A proper asset protection strategy will make you a less attractive target for legal predators.
You have worked hard for your wealth, now let us work hard to protect it.
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California Asset Protection Tools
Foreign Asset Protection Trust (FAPT)
The Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT)
Nevis Limited Liability Company (NLLC)
Asset Management Limited Partnership™
The Bridge Trust®
Benefits of Asset Protection
The most effective way to protect your hard earned assets is to make them difficult to reach. This makes potential predators (and their attorneys) think twice before bringing a frivolous lawsuit. Asset Protection works by taking away the financial benefit of predators who are looking to take advantage of the legal system.
Contact Us Today to Set Up a Strategy Session to Protect your Assets!
Asset Protection Video FAQ’s
“The secret to success is to own nothing, but control everything.” – Nelson Rockefeller
Asset Protection works by Separating ownership from beneficial use and Control
It is pretty obvious that when you sue someone with no assets, gets you nothing. That is why people with no assets don’t usually get sued.
If there is no money to be made, who is going to invest their time and effort in a futile lawsuit? Certainly not lawyers….
That is the key concept to Asset Protection:
To remove YOU from the direct ownership of your assets, but leave YOU with the beneficial use of those assets as well as control.
How do you do that? You use a Trust.
A Trust is a Time-Tested, essential tool in asset protection. A trust is formed when a person ( called a Settlor) places an asset with another person (called a Trustee) who agrees to take care of that asset for yet another person, (called a Beneficiary).
To help get comfortable with the terminology, let’s use an example with family members: Settlor=Mother; Trustee= Mothers Sister; Beneficiary= Mothers daughter; Asset=$100,000
Mother places $100,000 with her Sister to give to her Daughter based on a series of instructions specified in the Trust.
The trustee is required by law to follow all of the directions made by the Settlor that are spelled out in the trust. These directions commonly include how and when the beneficiary can use and control the trust assets.
For generations, families have relied on trust’s to protect beneficiaries from squandering assets through a divorce, bad investments, poor decision making, substance abuse, and even lawsuits.
Irrevocability means that once you set the path in motion, you cannot change your mind. This is like jumping off a train, you can’t just climb back on.
The benefit of irrevocability in asset protection is that it allows a Trust to withstand the attack from a fierce creditor.
When a Settlor makes a Trust Irrevocable, he or she fixes the terms and removes the power (from even themselves) to revoke, amend, or change the trust.
This means that once the assets are in there, the only way that they can come out is through the instructions listed in the trust. It is the process that allows the trust assets to be protected from creditors.
The spendthrift provision is the core of asset protection. “Spendthrifts” are people who cannot hold on to their money for one reason or another. Using a spendthrift provision allows for the protection of trust assets for all beneficiaries.
Spendthrift provisions put limits on how beneficiaries can access trust assets. The Settlor has discretion in the types of limits that are imposed.
“My son shall have no distributions until he graduates from law school.”
Flexible and Discretionary:
“My Trustee make distributions to my Son when he or she feels it is a good idea, in my Trustees sole discretion.”
One of the most powerful spendthrift provisions included in Trusts relates to Creditors which states:
“Creditors shall be excluded from ever reaching trust assets under any circumstances.” This means that creditors cannot reach trust assets, even while a beneficiary enjoys their use.
“Self Trust is the First Secret of Success”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you aren’t fortunate enough to be inheriting assets in a protected spendthrift trust already, then you will likely be looking at setting up a self-settled trust.
A Self Settled Trust is a Trust FOR yourself, WITH yourself, AS YOUR OWN beneficiary.
This is not a new concept. In fact, every revocable living trust is a Self-Settled Trust. In order to take full advantage of a self-settled trust, the Settlor must look to a Jurisdiction that allows maximum protection for protection assets.
What is Jurisdiction?
Jurisdiction is by far one of the most important considerations when setting up a strategy to protect your assets. Put simply, Jurisdiction means that the laws and rules in one place are different from the laws and rules in another. This means from one State to another and one Country to another.
In fact, in most jurisdictions, asset protection is not available, and they do not allow you to combine an irrevocable self-settled trust with spendthrift provisions. Even in the limited number of Jurisdictions that do allow this, there are lots of difference that affect how safe your assets really are.
