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Estate Planning and Asset Protection for Professionals

By Howard C. Stross
November 01, 2011

Estate planning and asset protection should be a high priority for professionals, especially for doctors, lawyers and other professionals whose industry is rife with lawsuits.

Without the proper estate planning documents in place, a successful lawsuit can be devastating to a professional’s hard-earned assets. However, good asset protection planning can safeguard assets against lawsuits by essentially taking them out of the professional’s possession in the eyes of the law. Done right, the professional still has access to the assets and the income they produce.

A solid asset protection strategy goes hand-in-hand with good retirement and estate planning. Trusts will be combined with limited liability companies (LLC) and insurance policies and other tools to protect your estate.

Estate Planning and Asset Protection for Professionals: Assembling Your Team

Every professional should have a team of advisors to work with in developing an asset protection strategy. Moreover, these advisors should be willing to work together and have the client’s best interests in mind.

The advisors in a professional’s asset protection team should at least include an estate and business planning attorney, an insurance agent, an investment advisor, and a CPA. Each of these advisors views the professional’s circumstances from different perspectives and will help ensure a well-rounded strategy for protecting his or her assets.

The Estate Planning and Asset Protection Strategy

The exact details of each professional’s estate planning and asset protection strategy will depend on his or her circumstances. However, the general approach used is to form an LLC, which is technically a business, to manage the professional’s assets and place the LLC under the ownership of an irrevocable trust.

Using estate planning trusts in this way removes ownership of the assets from the professional. They are all owned by the LLC, which is owned by the irrevocable trust. The trustee of the trust should be a trust firm or similar entity, not the professional. The LLC, if formed under Florida law, should have more than one owner, called a “member”.  The LLC may be formed under another state’s laws that may be better from an asset protection position then an LLC established under Florida law.

To learn more about estate planning, trusts and LLC’s, please visit our Estate Planning, Business Law and Free Resources pages of our website.

Stross Law Firm, P.A. also offers a Free 30-minute Initial Consultation for new estate planning clients. To schedule a consultation regarding estate planning and asset protection, visit our Free Consultation page or call us directly at 813-852-6500. You can also call us toll-free at 866-815-0081.

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The lawyers at the Stross Law Firm, P.A. invite you to call or e-mail to arrange a free 30-minute consultation regarding your legal and advisory needs concerning business law, real estate, estate planning, probate and trust administration. We serve clients throughout Florida. Find out how we work and how we may be able to help you.