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Life Member: The Top
Trial Lawyers in America

Past Articles


Today, you are more exposed to litigation risk than ever before. If not the government picking your pockets, it’s the gold diggers through frivolous litigation looking to win the litigation lottery. But with proper planning you can reduce your risks and defeat the battle cry…..

 Sue the B@st@rds !

If there weren't enough reasons to file a lawsuit, one enterprising attorney has come up with a fresh way to make the process even easier. Internet web sites like Who Can I  purport to ‘help’ consumers determine whether they have a case, and of course to locate one of the attorneys who’ve paid $1,000 to advertise on the website for a referral, according to Time Magazine. 

Who Can I website supposedly aligns those looking for something to complain about with a champion for justice – the litigation attorney. It claims to make research easier by identifying claims with firms that are willing to take on a contingency fee case by different categories. Those looking for more reasons to sue you apparently need more help identifying their cases by subject matter and aligning them with a lawyer.

And this website is only one of many just like it.

An Internet search seeking the answer to the all-important question “Should I sue or not” provides over 352,000,000 results. That’s more than one answer for every American on US soil. And then another 147,000 results for “How to sue”. There’s even information on filing lawsuits against God. But my favorite is the Australian comedy titled The Man Who Sued God about a disillusioned lawyer who became fed-up with corruption within the judicial system. The main character was angry with the insurance company’s defense ‘An act of God’ after his fishing boat sunk and his claim was denied. You’ll have to watch the movie to see who won the case, God or the lawyer.

Other websites offering help to sue are equally creative. One lawyer’s web site claims to answer a new question every 9 seconds – “just type in your question”, it suggests. I wonder when that firm actually has time to go to the courthouse. 

There’s even a book available at called Sue the Bastards which helps you determine if someone’s violated your rights, and supposedly outlines the entire how-to litigation process. For the real do-it-yourselfer, another website answers a list of commonly asked questions, including 'How to sue a company?', 'How to sue your doctor?', 'How to sue in small claims court?', and 'If my lawyer is bad, how can I sue him or her?' Who says there’s no such thing as justice!

And if you want to learn a little legalese in the process and scream Latin phrases on the courthouse steps, then “In Ius Voco Spuris” is a must know phrase to impress sue happy friends. (For the uninitiated that means Sue the Bastards!) To make the courtroom freak’s life complete, there are even Sue the Bastards license plates available.

And so to insure the next generation of law students are properly educated when they go out in the world (if they can find a job), Law Professor Banzhas requires his law students (known as Banzhfaf’s Bandits) to bring legal action against someone to pass his law course.

If this wasn’t serious stuff folks, it would actually be hilarious. But there is nothing funny about someone attempting to separate you and your hard earned assets for the flimsiest of reasons, or for no reason at all. Candidly, I think it’s pathetic.

And keep in mind that this harsh criticism comes from someone that knows and understand intimately the courtroom process.

As a former judge and litigation lawyer, I was named by the American Trial Lawyers Association (now The National Trial Lawyers) a Top 100 Trial Lawyer, and a Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Club, membership to both only by special invitation following a lifetime of superior litigation achievements. Once upon a time the art of advocacy was a respectful, learned profession, and ethics and integrity genuinely meant taking the higher road.

But unfortunately, today, the litigation crazy culture has slid so deep - and litigation lawyers have become so desperate for new clients - that it takes tacky marketing techniques to help feed the frivolous litigation frenzy. Apparently now it’s perfectly fine to actively promote such destructive and unethical behavior to make a buck.

The obvious problem of a legal system in decay is deeply rooted in a political and social system in serious trouble. The disregard and disrespect for the property of others – and looking for opportunities to pilferage from others under the legal pretense of justified remedies for perceived wrongs - are all indicative of a system in terrible trouble. History shows us that nations are not built on these conditions, they are only destroyed.

The decay of the legal system is not the only obvious problem. It is merely one symptom of many more serious, deep rooted problems. Seeds are sown in the discontent of America: the Occupy Movement, egregious unionism in Wisconsin, the ‘real’ level of unemployment, the high levels of poverty, the historical high number of beneficiaries of government entitlements, debt ridden governments, dysfunctional politicians, and the rise of the Tea Party influence, are all but a few examples of movements driving political ideologies for drastic changes in the US.

