This week I felt it would be important to address the topic, “What is Asset Protection?” While you clearly have some idea what is involved in asset protection planning, I frequently get this question or some derivation thereof.
The quick and simple answer is that asset protection is a means of protecting your assets from future potential creditors or claimants. From this perspective, a better definition may be that asset protection is a systemic approach to pre-litigation planning to deter lawsuits and encourage out-of-court settlements.
Another explanation may be that asset protection planning involves minimizing your personal and financial risks. At Global Wealth Protection, we accomplish this with a 2 step process;
- Create a veil of privacy for you and your assets
- Create legal structures to segregate you from your assets while maintaining maximum control
By doing these 2 steps, we have accomplished the goal of making you appear unattractive to potential future creditors and claimants as well as provided you with the legal protections for those assets in the event that your veil of privacy is pierced.
Of course many people believe that they are not a target for litigation. I have talked to enough people (read about Susan and Frank – “Oh Good, the Government is Here to Help”), to know that lawsuits can come from nearly any source; tenants, credit card companies, friends, family, neighbors, contractors, coworkers, employers, employees, customers, and the list goes on and on.
There are many tools that can be used in asset protection planning. One of the most basic tools is a Wyoming Limited Liability company (LLC). A properly structured Wyoming LLC can offer you privacy (ownership is not disclosed to the state) and legal protections (Wyoming does not allow foreclosure of business assets) for your real estate, investment portfolios, private business interests, intellectual property, or nearly any other category of valuable asset.
Land trusts when combined with one or more Wyoming LLC’s can also be a very cost effective structure for protecting your real estate assets. I work with many real estate investors who like this method as it offers them complete anonymity as well as legal asset protection from potential creditors.
I wrote a newsletter a couple of weeks ago titled, “Protect Your Assets Like the Uber-Rich” that addressed the specific topic of real estate asset protection. After writing this article I had a couple of calls from friends of mine who are real estate investment professionals. One has been in the business for over 10 years and another for over 30 years and both of them said this was the only method they use for protecting their real estate assets.
I am a firm believer in diversification of your assets among various investment categories as well as geographical diversification, or what I call ‘geo-arbitrage’. This is effectively a ‘don’t put your eggs in one basket’ strategy from a global viewpoint. I highly encourage clients to implement an offshore strategy as part of their asset protection planning.
At a minimum, clients should have an offshore bank account with some funds set aside for a rainy day. You can grow your offshore presence with precious metals storage, brokerage accounts, or even managed accounts for the wealthier individuals. The offshore world is the ideal scenario for web-based entrepreneurs.
For our online entrepreneur clients, we typically help them establish a Seychelles or Belize offshore company, offshore bank account, and offshore merchant account. This gives online entrepreneurs an excellent opportunity to diversify geographically as well as lower his cost of doing business.
For those of you not up to date on US news, the FATCA requirements that are part of the HIRE act will make it much more difficult to set up and maintain offshore bank accounts and investments after 2013. You have a very short window of opportunity to escape the draconian reporting and withholding requirements and establish your own offshore asset protection plan.
For those of you interested in developing your own private offshore asset protection plan, I can work with you one-on-one to formulate a strategy that works for your specific situation.
I will summarize by saying the 2 biggest mistakes people make are; 1- assuming they aren’t wealthy enough to need asset protection planning, and 2- waiting until it’s too late.
If you have a level of wealth that you cannot afford to lose, you need to minimize your risk. And you need to do it before you have already been sued. It will be much easier and cheaper to do it before it becomes necessary.
Call today to schedule your free 30 minute asset protection consultation. Until next week, live well.