Asset Protection Attorney
You work all your life to provide a home for your family, see to your own retirement and health care needs, and leave a legacy of wealth for your loved ones and future generations. Sadly, all you have worked for can be lost in the blink of an eye if you haven’t taken adequate steps to protect what you have. An asset protection attorney from our firm will work with you to protect your assets through the creation and implementation of smart, effective strategies that make sense and meet your needs according to your unique situation.
Why Do I Need Asset Protection?
Creditors can come after you from many different angles for many different reasons: an injury or illness requiring expensive, long-term medical care; property division and alimony in a divorce; or a personal injury or malpractice lawsuit. Regardless of the merits of a lawsuit, the more unprotected assets you have, the more appealing of a target you are for a lawsuit. This applies to the average person in a car accident but is even more of a threat to the owner of a professional practice such as a doctor or lawyer who can be sued for malpractice, or a small business owner who can be sued for a slip and fall, assault or other injury occurring on the premises. Protection from predatory lawsuits is a key reason for taking active steps toward asset protection.
What is Asset Protection?
Asset protection is a term used to describe a variety of legal instruments and strategies that shield your assets and place them beyond the reach of creditors. Common asset protection strategies include:
Asset Protection Trusts – When you create a trust, you transfer title in the property from you to the trust, which generally places those assets beyond the reach of your personal creditors. With a self-settled asset protection trust, you can protect your assets from creditors while still benefiting from the trust funds. To be effective, these trusts must generally be irrevocable, so it is extremely important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning trusts lawyer when setting up a domestic or offshore self-settled trust.
Special Needs Trusts – A supplementary needs trust or special needs trust is a way to provide for an individual with developmental disabilities or other special needs whose independent income may be limited, without compromising their ability to qualify for important government assistance.
Prenuptial Agreements – In a prenuptial or premarital agreement, you can enter into marriage by first detailing what property, be it cash, land or business interests, is separate and shall remain separate, not subject to division in a property settlement in the event of a divorce. The payment of alimony can be addressed in a prenup as well, including how much alimony will be paid and for how long, or even if no alimony will be paid at all. A common provision is that alimony will not be paid if the marriage doesn’t last for a set minimum period of time.
Family Limited Partnerships – Transferring wealth from generation to generation without the time and expense of probate, the imposition of ridiculously high taxes or the threat of creditors is a tricky but important matter. One answer is creating a family limited partnership for your business. By designating senior family members as general partners and younger members as limited partners, you provide a means of controlling the business as long as you want and smoothly transferring control (and assets) when you are ready.
Limited Liability Companies – An LLC protects your personal assets from your business creditors; your liability is limited to your investment in the business. We’ll help you make sure your LLC is set up right with asset protection in mind, like getting insurance coverage for both personal property and the business, taking steps to clearly maintain the LLC as its own legal entity separate and apart from you and not your alter ego, setting up credit for the LLC to keep you from having to personally guarantee business loans, and managing how much money is kept in the LLC at any given time.
Medical Asset Protection Trust – If you’re ever in need of long-term care in a skilled nursing facility, you’ll find it prohibitively expensive and sadly watch your life savings drain quickly away and leave you unable to afford your care or leave a legacy to your spouse and heirs. Medicaid covers expenses related to long-term care, but if you have too much income, you may not qualify. A Medicaid trust or medical asset protection trust lets you set aside funds for future needs and still qualify for Medicaid/Apple Health, so you’ll be able to get the care you need without spending too far down and bankrupting your estate in the process.
Other asset protection tools can be used to shift income to a lower tax bracket and minimize estate taxes and probate.
Protect Your Assets with Our Lawyers
Estate planning is all about planning for the unexpected and dealing with events appropriately before they happen. Asset protection is no different. If you wait until a lawsuit has been filed against you, you’ve waited too long to put effective strategies in place to protect your hard-earned property. In Vancouver and Portland, contact John Lutgens, Attorney at Law, to discuss asset protection strategies with a skilled and experienced estate planning attorney.