Asset Protection Planning
In our litigious society, people seek avenues to effectively identify their risks and protect themselves and their assets. Through our experience and expertise we assist our clients in developing a comprehensive plan and efficient structure to protect their personal and business assets from unnecessary exposure to lawsuits, divorce or other risks. Often the planning is included within other work being done, such as legacy or estate planning. Our guidance includes assisting in the appropriate choice between entities such as limited partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, or corporations and retirement or family planning using annuities, life insurance, and IRA’s. Creatively utilizing the alternatives available to each client’s unique situation more fully protects them and their assets from an unacceptable level of risk.
For example, we help our clients minimize exposure for accidental occurrences, like an injury to a guest on their property, automobile accidents or an injury to a tenant on a rental or weekend property. We also work with our clients to keep their assets beyond the reach of judgment creditors and ex-spouses. The specific strategies we employ depend largely on the particular client and the nature of his or her assets. A few of these strategies may include the following:
“We provide our clients with the kind of proactive counsel and advance planning that proves invaluable when that rainy day finally comes.”
(1) Family Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies:
Many states, including Texas, have adopted laws that severely limit a creditor’s right to seize assets properly owned within a family limited partnership or limited liability company. Assets such as after-tax investment accounts and investment real estate are often appropriate for these types of entities.
(2) Inherited IRAs:
While individual retirement accounts are generally protected from the claims of the IRA owner’s creditors, recent court cases have ruled that an IRA inherited by the owner’s beneficiaries may not be protected from the beneficiaries’ creditors. For this reason, it may be wise to designate a “conduit” trust as a beneficiary of the IRA.
(3) Asset Protection Trusts:
In certain instances, one may transfer assets to a trust for his or her own benefit and have those assets protected from that person’s creditors.
(4) Life Insurance and Annuities:
Under Texas law, cash or other investments held within a life insurance policy or an annuity is protected from the claims of the owner’s creditors.
(5) Liability Insurance Policies:
A brief review of general liability protections in homeowners, automobile, malpractice and other policies can be very helpful in crafting an overall protection plan, but they all have limitations and exclusions.
(6) Umbrella Liability Policies:
A few dollars in premiums for an excess liability umbrella policy might go a long way in minimizing exposure of personal assets.
(7) Prenuptial, Non-Marital, or Separate Property Agreements:
Advanced planning for situations with spouses and significant others can be critical.
“If we can assist you with your asset and protection planning needs, please contact us today.”
In whatever strategy that is employed for protecting assets from creditors, it is critical that it be carefully coordinated with other aspects of planning. We assist families with asset protection planning in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as well as other metro areas in Texas.