Asset Protection including home address privacy is often carte-banc-avoided by many Estate Planning lawyers and Tax Law attorneys as they don’t want their clients to conflate common sense asset protection (including personal privacy concerns) vs. tax avoidance for wealthy families and those with international businesses who might set up an LLC in Panama. Then there is outright criminality where people attempt to hide taxable wealth from the state tax authorities and the IRS.
Yes, we are able and capable to structure family wealth asset protection using
irrevocable trust instruments and generation-skipping trusts.
Asset Protection discussed in pages on this website is NONE OF THAT! Reach out for that.
Simple But Effective Asset Protection Strategies:
We are talking about prudent Asset Protection where you make your existing and newly purchased assets private from view of the public. Private from initial asset searches that might be conducted by employees, customers, YouTuber’s subscribers & stockers, Twitter followers, scammers, fraudsters, law firms, private investigators, past relationships, stalkers, etc.. We help our clients remove their name form the titles of assets such as real estate, vehicles, business ownership so that you avoid becoming a target. Period.
Security Through Obscurity
Asset Protection to those of us who are not the super-rich is more about keeping our heads down, off of the radar of anyone seeking to make what we have worked our entire lives theirs by hoke, crook or skilled manipulation of the legal system. Anyone with assets should make reasonable attempts to become private in a world where privacy seems non-existent these days. Savvy people will want to keep their assets and properties out of the searchable public records that can be accessed by anyone on the planet with a debit card and less than a hundred dollars.
How Can I Protect My Assets?
The basic route to protecting your assets is to make them invisible. There are many reasons to make your assets (including your home address) become invisible to anyone who can find you in 5 minutes with a cell phone.
Who Am I Protecting Myself & My Family From?
Wow. That is a huge list. Simple Answer. Everyone!
Ever been in a messy divorce? Ever have a stalker? Are you in the public eye? A simple YouTube channel or popular Instagram account can bring a continuous stream of weird people to your home address. Some might say going public with a YouTube channel is asking for having no privacy in return. Before YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok there were plenty of privacy invasions including actual threats to life and property. Are you in a profession where you’d rather not have those you interact with know where you live?
Victim of Domestic Violence, Stalkers in your past
The list is unending.
Everyone is but one serious car accident away from having every asset you own on a LIST. A target.
What assets show up in an asset search?
Houses (Your home address)
What assets DON’T show up in an asset search?
Trusts and Trust details including Beneficiaries
Are You A Deep Pocket Target?
Who goes ‘gunning’ for people’s homes and other assets?
Professional ‘Shakedown’ Plaintiffs (Slip & Fall Scams, Rear-End Traffic Scams, ADA Compliance Hucksters)
Health care patients
Unhappy clients & customers
Rental Property Tenants looking for a premises injury windfall
How Are You Targeted?
A professional plaintiff, an employee, customer or tenant calls a civil or personal injury attorney who has a tried and true formula to asses the ‘settlement value of the potential case’. This settlement value will determine if a law firm becomes interested in hearing more about the possibility of going after you. Do you have assets? Mortgage free home, rental property, interest in a business? If so, and your assets are significant enough to pass the lawyer’s ‘settlement value formula,’ your ears should be red like a rose, because people are talking about suing you and you are oblivious to the potential carnage coming your way.
Settlement Value of You
Claim Valuation $$$ (Example: $1,000,000.00) Percentage Calculation of Winning Case / Settling Case (75% chance assigned)
Target has Insurance up to $1,000,000.00
Target has paid off family home
Target has 3 rental properties
Target has 2 Franchise Restaurants (cash flow)
Costs (Contingency cost 25% – 50%)
How Do I become an Unattractive Target?
OK, I get it. How do I become an unattractive target.
We need to get your name off of the titles of real estate, titled vehicles and businesses you might own or have an percentage ownership. We need you to become invisible to a easily-accessed public records asset search.
We need a plaintiff lawyer’s asset search to show you as ‘uninteresting’ and boring because it appears you don’t have a lot of assets. There’s not much (visible) to go after. You want them to decline the case.
