Don’t leave your assets vulnerable to attack. Much like a goalie, asset protection planning will help to shield your assets from attack.
Asset protection is a broad term, encompassing many different techniques, but here at our South Florida law firm, we focus our asset protection on two areas: estate planning and business formation. In the area of estate planning, the main approach is to use trusts to dispose of your assets rather than a will. A trust protects your assets by first avoiding probate and all of the costs (both monetary and time) associated with that process. Secondly, trusts protect your assets by keeping them in your family. With a will, the asset is no longer yours to control following the first disposition, a trust allows you to control the asset for multiple generations. This makes sure that the inheritance will never be taken by divorce or remarriage. For example, if you want to give all of your estate to your daughter and then to her children, a trust allows you to do this without giving any to her spouse. Furthermore, a trust protects your beneficiaries from themselves, if they are either too young or not fiscally responsible. Because they are the beneficiary and not necessarily the trustee, you can name a trustee who will make the financial decisions for them. Finally, trusts offer asset protection by being creditor protected. Assets that are in a trust can not be reached by creditors, assuring that the inheritance remains with the beneficiary.
Choosing the proper business form also works as asset protection. If you own a business as a sole proprietor or even in a general partnership, you can be personally liable for all of the debts of the business. Limited partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can protect your asset from business debts. A limited partnership consists of two classes of partners: a general partner, who manages and is more active, and a limited partner, who is more like an investor. The limited partner’s liability is limited to whatever they have put into the company, whereas the general partner remains liable for all the debt. An LLC offers limited liability as well, while allowing for more active participation. The manager of a multi-member LLC makes the decisions and runs the company, but is still afforded protection. If someone sues an LLC, they can only recover the company’s assets. Subsequently, if a person sues the manager of an LLC for a personal matter, the assets of the LLC are protected from this personal creditor. Finally, a corporation offers protection to all of its shareholders while also offering increased flexibility with the management structure. A corporation allows for different classes of stock with different voting abilities. Corporations also allow you to raise capital by issuing stock.
Regardless of what business form you end up choosing, you must also engage in business succession planning. Because all of these business forms are separate legal entities, they will survive after you are gone. Therefore, you must plan for what happens to your companies or you risk them dying. If you have multiple members or partners in your company, you can arrange a plan beforehand in which they buy your shares at a predetermined price. The company could then purchase life insurance in that amount to make sure that the company does not have cash flow issues and does not have to sell off company assets to buy your stake.
Whether you are looking at asset protection from an estate planning or business formation standpoint, our attorneys can help be your goalie and protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation, or visit our website at www.wfplaw.com
It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?