Protecting Assets from Lawsuits and Creditors: Part 2

Part One of “Protecting Assets from Lawsuits and Judgments” described the many kinds of personal and professional liability that can make somebody susceptible to judgments and lawsuits. We also provided some tips on protecting your assets from judgments or lawsuits with proper insurance and business entities.

Now, we’ll detail more strategies to protect your cash, your investments, and your home from lawsuits and creditors.

3. Protect Your Cash Stash: Save Money Safely

A savings account is NOT a safe place to store your cash! (Even without creditors and lawsuits, a bank account is NOT the safest place to put your money.) Aside from offering significantly low interest rates, bank accounts often get reported to the IRS and are accessible by creditors—even without your foreknowledge, in some situations. Saving a lot of money in conventional bank accounts can actually make you a target!

Three financial vehicles often used to keep cash safe from harm are Retirement Accounts, Cash Value Accounts (part of a whole life insurance policy), and Annuities. Let’s take a look at each.

Retirement Accounts

Many people are aware that qualified retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs (usually*) have protection from creditors and lawsuits. This protection can extend up to $1 million, as provided for in the Bankruptcy Reform Act. These can be good choices for a portion of your savings when you are nearing 59.5. You may also want to take advantage of an employer match. However, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) made several changes to reduce business and consumer bankruptcy abuse. 

Protections depend on the IRA type, with Roth and traditional IRAs protected up to $1,362,800. There are inflationary adjustments every 3 years, with the next change due in 2022. Regardless of the total dollar value, rollover IRAs, SEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs receive full protection from creditors with a bankruptcy filing. Furthermore, with the Covid Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act, if you own a business, the debt limit is now $7.5 million for small businesses that file under subchapter V.  

What’s more, with Biden’s 2022 budget proposal and capital gains tax hike, high-income investors are shifting their attention to Roth IRAs. This is because a Roth IRA allows you to contribute after-tax dollars, giving investors tax-free withdrawals. This is a great illustration of the importance of paying taxes when you know what they are, as opposed to differing them to an unknown future rate.

Should You Max It Out?

Just because you hear again and again to “max out your 401(k)” doesn’t mean it’s the best advice. Putting your cash where YOU can’t get to it may make it safer from lawsuits. Yet, it doesn’t do enough to increase YOUR financial certainty in the meantime. It’s crucial that at least a portion of your savings is available and accessible to you when you need it. And unfortunately, neither your 401(k) or your IRA are particularly liquid. (See our articles on “Financial Flexibility: Saving Too Much in All the Wrong Places” and “Saving Right: Is Your Emergency Fund Prepared for Opportunities,” for more.)

(And we’re not sure that plaintiffs are your biggest worry when you could lose 30, 40, even 50% of your retirement account in a single year to “the market.”)

So… where ARE your assets safe from lawsuits and creditors?

Whole Life Cash Value Accounts

Cash value accounts in a properly structured whole life insurance policy are (usually*) one of the most certain places you can store your cash. (You may also hear this insurance called participating whole life, dividend-paying whole life, mutual life insurance, and permanent insurance.)

Cash value accounts typically provide an internal rate of return many times higher than what banks provide. It might be 4.5% or higher (after 20 years). In the example above, for a 45-year-old non-smoking male, see the last two columns at Year 20 and Year 30 for estimated IRR. In some cases, cash value might exceed 5% (depending on your age) with even greater safety and no risk of principle as in market-driven vehicles.

While some years may be lower, consider this: once your cash value increases, it cannot decrease (unless you withdraw–here’s what we recommend instead). While receiving a dividend is not guaranteed, the floor of your cash value is guaranteed to increase each year. And historically, dividends have been distributed even in great economic turmoil. That’s more than can be said for the stock market. 

There are other benefits, such as tax-advantaged treatment (gains are not taxed as long as the policy is maintained), and the ability to use funds or borrow against them with no qualifying hoops to jump through (an essential benefit for entrepreneurs and investors). And in most states*, cash value accounts are protected from judgments, lawsuits, and even from IRS knowledge.

