There may be no area of law as controversial as asset protection. However, the crash of the US economy has garnered an increase in interest by many clients in utilizing this area of law for their benefit. Asset protection is complex and often scary but it is a legitimate area of law that incorporates many other areas of law, including bankruptcy, tax, corporate law, contracts, creditor-debtor rights, insurance law and estate planning. Any attorney practicing in the area of asset protection must understand how these areas of law work together and have a comprehensive understanding of Florida’s Fraudulent Transfer Act.
I am certain that most attorneys could share compelling stories about their clients who might have benefited from such preparation. Many of these stories are not of wealthy clients trying to evade paying taxes or legitimate creditors; they are stories of hard-working families who, because of an accident or unforeseen circumstances, lost everything.
Although Florida attorneys cannot offer Florida Asset Protection Trusts to their clients, there are numerous other asset protection techniques which can be utilized to help limit liability exposure for clients. Some techniques include: the use of LLCs or limited partnerships, titling assets as tenancy by the entirety, enhancing retirement benefits, engaging in life insurance planning, the use of certain out of state business entities, purchasing educational plans, and the use of prenuptial or post nuptial agreements.
Whether you offer your clients asset protection planning or not, attorneys all have a duty as advisers to educate ourselves in this growing area of law. Some advocates of asset protection planning suggest that attorneys who practice in certain areas and do not advise their clients in asset protection techniques may be exposing themselves to malpractice claims in the future.