BY DANE KENT
You may have heard the term “Asset Protection” but what does it really mean and in what circumstances is it useful?
In simple terms, asset protection is the arrangement of ones financial affairs in such a way as to protect one’s assets from unforeseen circumstances such as litigation, while at the same time you as the client continue to benefit from those assets.
If you believe your personal assets may be exposed to such risks now, or in the future, it’s important to begin the asset protection planning process as soon as possible. Trying to protect your assets after a legal proceeding has already begun is in most circumstances too late.
Even if you don’t feel you’re a likely target for a lawsuit or you have never had to face a financial crisis, bear in mind that bad things can and do happen to good people at any time. The Legal Research Network has found that about 15 million lawsuits are filed in the U.S. each year. This means there is one new lawsuit for every 12 adults.
Career wise, if you work in a high risk profession such as healthcare, these odds can be dramatically higher again. In fact by age 55, according to data from the American Medical Association, nearly half of physicians have been sued for malpractice, with obstetricians-gynaecologists (85%) and general surgeons (83%) facing the highest lawsuit risks. Facing these odds every year can be very stressful. A single lawsuit can devastate everything you’ve worked so hard to build.
Business owners and entrepreneurs are also frequently open to potential liability. In these cases, lawsuits dealing directly with their products or services are a large part of professional liability. They include such possibilities as trademark infringement and breach of contract. Employees can also threaten your assets when something occurs in the workplace. Examples are sexual harassment, employment discrimination, work-related vehicle accidents, and workers compensation. Your customers could file a claim of faulty products, malpractice, or having a “slip and fall” accident on your property. There really is no end to the type of lawsuit that could be brought against you.
In your personal life, scenarios like divorce, debt, medical bills, and foreclosures are well-known and more than likely risks to your assets. You can also be held liable in an auto accident if you or your dependents as drivers, are uninsured or underinsured. On the home front, if someone gets hurt on your property, regardless of if you were present, you might be liable.
With the above grim statistics in mind, it’s almost not a question of if but when a lawsuit will attempt to blindside you. Because of this, individuals with foresight thinking who are aware of these probabilities, will take the necessary steps to protect their assets in advance. This is where the establishment of a trust steps in. However not just any trust will protect you; they are not all the same. Although domestic trusts are probably the type of trust that immediately comes to mind, it is very important to note that domestic judges have jurisdiction over domestic trusts, parties and assets. Setting up an offshore trust is a much more robust option for asset protection as it is not subject to the US jurisdiction, and if done correctly will provide you with some of the strongest legal tools you can have at your disposal. This will make you a very unattractive target for any future potential plaintiffs.
Here at Southpac Group, creating customer specific offshore asset protection wealth planning is our specialty. With over 37 years of experience, we have helped many clients do exactly that, giving them great peace of mind that should any legal proceedings ever be brought against them they, along with their loved ones will be protected. With offices in the Cook Islands, Nevis and New Zealand we have the ability to form international trusts in any of these jurisdictions that will provide asset protection when you need it the most.
If you would like to receive further information about our services, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.