Annuities

A type of investment that returns a steady, guaranteed income, annuities are (usually*) protected against lawsuits and creditors. Annuities are also a life insurance product, and as such, they are protected against market fluctuations. When someone purchases an annuity, they exchange a sum of money for regular payments guaranteed for a certain length of time, or, in some cases, for the remainder of a lifetime.

While annuities are extremely safe (in most states) from plaintiffs or creditors, they don’t have the flexibility and benefits of whole life insurance. (For reasons a bit beyond the scope of this article, we don’t often recommend annuities for our clients. We’re happy to discuss why and offer alternatives in a complimentary consultation.)

*We say “usually” or “most states” because laws do vary—sometimes significantly—from state to state. Before you commit to any asset protection strategy, it is important to verify the specific laws in your state or jurisdiction as to which assets (and how much) are exempt. (And remember… if you move to a new state, check their laws as your protection may change dramatically.)

Helpful tools include the Asset Protection Society, which has a 50 State Asset Protection Chart and Duggan Bertsch for legal expertise. (However, don’t stop there—verify independently that the information is up-to-date for your state!)

4. Protect Your Home (and other property) from Lawsuits and Judgments

Homestead Exemptions

Some states provide protection for home equity, which means that courts cannot award your home equity to creditors in the case of bankruptcy.

An example is if you owe $20,000, and a bank sues and obtains a judgment against you. They cannot forcibly sell your home if your home equity is under your state’s exemption limit. In state-X, the exemption is $50,000 and your home’s value is $400,000 with a $370,000 mortgage balance. The $30,000 falls below the exemption limit. 

Check your state’s laws to see if they provide a generous homestead exemption to protect the equity in your home from creditors. (However, don’t consider this a safe haven or liquid. We caution clients against thinking of “equity” as an “asset.” You can lose access to the equity and cash if your property values fall.)

Currently, Florida has an unlimited homestead exemption. However, exceptions might include the length of ownership and acreage. States with generous exemptions include Montana $250,000, Minnesota $390,000-$975,000 for farms, and Nevada $550,000 equity. States that have minimal exceptions include Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas. Albeit they allow some type of tenancy, states with no exemptions include Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

Mortgages

Alternatively, if your state provides a minimal homestead exemption, it may make sense to keep a large mortgage on your home. This might discourage anyone from coming after your home. Free-and-clear assets are more vulnerable. This is also worth noting if you have a business and file as sole proprietor instead of LLC or LLP. 

Titling

The way you have a property titled can have critical ramifications in the event of a lawsuit or judgment.

For instance, if you own your home with your spouse as tenants by the entirety, both you and your spouse own an indivisible interest in the home. If one of you is sued, creditors cannot force the other spouse to sell his or her interest in the house. This can help protect your home in a state where the law doesn’t provide a sufficient homestead exemption. (This option is only available in some states, and it applies only to your personal residence, not investment property.) 

If you are divorced, and your ex isn’t paying the mortgage, you may have options in lieu of bankruptcy. Review the final order you received from the divorce court about equity in the home. Talk to a lawyer about if a judge can put the property in your name so you can sell it.

Tenancy by entirety can protect your home from personal or business creditors who win judgments against you, as a judgment cannot be placed against one spouse unless both are held jointly responsible. Other forms of titling include tenancy in common and joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Speak to a lawyer licensed in your state, well-versed in both real estate and asset protection, for specifics concerning your situation.

Gifting property

If you live in a state where community property laws apply, gifting property to your spouse (for instance, if you own a business that could make you a target and they do not) may make sense. In that case, a married couple is considered to own all property acquired during the marriage jointly, even if assets are titled in only one spouse’s name.

In other instances, gifting property to heirs while you are still living in it may be a workable strategy. Of course, you must clarify in writing provisions for you to retain use, and you must also carefully consider that heirs may become subject to lawsuits, as well!

A gifting strategy is useful for protecting and transferring other family assets. Creditors cannot seize assets that you no longer own. If you don’t expect to need the money while you’re alive, you might benefit from your family enjoying the early inheritance. Limited assets can be gifted to family members outright, without a trust. As of 2021, with the Gift Tax Exclusion, you can give away up to $15,000 per person without incurring a gift tax liability, subject to a lifetime exclusion of $11.7 million. The giftable amount is $30,000 for couples (split as $15,000 each).

