More and more people are using the legal system to deprive others of their life's work.   Over 19 million new lawsuits are filed in the United States every year, many of which are frivolous or settled for sums greater than the actual liability.

Business owners, professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants, and property owners in particular should be aware of the risk associated with conducting their business, practicing in their respective fields, and taking responsibility for others.

Without a massive overhaul of our legal system, the risk and potential liability is not going to decline. In fact it has steadily increased over the last few decades.  Assets can be at risk due to a number of vulnerabilities, including:
  • Professional malpractice liability
  • Personal liability of corporate officers and directors
  • Lawsuits by former business partners
  • Personal injury suffered on your premises
  • Personal injury resulting form a motor vehicle accident
  • Liability as guarantor for the debts of another
  • Liability arising from misconduct
Asset Protection is not about giving in to fear.  It is about empowering yourself in the face of it. Our firm will work with clients to implement proven, legally-sound strategies that will help preserve their wealth and safeguard their assets. 

We represent professionals, small business owners, property owners, and other clients with the goal of protecting their assets against potential litigation, judgments, liens, and fraud.

Insurance alone does not always adequately protect against all of these threats.  We help clients protect their wealth using a variety of strategies including the use of special trusts, business entities and other legal arrangements.

Shielding Assets from Creditors
Our firm has expertise in assisting clients to arrange their finances, real property and other assets in a manner that minimizes their exposure to potential creditors.  We are well versed in establishing trusts, determining insurance needs, creating estate plans and organizing investments and business entities so that our clients are able to enjoy the highest level of confidence in terms of the security of their accumulated assets.

A creditor who initiates litigation against a person who has placed his or her assets into a trust, a foundation, or other entity may find that there are very few collectible assets actually owned by the person they wish to sue. Assets owned by a properly structured trust, foundation, or other entity are generally not subject to claims against their beneficiaries. In addition, placing assets into an asset protection entity may have the additional benefit of removing those assets from a person’s taxable estate.

We know how to evaluate current client holdings and work with our clients to identify the best ways to legally protect those holdings from a variety of creditors, whether through civil suits involving negligence or malpractice.
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or sometimes called a registered limited liability partnership (RLLP), provides all of its owners with limited personal liability. LLPs are particularly well-suited to professional groups, such as lawyers and accountants. In fact, in some states LLPs are only available to professionals.

Professionals often prefer LLPs to general partnerships, corporations, or LLCs because they don't want to be personally liable for another partner's problems -- particularly those involving malpractice claims. An LLP protects each partner from debts against the partnership arising from professional malpractice lawsuits against another partner. (A partner who loses a malpractice suit for his own mistakes, however, doesn't escape liability.) Forming a corporation to protect personal assets may be too much trouble, and some states (including California) won't allow licensed professionals to form an LLC.

A corporation is a legal entity created through the laws of its state of incorporation. Individual states have the power to promulgate laws relating to the creation, organization and dissolution of corporations. Many states follow the Model Business Corporation Act. State corporation laws require articles of incorporation to document the corporation's creation and to provide provisions regarding the management of internal affairs. Most state corporation statutes also operate under the assumption that each corporation will adopt bylaws to define the rights and obligations of officers, persons and groups within its structure. States also have registration laws requiring corporations that incorporate in other states to request permission to do in-state business.

There has also been a significant component of Federal corporations law since Congress passed the Securities Act of 1933, which regulates how corporate securities are issued and sold. Federal securities law also governs requirements of fiduciary conduct such as requiring corporations to make full disclosures to shareholders and investors.

The law treats a corporation as a legal "person" that has standing to sue and be sued, distinct from its stockholders. The legal independence of a corporation prevents shareholders from being personally liable for corporate debts. It also allows stockholders to sue the corporation through a derivative suit and makes ownership in the company (shares) easily transferable. The legal "person" status of corporations gives the business perpetual life; deaths of officials or stockholders do not alter the corporation's structure.

Corporations are taxable entities that fall under a different scheme from individuals. Although corporations have a "double tax" problem -- both corporate profits and shareholder dividends are taxed -- corporate profits are taxed at a lower rate than the rates for individuals.

Corporate law has important intersections with contracts and commercial transactions law.

Asset protection is a process by which one organizes their financial affairs in such a manner as to safeguard assets from the risk of exposure. The process of asset protection involves transferring the assets from an unprotected form of ownership to a protected form of ownership. The unprotected form generally applies to property held directly in an individual’s name of even the name of a revocable living trust. The protected form can be one of many asset protection vehicles such as limited partnership, corporations, certain kinds of trusts, limited liability companies and other such entities. Protecting assets can also be a process of transferring them into exempt assets to the extent permitted by the individual states.

However, care is cautioned in utilizing exemptions as a form of asset protection. Certain creditors are not subject to state exemption. Some of these examples are federal tax liens, state tax liens, alimony and child support, purchase money retailers, and mechanics liens.

Due to the lottery style court cases and judgments that exist today, a well drafted asset protection plan can go a long way in deterring a creditor. If you can avoid the appearance of being the “deep pocket” then you can frequently be passed over and the creditor will look to someone else. In fact deterrence is a major part of asset protection. The plaintiff is generally unwilling to mount countless attacks against a defendant who has a well established asset protection plan. Judgment creditors are cost conscious and if the efforts to collect are just too difficult, then that creditor is likely to settle for far less than the amount of the judgment or move on to easier pray.

Many small business owners have chosen to form a limited liability company as an alternative to forming a corporation in order to limit their personal liability. If you operate a business as a sole proprietor or under a partnership agreement, you are entirely responsible for any debts your business have accumulated or lawsuits against your business. This means that everything you worked for, including your home, savings, and other property and possessions can be at risk. That is why many business owners contact a corporation attorney to start an LLC. LLC stands for Limited Liability Company which gives business owners protection from personal liability.

Benefits that business owners receive when they form an LLC include:
  • Limited Liability
  • Pass Through Taxation
  • Less Administrative Paperwork and Record keeping
  • National Recognition
  • Deductible Expenses
  • Flexible Profit and Loss Allocation

By hiring a corporation attorney when setting up an LLC, you will create a legal barrier between your business and your personal life. As a result, you can protect your personal finances and property from being taken away. But besides limiting your personal losses, there are many other limited liability company advantages one can benefit from if one decided to form an LLC. An additional benefit includes the tax LLC savings business owners receive when they form an LLC. Similar to a sole proprietorship or partnership, a Limited Liability Company receives pass through taxation. Pass through taxation means that the company itself does not have to pay taxes to the IRS, unlike a corporation which receives a double taxation. Instead, each owner of the company will report their own profits or losses in the company on their tax returns. There are many other financial and legal rules which govern a Limited Liability Company that can seem very complex to the average person. That is why it is important to talk to a corporation attorney to discuss your business options and a business plan that will lead you in the right direction. Our corporation attorneys are experienced in all matters relating to business law and can help you form an LLC.