Cost vs. Benefit:
EVERY BENEFIT HAS A COST
“Nature is an expert in cost/benefit analysis”- Margaret Atwood
When it comes to utilizing a foreign asset protection trust, that cost, comes in the form expense, control, and compliance.
The expense of maintaining a foreign asset protection trust can easily run between $4,000-$10,000 annually or more for a fully foreign trust.
The foreign trustee must have absolute and full control for the trust to be effective.
Requires several IRS forms including 3520, 2530A & FBAR disclosures if foreign accounts are used. Fundamentally, none of these things require extra tax payments, however, they do require extra effort and energy for the disclosure itself.
If you are defending your assets from an aggressive, frivolous attack, these costs are a small price to pay. But for many people, these costs tip the cost-benefit scale enough to pass on the gold plated offshore protection.
So, is there a way to avoid this cost-benefit dilemma with the Foreign Asset Protection Trust?
The Upside of the Domestic Trust:
It is the mark of an educated mind, to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle.
The domestic upside is all about capitalizing on the protection available to us in the United States. We already have statutes and laws in virtually every state that provide some form of ownership that will that limit liability. These can be LLC’s, Corporations, limited partnerships, or asset protection trusts.
Many of the statutes and case law in the better states are very good. They provide a decent level of asset protection, without the expense or hassle of going offshore.
This works well, to a certain degree, and these entities can even be combined with the power of an Asset Protection Trust. The upside is that there are no foreign trust reporting requirements. In general, they are simpler to maintain than a full foreign entity.
A statute in one state may provide complete protection while the court in another state may not agree. When two states laws conflict, we look to the Article IV Section 1 of the constitution which states:
“Section 1 – Each State to Honor all Others. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”
Therefore, when setting up an asset protection strategy, it is imperative that we analyze the best jurisdictions to accomplish your goals.
The power of this key concept is that it allows you to use the best of both Dometic Jurisdiction and Offshore Jurisdiction.
The Bridge Trust® is a very special type of Asset Protection Trust which is fully registered offshore with all the formalities. This anchors one side of the bridge.
The trust is then drafted back into the united states to anchor the other side of the bridge, this allows the trust to be treated for US Tax purposes as a fully domestic, simple, grantor trust.
The assets can stay in the US under your control. There are also no US tax compliance reports, no extra IRS forms, and no increased offshore trust related fees.
BUT, if the assets of the trust are every truly threatened, they can be driven across the bridge and the trust becomes a fully formed Cook Island Asset Protection Trust.
This strategy allows for full offshore protection for your assets, only when you need it.
The rest of the time you get to use, control, manage and protect your assets the way you want.
A fully effective asset protection plan will maximize all available legal protections on both sides of the bridge. This means that if you are a US person, you will want to arrange your assets inside the best domestic entity structures before you connect them to your bridge.
Types of Charging Order Protection Entities
Some of the most important of these are known as C.O.P. entities. This stands for Charging Order Protection Entities. You may be more familiar with these as Limited Liability Companies and Limited Partnerships.
LLC’s and LP’s differ radically from traditional corporations in the way that they legally define ownership.In a traditional company, an owner owns Shares, and these Shares are viewed by the court as just another asset. If you have a judgment creditor, then all of the shares that you hold are readily available to satisfy that creditor.
C.O.P. entities define ownership in terms of membership or partnership. Just like the membership to an exclusive club, C.O.P. entities can prescribe severe restrictions on who can be admitted as a member. In a well-drafted LLC or LP, you can exclude a creditor from ever becoming a partner or a member. The best a creditor can get is a “charging order”.
Charging Order Definition
A charging order is a limited right to receive uncertain future distributions to which the real member will be entitled.
But under normal circumstances, a Judge will not break up a C.O.P. entity or force any distributions. By arranging US-based assets in appropriate C.O.P. entities, placing through entities in a bridge trust, you have truly unlocked the full power of Asset Protection.
There is one catch, however;
All of this planning must be done before you find yourself in a bind.
Debt has become a standard feature of American Life. As debt as grown for Americans, so has our legal system, which is designed to help designed to help creditors collect it.
A primary feature of that system is the concept of Fraudulent Conveyance.