Taxes on Gifts

If you gift more than the exclusion to a recipient, you will need to file tax forms to disclose those gifts to the IRS. You may also have to pay taxes on it. If that’s the case, the tax rates range from 18% up to 40%. However, you won’t have to pay any taxes as long as you haven’t hit the lifetime gift tax exemption. A concern is how to gift if you have more than one recipient. In this case, you will need to disclose these gifts in tax forms to the IRS. The tax rate is 18-40%. However, you won’t pay taxes if you have not reached the exemption limit. 

Let’s say that this year you give $315,000 to relatives. This is $300,000 over the limit and you should report it when you complete your taxes albeit the tax isn’t immediately due. The IRS simply subtracts the $300,000 from the lifetime exemption. Hence, your remaining exemption drops from $11.7 million to $11.4 million.

Gift Tax Limit: Lifetime

Most taxpayers won’t ever pay gift tax because the IRS allows you to gift up to $11.7 million over your lifetime without having to pay gift tax. This is the lifetime gift tax exemption, and it’s roughly $120,000 higher than it was in 2020.

So let’s say that in 2021 you gift $215,000 to your friend. This gift is $200,000 over the annual gift exclusion. That means you will need to report it to the IRS. However, you won’t immediately have to pay tax on that gift. Instead, the IRS deducts that $200,000 from your lifetime gift tax exemption. Assuming you have never made any other gifts over the annual exemption, your remaining lifetime exemption is now $11.5 million ($11.7 million minus $200,000).

5. Protect Assets Long-Term with a Trust

Trusts can be used to control what happens to your assets when you are gone. Even so, they can also be a way to protect assets from lawsuits and creditors while you are living. Irrevocable trusts allow you to remove assets from your estate. If assets are a part of your estate, creditors can obtain access to them with a judgment.

Irrevocable trusts can be created directly, or revocable trusts can be converted by default. A revocable trust will automatically revert to an irrevocable trust upon your death. At that point, the trust cannot be changed and the creditors of your estate cannot come after the assets that are in the trust, even when distributed to beneficiaries.

The process of setting up a trust that can stand up to creditors and lawsuits will require some professional help. We recommend consulting a reputable estate planning lawyer if you are considering setting up a trust.

6. Never Give Assets Away without a Fight!

A lot of people believe that if you owe a creditor money or have a judgment against you, there is nothing you can do to fight it. This is not true! Companies typically write off or ”charge-off” debts as losses after 6-months of non-payment. However, consumers are still liable and responsible for paying the debt. Some banks will sue consumers for non-payment and because the consumer doesn’t answer a complaint summons, the bank can obtain a default judgment in the full amount. Another concern is third-party debt collectors. They often buy the debt for pennies on the dollar and pursue the debt, sometimes aggressively through judgments against consumers for inflated amounts.

Sadly, most consumers do not even fight these creditors, unaware that oftentimes the third-party creditors do not even have the proper paperwork to win a judgment if challenged. Many will disappear if you simply ask them to validate the debt. Some are not even licensed to do debt collection in your state! Others may be legitimate, perhaps even working for the original creditor. Still, they may likely negotiate solutions. However, it is much easier to negotiate a solution before a judgment than after a judgment has been won against you.

Negotiating Your Debts

With asset protection and financial advising, you may want to seek advice on negotiating debts to get you back on track financially. Consumer credit counselors may help lower your interest rate. You may also find success in asking a creditor to negotiate a lower payment to avoid future lawsuits. They will sometimes deduct up to 30% off the original balance due and set up payment arrangements if you want to pursue this option yourself. This article from Nolo.com may give you some more direction: “Negotiating on Credit Card Debt.” It includes advice on how to set up payment dates, negotiate long-term payments, set up settlements and ask for lower interest rates. National Debt Relief offers debt relief assistance, while Nerd Wallet explores sample debt relief settlement options

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Sort of like insurance, asset protection, and personal finance strategies are best employed before there is a problem. Asset protection involves both financial and legal expertise, and if you have significant assets, you will want to consult a financial advisor licensed in your state, as well as an estate planning attorney.

