There are many legal options for those looking to protect their assets. It is critical to rely on effective legal strategies and structures to safeguard your assets from potential risks.
When you need to create some legal protection for your property and assets, consult a knowledgeable attorney at Patrick Harper & Dixon in Hickory, NC. Our knowledgeable professionals will help you protect your funds and assets from creditors, lawsuits, and other financial hazards.
Some of the most common tools for legal asset protection include:
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a legal entity that separates the owners’ personal assets from those of the established business. In other words, the owner’s personal assets are safe if the company faces a lawsuit.
Along with corporations, LLCs are a popular choice for small business owners. This is because they are relatively simple to establish and maintain. One of the most obvious advantages of an LLC is that it offers pass-through taxation. This means that the profits and losses from the company are reported on the owners’ personal returns.
Also, LLCs can be structured in ways that provide flexibility in terms of management and ownership. However, this type of legal structure does not provide complete asset protection.
When owners engage in illegal or fraudulent activities, they may be personally liable. Also, if the LLC is undercapitalized, courts may overlook the corporate structure. In these cases, the owners can be held personally liable for the losses of the business.
A trust is a legal structure in which a trustee oversees and manages assets for a beneficiary. There are several categories of trusts. Each type of trust has unique benefits and disadvantages.
“Irrevocable trusts” are one of the most common trust options used for asset protection. With this type of structure, the funds and assets are transferred from the grantor (creator of the trust) into the name of the trust itself. In other words, they are no longer owned by the grantor. If set up correctly, this may protect the assets from potential creditors and lawsuits.
Once the person’s funds and assets are transferred to the trust, the grantor can no longer access them and the trustee is responsible for managing the property or possibly distributing assets to the grantor. It is also important to structure your trust in a way that complies with tax requirements and other legal regulations. Speak with a skilled will and trust attorney to explore your options for asset protection.
In the context of a court-issued judgment, a homestead exemption is a legal protection allowing homeowners to exempt a certain amount of their home’s value from potential judgment creditors.
In North Carolina, a homeowner can shield up to $35,000 in equity in the primary residence. This powerful tool can provide a shield for the person’s primary residence. In some cases, a primary residence may also be exempt if it is owned by a married couple as tenants-by-the-entireties.
Retirement accounts are an effective way to protect your funds and assets. Examples of retirement account options include 401(k)s and IRAs.
These accounts are usually protected under both state and federal laws. In North Carolina, IRAs and 401(k)s are protected from creditors, bankruptcy, and legal judgments.
The North Carolina law that deals with this type of asset protection is known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). According to this law, these accounts are shielded from seizure to satisfy debts or legal judgments.
IRAs are protected up to a total value of $35,000 per person. These exemptions are adjusted every three years to account for inflation.
Inherited IRAs are protected up to a total value of $25,000 per person. But there are some exceptions to these legal protections.
For instance, suppose the account holder uses the funds as collateral for a loan. In these cases, the account may be vulnerable to seizure by creditors.
Insurance policies can be an effective asset protection tool. These policies can provide a form of financial protection against:
- Natural disasters
- Other unexpected occurrences
There are many different kinds of insurance policies, and each provides a different kind of protection. Some of the most common examples of insurance include:
- Health insurance
- Automotive insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Liability insurance
Different policies protect the policyholder’s assets in a range of ways. For instance, liability insurance can help protect individuals and companies from legal claims arising from accidents or injuries.
Property insurance can help to protect individuals’ physical assets, such as:
- Buildings and real estate
Damage to physical assets often results from weather events, fires, and other disasters. Insurance policies help protect people’s assets by offering protection against financial losses.
There are limits and exemptions to the protection that insurance policies can provide. Speak with a knowledgeable legal specialist to learn how an insurance policy can help protect your assets.
Contact an Attorney About Asset Protection
It is critical to consult with a lawyer about asset protection options in your situation. A skilled attorney at the legal firm of Patrick Harper & Dixon will help you protect your assets and funds in Hickory, NC. Reach out to our legal team to schedule a consultation today!