Recently, a new client made an appointment and came to my office to discuss a concern that was keeping him awake at night. Before I had even closed the door to my office, Bill started to explain why he was there. He told me that a little over a year ago his brother Steve had a lawsuit filed against him by a neighbor who claimed that Steve’s septic system was making the neighbor’s family sick.
“Jim, my brother didn’t even know his septic system had a problem, and suddenly he was facing a lawsuit. I didn’t think it was a big deal until he told me recently that he was afraid of losing his life’s savings! I realized that what has happened to my brother could happen to anyone, so I want to find out what I can do to protect my assets. My CPA and my financial advisor both recommended that I meet with you … so here I am.”
Bill gave me a few more details of the problems faced by his brother and then he started to tell me about his own life. After a successful business career, he and his wife had retired in San Antonio in 2003. His wife had died of cancer, so now he was alone. At least his three kids were in the area, and he loved to spend time with his grandchildren.
As Bill told me about the assets he had accumulated, I explained to him what was protected under Texas law, and what was not. He was disheartened to learn that most of his investment assets and his ranch were not protected. “Do you mean to tell me that if my turn comes up in the “lawsuit lottery”, I could lose all that we accumulated through a life of hard work and saving? I plan to leave my assets to my kids and grandkids. If I lost everything, I would be dependent upon them! I need to know if there is anything I can do to make sure that no one is able to take away my stuff.”
One of the most enjoyable parts of my practice is being able to provide solutions to the problems that my clients bring to my office. Every week, people just like Bill find their way to me, we work out a solution designed for their circumstances, and they end up with a plan ensuring that if they do get sued one day, their affairs are structured so that their wealth is preserved.
Protecting your assets is an increasingly important part of an estate plan designed to make you an unattractive target for plaintiff’s lawyers. Insurance is a first line of defense, but not always enough. Engaging an attorney to design your asset protection plan may be the missing piece in your estate plan. Many clients tell me that while they do intend to leave their estate as an inheritance for their children, their primary concern is that they be allowed to live out their retirement years in the manner they always planned.
Bill summed it up best when he said to me, “After all I have worked for in life, I want to make sure that I don’t end up scrambling to find a job after I thought I was retired.” The last time I talked to Bill he told me that he’s sleeping better … and grateful for his asset protection plan.
If you would like to learn more about wealth preservation and estate planning, call us for a complimentary initial consultation. Please understand that asset protection planning is only effective when initiated before any claims are brought against you. Bill acted on time. His brother was too late.
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