If you own a business; if you’re starting a business, or if you have otherwise acquired significant financial assets and property, you must protect your assets. There are many legal strategies and plans to protect your assets, and these plans can additionally be an important component of your overall estate planning. Asset protection is a legally implemented strategy devised to protect individual and family property, and monetary holdings, from prospective creditors, collections, claims, judgments, attachment or garnishment. We will assist you in developing asset protection plans to help shield your assets from the claims of creditors without violating Florida law regarding fraudulent transfers or fraudulent conveyances. We provide strategies for asset protection by using estate planning, asset protection trusts, and business formation, for creditor protection and Medicaid planning.
An economic downturn, an unexpected business downturn, a personal injury lawsuit, or other events beyond your control, could put your assets at risk, and insurance alone may not offer the protection you need. We can help you assess your prospective risks, and create the appropriate legal strategies to help you retain the wealth and business interests that you have worked so hard to create and maintain.
Asset protection simply means taking steps to protect your assets from creditors who might otherwise be able to reach them in order to satisfy a debt, or attach your assets based upon an adverse lawsuit or civil judgment entered against you.
Removing yourself from the legal title to the property is an effective means toward asset protection, and there are a number of ways to accomplish this. You may continue to possess all of the beneficial interests in the property, but the property is free from potential claims of creditors. Additionally, the measures you take to protect your assets may also serve to remove those assets from your probate estate (saving your heirs the potential costs of probate) and similarly offering other significant tax advantages. As an attorney with extensive estate planning experience, Stephen Willis can assist you with customized asset protection strategies that will conform with your overall estate plan.
Transferring assets to an irrevocable trust can take the legal title to the property out of your name, and keep it safe from creditor claims. If you decide to act as trustee of an irrevocable trust, you may still maintain a substantial amount of control and management of the asset, and continue as a primary beneficiary of the asset. An irrevocable trust may be the legal owner of a business entity; an irrevocable trust may hold title to real property, cash and other personal property; and an irrevocable trust may also form part of your business succession planning. Additionally, in order to protect your savings accounts, CDs, and investment accounts, these accounts must be properly titled and identified to protect these assets from any potential creditor claims. There are myriad legal vehicles to protect your assets through a properly devised asset protection plan.
The time to engage in asset protection is before a crisis has presented itself. If you wait until a creditor pursues your assets, or files a lawsuit against you, it is often too late to take adequate protective measures. You can’t foretell what may happen in the future which could present a risk to the wealth and assets that you have worked hard to accumulate. Accordingly, it is imperative that we create a strategic plan which protects your assets, and at the same time, allows you to control, manage and accrue the benefits from those assets, before any potential or prospective adversary creditor attempts to pursue a claim against those assets.
If you are engaging in a start-up business; if you’re already a business owner; or if you just want to protect the assets you’ve accumulated; we can assist you in formulating a cost-effective asset protection plan customized to your specific needs.
Stephen Clinton Willis
Attorney at Law