3 Asset Protection Tips for 2013

Business Succession

As North Carolina business owners and other taxpayers adjust to the effects of the 2012 American Tax Payer Relief Act, they are starting to focus on asset protection strategies at the same time as minimizing taxes to the fullest extent possible.
Effective asset protection strategies in North Carolina, and around the country, are made well in advance of potential threats. Forming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or a corporation to protect oneself against an existing creditor will not be effective. Without advanced planning, like entity formation, establishing certain trusts, business and personal assets could be vulnerable to creditors.
In situations where assets are at risk, attempting to hide assets is not a wise method. According to Forbes, “If you have a judgment against you and you fail to disclose ownership of assets, you might be found in contempt.” Business owners should be prudent with services that promise creditor protection through these methods.
Separating and protecting personal and business liability can be done legally and effectively through strategic asset protection planning. Asset protection plans should be updated whenever changes in legislation, transfers of ownership, or business values and liabilities warrant revisions. Now that the dust of the fiscal cliff deal has settled, when exploring asset protection strategies, consider:

1. Where the business will be registered. Asset protection afforded to a business and business owner in North Carolina is different than for businesses registered in New York. Every state has unique legislation, so the state of business or trust formation and/or operation can make a big difference.
2. Transferring ownership to a trust. Trusts, when formed properly, can provide estate tax savings and reduce personal liability of the business owners.
3. Effects of income and gift taxes when transferring ownership. Gifting is a common tool in asset protection plans. However, transferring ownership could come with unintended gift and income tax consequences if an asset protection / succession plan is not structured properly.
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