Is it time to implement a strategy to protect your assets against lawsuits or creditors? 

At Prosperity Thinkers, we’re here to help you create good money methods and save more sustainably. If we can help you to start saving with whole life insurance, we’d love to hear from you.  Read about our clients to see if we might sound like a match.

55 thoughts on “Protecting Assets from Lawsuits and Creditors: Part 2”

    1. Hi Kim, we would recommend contacting Rick Randall who does estate planning (and is founder of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, so he can find you someone to help if he is not a fit.) You can email him at rickr@nnepa.com. We provide general financial educational information but we don’t give specific advice or help with asset protection.
      Thanks! Kate

  1. Had an eviction judgement that is now over 9 years old so its past the statute of limitation sin my state unless the landlord renews the judgement. Its fallen off my credit report but I became totally and permanently disabled . The problem is I want to rebuild my credit and I am afraid if I apply for a credit card the landlord will try and collect money from my credit card….Also when I apply for another apartment the new landlord is asking if I owe any back rent ? The judgement was for $ 1700 and I never paid because I became disabled and its been a financial hardship. Do I owe back rent if the judgement is past the statute of limitations ?

    1. Hi, We can’t answer your legal questions about back rents or judgements. I have personally never heard of a creditor forcing collection from a credit card, though. I’m pretty sure they could only go after assets, not credit.

      A shortcut to to rebuilding credit is a secured credit card that you use and pay off regularly. (Not a great deal as YOU supply the credit line, but they do work to rebuild credit history.) A website such as CreditKarma would have more information and recommendations.

      Hope that helps,
      Kate

  2. “Never Give Assets Away without a Fight!”

    Doesn’t this attitude just increase the problems of our already litigious society?
    It should be qualified. Only fight if you honestly believe you are in the right. Instead, if you legitimately owe someone, and are able to pay, then pay your debts. It’s basic integrity

    1. AGREED… if you owe money and can pay it, you should! And because it IS a litigious, it’s also important to protect yourself from predators. (In a recent poll, people said they felt winning the lottery was their best chance of getting rich. Suing someone was #2. Sad.) Also good to protect your heirs.

  3. Husband has federal IRS tax liens accrued prior to marriage. Marries wife later. House (only one) in wife’s name purchased after marriage with wife’s assets. Husband and wife then have children. Now making will. Can wife leave husband life estate in house and ownership to children on husbands death so husband not homeless without fear of gov’t seizing house for tax liens.

    1. You’ll want to consult with an asset protection attorney. The IRS CAN lien a home, although they cannot kick you out of your home, to my understanding. (And that’s not legal advice!) Kate
      https://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/irs-tax-lien-on-your-home.aspx

  4. Great info here. Our situation is this. Before we were married, My wife was in a brick and mortar store with a business partner (he was the money/she managed). They both signed the lease. Bad location, couldn’t keep up etc. This closed 2 years ago. A collections law firm is sending letters to them both that they are going to sue if they don’t get back a bunch of money. In the meantime, she has a large sum of money in one stock that was gifted to her 30 or so years ago. In addition to her IRA, we look at that stock as additional retirement/ emergency funds. We assume they can go after that. Her IRA is maxed out right now. Her lawyer is starting the negotiations with that firm but is there something we can do with that stock/money to keep it safe. And as much as possible it not looking like a Fraudulent Conveyance? She makes bare minimal money as a sports instructor now and has troubles making ends meet as it is. Thanks for you time.

    1. Negotiation is definitely your friend. And it sounds like you have a lawyer, you may want to seek specific advice from an asset protection lawyer about this. In my personal experience (not legal advice)… even with a judgment, you can sometimes negotiate payments–sometimes even interest free, which can be preferable to giving up assets (especially if you’ll get hit with capital gains for selling). The best time to protect assets is before a lawsuit, but as perhaps it hasn’t reached quite that point, definitely consult with someone who can give legal advice on this.

