden wealth event such as an inheritance, lawsuit, stock options sale, business sale or from a sports/entertainment contract, there are several money moves you should consider to best protect your new wealth against lawsuits and from others. Asset protection planning is based on the analysis of various factors that determine the degree of protection required.