Definition of Fraudulent Conveyance
The principal of Fraudulent Conveyance basically says “any transfer of ownership made with an intent to delay, hinder, or defraud a creditor, may be undone”. This means that if you intend to protect your assets by conveying them in an Asset protection plan, you need to make that conveyance before you have a creditor issue.
So when it comes to asset protection planning, you need to protect your assets as soon as you acquire them, not once a problem arises.
“It is an awful thing to be the Target” – Emily St. John Mendel
This is especially true when you are the target of a lawsuit. Even the most seasoned business owners and professionals can break down after being served and reading a civil complaint. The uncertainty caused in litigation can be nothing short of traumatic, and it doesn’t stop there. Depositions, court appearances, and case preparation all ratchet up the heat. This fear is an orchestrated attack on your emotional wellbeing designed for one thing:
TO GET YOU TO PAY THEM MONEY TO GO AWAY.
Put simply, this is Legal Extortion, and sometimes the more off the wall or ridiculous the claim is, the better it works.
Plaintiff’s attorneys have identified a profile target who is most susceptible to the legal extortion racket. AND ITS NOT THE SUPER WEALTHY. They have lawyers and lawsuits are often commonplace to them.
Who is the Best Target?
The best possible target is the Millionaire Next Door.
These are professionals, business owners, and anyone who has accumulated between 1million to 5million dollars in net worth. These people have worked hard accumulate their wealth and generally have never been sued or in serious litigation. The psychological attack on this person can be devastating.
What about insurance?
Even when the plaintiff is covered by insurance, just the mere fact that something may exceed coverage, somehow the coverage will fail, or that the claim leads to another claim, can cause extreme stress. Losing or even spending 500k in a lawsuit today is pretty easy. When you are starting with just a few million dollars in assets, this impact will be significant.
In our experience, it is these people who benefit the most from establishing a comprehensive asset protection plan. This plan will reduce fear and create a sense of security that you have a backup plan in the worst-case scenario. This sense of security creates a much higher capacity to field any challenges. When a person has a higher capacity to field challenges, they will act in logic and reason, not out of fear. Ultimately, this confidence leads to greater outcomes when negotiating a settlement or deterring a lawsuit.
5 Reasons The Bridge Trust® is better than a Foreign Asset Protection Trust
Download your FREE guide to understanding the benefits of using The Bridge Trust.
Don’t wait, it will be too late; Hire a San Diego Lawyer with Experience in Protecting Assets From Lawsuits!
Asset Protection only works if the plan is put in place prior to the event that requires the need for asset protection. Simply put, if you are sued, it is too late to shield your assets. Certain professions, such as landlords and physicians, are sued disproportionately due to their deep pockets. Don’t lose all that you have worked for.
If you’re like most people, your family is the most important thing in your life. Their needs and their comfort will always be of paramount importance. You recognize your role in ensuring their safety and welfare, and that is why you are interested in talking to an estate planning attorney.
Unfortunately, you may have put off making the proper provisions for their future in the event that you are no longer in the picture. This is possibly the worst mistake you could make.
If you fail to plan today for the interests of your loved ones, the courts will certainly do it for you. The way in which they dispose of your hard-earned assets will likely be the opposite of what you would have wanted.
Let the San Diego Lawyers at Odgers Law Group Work for You to Protect Your Assets
Given their thorough familiarity with California’s estate-planning laws coupled with asset protection strategies, the attorneys at Odgers Law Group are in the perfect position to work with all who live in and around the San Diego area. With our assistance, you can develop an asset protection strategy that will help to optimize your family’s future comfort and safety while attempting to keep the courts well out of the picture.
Call our office today and learn how a San Diego Asset Protection Attorney can help. When the threat of litigation arises, you will be glad you did!
Creating a Legacy is Hard, Asset Protection Doesn’t Have to Be!
Recent Asset Protection Articles
The following discussion is the fourth and final in a four-part series dedicated to explaining some of the options available to landlords and business owners when it comes to protecting real property investments. The first discussion in this series addressed the use of a limited-liability company (“LLC”) to protect real property investments (and can be found here), the second addressed the use of a corporation (available here), and the third addressed the use of liability insurance (available here). This final discussion will focus on detailing a balanced approach to protecting real property investments in order to shield them from potential liabilities.