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Asset protection refers to the use of legitimate legal strategies and corporate structures to protect your assets. This often refers to protection from fraudulent claims, frivolous lawsuits, and overreaching governments.
To be clear, we’re not talking about evading taxes, judgements, or the law.
We’re talking about protecting your assets and your money from fraudulent claims. Because while we can’t stop people from targeting you, we can protect your assets from seizure.
When it comes to asset protection, the best way to protect yourself is by taking action early.
You need to plan, and in many instances use international structures. You should also consider offshore bank accounts to supplement other asset protection plans.
With this in mind, there are many variables that you need to consider. These include asset protection laws in the jurisdictions where you live. But also, those laws where you bank and own assets.
Other variables that you need to consider include the assets you own. And of course, your source of income and the industry you work in.
There are other variables as well. But these tend to be unique to your specific situation. So for now, let’s start with the ones we’ve mentioned so far.
To get the most out of any asset protection plan you need to prepare early.
This requires that you assess the variables that impact you. Including your money, and your ability to protect the assets you own. Because, if there comes a time when you actually need asset protection, it’s already too late.
Do yourself a favor and take the necessary steps to put asset protection in place now, before you need it.
Starting asset protection early is especially important if you’re a professional. This can include being a doctor or dentist. Such professions tend to be susceptible to fraudulent claims.
But it’s not only doctors and dentists that need asset protection. The same is true if you live in a country where frivolous lawsuits are common. And you need asset protection if you own assets in a country rife with government corruption.
In any of these instances, your asset protection strategy will vary from the next person. But one thing is almost always common. You can enhance your asset protection strategy with the help of international diversification. So let’s discuss that now…
International asset protection means diversifying your asset protection across many jurisdictions. This works because the courts in one country do not have legal jurisdiction in another.
In many instances, there is still a process for people to make claims against your assets. But the courts in one country don’t tend to favor the claims from another. And it’s rare to see foreign assets get awarded by a judgment from a different country.
With this in mind, it’s common to use international strategies to diversify wealth. This is completely legal. And it results in it being more difficult for fraudulent lawsuits to come after you.
To be clear, this isn’t about secrecy or hiding your assets. It’s about reducing the risk that your assets get exposed to through the criminality and greed of others. And that’s why asset protection strategies exist. To protect you and your money even when the courts fail to do so.
The US is the most litigious nation in the history of mankind. And if you’re a doctor there, you no doubt worry about lawsuits. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it make sense to protect your family’s assets from potential lawsuits?
To be clear, we’re not talking about moving your business assets. We’re talking about protecting the money and assets that your family needs.
In this example, the risk that this doctor faces are in the US. That’s because they perform their work there. And that exposes them to fraudulent claims and frivolous lawsuits.
And while you might be thinking that the courts can protect you. Keep in mind that governments can make a presumptive judgment. This means that a judge can decide that you’re guilty before trial. And in doing so, they can freeze all your assets while they wait for a judgment. If that happens, you’d better hope your lawyer will accept an IOU.
In this case, having some of your wealth outside the US makes sense. First, it would allow you to protect your assets. But it also gives you the financial means to have strong legal representation.
Of course, it does–and it appears that the legal systems in most countries would agree.
Yes asset protection, like anything, is 100% legal as long as you follow the law.
This means following the correct procedures and doing everything by the law. And that includes the laws that govern you, your money, and your assets.
To make sure an asset protection plan follows the law, most people choose to work with attorneys. Sometimes they’ll also involve accountants and CPAs. This can help them make sure their asset protection plans are completely above board.
But there are other reasons to engage professionals as well. This can include that asset protection can often involve entities in different countries. And you need to make sure someone well versed in local laws is advising you.
That way, your asset protection strategy will be legal 100% of the time.
There are thousands of asset protection specialists in most countries around the world. To find the best one for you, you first need to understand your specific needs and objectives. Then, find one that can meet your needs.
They should have advanced knowledge of all the variables that you need to consider. That said, if you include international diversification, only deal with international professionals.
You need attorneys and advisors that understand the intricacies of international law. This should also include knowledge of tax and of course asset protection.
Remember: An asset protection specialist doesn’t know international law because they’re a specialist. They know international law if they are an international asset protection specialist. So know who you are dealing with and their area of expertise before hiring them.
Many professional service providers will claim that they can help you no matter what. But that’s rarely the case.
And more so when it comes to international diversification. In fact, ask for international asset protection and you’ll get a domestic solution. Why? Because that’s what they know!
