End of the year asset protection “planning season” is upon us, so what should you do in order to make sure you have a clean “bill” of health when it comes to protecting your future? It seems to me the folks I speak with are more confused than ever before. As more information permeates the Internet, including more seminars, more videos and more opinions, it is easy to see why people get despondent and avoid doing any planning at all.
If you talk to your friendly corporate services provider you are liable to end up with a Nevada company owning your office building in California. Speak with an offshore provider and the next thing you know you are sending money to a far away distant land. Perhaps your local estate planner will leave you standing there with a revocable living trust and a pour-over will.
I am going to answer the first question with a simple analogy and it begins with a question; how do you find the right doctor for an illness?
You start out by going to a General Practitioner. A good GP evaluates the entire body of the patient and at the same time surveys the history of the person as well as their mental and emotional health. The doctor may take blood and order various other tests to help with his or her diagnosis all the while taking into account your medical history and current condition.
As a rule, the doctor will make a diagnosis only when all the facts of your condition are completely known. The doctor will maintain a level head and will reserve judgment until an entire analysis of your health is complete. As you go through the process, you may even conclude your GP is somewhat agnostic in his or her approach to your medical condition.
In my mind GP’s are an invaluable asset to our medical profession.
This simple metaphor is the same one you need to use when constructing an asset protection plan and it seems to me, this approach is perfect for maintaining lifelong and generational wealth.
In my doctor example, the facts of your physical health, guide the doctor to his or her remedy. Once an overall analysis of health is completed, the doctor will review all tests before making a final decision for the total heath of the patient.
Continuing along that same theme, the test results, or for that matter the blueprint for asset protection is case law. You can’t really give a patient a solution to a health problem until you have their test results, so how could you accurately give asset protection planning advice without looking at court rulings? Previous case law can be looked at as the blood test that comes back from the lab. Not much room for debate, is there?
In essence, the overall facts of your financial health combined with case law analysis are the necessary tools an asset protection practitioner needs to implement a definitive asset protection plan. I am not sure how you can view it any other way.
The second questions: should you do any planning at all. To answer this, my thoughts go to some rather recent client conversations. I have had no less than three conversations whereby the potential client had a million plus or minus estate and ended up needing nursing home care and no prior planning in place. With the current cost of nursing home care, it doesn’t take much for a family nest egg to dwindle down to nothing.
How about the doctor who feels his or her malpractice insurance will cover any claim using the policy limits, only to realize the liability came from the children or outside of the doctor’s profession.
If you hear what I hear every single day, you would run to the asset protection doctor and at the very least, buy some “asset protection insurance” for any potential family estate meltdown.
In the end, your clean “bill” of health will wind up paying you.
John Dietz, CWPP | CAPP