Nothing is quite as fragile as a false sense of stability in a political or legal system. We are nothing if not overly confident about the stability of our systems at home. Yet around the world, many nations today find themselves in disarray and suffering public discontent. We forget that meaningful revolution and wars are in our past too. We need to pay more attention to the probability that meaningful revolution and wars are also in our future.

It’s due to the insane and incredulous courtroom antics and frivolous claims that I routinely witnessed as a litigator and judge, that caused me to find my conscience and attempt to find a balance against the insanity. For that reason, in 2000 I first authored How to Legally Protect Your Assets, with a recent, substantially updated 2nd edition. And it was this same consciousness that motivated me to return from an early retirement at that time to concentrate solely in helping individuals take steps to protect their assets.

There are certainly plenty of opportunities to reduce your risks from a variety of sources, but you need to take steps before the threat arises. An International Trust, integrated with asset protection and estate planning, is an essential first step.

What follows are a few examples.

How Does an International Trust Fit into the Picture?

It is often asked, what benefits can an International Trust provide?

Obviously, everyone's situation and objectives vary, but there are some common themes that run constant. And keep in mind that good planning integrates different legal tools and techniques, and provides a synergy by bringing planning tools together.

Here are a few good reasons for considering how you too might benefit from using an International Trust to protect your hard-earned money as the world around you goes bonkers.

First, an International Trust provides you an opportunity to diversify your assets, bank in stronger financial jurisdictions, and potentially achieve higher investment returns than at home. For Americans, due to over-burdensome domestic laws and regulations, there are more and more offshore financial institutions and investment companies that simply refuse to deal with US citizens. Notwithstanding, there are also perfectly legal ways to work around these issues.

Today, more than two-thirds of all available stock, fixed income, and currency investment opportunities are located offshore, providing far greater diversification than keeping all of your eggs in one basket. Safer banks, offering better returns in multiple currencies, are available. An International Trust can open the doors to better yields, safer banks, and greater financial diversification with proper planning.

Second, an International Trust is an excellent tool to obtain a superior level of asset protection during your lifetime. I don’t need to remind you that the lawsuit crazy cancer in our society has gotten grossly out of control. Too often, greedy plaintiffs and over-zealous lawyers are looking to win the lottery with your hard-earned money.

There is no end in sight to the litigation gone crazy society. Any and all steps you can take today to reduce your exposure by legitimate asset protection planning provides you an opportunity to control your future. Meeting this goal allows you to plan for successful retirement, leave behind a legacy for your loved ones, or reach other legitimate objectives.

Third, if financial privacy is important to you, then an International Trust can better help accomplish this objective too. A trust organized offshore affords a wonderful opportunity to keep snooping eyes - and potential frivolous claimants - from going after your nest egg.

It's simply a way of flying under the radar screen. Seeking privacy doesn't mean you are doing something wrong or have something to hide, it just means that you don't need to share every aspect of your private life with anyone willing to pay a small fee to obtain all of your private financial and personal information.

Fourth, estate planning can - and should - be integrated into a properly drafted International Trust. Think of this as the ‘death side’ of asset protection. Providing for the future needs of spouses, children, and others is part of the planning process. Reducing estate tax obligations is easily integrated into the planning. And allowing for spendthrift provisions for heirs, or sprinkling inheritances over a term of years, can often be accomplished. This is an opportunity to ‘speak from the grave’.

Fifth, an International Trust should aim to provide the maximum possible tax minimization allowed by law. Legally minimizing taxes is neither illegal nor unpatriotic. You have the legal right to use each and every legal tax reduction technique to reduce your taxes.

Using an International Trust for pre-migration planning when relocating part or full time offshore is also a powerful tool to keep assets and income outside of a newly adopted homeland.

And for those serious about becoming international sovereign individuals – reportable to no one - two recent newsletters looked at the steps and benefits, found here and here.

Finding individual sovereignty is easier than you think. 

Trusts have been around since Roman warriors went off to do battle two millennia ago. Today, International Trusts are designed to protect and preserve family assets, simply using long established legal techniques to accomplish your particular set of objectives. Choosing the best trust structure and laws to protect your assets is critical to reaching these goals.

Follow this link to learn more about the features of an International Trust.

Reducing US Estate Taxes

For Americans, a common, integrated planning theme includes estate planning for married couples, which consists of setting up two different types of trusts. With an International Trust you can integrate these two different trusts as sub-trusts under the main trust.

