Asset Protection generally describes a way to arrange ownership of assets to preserve as much value as legally possible from creditor attack. Asset Protection is a planning process in which the client and their counselor consider the risks which the client may face in the future and devise a plan to minimize such risks.
In effect – Michael D. O’Brien & Associates helps you plan for the worst and hope for the best. Asset Protection is a multi-disciplinary practice under the law. The tools used involve not only estate planning and tax planning, but also corporate formation and transition rules and a deep knowledge of debtor-creditor issues and fraudulent transfer laws to avoid traps for the unwary.
Asset Protection Strategies
Michael D. O’Brien & Associates brings together lawyers with a high level of expertise in bankruptcy law, estate planning and corporate law to satisfy your Asset Protection needs. If you like to plan and have control over your future as you embark on a new endeavor, then Asset Protection should be a legal tool you consider. This is important to people holding wealth for their future needs and for the benefit of their children and grandchildren.
As a result, Asset Protection frequently involves the drafting of Wills and Trusts whereby an individual seeks to control the transfer of assets they own to a third party of their choosing. Without a Will the assets of an individual who dies may transfer by strict application of the Oregon laws of intestacy. Having a Will in place ensures that YOU control who receives the bounty of your hard work. A Trust can accomplish the same thing by transferring ownership of assets during your life. Trusts can be either revocable (meaning you can change your mind) or irrevocable. The two tools can be combined in one with a ‘Testamentary Trusts’ that takes legal effect only upon your passing.
The Importance of Understanding Intestacy Laws
Under Oregon law, if someone dies without a will then the intestacy laws (i.e. those people who die without a will or ‘testament’) control who inherits property. If you are survived by a spouse but no children, then the spouse gets everything. If you are survived by a spouse and children then the intestacy law applies another test – are all the children ‘joint issue’ with the surviving spouse? If the answer is yes – then the surviving spouse gets everything. But if the answer is ‘no’ then the estate is split equally with 50% going to the surviving spouse and the other 50% being shared by the non-joint children. The intestacy laws get even more complicated if there are predeceased children, no children and no spouse, no living parents, no siblings, no grandparents etc. Ultimately, if there is no surviving relations then guess who gets the property?! – the State of Oregon.
Asset Protection Strategies
This type of protection is NOT just for the wealthy, in fact asset protection strategies are particularly helpful to people in ‘non-traditional’ domestic relationships. Whether or not the state recognizes your domestic union, with Asset Protection strategies, especially estate planning techniques, you can ensure that the benefit of your hard work goes to the parties of YOUR choosing. Perhaps you have children of a different relationship, or are estranged from your family, or perhaps you have a favorite charity or pet that you want to see taken care of – asset protection can help you achieve all these goals.
Protection also can involve the establishment of business entities and transactional work to minimize risk. With a properly formed corporation or limited liability company, your liability exposure can be limited to the assets you contribute to the entity and the balance of your assets can be protected. The trick is to take these actions before a problem arises – hence the importance of planning. If you try to transfer assets after a creditor is already on your heels or while you are financially insolvent, then you may run afoul of the state Fraudulent Transfer laws and the action may be ineffective or even worse – expose you to additional liability.
When you plan for the future you are better able to see the future and achieve the goals you have established. At Michael D. O’Brien & Associates we bring together a legal team with broad expertise in various legal disciplines that combine to form asset protection strategies. Our lawyers are here to help you plan for your future success.