Asset Protection

A Complete Guide to Asset Protection Planning

By
Dominion
Updated:
October 4, 2023
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8 min read
Contents

The higher you climb, the farther there is to fall. And when it comes to money, the more people there are waiting for the chance to drag you back down.

High-net-worth individuals, ranging from entrepreneurs to investors to doctors and more, know just how easy it is to lose tens of millions of dollars through a single lawsuit or an army of creditors trying to barge through your proverbial front doors. That's why getting started with asset protection planning ASAP is so important.

Asset Protection Planning – What is It?

Put simply, asset protection planning is the science of:

  • Determining the assets that your legal and financial foes are most likely to come after
  • Taking steps to protect those assets for years to come

Sound simple? It’s not, but knowledgeable experts at firms like Dominion can help you get started.

Think of asset protection planning as the first stage for a long-term, comprehensive wealth defense strategy. Without a proper plan in place, you won't be able to leverage the extensive tools at your disposal to guard your estate against frivolous lawsuits, aggressive judges, and overzealous creditors who want nothing more than to drain your bank account of everything that it's worth.

Make no mistake, as a high-net-worth individual with $10 million or more to your name, you can't just throw your money in an offshore bank account and call it a day. You need a robust, well-thought-out asset protection plan to both anticipate and counter the legal hazards you might find waiting for you in the future.

The alternative? You leave yourself open to a lawsuit that costs you tons of money or to a creditor bill that strips you of the real estate you saved for years to acquire. Look at it another way: you already have plenty of money to pay for premium protection from legal and financial experts. It’s time to put that money to good use.

With a good asset protection plan in place, you’ll know exactly what instruments you need to set up to safeguard your wealth for future decades and what steps you need to take in the short term to minimize your vulnerabilities.

What’s Involved with Asset Protection Planning?

If you think that high-quality, truly resilient asset protection is a matter of sitting down with an affordable lawyer and signing a few documents, think again. Asset protection planning – at least, when carried out properly – will take at least several months to get through. Therefore, there’s no better time to get started than right now.

With asset protection planning, you’ll meet with:

  • Knowledgeable asset protection lawyers who can help you develop a secure trust instrument
  • Financial advisors and experts who can help you devise an effective, profitable asset protection strategy
  • Legal advisors so you know what to say or what to do if a legal threat comes your way

Asset protection planning is never really done, either. As your financial needs and objectives evolve over the course of your life, your asset protection goals may similarly change or require shifts. On the bright side, if you work with asset protection experts like the people we employ at Dominion, you’ll have knowledgeable partners with you every step of the way. 

Can You Change Your Asset Protection Plan?

Yes. We understand that your financial and estate-related goals can change over time. What you need right now, in the prime of your life as you build up your business, could be significantly different compared to what you need in your golden years, after you've retired and you want to set up your family for decades of comfort.

To that end, excellent asset protection planning also involves setting up contingencies or secondary plans to change your current trust setup and other instruments depending on future needs. 

For instance, you might set up an asset protection trust that includes provisions for descendants. Or you might set up a different vehicle, like a family LLC, to ensure that your family's company is stewarded properly after you step down from the CEO spot.

Many of these vehicles and strategies allow for a degree of flexibility and modification long after their initial implementation. But anticipating those future changes ahead of time is the best way to make sure that your asset protection planning serves you well now and later instead of just one or the other.

Who Needs an Asset Protection Plan?

Everyone! But more practically speaking, high-net-worth individuals with over $10 million or more to protect are those most advantaged by asset protection strategies. A robust, well-thought-out asset protection plan benefits individuals like:

  • Anyone with $10 million or more in terms of total net worth shared between liquid capital, property, etc.
  • Business owners, particularly entrepreneurs with an enterprise that is going to scale in the near future
  • Doctors and other high-risk professionals whose patients or customers may sue them for one reason or another

Put another way, if you believe your wealth could be at risk of creditors, lawsuit plaintiffs, or even the IRS, an asset protection plan is right for you. That’s because, when developed smartly, an asset protection plan could theoretically keep your liquid capital, real estate, and other assets out of the hands of opponents in perpetuity.

If you’ve ever wanted to make sure your estate is essentially invulnerable, asset protection is the way to make it happen.

Can’t You Just Follow a Basic Plan?

Not all! Asset protection is a unique, individualized science. You can’t assume that following the same steps that your uncle did to protect his estate 20 years ago will necessarily work for you. In fact, things have likely changed so much that your hypothetical uncle’s asset protection strategy would be effectively useless if applied to your wealth.

What you need is an asset protection plan formulated and designed specifically for your needs. You owe it to yourself and any future beneficiaries, like your offspring, to make a plan that sets your financial base up for success and protects it from all possible threats.