Of course, if you’re in international wealth management hubs, it will be a different situation. For example, professionals in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are well informed. Though chances are they will still try to sell you structures in their country first.
That means making sure the people you’re dealing with are experts. That includes jurisdictions where you will set up structures and bank accounts. And it also means how the laws in those countries work with those from your home country.
There’s usually a very specific catalyst for driving people to asset protection. In some cases, that might be a professional or industry-based need. In other instances, it might be in consideration of future generations. This can include making sure assets get protected even after you leave this world.
Or, some people might be facing a legal battle and be trying to protect their assets before the judgment. If that’s the case, you might be too late. And the options shared in this post will not help after a legal battle has already begun.
But asset protection can help in many other cases, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this section. This will include some of the biggest issues where asset protection can help you.
We will also clear up some misconceptions about asset protection. And we’ll shed light on the limitations of asset protection. This will focus on limitations that arise from only using domestic asset protection. And we will also discuss how international & offshore banking can supplement your strategy.
Unfortunately, lawsuits have become a staple in most developed countries. They can start from the smallest of grievances. Or they can stem from a completely uncontrollable situation. Whether you’re living in the US, Canada, the UK, or Europe, there’s a chance that you will get sued.
Of course, in some countries, like the US, your chances of getting sued are much higher than others. With a rate of 40 million lawsuits filed each year, your chances of getting sued in the US are very high. And if you own a business, you have a 33% chance of getting sued.
To be clear, that’s each calendar year. Of course, if you work in certain professions, like medicine, your chances are even higher.
It’s no wonder that forward-thinking people want to take protective measures. Protecting assets from fraudulent claims and frivolous lawsuits makes sense no matter what.
But the most important consideration is when you take action. As we’ve mentioned above, taking the steps to protect your assets has to happen before a lawsuit, not after.
In other words, you need a functioning asset protection strategy before a lawsuit. And this should include international asset protection and offshore bank accounts.
If you do not use international asset protection, you will still have some options. But the strongest examples include the use of international diversification and offshore banks.
There are many different strategies that people use to separate assets before marriage. These can include prenuptial agreements, which are the obvious choice for many.
In certain instances, many people don’t sign prenuptial agreements. This might be because neither partner had any wealth at the time of marriage. Or they might have looked at it as immoral at the time. Of course, it could have been because they never planned on facing marital troubles.
That said, if you’re researching this topic, chances are you don’t fall into any of those categories. Instead, you’re looking for ways to protect your wealth before marriage.
In this case, you need to speak with an attorney that is familiar with the laws where you are getting married. And you should also consider where you live, and where your assets are. Depending on your work, life, and partner, these are only a few of the things you will need to consider.
If a marriage is on the brink of failure, it’s common for people to start looking for ways to protect their assets. This is especially true if they didn’t take the steps mentioned above before marriage.
Now, many people think the idea of protecting assets from divorce is unethical or immoral. But in some instances, the partner might actually be trying to benefit their soon to be ex or children. This could be because the ex is unable to manage money. Or they want to keep assets protected for the benefit of their children.
These are only two examples of why someone might want to protect assets in such a situation. But as always, the actions you take beforehand matter most. So, if you’re trying to protect assets after proceedings have started you might be too late.
Bottom line: When you’re trying to protect assets from divorce, the jurisdiction matters. That’s because the courts where the divorce is happening can penetrate domestic protections. For this reason, using international asset protection in such instances also makes sense.
There is a range of asset protection strategies that lawyers in any country would be happy to sell you. But as we’ve said, the asset protection strategies they want to sell are those they offer. That means they aren’t the actual strategies you need.
Think of it this way…
Let’s say you’re hungry and you walk into a Subway location. But you can only please your hunger with a pizza. For your needs, pizza is what is required. Well, what will the person behind the counter at Subway do? They’re going to try and sell you a sub. Why? Because you’re at Subway, and Subway sells subs… not pizza.
Lawyers are the same. They want to sell you the services they offer. And if they specialize in a specific jurisdiction or structure, that’s what they offer. So, if you go looking for an asset protection strategy and don’t know what you need, they’re going to offer what they sell.
You need to get advice from a range of experts that can weigh in on your situation. Then make an informed decision for yourself. Because at the end of the day, you’re responsible for protecting your assets. Remember, the lawyers you hire collect fees up front. There’s no penalty for them if you end up using the wrong asset protection strategy.
With this in mind, let’s talk about some of the asset protection strategies that you might use.
