Most estate planning firms focus solely on what happens after you pass on. However, the reality is that what happens during your life can profoundly impact your estate. To best take care of those you love after you have gone, to truly protect your legacy, you need to consider the liability exposure you face carefully and what steps you can take to protect yourself. At Chhokar Law Group, we do more than help our clients plan for when they are gone—we help them protect what is most valuable during their lifetime.
What Is Asset Protection?
Many people think that asset protection is only for the extraordinarily wealthy or involves “hiding” assets through methods of questionable legality. Both of these perceptions are incorrect.
Asset protection involves inventorying your most valuable assets, identifying your potential risks, and then developing strategies for protecting those assets from creditors and other claimants. Most people do not need help identifying their assets, but identifying and managing your risk requires experience and knowledge of the law. This is where an asset protection lawyer from Chhokar Law Group can help.
Personalized Asset Protection Plans
Because everyone’s financial situation and estate planning goals are unique, asset protection is one of those areas of the law that requires a customized approach. What may be an appropriate asset protection plan for one person may be totally inadequate for another. Similarly, the wrong asset protection plan may not be your expected value proposition. You need a cost-effective asset protection plan that is tailored to your unique needs.
At Chhokar Law Group, we sit down with our clients and work through the process step-by-step. This means helping you identify all your assets and discussing your immediate financial plans and future estate planning goals. We identify the potential risks you face and discuss how these risks could impact your priorities. From there, we help you choose the best options for your needs. We then implement your asset protection plan to ensure you are fully protected.
Who Can Benefit from Asset Protection?
Anyone who has substantial assets can benefit from an asset protection plan. This includes the following:
- Business owners;
- People who own more than one piece of real estate, especially rental or business properties;
- People who have joint accounts jointly owned properties, or other joint assets;
- People who have significant liquid assets or investments;
- People who have foreign bank accounts or other assets held in foreign countries;
- People who own unique assets such as rare artwork or expensive vehicles;
- People who may be underinsured.
As mentioned above, asset protection planning is not just for those who enjoy extraordinary wealth. If you are serious about passing on what you have worked for, however, there is a strong chance that you could benefit from asset protection planning. One of our asset protection attorneys at Chhokar Law Group will be able to help you decide whether asset protection planning makes sense for you.
Understand Your Risks
Asset protection is not about helping you avoid paying your mortgage or similar tactics. Instead, it is about identifying tangible risks and protecting yourself in case something goes wrong. Identifying your potential risks is important in deciding whether you need an asset protection plan.
A business owner who is personally liable for business debts, for example, could risk losing their home and other assets to creditors of the business if the business fails. Similarly, the business owner’s personal assets may also be at stake if the business has a judgment entered against it for something like patent infringement. An asset protection lawyer can help the business owner identify and manage these risks and thereby protect the business owner from losing their personal assets as a result of their business dealings.
Asset protection is not just for business owners, however. An individual with significant liquid assets could face considerable exposure if they get in a car accident and carry only the minimum insurance coverage. Similarly, the owner of an investment property could be at risk if one of their renters drowns in the pool. Careful asset protection planning can prevent all of these people, and you, from losing valuable assets to creditors and other claimants.
Common Asset Protection Strategies
Many factors will determine what asset protection steps make sense for you, including your overall net worth and your financial and estate planning goals. Some people require only simple strategies that cost very little, while others require more robust asset protection plans. Here are some of the most common asset protection strategies, including those that are more modest as well as those that are better suited for sophisticated estates:
- Increasing your insurance coverage
- Restructuring of business entities
- Restructuring ownership of real estate
- Purchasing financial products that are safe from creditor claims, such as annuities or cash-value life insurance
- Increasing contributions to retirement accounts and other investment funds that are protected from creditor claims
- Creation of a trust such as a domestic asset protection trust, offshore asset protection trust, irrevocable gift trust, or irrevocable life insurance trust
At Chhokar Law Group, we take a detail-oriented approach to your asset protection needs. We can help you work through your options and then make an informed decision about what asset protection strategies best meet your needs and your goals.
Call Chhokar Law Group to Discuss Asset Protection Today
At Chhokar Law Group, we believe that asset protection is a vital part of estate planning. Do not diminish your investment in your estate plan by failing to protect those assets you hope to pass on. Whether you are just getting started or want to update your current plans, it is never too late to talk about protecting what you have worked for. Call or email us today to schedule a consultation, and let’s discuss how we can better protect what’s important to you.