Asset Protection Trusts: The Prime Tools of Asset Protection Strategies

By far the most important element of any asset protection plan is your eventual asset protection trust. An asset protection trust is, as you might guess, a trust formulated specifically to take key assets out of your hands and sequester them away, out of reach of courts, creditors, and others.

The best asset protection trusts are offshore, meaning they are set up and maintained in a jurisdiction other than your home jurisdiction. For instance, if you are a US citizen and business owner, an offshore asset protection trust might have the trust in the Cook Islands or Nevis, and its assets held in Switzerland, or elsewhere, depending on the advice of your attorneys.

Regardless, a well-designed asset protection trust:

  • Completely protects your assets from lawsuits and creditors. When you put assets into such an offshore APT, you legally no longer own that property or that money. Therefore, a court or creditor can’t ever compel you to give it up
  • Could result in wealth generation and preservation for years to come. Dominion-style asset protection trusts are particularly well-suited for this. Our legal experts will ensure your trust instruments are invested in the right places to generate income and keep up with inflation, helping your estate not just stay secure and grow with time
  • Ensures that your estate, wealth, and other assets will be accessible to beneficiaries like your children or grandchildren in future decades

When you work with Dominion, your asset protection plan will revolve around putting your assets into a durable, high-quality asset protection trust. We'll help you set up the trust and draft its language perfectly so that you can take full advantage of it when necessary while still protecting yourself from legal threat vectors. 

How to Start Asset Protection Planning

Like the proverb about planting trees goes, the best time to start planning for asset protection was 10 years ago. But the next best time is right now!

Don’t be intimidated by the legal necessities of asset protection planning. Knowledgeable partners will guide you through the process and provide you with the sound legal counsel you need to make the right decisions for you and your family.

Get in Touch with the Experts

Your first step to any asset protection plan and strategy should be contacting knowledgeable experts at Dominion. If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, doctor, or other professional, there’s no doubt that you are highly intelligent. But you aren’t an expert in this arena.

We are. In fact, with the best in the business and employ not just lawyers but financial advisors, trust administrators, and everyone else necessary to get your asset protection plan up and running ASAP. 

More than that, it’s important to get in touch with experts immediately so:

  • You can ask key questions about your asset protection plan and what might work best based on your needs, limitations, etc.
  • Understand how the asset protection strategy will work
  • Know what you need to do to kick things off

The sooner you speak to the firm you plan to work with, the better. Remember, choose your trust partners carefully, as they’ll be advisors you work with for many years to come if everything goes smoothly.

Break Down Your Goals and Needs

During your meeting with your experts, you should break down all of your goals and financial needs as you see them right now. Don’t worry about not having specifics; your lawyers and financial advisors should help to fill in the blanks and recommend more specific strategies or goals if you don’t know how exactly you want your money to work for you.

Regardless, the overriding goals for you and your estate will dictate the shape that your asset protection plan takes. As an example, say that you are a successful business owner with several restaurants under his control. You want to protect your money from potential customer lawsuits. But you also want to make sure that your grandchildren’s college tuition will be taken care of.

Given these two goals, you’ll need to set up a very specific, highly detailed asset protection trust in an offshore jurisdiction. Your trust will also need the names of your grandchildren as beneficiaries. In this way, your grandchildren can receive distributions from your offshore asset protection trust without compromising your overall legal defenses.

You won't have control over the money, so a creditor, lawsuit plaintiff, or judge won't be able to demand that you compromise your grandkids' tuition gifts to pay a bill. This is just one instance of how a properly designed asset protection plan can serve you well for the rest of your life.

Take Steps to Create an Asset Protection Trust

Depending on what your lawyers and financial experts advise, you'll next meet with a bank and take any other necessary steps to set up your asset protection trust. Certain banks may require you to visit them in person to finalize the details, though this can vary significantly because every asset protection plan is unique.

Speak to Dominion’s Representatives Today

Asset protection planning only starts when you get in touch with the right partners. That’s why you should contact one of Dominion’s representatives right away.

Our financial and legal advisors have over a century of experience shared between them, and over the course of our company’s history, we’ve secured and protected hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. Dominion-style offshore asset protection trusts are unlike any others in the industry, offering comprehensive, fully shielding trust vehicles for you and your family.

We don’t just set up trusts for you. We provide step-by-step guidance and advice throughout the entire process so you never feel overwhelmed and you always have answers to key questions. Even after that, our trust administrators and managers will serve as the trustees your trust needs to continue to run smoothly for years and years to come.

Working with Dominion means joining an exclusive club and getting partners that will help you shepherd your wealth forever. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

Dominion

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