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Asset Protection Lawyer - A Guide to Asset Protection

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Asset Protection Guide:

The strange and sometimes puzzling evolutions in the business world ask for more and more secure methods of protecting the client's assets. In spite of all popular articles claiming the right to be taken into consideration, asset protection strategies depend on individual perceptions. Each person involved in a business is supposed to choose his own means to protect his assets. His decision is crucial but it can be changed by several factors. First element which enters the system of asset protection strategies is considered to be the counselor. He can be a lawyer or not. His position is not really important. Most important fact about a counselor is to understand his client's business and to be able to offer the appropriate advice. He is the most significant element which decides upon asset protection strategies. A counselor must be well informed about all law changes so he can direct his client in the right way. If the relation between two of them respects the basic principles of communication then results are fortunate. Each counselor has to know everything about his client's business as long as he is supposed to guide him towards financial success. However each person owning a business has the right to decide on his future movements. Even if a counselor does try to influence him the final move depends on the client's dynamic character.

A business man might be misguided by his private counselor. Applying asset protection strategies means playing with the law system. This is not about violating basic principles. Most of all is about discovering original ways which might give someone the chance to take advantage in certain situations. For example the principle of LLC might prove extremely operative. But if there are not any experienced persons behind the business master then he would probably miss this hint. The asset protection strategies system is quite sinuous and requires a capable person who is able to explain the basic rules.

People involved in a business might take this fact as a childish game and enjoy playing till the end. First of all, people are supposed to think about asset protection strategies. If taken into consideration right from the beginning then things are really simple. So the business man will enjoy his position being already protected against all possible dangers. If his counselor prescribes him the appropriate asset protection strategies then he does not have to worry about future success. From now on procedures are not so complicated. They remain exhausting but they are pleasant in a way. They are pleasant because they prove their efficiency. They are no longer insecure means of gaining money. Taking real advantage of the asset protection strategies means finding all the possible ways towards financial success. No one should miss this valuable tip of the presence of the counselor. Once a business is getting stronger and stronger, its owner must thing about all opportunities to protect his money. Of course that a counselor would always come with additional information but the final decisions belongs to the client. He is the only person who can decide upon asset protection strategies. He can say if certain strategies are compatible with his expectations. A counselor might always suggest something but if his client does not want to respect the plan then the deal is violated. There are no formal procedures to punish such a decision. The business man might be right. He knows his business. Maybe the counselor is wrong. There are numerous possible situations. But a good counselor would always be able to offer a good advice. So asset protection strategies might be best suggested only by a counselor.

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Asset Protection Lawyer - Asset Protection - Protecting Yourself in a Divorce

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These potential scenarios should concern any entrepreneur or investor: You get sued personally and lose; the judgment creditor (the entity that won the suit and was awarded a judgment against you) decides to go after your business and investment assets. Or you have a retail store plus several real estate investments; you get sued for something related to the store and the judgment creditor decides to attach your real estate. You can cry, "Unfair!" all day long and it won't matter if you haven't taken the appropriate asset protection steps.

An asset protection tool you need to understand is the charging order. By definition, a charging order is an order issued by a court to a judgment creditor which essentially compels an entity of which the debtor is a partner or member to direct to the creditor until the judgment is satisfied any distributions that would otherwise have been made to the debtor (from Asset Protection: Concepts & Strategies for Protecting Your Wealth by Jay Adkisson and Christopher M. Riser, McGraw-Hill, 2004).

What this means is that if you have an interest in a Charging Order Protected Entity (COPE) [entities for which creditors are limited to using charging orders as remedies in collecting debt, such as a Limited Partnership (LP), a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and certain others] and a creditor obtains a charging order, the entity is ordered to pay the creditor any money that would have gone to you until the judgment is paid in full. In most states, the creditor has no rights with respect to the ownership or management of the entity and cannot force the entity to make a distribution. The idea is to balance the rights of creditors with those of the non-debtor partners.

Charging orders do not come into play with assets such as stock in a corporation or personal property. But in an entity such as an LLC, legislators have taken steps to prevent creditors from attaching partnership or membership interests and essentially becoming partners or members themselves because such a change in ownership could disrupt the operations of the entity. Where you are not protected by state law, discuss this issue with your attorney because you may be able to create a comparable level of protection through your operating agreement.

How you are protected

As long as the creditor has the charging order, the LLC can simply not make any distributions and the creditor should not receive any money. For example, let's say a visitor to your home slipped on the sidewalk, sued you, and won. As a judgment creditor, he decides to go after all of your assets and gets a charging order against the LLC that owns your real estate investments. He typically can't collect anything until the LLC makes a distribution, and you and the other members of the LLC are perfectly within your rights to decide to not make any distributions for as long as you like. Because of this, creditors with charging orders are often willing to negotiate a settlement to get at least a portion of their money and be done with the situation.

Another issue that often prompts judgment creditors to settle charging orders quickly is the potential for tax liability. If the creditor is entitled to the distribution when it is made, he may also be obligated to pay the taxes. It's possible for the members of the LLC to issue a K-1, which is the tax form used to report a member's share of an LLC's income, potentially making the creditor liable for taxes on profits even though he hasn't received any money.

As of January 2007, there were no known cases where the IRS has held a judgment creditor holding a charging order liable for taxes--but nor are there any cases where the IRS has specifically relieved a judgment creditor of such liability. Until case law becomes definitive on the issue, creditors may be reluctant to take a chance that they could be held liable for taxes on profits they haven't received and may never receive.

The protection offered by charging orders may be circumvented in a number of ways, depending on the state in which the entity operates and your individual circumstances.

Be aware that simply forming a partnership or LLC is not going to automatically protect your assets. Charging order protected entities are some of the strongest and most acceptable asset protection tools available, but to be effective, they must be properly structured and carefully drafted according to your particular requirements and the laws of your state.

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