Asset protection trusts are financial planning tools that can shield assets from creditors. They are the strongest protection in protecting assets from lawsuits, or other judgments against your estate.
This form of trust differs from other types of trusts because it has one function, to shield your assets from creditors. There are other types of trusts in order to pass your assets to your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries. This form of trust is not meant for that because APTs are irrevocable.
How Asset Protection Trusts Work in Florida
Because an asset protection trust is irrevocable, once the assets go into the trust, they never come out. The ability to add or remove assets within the trust can only be done with a revocable trust. This is completely different and does not offer the protection benefits of an irrevocable asset protection trust.
Two Types of Asset Protection Trusts
- Domestic Asset Protection trusts: This form of trust is established in the United States, which means it is governed by U.S law. There are various features involved with domestic asset protection trusts in the state of Florida. You will be required at least one trustee who is either a state resident or a corporation doing business in Florida. Your assets also must be located or deposited in the state of Florida.
- There are specific states with well known to be favorable asset protection trust laws, Florida is not one of them. These states include Alaska, Delaware, Utah, and Nevada. Florida does not have a statute enabling self-settled domestic asset protection trusts. This means that Florida law follows a public policy against self-settled trust providing asset protection for the trust maker.
Foreign Asset Protection Trusts
For asset protection trusts formed outside of U.S jurisdiction, it is considered an “offshore account.” These foreign asset protection trusts are commonly formed in the Cook, Nevis, Caymans, Seychelles, and a few other countries as well.
Foreign asset protection trusts are governed by the laws of whichever country it is formed in. There is a huge advantage to forming on foreign territory, because of a creditor wins a lawsuit against you, it may not be enforceable in a different jurisdiction. Foreign asset protection trusts also offer enhanced privacy protections in terms of not disclosing assets.
Benefit of Asset Protection Trusts in Florida
Protect Assets from Lawsuits and Creditors
Although you may not be expecting to be sued, having this form of trust is set up as an “in case.” You do not necessarily need to do something wrong purposefully to end up facing a lawsuit.
If you run a business, an asset protection trust will allow you to have protection against personal injury claims. It can also protect you from debt lawsuits if you end up defaulting on business loans or lines of credit.
Skip Probate Process
Trusts also make it possible for your heirs to skip the probate process. Probate occurs when you pass away. It is the legal transfer of your assets. It will pay off additional debts, and follow your will. It is not only a long process but can be expensive as well. Having an asset protection trust will allow your family to avoid this.
Safeguards Assets for Beneficiaries
If you are wealthy, forming an asset protection trust can ensure that regardless of the situation, your beneficiaries will be set. You worked hard for your assets, so you must protect them.
If you prefer to have your assets shielded from the eyes of the world, an asset protection trust can do just that. Instead of your assets being public knowledge, creditors and the general public will have no knowledge of your assets or their value.
Estate Planning Vehicle
Using an asset protection trust can double as protection, as well as part of your estate plan. Not only will your assets be shielded, but you will be able to set up beneficiaries to receive the assets immediately upon your death.
Funding an Asset Protection Trust
Although cash is a common way to fund an asset protection trust, there are a variety of other options as well.
- Florida LLCs
- Real estate
- Intellectual property
Should You Start an Asset Protection Trust
It is good to note that an asset protection trust is irrevocable. There is no such thing as a revocable asset protection trust, in the case of a revocable trust, it would simply be a trust. Once assets are placed into an asset protection trust, they cannot be taken back out again.
If you have a number of assets that you are looking to protect, it may be worth forming this form of trust. It can save your assets for your beneficiaries, and provide stability in the future.
Forming an asset protection trust is time-consuming as well, but for business owners looking to avoid seizure when it comes to their personal assets and business debts.
Asset protection trusts are somewhat complex, meaning it is smart to work with an estate planning attorney if you decide to create one. There are two steps involved with starting a trust. The first is creating the trust document and the second, funding the trust.
The trust document involves choosing a trustee, naming beneficiaries, and deciding how you want the assets to be managed on your behalf. When funding the asset protection trust you will need to decide on the assets that will go into it. You may also want to consider establishing a limited liability company and understanding the potential tax implications before doing so.
Overall it can be an incredible vehicle to protect your assets, as long as it is done with full disclosure and under the watchful eye of an attorney.