Security Through Obscurity (STO)
Security Through Obscurity is often used in the technical world. Wikipedia demonstrates how STO is a phrase used in high tech industry such as chip manufacturing for example: “Security Through Obscurity… is the reliance in security engineering on design or implementation secrecy as the main method of providing security to a system or component”.
Proactive Estate Planning and Asset Protection also depends on the concept of Security Through Obscurity. If someone seeks out a law firm to go after you, your family or your business for a get-rich fast scam or even for a legitimate reason because you were one of six vehicles in an injury accident… You want that law firms’ initial quick asset search to show you as boring! You want lawyers who can make your life a living hell for the next 5 years to take a ‘pass’ on taking on a case against you. Worse case, if a lawyer takes a case against you, you want them to grudgingly take the case, because they resigned themselves to work the case to the extent of your auto insurance policy because their ‘settlement valuation’ of you as a defendant met their bare minimums just for the settlement value of your insurance. Just another personal injury case to pay their Costco shopping bills for a few months.
They take the case against you intending to spend minimal time and expense for a quick insurance settlement possibly up to the policy limits of your auto insurance, general liability, or umbrella policy.
But what if the law firms’ quick asset search showed a 12-unit, mortgage-free, apartment building? Suddenly, your ‘case settlement value’ is flashing like a Las Vegas billboard. Asset protection in the real world, for regular people, can be as simple as keeping your head down and your personal finances private from prying eyes.
Traffic Accident Pile Up on the 580 Example
You were involved in a foggy morning pileup on the 680/580 Interchange near Livermore. Your vehicle was one of 6 vehicles behind a young and distinguished surgeon who sustained major injuries and might never be able to practice his intricate neurosurgeries going forward. That surgeon’s lifetime earning capacity is valued in the tens of millions of lost income. The asset search on you didn’t disclose that you are a frugal investor who has several rental properties and a vacation home in Montana. Thankfully, you have decent insurance. The lawyers considering how you fit in their case admit that proving you were negligent on a foggy morning and in the middle of the pileup would be difficult and costly. Moreover, there was a FedEx van driven by a professional driver and a national restaurant supply vehicle involved as well. Given the two commercial vehicles have large corporate pockets, substantial commercial insurance and a better chance to make a case for negligence and carelessness given the ‘professional drivers’ who should know better than to be involved a low visibility crash, the law firm concludes they have a far better percentage-chance of making the case super-valuable for the injured surgeon and super-valuable by percentage payout to the law firm from those two commercial vehicles. They don’t need you as they slog through the next 3-5 years in court. So your insurance companies’ cadre of attorneys settle your case quickly – years ahead of the trial involving the remaining defendants including FedEx and the restaurant supplier. Had the asset search showed any of your assets, you too, might be on a half-decade long road through legal Purgatory.
Upshot? Savvy people who protect assets (by making them invisible to normal asset searched) have a far better chance of AVOIDING becoming a defendant in lawsuits brought by scammers, fraudsters, and unfortunate random accidents no one saw coming nor could avoid.
How Do I Get My Name Off My Assets?
Let’s Talk About Our Tax Law Practice First
Jonathan is a skilled tax attorney. There are numerous legal and legitimate strategies to save our clients and our client’s businesses from paying more taxes than legally owed. Do you think your congress person or senator doesn’t take full advantage of tax planning? Anyone tax attorney who has earned their L.LM. in taxation has learned of the complexities and opportunities for their clients realize significant tax savings. Tax planning is as complex as the endless pages of legislation behind the always changing tax laws. It is complex, tedious but satisfying to save clients unnecessary tax expense.
Here at JW Law, we are consistently successful in saving our clients from paying more taxes than they must. It’s so gratifying when our clients’ tax savings significantly exceed our legal fees. That makes us feel good. Offering completely legal and ethical tax guidance is a pleasure and our promise. No need for pushing the envelope nor crossing the line. The law is the law – you just need to know the details of the legislation and what is legal and acceptable. Our clients can sleep soundly and so do we.
