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Today’s newsletter describes how to best achieve quality asset protection integrated with estate planning. Achieving quality asset protection and estate planning starts with selecting the right planning professional. And locating the right planner means understanding the necessary skills required to implement the planning.

Asset protection services are part of a growing industry. Proper planning includes more than just protecting assets from litigation threats, but having monies available for your retirement and family following death. And quality integrated planning is much more than just filling out forms.

Asset Protection to Watch-out For

Unfortunately, there are many well-intended practitioners putting together trusts and asset protection plans who simply don't have a clue how to actually protect clients' assets from lawsuits. The clients who fall into their hands frequently find their plans fall apart at the first threat of litigation.

The worst offenders are the non-attorneys who hype worthless asset protection ‘kits’. These kits don't give any real asset protection. Not only are the standard form packages often useless, but they are rarely properly funded with the assets that are supposed to be protected.

The next set of offenders are the asset protection mills churning out trusts at discount prices. Generally, legal secretaries and paralegals crank out documents from their word processors are behind these mills. They offer no customized planning, and worse yet, they can create more problems than the ones you are trying to avoid.

Then there are the domestic and offshore service providers who claim that their trusts, business accounts, or bank accounts are guaranteed not to fail. These guarantees are misleading and often false. Unfortunately, these marketing claims create a negative image for the asset protection industry, and create doubt in the U.S. courts where they can be challenged, after creating unreasonable expectations by people desiring legitimate asset protection plans.

Finally, there are claims of using multiple layers of various types of entities to ‘secret’ assets and obtain maximum privacy. These plans are often nothing more than a waste of your time and money, and are often created for no other purpose than concealing or hiding assets. The hallmark of a successful asset protection plan is not in hiding assets.

So then, how do you achieve quality asset protection planning in a world increasingly filled with peddlers of questionable or misrepresented asset protection products?

Finding the right Planner with the right Know-How

Asset protection is a legal strategy of isolating your ‘nest egg’ assets to allow them to grow for future retirement or subsequent generations. It also means correctly managing the legal risks associated with the different types of assets, and segregating hot or risky assets and activities from other non-risky assets and activities.

Asset protection planning is not about guaranteeing you will never lose a dollar to a claimant or creditor. Asset protection is a system, or methodology, that ultimately creates a superior line of defense to resolve a dispute with better results than if you did not have proper planning in place.

Asset protection planning should be considered your final line of defense. You’re rolling the dice if you haven't created a successful asset protection plan well in advance of this eventuality.

Asset protection has come to mean the integration of multi-disciplinary fields of domestic and international law and business planning for the purpose of protecting assets. Thus, solid asset protection planning utilizes the experience of qualified and experienced multi-disciplined individuals, and reflects a high order of ethics and competence by a lawyer working with other fields through a team approach.

When I started implementing asset protection plans for clients thirty years ago after a successful litigation career, there were only a very small number of asset protection specialists in the field. Today, the number of planners has grown, but regrettably, too many planners either lack the proper skills, or have skill priorities in the wrong order. Meaning, they have the least experience in the field where it is needed most, and the most experience where needed least.

For example, many lawyers have experience primarily limited to estate planning and taxation, and the least experience in trial and litigation skills.

From an asset protection planning perspective, the real test of successful planning will ultimately stand or fail in the courtroom. Remember these words, since obtaining quality asset protection begins with top-quality litigation experience.

And as a former civil court judge, my experience was that too few lawyers knew how to successfully present a client’s case, or bring about a successful outcome.

What Knowledge & Experience Should You Look for in an Asset Protection Planner?

First, the true test of whether asset protection planning fails or succeeds is in the courtroom. This is a starting point when looking to achieve quality asset protection planning. Therefore, first and foremost, trial and litigation experience are essential to quality asset protection planning.

Being a seasoned and experienced trial litigator means being able to predict what judges and juries will do when faced with your particular set of circumstances. You simply can't make reasonable trial predictions unless you have been through a number of civil trials. Attempting to predict what judges will do without understanding the courtroom and litigation tactics is akin to a hope and a prayer.

Unfortunately, too many so-called asset protection experts have little or no experience in the single, most important arena where your asset protection planning could ultimately be tested.

Secondly, it is essential that a lawyer have knowledge of the different fraudulent transfer laws, and how your planning could be wiped out by failing to comply with these laws. Good asset protection plans can be created by using companies you control where assets are transferred into, but knowing how to make legitimate transfers is necessary.

The planner must also be well versed with the different laws in different venues regarding the formation, operation, and defense of these structures. And too, a good asset protection planner should be knowledgeable about bankruptcy laws since these legal tools may weaponize your planning strategy in a time of crisis.

Third, even if your planning is implemented domestically, it is essential your planner be well versed in the laws of at least the main offshore financial jurisdictions. In some cases, moving assets quickly, safely and legally to other venues may be needed to protect assets.  Your planner must understand how laws and local customs function from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and if, and when, this strategy is necessary.

For the past thirty years I have successfully implemented International Asset Protection Trusts, and Standby International Trusts have since become increasingly popular. Follow this link to learn more.

Fourth, quality asset protection plans are created in coordination with competent tax professionals. It is important that no negative tax consequences be created when your plan is implemented. Asset protection plans should generally be designed to be ‘tax neutral’, meaning there is neither a positive nor negative tax consequence.

At the same time, if opportunities arise for legal tax planning mitigation, this should be incorporated into the planning structure by qualified tax professionals.

Finally, asset protection plans should be integrated with a client's retirement and estate planning objectives in mind. Integrating asset protection planning with estate planning components is highly desirable for a variety of reasons, and allows you to achieve quality results from your planning structure.

Always Seek Competent, Experienced and Ethical Planners

In some ways, asset protection is like any other form of legal planning. Always hire the best lawyer having the best experience and best training in the fields most important to make your plan work.

But in other ways it is very different. Asset protection was always a very specialized field of practice. But then it changed after lesser qualified planners got their hands on forms to copy and paste together for their clients.

Be careful to do your due diligence and question a lawyer on their primary field of practice, for how long, and how many asset protection plans they have implemented? And what they do and how do they go about implementing the planning? It essential to know the type of civil court cases and courtroom trials they have successfully completed.

And ask yourself if you will be able to look a judge or jury in the eye in how your planning was created. And whether you're able to project that the steps you took were legal, ethical, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It's one thing to rely upon the planners representations, but don’t ignore your good judgment and common sense.

Here’s a bit of my forty-year law practice background at this link so you know where I’m coming from.

And importantly, one of the most essential elements to achieving quality asset protection planning is to take steps now, well in advance of problems presenting themselves. If you wait until it is too late, then there is not much that you can do other than damage control. Take action today, while the seas are calm and before the storm sets in.

Start Now.

There are more International Trust and Standby International Trust© tips found at our site

The book How to Legally Protect Your Assets, 2nd edition, explains how you can use an International Trust to accomplish your objectives. And information on the Standby International Trust© can be found right here.

Offshore Living & Investing, 2nd edition, takes offshore planning to another level.

Both books are available at reduced prices right here at our web site in quality soft cover, pdf, or Kindle.

If you’d like to learn more and discuss your planning objectives in a confidential initial review, contact me here.

Until next time …


(C) Copyright 2007 David Tanzer all rights reserved. David Tanzer is a member of the Oxford Club Wealth Advisory Panel and a lawyer in Vail, Colorado limiting his practice to wealth preservation and asset protection planning. He is the author of the book and video package How to Legally Protect Your Assets, or by calling 800-220-6777. David Tanzer can be personally reached at 970-476-6100 or