Houston Asset Protection Attorney
When you work long and hard in the pursuit of financial stability, you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor and live a comfortable life. Whether you have acquired properties, established an investment portfolio, or built your own business, protecting your assets in order for you and your family to continue to benefit from your hard work is in your best interests.
Working to prevent asset loss by eliminating potential liabilities is the most effective when you plan ahead. Consulting with an experienced Houston estate lawyer who has the necessary financial and legal knowledge is beneficial. Skilled Houston asset protection attorney Whitney L. Thompson and our team at The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson may be able to assist you in exploring your options for asset protection.
Contact us today at (281) 214-0173 to schedule a consultation.
Asset protection planning involves using a set of strategies that aim to insulate your assets from the risk of loss. Asset protection can defend your assets from liabilities or the possibility of seizure by interested parties. With an asset protection strategy in place, it can be easier to ensure the seamless transfer of your assets to your loved ones as well as any resulting tax implications.
Understanding what is considered an ‘asset’ is important. While all assets are resources that have economic value, the types of assets that you have and your financial profile will help determine which legal and financial asset protection strategies you should consider using in your plan. Assets can either be tangible or intangible and hold economic value on their own or facilitate cash flow and generate income.
Assets can fall under the following types:
The risk of losing assets can be proportional to acquiring more assets, meaning that creditors are more likely to take advantage and sue you for a claim on your assets when they know that they can get a high value if they win. Asset protection planning is a way to prevent your assets from falling into the wrong hands. By setting up additional legal measures, you can make it harder for creditors to set a claim on your property and also allow you to be protected against possible losses from tax liability.
It is the job of an asset protection lawyer to determine the appropriate strategy that works best for your financial situation. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our team of experienced Houston asset protection planning attorneys may be able to develop a personalized asset protection strategy that is aligned with your financial goals.
To learn more about how we can help, contact us today at (281) 214-0173 to schedule a consultation.
The state of Texas has a baseline asset protection law with provisions that protect specific assets from being claimed by creditors in legal disputes.
These assets include:
Under Texas law, the value of real property protected against creditors is measured in acreage rather than the market value of the land. If you own land that is 200 acres or less, a creditor cannot sue for a claim on your land regardless if your land is worth $200,000 or $10 million. If a person lives in the city, they can be eligible for an exemption for an additional 10 acres of urban property. However, if the person is not married, they will only be eligible for an exemption of 100 acres of rural property.
For families, up to $60,000 of personal property is exempt from claims by creditors while unmarried individuals can be exempt up to $30,000. This can include property such as home furnishings, jewelry, livestock, motor vehicles, athletic equipment, and two guns.
It should be noted that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can and does claim such properties and does not need to adhere to state exemptions as a federal agency. The exemptions under the Texas Homestead Law only apply to creditors seeking a claim on your property.
Finding the right asset protection plan depends on the kind of liabilities or risks you expect to have in the future. While voluntary asset loss can happen when you donate, give, sell off, or spend your assets, involuntary asset loss often comes as a result of legal disputes.
The following legal disputes can result in involuntary asset loss:
Certain kinds of bankruptcy may require you to liquidate your assets in order to pay off debt from your creditors. While you may be able to avoid asset losses from being sued by creditors, you may be forced to sell off your property in order to pay back the entirety or a portion of your debt when you file for bankruptcy.
Depending on the circumstances of a divorce, a couple’s marital assets may be subject to distribution. Under Texas’ community property laws, any assets acquired during the marriage are automatically considered marital property.
If you or your spouse have not clearly distinguished which assets count as marital property compared to personal property with a pre or postnuptial agreement, you may lose some of your assets.
Government long-term care assistance programs such as Medicaid have eligibility guidelines that can be restrictive to those who do not meet the income threshold requirements. Medicaid also has a look-back period that severely impacts the ability of applicants to pass assets on or give away resources to family and friends. To retain ownership of your assets while maintaining eligibility, getting the help of a skilled Houston Medicaid planning attorney is important.
No matter how conservatively you manage your assets, there is still a significant risk of loss when dealing with other parties. For example, if you are a co-owner of a business with a friend or family member, you may be liable to deal with the financial consequences your co-owners make, tantamount to the loss of the business.
Physicians, lawyers, and other practicing professionals are especially at risk of lawsuits, specifically professional liability lawsuits. While professionals may enjoy an above-average salary, the risks associated with their line of work also make them more susceptible to professional malpractice lawsuits. To pay for legal fees and court-ordered damages, professionals may be required to sell off assets to raise money.
Asset protection involves balancing the potential legal risks as you acquire more property. Even seemingly innocuous decisions such as deciding to convert a real estate property into a rental property can have repercussions that result in being involved in a legal dispute that puts your assets at risk.
Waiting before you plan and create a strategy to protect your assets until you have amassed a sizable estate can greatly limit the options available and diminish the benefits you can get.
Contact the Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson today at (281) 214-0173 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys and to start your asset protection journey.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to asset protection. Your specific asset protection plan should take into account your specific financial profile, the kinds of assets that you own, and, most importantly, the kinds of risk that you could face. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our skilled Houston asset protection attorneys can evaluate your financial situation and build an asset protection plan that fits your needs.
Putting your assets into an irrevocable trust can be a good way to facilitate asset protection. Creditors will only be able to sue for possessions you hold under your name. With an irrevocable trust, you as a grantor surrender ownership of your assets into the trust and allow a trustee to manage your assets for you. As assets under an irrevocable trust are no longer under your control, creditors will not be able to come after them through a lawsuit.
Irrevocable trusts can also be a good way for you to be able to control your assets and determine when and how they will pass on to your beneficiaries. While an irrevocable trust may help in asset protection, there are other types of trusts that can be beneficial in the management of your assets. Getting the help of a qualified Houston trusts lawyer can help you determine which kind of trust best fits your needs and assist you in creating your trust.
Creating a binding prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be an easier way to avoid additional heartache and stress when the time comes that you need to file for divorce. While no one gets married with the expectation that it will turn into a divorce, a marital agreement can save you and your spouse time that you would spend potentially debating and negotiating on the distribution of your marital assets.
If you have or are at high risk of contracting a medical condition that can require long-term medical care in the future, exploring the possibilities of Medicaid asset protection planning can be a good idea. With the right Medicaid asset protection strategy, you might be able to retain eligibility while not having to spend down your assets or be subject to penalties due to Medicaid’s look-back period.
When you pass away without a Will, where your assets go is determined by Texas’ intestacy laws. Giving assets to people that are not in the heirship hierarchy can be extremely difficult. Even with a Will, additional probate litigation and challenges may lengthen the amount of time before your beneficiaries can get their inheritance. While Texas does not impose estate or inheritance taxes, federal estate tax liability may still be applied to the estate before assets are distributed to the heirs.
Having an updated estate plan can also be beneficial should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions about your assets on your own. A power of attorney can ensure that your wishes are honored not just regarding your care but also regarding the management of your estate and assets.
At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our experienced Houston probate lawyers may be able to guide you through the process of estate planning for asset protection and probate purposes.
To speak with one of our estate planning professionals and schedule a consultation, contact us today at (281) 214-0173.
The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson is a firm dedicated to our goal of protecting our clients’ best interests while providing quality legal services in matters of estate planning and asset protection. Experienced asset protection and estate planning lawyer Whitney L. Thompson has provided Houston clients with personalized strategies that allow them to reap the fruits of their hard work and pass on their legacy to their loved ones. Reach out and contact our firm today for a consultation with skilled Houston asset protection planning lawyer Whitney L. Thompson.
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