Orem Utah Co. UT asset protection advisors

Asset Protection Attorney: Information Security Policies: Foundations of Asset Protection

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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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Orem Utah Co. UT elder law attorney

Asset Protection Attorney: What Are The Advantages Of An Asset Protection Trust or DAPT?

Asset Protection Attorney

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"Asset protection" has long been a strategy in divorce cases across the United States. The term "asset protection" refers to the use of a legal strategy in order to hide or shield assets from the Courts. Bitcoins, the relatively new internet currency, will most likely become the next frontier of asset protection.

In divorce cases, asset protection can take many forms. Sophisticated asset protection techniques involve transferring money to an overseas account, the formation of legal entities (trusts, corporations, limited liability companies) and other methods.

The most unsophisticated and simple form of asset protection, and perhaps the most common in divorce cases, is simply holding money in the form of cash (i.e., inside a home safe or in a bank safety deposit box). In this way, a person that is in the process of divorce believes that he can "protect" the cash from the divorce process. The divorcing spouse might keep the existence of the cash secret from his spouse, divorce lawyer and Court, in order to avoid being ordered to share the cash with his spouse. This strategy may or may not be successful, but it is surely not legal because it requires that the person misrepresent his assets to his spouse and to the Court.

A sophisticated divorce lawyer will know how to uncover hidden assets of this kind through the examination of financial records and other means of legal discovery. Bitcoin, however, has the potential to replace the hiding of cash as the most common form of asset protection in divorce cases. Given the structure of the bitcoin system and most divorce lawyers ignorance regarding bitcoins, it could become a significantly more successful method than hiding cash.

Bitcoin is the digital currency that was created in 2009 by the anonymous developer known the by pseudonym as Satoshi Nakamoto. It is a currency that exists only in digital form. All bitcoins and transactions are "registered" on the bitcoin block chain that is updated by bitcoin users rather than a centralized authority. The transactions, however, do not include names but rather the digital identification of each bitcoin. Bitcoin owners keep their bitcoins in a bitcoin wallet. The wallet is not necessarily a physical wallet, but rather various methods for storing the digital identification of the bitcoin. The wallet might be kept on a computer, the server of a bitcoin wallet website, or even a piece of paper.

While is theoretically possible to trace the transfer of a bitcoin by examining the block chain, one will only discover the public identification key of the bitcoin rather than the name of the owner. If the wallet is kept on a person's computer or on a website (where a party to a divorce registered his name) it is possible to discovery the existence of the bitcoins. However, wallets do not have to be associated with a name. Furthermore, if a person uses a "brainwallet" tracing a bitcoin to a specific person becomes almost impossible through any conventional method. A brainwallet is the use of a memorized passphrase in order to store a bitcoin.

The methods for discovering hidden cash will be the first approach of any divorce lawyer for discovering a bitcoin asset protection plan. Unfortunately many, if not most, divorce lawyers and judges are unfamiliar with bitcoins and the fact that bitcoins can be used to hide assets. A divorce lawyer who doesn't understand bitcoins cannot possibly be expected to uncover hidden bitcoin assets. If you have any suspicion that your spouse might be hiding assets, make sure your lawyer understands the bitcoin system and how to discover hidden bitcoin assets.

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