We offer services in the areas of wealth transfer, asset protection, and business services for entrepreneurs. Although we have close relationships with attorneys and other professionals who practice in related areas, we restrict our practice to the areas we know well.
Wealth transfer refers to an area of the law very connected to estate planning. Using transfers during life, where appropriate, and structured transfers at death, lawyers can ensure that property passes to the right individuals and organizations in ways that meet your dispositive goals. This is one of the primary goals of estate planning. However, in addition to getting your assets to the right places, wealth transfer attorneys will also ensure that the overall tax drag on these transfers is minimized and the assets are protected from the creditors of the beneficiaries needed. There are dozens of structures, many involving trusts, that are used to transfer wealth in an asset protected and tax efficient manner.
As a general matter, you cannot protect your assets from your existing creditors, those that you know are about to arise (such as individuals who have or are about to file a lawsuit against you), or those that you should know will arise in the future (individuals you have harmed who may not have realized the harm). If you have any of the above creditors, you can protect the assets that you have that should not be needed to make your creditors whole. However, this analysis is often difficult and expensive. Therefore, the time for engaging in asset protection is before you have any of the above types of creditors.
The most basic form of asset protection involves holding assets in an asset protected entity such as an Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Limited Partnership. The intent behind using a business entity as an asset protection vehicle is to protect the assets inside it from your personal creditors. The level of asset protection available to both single member and multi-member LLCs has been under attack in court recently. We still regularly use LLCs for asset protection purposes for our clients but are very aware of their limitations. Because of the differences in the laws of different states, we often establish asset protection entities in different states based on the characteristics in which we are interested.
In our opinion, the next step up the ladder with respect to asset protection is to use a domestic asset protection trust to hold the proceeds of the sale. Wyoming, South Dakota, Delaware and Alaska are great jurisdictions for forming domestic asset protection trusts. A trust formed in one of these jurisdictions (or another jurisdiction that has asset protection trust legislation, such as Nevada or Hawaii) is generally thought to have stronger asset protection than domestic business entities (such as LLCs). Once again, we pick the jurisdiction based on the needs of our client.
We believe that a foreign trust in an asset protection jurisdiction is the best asset protection structure. We like using the Cook Islands or Gibraltar if any of the assets will be held in the US. With a completely liquid investment, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Mann, and Liechtenstein are great locations.
Depending on your needs, asset protection can be as simple as ensuring that you are adequately insured against liability. We can help you understand your asset protection needs as well as the structures that may be applicable to your situation.
Business Services for Entrepreneurs
We routinely design and form business entities for clients. Business formation usually involves filing the appropriate documents with the Secretary of State, drafting the internal compliance and managerial documents appropriate for the entity, and filing the required federal tax forms.
We also assist our business clients in determining and implementing an appropriate business succession strategy. When it comes time to sell your business, we can assist with this process. We have experience selling companies to private buyers, private equity companies, and publicly traded corporations.