  5. I had a home that I sold 8 years ago and collections says I still own on it but cannot show me proof. We went to court, they changed courtrooms and didnt notify me so I lost bc I wasn’t there and now have a judgement. I’m acquiring a yoga studio with a partner, am I at risk of seeing this judgement arise to attempt to take this asset? My business is set up as a nonprofit, would it be better for the business to be on the paperwork rather than my name??

    1. Hi Kristen, judgments can potentially leave you vulnerable to liens, wage garnishment, bank account garnishment. We suggest you consult with an asset protection lawyer. (But that is strange that a house could be “sold” and still have money owed on it… if you used title and escrow companies that should not have happened!)

  6. What is the website for Fiscal Fitness? The link in your article doesn’t work. I need a professional negotiator in DC and Virginia.

    1. Hi Michelle, they are no longer around, sorry about that. We don’t currently have a relationship with a negotiator we can recommend, however, you might check into NationalDebtRelief.com, they are BBB approved and well-rated. We updated our article.

  7. My husband got in an accident.I have a house but his name is not on it. Can it be taken from me if he is sued?

    1. Hi Jennifer, we are not asset protection lawyers and you may want to consult one. It is possible you could be helped by a homestead exemption and also because the house is in your name. Also an umbrella policy to raise liability limits can be helpful. It is not common for a home to be at risk. See this article for more and definitely consult someone familiar with your state’s laws if you are still concerned: https://markjkohler.com/6-ways-to-protect-your-home-from-a-lawsuit/ Hope that helps!

  8. I was sued over a barn the process started in april of 2016 there was a judgment against me just me as of December 2017 but my husband and myself own a house in New York that we live in with our children can they touch our house over the judgement? We have owned the house for 4 years now and I am worried about them trying to take it.

    1. Hi Lynn, You’ll want to talk with an attorney in your state that specializes in asset protection, and/or real estate. In my limited experience, a judgment can be placed on your home, but an owner cannot be forced out… in other words, a judgment is paid (and must be paid) when the owner wants to sell or refinance. And that is NOT legal advice! I just used to be a realtor in Washington State and that’s how things worked there. And I know the laws tend to be protective of people’s homes, in terms of not forcing someone to lose their home unless they are delinquent on their mortgage.
      Kate

  9. I am in a civil litigation and possible punitive damages claims against me. Would it be legal to gift my property to my son to avoid properties being seized?

    1. You’ll definitely want to consult an asset protection attorney, Debbie. It can definitely raise red flags to give away property, and even if you could do that, you’d want legal advice on HOW to do it (paperwork-wise, tax-wise, etc.) for a good result. Just found this, which might shed light, but definitely consult an attorney in your state: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-03/marketplace/sns-201302221930–tms–realestmctnig-a20130303-20130303_1_property-fraudulent-transfer-tax-implications

  10. Catherine Gabriele

    My home is my one and only asset. How can I protect my equity from unforeseen medical expenses and lawsuits? It is the one and only asset that I have for my children and I want to make sure it is completely protected for them in the event of an illness. My home will be their inheritance, if things go according to plan, and I don’t want any of the equity being lost to a medical expense or a creditor.

    Can you provide me with some direction?

    1. Creditors can’t take your home, as a general rule, although liens can be placed against a home. (And sometimes people extract equity in order to pay for medical expenses voluntarily if needed). Hope that helps…

  11. Sandra A Pankratz

    I’m wanting to take a person to small claims court for loss of personal items taken while gone was in her care. Also over a thousand in utilities I was left with upon returning to hone. She receives an annual cash amount and I was wondering, can I sue her and it be attached to her trust?

    1. We can’t give legal advice, but suggest you find an online lawyer you can consult with for a small fee with small claims experience in your location. Good luck to you.

  12. I’m being sued for an accident and I want to prepare for the worst. I currently own no property but I do have some savings which I don’t want to be taken

    Is it legal to move cash assets into exempt property: such as buying a car (my car was totaled) and buying a new home for the homestead exemption?

