In this article, we are going to talk about two different categories of asset protection. Though there many different types of asset protection, we’ll be looking into the nature of the asset: whether it is personal or business-related. This distinction matters, as far as legal tools, planning, and taxes go.
To start, we’ll look at some definitions.
Terms To Note
Personal assets are items of present or future value that are owned by an individual or a household. Some common examples of personal assets include cash and its equivalents, checking and savings accounts, CFDs, physical cash, Treasury bills, money market accounts, and more. These assets are not owned by a company, corporation, or “entity.” They belong to a person or a household.
Business assets, by contrast, are items of value that are owned by a business, company, or corporation. These assets deliver value to the business, as they are used for functions such as funding operations, driving growth, and producing goods or services. Examples of business assets include machinery, raw materials, inventory, patents, royalties, and other intangible items, and intellectual property.
Asset protection is a term that refers to the goal of guarding your property from creditors, taxes, and other judgements. This set of legal techniques follows a body of common and statutory law. The goal is to insulate your assets, all while following the letter of the law and staying miles away from tax evasion or perjury.
Personal Asset Protection
Now that we’ve covered the definition of personal asset protection, it’s time to look into the various legal tools and techniques that can be used to insulate your personal property. These include:
- Homestead Exemptions. A homestead exemption helps people save money on property taxes every year. In Florida, everyone with title to property (equitable or legal) is eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000. The first half of that $50,000 is applied to property taxes. This removes part of your home’s value from the overall taxation, appraising it as though it were worth a good deal less.
- Certain Types of Trusts. Asset protection trusts are three-party relationships that hold a person’s assets to shield them from creditors. APTs are self-settled in Florida if the person who creates the trust is also the trust beneficiary.
- LLCs. A Limited Liability Company is a mix of partnership and corporation. It is a business structure that has the same pass-through taxation as a partnership/sole proprietorship, combined with the limited liability of a corporation. Individual business owners can classify their companies as LLCs to protect personal assets.
Though this list is by no means exhaustive, those legal tools are common ways that people protect personal assets from creditors. Likewise, there are several techniques that can insulate business assets.
Business Asset Protection
There are many ways to insulate your business assets. Some of these include:
- Business Type. There are several different types of business structures in Florida, and each has their own role in shielding a business owner. Deciding how to classify your business can help protect your assets in the long run in the event of lawsuits or creditors.
- Insurance. Insurance is a good idea, no matter whether you are a business or individual. This failsafe protects your company if there is a lawsuit, disaster, or other problem. When it comes to insurance, don’t be afraid to splurge on an expansive policy. You never know when you might need it.
- Equity Stripping. Another possible way that businesses can protect their assets is through equity-stripping. This process removes the equity/value of an asset, making it unappealing to creditors. This is usually done via a separate company so that the overall assets remain the same. Once equity has been stripped, creditors cannot attack as easily.
As always, the best plan of action is to talk to a lawyer to ensure that your personal and business assets are as protected as possible. Legal counsel will be able to guide you in what tool to pick based on the facts you give them. Contact our attorneys today.