Asset protection trusts are one of the most common structures that people use. This is especially true when it comes to domestic asset protection. Though we’ve already shared the limitations that this can have. And despite what some news outlets have to say, domestic trusts have issues.
Asset protection trusts separate beneficial and legal ownership of the assets. This means that a trust’s beneficiaries are beneficial owners of interests in the trust. So, the trustee holds the actual legal title of the assets, not the beneficiaries.
This is all laid out in the trust documents, which direct the trustees actions. In doing this, for example, the assets that are in the trust get protected from creditors.
Many professionals in the US use asset protection trusts. For example, many doctors and dentists use these structures. Of course, if all your assets are still in the same place you could get sued, you’re at risk. Which is why many people supplement asset protection trusts with offshore bank accounts.
As mentioned, international asset protection strategies can support your asset protection goals. And that makes it a smart thing for pretty much anyone to consider. Even mainstream media tout the benefits of international asset protection.
But this can be a complicated subject. You need to make sure whoever is advising you knows what they’re talking about. And this is important because they often don’t.
The benefits of offshore asset protection trust are like those of domestic trusts. But there are some important differences. And those differences stem to the jurisdictions that influence the trust.
A trusts ability to protect your assets depends on the three jurisdictions above. In certain instances, that means a legal system that doesn’t recognize foreign claims. In others your assets might get exposed to lawsuits.
There are many variables to consider when you set up an offshore trust. But this topic and how to choose the best offshore trust jurisdiction goes beyond this post.
Before taking any actions to set up an offshore trust, speak with a professional. And make sure they can give you direction based on your specific needs.
What you should take away is that offshore asset protection trusts are a valuable tool. And when used in the right way, they can provide invaluable protection. So remember, if you are only relying on domestic asset protection trusts, your assets could be at risk.
Limited Liability Companies are another popular structure used to deliver asset protection. LLC asset protection protects the assets of the LLC’s members if anyone decided to sue the business.
Additionally, LLC asset protection also protects the business if anyone sues a member. So in essence, it provides a dual asset protection benefit. First for the individual member and second for the business and other members, if any exist.
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that LLCs get used for a wide range of asset protection purposes. These include protecting real estate assets, investments, and much more.
But, as is the case with domestic asset protection strategies, LLCs are not perfect. So, be sure to always keep the assets of the LLC and personal assets completely separate.
To find out how you should use LLCs for asset protection, connect with five to ten lawyers. And educate yourself first. There are lots of sources on LLC asset protection to check out if you’re getting started.
Before hiring one, ask them all how they would use LLCs for asset protection in your situation. From there, make an informed decision on which lawyer’s plan best suits your needs.
Real estate asset protection deserves its own section. The reason is twofold. First because of the risks to the owner. Second because of the losses that can occur if you don’t have a real estate asset protection plan in place.
The most basic asset protection for real estate is liability insurance. This is even more basic than owning real estate through an LLC. Now, liability insurance won’t protect your property from liens, lawsuits, or creditors. But it can protect you from any damages or lawsuits arising from owning the property. But again, protection from damages isn’t the only reason for asset protection.
Looking at the second reason, protecting real estate, the most common strategy is the use of an LLC. When you own a real estate investment through an LLC, it becomes a separate entity. And as a result, any lawsuits that are filed against the property can no longer expose the owner.
Owning real estate through an LLC is especially important in litigious countries. If tenants choose to pursue legal action against owners, you need protection. Or if a disgruntled neighbor wants to come after you, you need insulation.
The best real estate asset management strategy depends on where you own the property. It also depends on the type of property you own. So do your research and speak to real estate asset protection specialists in those areas. And before starting, educate yourself on the issue you will face.
Opening an offshore bank account is the most basic form of asset protection that you can take.
It’s a way to ensure that you have an emergency fund no matter what. Located in a foreign jurisdiction, outside the reach of creditors. That means your money is available to pay for legal expenses if needed. And it’s there to take care of your family if a fraudulent or frivolous lawsuit ever comes your way.
In fact, anyone with a good job and a nice home should consider doing it, especially if there’s a chance you could get sued. And this can either supplement your asset protection strategy or be the first step.
Why else should you consider an offshore account? Besides the benefits already shared, offshore banking can strengthen your asset protection further.
It can do this if your account is in a country where assets are exempt from seizure by foreigner judgment. And it can also offer extra layers of privacy to the public. You will have to report everything you own to your home country government, but it won’t be a public record.
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