One of the primary ways in which the David Bryan Willis works to protect business owners and their families is through the Firm’s asset protection planning services. Every business owner knows the fear of losing the wealth and value they have worked so hard to create because of one simple mistake or accident that may not even be their fault. An employee runs a red light and causes a wreck. Someone slips and falls in your store. An employee files a discrimination law suit. There are countless potential liabilities for business owners to fear but there are important steps you can take to limit this fear. With a properly developed and implemented asst protection plan, you can protect your business and your family from these types of threats.
There is one thing you absolutely must remember about asset protection planning: it must be done in advance. With proper planning and execution, you can protect your business and your family from future liabilities. However, an asset protection plan is unlikely to protect you, your business, or your family from existing liabilities.
The typical asset protection planning process involved four steps: Evaluate, Educate, Advise, and Execute. You can read about each of these steps below.
The first step in developing an asset protection plan is to evaluate the risks for your business. Each business carries unique risks to the business that must be analyzed on a case by case basis as well as unique asset classes that must be considered in any asset protection plan. For instance, a manufacturing company likely carries a higher risk for employee injuries and product defect claims while a software company carries a higher risk for claims related to intellectual property rights. The manufacturing company likely has more tangible property at risk than the software company. The tools or tactics available are different for each company and the types of assets at risk.
The second step is to educate you, the client, about the alternatives and options available to address the risks identified in the Evaluation of your business. Ultimately, the level of planning and the effectiveness of that planning is dependent upon an educated client that fully participates in the planning process and understands the tools implemented in the asset protection plan. Even when properly created, the best asset protection plan in the world isn’t going to protect a business owner that does not understand the plan and follow it.
It is important to understand that there is a lot of asset protection information out there that is just plain wrong. There are a number of service providers out there that offer forms for business entities, trusts, and other planning instruments claiming that they are all you need to protect you and your family. The problem is that none of those companies offer legal advice a point that you can read about in my article, Why Online Business Documents Could Be The Choice That Destroys Your Company. Do you really want to leave your future and your family’s future at risk?
After we have evaluated your business and educated you on the options and opportunities available to protect yourself and your family, it is time to develop a plan specific to your needs and your specific situation. We will usually develop three tiers of asset protection plans for you to select for execution. Most plans are offered on a flat fee basis.
The basic tier of any asset protection plan includes a choice of entity analysis and the creation of a single entity for the business.
The 2nd level of asset protection planning involves the use of contracts and multiple entities to separate a business’s assets and operations. This level of planning seeks to protect the assets by limiting which assets are exposed to specific potential liabilities identified in the Evaluation phase. The complexity of such a structure is dictated by the potential liabilities and number as well as type of assets as risk.
At the highest level, an asset protection plan includes the use of more sophisticated tools such as trusts to actually separate assets and entities not only within the business but also from the individual owner of the business. Complex asset protection plans also commonly involve the use of tools and entities in other jurisdictions to maximize the legal protections available. These plans can get quite complex but also offer the most comprehensive protection for business owners and their families.
After you have selected the plan that you feel best meets your needs and protects your interests, it’s time to implement that plan. Bryan will assist you in creating the necessary entities and structures, including all appropriate documentation, to execute the plan you selected. This includes everything from governing documents to contracts to documenting the transfer of assets as dictated by the plan.