The first sub-trust, commonly referred to as a credit shelter or bypass trust, holds assets to preserve the estate tax exclusion amount of up to $5.25 million (for 2013) tax free. The surviving spouse can then use the income - and even some of the principal from the trust - with the remaining assets distributed to heirs after the second spouse's death.

Since the surviving spouse generally wants to control the remainder of the estate not placed in the first bypass sub-trust, a qualified terminable interest property trust (commonly referred to as a QTIP trust) is typically used as the second sub-trust. Any assets not placed in the bypass sub-trust are placed in the QTIP sub-trust, with income distributed to the surviving spouse during their lifetime. This qualifies for the unlimited marital deduction, so estate taxes won't be assessed at the first spouse's death. Then, after the surviving spouse's death, the principal is distributed to heirs designated by the first spouse.

The main objective of the second sub-trust is to allow your spouse to use the assets while you determine the distribution of those assets after your death. And should your spouse remarry after your death, the new spouse won't inherit any of your assets. Or, if you have children from a previous marriage, this sub-trust will ensure those children receive part of your estate.

Some issues to consider include the amount of discretion to give your surviving spouse in making withdrawals from a planning structure. A spouse can become resentful if an outside trustee places too many restrictions on withdrawals or requires extensive documentation. And consider allowing your spouse to change trustees. If your spouse has difficulty dealing with the trustee, you may want to provide the ability to change trustees or select investment managers.

And review the trust's ultimate beneficiaries with your spouse. Make sure your spouse understands the trust's purpose and why you have chosen its ultimate beneficiaries. No matter what happens to his/her personal or financial situation after your death, your spouse won't be able to change the trust's beneficiaries.

The above are just a few of the examples of integrating an International Trust with life time asset protection and estate planning themes.

What changes are you making to protect your hard-earned assets? Remember, the key is to act now, before it's too late.

Where to Learn More

In the meantime, international planning for asset protection, global investment diversification, offshore living and investing, pre-migration planning, and more, is essential. The world is a great place, filled with wonderful opportunities.

In previous newsletters we covered a wide range of topics on domestic and international planning, including integrated asset protection, and offshore living and investing. Go here to learn about onshore vs. offshore trust benefits. Or here, for managing assets in an International Trust. And here for controlling assets through an International Trust. And here, here and here, for asset protection basics, offshore banking vs. US banks, and what an international trust can do for you.

Many more Past Articles can be found here and at Go here to learn more about international planning tips, or here for offshore living and investing ideas.

How to Legally Protect Your Assets, 2nd edition, is an excellent primer on the above topics, and more, if you are just getting started. Offshore Living & Investing, 2nd edition, is another great option. Both are available directly from our site.

If you want to review your own international planning options, get started now with an initial review of your personal situation right here.

Until next time......



David A Tanzer, Esq.
JD, BSc, Ph.D (Hon)

For more information visit or email to David is the author of “How to Legally Protect Your Assets” and “Offshore Living and Investing.”

David A Tanzer & Assoc., PC.

Vail, CO USA:
Tel. (970) 476-6100
Fax (720) 293-2272

Auckland, New Zealand:
Tel. (64) 9 353-1328
Fax (64) 9 353-1328

Brisbane, Australia:
Tel. (61) 7 3319 6999
Fax (61) 7 3319 6999

(Licensed to Practice Law in U.S. States & Federal Courts; Assoc. Member Auckland, N.Z. District Law Society - Foreign Lawyer; & Assoc. Member Queensland Law Society, AU - Foreign Lawyer)

The comments herein are not intended to constitute a legal or tax opinion regarding any specific legal or tax issue as additional issues may exist; does not reach a conclusion with respect to any specific legal or tax issue addressed herein or any additional issues not included; and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding legal or tax obligations or penalties with respect to issues in or outside the scope of matters discussed herein.

(c) Copyright by David A. Tanzer & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, and pursuant to the laws of all countries, no part hereof may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, electronic or otherwise, without the prior written permission of David A. Tanzer & Associates, P.C. Reprint in whole or part strictly prohibited unless prior written permission is granted. International Copyright protected under the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention  and laws of all other Copyright protected countries, and consistent with the World Trade Organization TRIPS.

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