Now Let’s Get Back to Asset Protection
Our law firm’s tagline is from the heart: EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY & VALUE.
JW Law is comprised of Jonathan and Deanne Watts. As people, parents, and professionals we strive to be ethical and have integrity in all things. At the office. With clients. At home. In all things.
Just as our Tax Law clients value our principles because the government can squash its citizens if they color outside the lines, our Integrity is a core value when talking asset protection. Our law firm does not associate nor accept clients who want to hide assets from the government, people they owe money to, nor pending law suits. To that end, if you are the defendant in a lawsuit –or expect to be a defendant in a lawsuit– and are searching for a lawyer to assist you in hiding assets consider you are knocking on the door of fraud if you attempt to hide assets. The courts will go hard on you when you are found out.
Simple, prudent and effective Asset Protection, here at JW Law, is designed to protect for our hard working, ethical clients from unnecessary loss. Basic Asset Protection techniques can protect decent people, small family businesses, professionals who, like us, spent a decade+ working through college to become licensed professionals in California. Think architect, engineer, therapist, or similar. Most of our asset protection clients have a home and other assets than can be hidden from exposure.
In a litigious world, real, tangible assets such as your home, rental property or business is the equivalent to wearing a half-pound gold necklace and $30,000 watch while going about your day: Starbucks, grocery shopping, a Costco visit; jogging through the greenspace by your home. Those honestly-acquired assets around your neck and on your wrist make you a target for thieves and thugs.
Selling the small home where you raised your kids and moving to that dream house on the top of the hill at The Reserve in Pleasanton become a target – a target with all your other neighbors just because you have a home of greater value in the community you call home. You bought it so your kids and grandkids can be there weekends, swim in the pool, enjoy Bar-B-Q’s with the lovely views of views of Alameda County. Unfortunately, buying that dream house using the equity from your old home, puts a target on your back – just like 8-ounce gold necklace and Patek Philippe on your wrist might do if that was your thing.
Wearing pricey jewelry attracts street thieves and thugs. Owing a lovely home with equity exceeding any homestead carve out, is a target that attracts what some call “law abiding thieves and thugs”. Instead of intimidation, a knife or a gun, they use use lawyers and the Courts to shake you down and take vastly more significant assets from you.
Besides scammers and fraudsters who comb the public record for potential victims with assets, there are plaintiffs who show up at attorney offices following a traffic accident, an personal injury at or near a business you might own, a tenant or a pedestrian on or near a property you might own, a disgruntled employee or client who might go ‘postal’ on you seeking legal justice until they take what’s yours and make it theirs. This time the shakedown might begin by some random attorney doing basic asset search. If you have property, rentals, investments, businesses all in your name that becomes a potential legal case and you are more likely to become the target of some heavy hitters.
In a world where people want to be compensated by anyone in the vicinity of some anger they have about you, over a random accident you might have been a party to — no matter how inconsequential — if you have tangible assets, be it a home with equity, investment property, a business you are part or sole owner, cars, boats, RVs, a Cessna you’re a part owner of in a hanger at Oakland Airport – any and all visible assets associated with your name is an invitation for the world to try to take those assets from you.
Best asset protection practice is to remain OFF of all asset LISTS that are easily-accessed public records. Fortunately, we can get your current assets off the easily-accessed public asset LISTS, and never allow any new assets to ever make those public lists going forward. Privacy is underrated!
More Sophisticated Asset Protection
Yes, if necessary, JW Law can protect assets so that they are safe from future estate taxes – safe from future in-family estate contests.
That discussion is not this discussion. More advanced asset protection, as always at JW Law, will be completely legal and above board. More advanced asset protection and estate planning is for folks with significant wealth, or to be a part of your Family Office team. Experienced tax law attorney, Jonathan Watts, can design, draft and implement necessary sophisticated trusts to meet your goals for family, succession and tax avoidance or minimization..
We will not publish those strategies on our website. Reach out if you want to discuss such a situation.
East Bay Business, Tax & Estate Planning EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY & VALUE
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