Does asset protection really lawsuit-proof your wealth?

Yes. But as with most things, that answer has several qualifiers: Successful asset protection also depends on ifs. Asset protection works if you protect yourself before trouble strikes. It works if you use the right strategies and tools for your particular situation. It works if you have the right professional advisor. It works if you stay committed to continuously sheltering your wealth. The ultimate purpose of any asset protection plan, of course, is to safeguard your wealth under a worst-case scenario – you are sued and lose. And the odds are that you will someday lose a lawsuit, so you need well-protected assets. You must assume that your asset protection plan will someday be put to this test.

Of course, even when you are judgment-proof you can’t easily ignore the problems from a judgment. A plaintiff’s lawyer can stubbornly pursue the even well-protected defendant. And a plaintiff might seize some assets because you can’t always protect every last asset. Some ‘loose change’, for one reason or another, becomes exposed.

Frequently, the benefit of well-protected assets is realized only after the plaintiff wins a judgment and has exhausted their collection remedies. Until then, some plaintiffs won’t reasonably settle, despite assurances that the defendant is indeed judgment-proof. And every case has some settlement value, even when a plaintiff cannot seize the defendant’s assets. Nobody wants a judgment pending against them for twenty or more years. And a judgment creditor may possibly petition a defendant into bankruptcy. Nor will an adverse judgment help one’s credit rating. The ultimate success of an asset protection plan then is not whether the plaintiff recovered something. Most defendants pay ‘something’ to end their case. Our goal is not to have our client lose significant assets. That’s how we ultimately measure our success. We ask this one question: “What more could we – or anyone – have done to achieve a better outcome in this case?” That’s our litmus test. Our plans invariably pass that test. Our clients lose few assets to litigation. Very few!

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