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Author Topic: Asset Protection strategies (Trusts, Family Partnerships, Charitable Trusts etc)  (Read 1554 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: December 24, 2010, 08:58:20 AM »

Moving Canislatrans post on this interesting subject to this forum:

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I'm familiar with the rudiments of a Living Trust, but I'm looking for the best source of information on various asset protecting strategies before I go looking to hire a lawyer to set it up.  I'm having a hard time specifically finding info on the Net about lawsuit protection; searches get spammed by estate planning focused sites (which I'm also interested in).

Apparently Joint Tenancy doesn't protect the assets if one partner is suied, although in some states marital real property is protected by Tenants in the Entirety.  An Irrevocable Living trust protects assets (but not distributions) and Revocable Living Trust exposes the assets.  According to one book a Family Partnership discourages collection of a suit, but an Offshore Trust is better.

Looking for something that protects from lawsuits AND avoids Probate.  No fancy asset ownership structure, just husband & wife.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2010, 09:54:26 AM »

moving Doug's post to here-- my bad for the confusion  embarassed

Canis, good questions. What type of assets are you looking to protect? I looked into Living Trust rules recently to help my parents with their estate planning and realized I should have had one for myself all along.

For real estate, my strategy for limiting liability has been to set up a separate LLC for each property, the idea being to offer some personal protection and limit the damage of one lawsuit to the asset of that property, not a portfolio. The more difficult you can make it look to collect, the less likely you will be sued, at least frivolously. So far I have only done this with new purchases, not gone back and transferred titles yet for earlier holdings. I assume the same strategy would apply for assets other than real estate.  Transferring title though doesn't make all liabilities go away.  Some like environmental liability can pass through the chain of title.

The ownership of each LLC needs to be transferred to the trust.  The Living Trust set up correctly will keep the assets that are in it out of probate, but has no affect of limiting liability.  I don't know of any vehicle that offers both.

I don't know the state you are in, but most people should not need an attorney to set up a Living Trust.  Just start googling and reading; they have fairly straightforward forms.  The key is the followup.  You need to transfer the title legally of each asset to be in the name of the trust, not in the name of you or your wife.  Not just a transfer document in your file, but listed in the name of the trust at the brokerage or at the county records.  There may be reason to set up 2 trusts, one for each of you.  If you have a trust but a property or asset is not transferred to it, that asset goes to probate.  Others can tell you what a nightmare that is.  If the asset is in the trust, then whoever you designate to run it can make decisions, moves, buys, sells immediately without years of court system delays.  The ability to move money around may be necessary just to pay expenses.

I am no expert on this and hope that others jump in with good information or to correct any of mine.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2010, 09:57:35 AM »

Self-help is good.  The work you do in advance will help you get the most out of your attorney, including the most bang for the buck, but DEFINITELY, HAVE YOUR WORK REVIEWED BY A QUALIFIFIED ATTORNEY.
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CanisLatrans
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2010, 08:41:13 PM »

My need is for a house & savings.  Many books on Am*zoid, but I'd like some recommendations on which.

Some states tax inherited trusts but not estates...  so finding something state specific would be great.
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Beep Beep
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2010, 12:04:26 AM »

Go to NoloPress.com 

In my experience they are an excellent legal self-help site.  Indeed, I incorporated Dog Brothers Inc. using the forms from their California Incorporation book.

Again, educate yourself as best you can, then confer with a qualififed attorney.
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