    1. I would ask your lawyer! We know that in cases such as bankruptcy a car can be protected, so that’s a good question to ask and you may be able to do that.

  13. Hi
    I currently live in the state of florida and have documented established domicile 3+ years there but own a house in alabama.
    I’m concerned about being sued from the result of an automobile accident in florida.
    I can no longer afford to live in florida but alabama has lower protections for IRA & roth assets.
    My question is if i get sued which states protection will apply:florida the state the accident took place in, insurance Dl, car registration etc, etc and had residency or alabama they state I may end up living in by the time a suit is filed?

    I need to know if I’m opening myself up to more liability by moving back to AL, I 100% live off of IRA, roth assets.

    1. Hi Paul, Your story describes why umbrella liability policies can be so important! Unfortunately we can’t advise you in this situation, but we would caution you about moving to a state with lower protections without consulting an asset protection lawyer first, or potentially waiting until such case is settled.

  14. I am in the state of Virginia, being sued as the adminitraix of my u cles estate by the heirs, I own half interrest in a piece of property, the other half belong to the heirs, I own a house by myself in Virginia plus a bank y
    account and have social security and a job, I havent got hit with the lawsuit yet, how can I protect my assets

  15. I live in Suffolk county new york. Civil judgment was awarded to the other side for 20,000.
    Our home mortgage are under wife’s name only for over 12 yrs. Can the go after our home. We also have a few auto vehicle under her name as well.

    1. You’ll want to consult a lawyer familiar with your state and county law. A judgment can be hard to escape, but the specifics can vary in how it can be collected. You’ll want to give the specifics to someone who specializes in asset protection. (We specialize in financial advice, but don’t give legal advice!)

    1. Michael, there is some protection for employee-sponsored retirement accounts, but it’s limited and not absolute (one source says “if the creditor is your spouse or the Internal Revenue Service, even an employer plan might not help. Federal law protects the first $1.095 million of assets in individual retirement accounts, but only if you file for bankruptcy. If you don’t file for bankruptcy, state law determines the amount of protection your IRA assets will receive.”) However we’re not fans of having money locked up til you’re 59-1/2!

      A regular brokerage account provides no protection from a creditor or lawsuit that we’re aware of. You would want to meet with an asset protection lawyer/ estate planning attorney for more information. We suggest contacting the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, they do good work. https://nnepa.com/

  16. I am going through a personal law suit from a bar fight that all I was doing was trying to protect my son.. I have a company that’s Inc. is my company bank account safe ? Thank you

    1. Incorporating a business definitely provides a level of protection, but you’ll need to consult a lawyer who deals specifically with asset protection for further help.

  17. I am trying to find a personal liability policy, possible comprehensive or umbrella to cover land and personal assets but there is not homestead of homeowners’ ins. Is there such a thing and if so, where can I find it? I have talked with a few ins. co. but without a homeowners, Ive been told, it will be hard to find.

    1. Hi Elva, you might try an online source that works with multiple companies, perhaps they will have this option. Email Jill@Partners4Prosperity.com for our code for P4Prewards.com, they have excellent pricing on term policies and umbrella policies and work with multiple carriers, though we can’t say if they provide this option or not.

  18. Where can I invest my money while also keeping it safe from judgments/ creditors? I had a Roth IRA. Is there anything similar?

    1. Denese, you should look into what protections your state has for life insurance cash value, in many states, high cash value whole life is the best place to store cash for privacy and protection, though some states have limitations. You might find answer through googling or an asset protection lawyer can also help you out.

    1. Hi Parish, we don’t set up trusts, but we do recommend working with the fine folks at the National Network for Estate Planning Attorneys. You can find them at nnepa.com and they offer estate planning help in all states. Best to you!

  19. My husband and I own a home together equally and two pieces of property equally in the State of Ga. I alone own a home with 4 other siblings in Ga. One sister living there free of charge has two pit bulls, we can not get liability insurance for this. If someone is bitten by the dogs and sues each of us owners can that person get a judgement for my jointly owned property in Ga? My husband has zero responsibility to the house in Florida.

    1. Hi Susi, There are some things I would suggest you try:

      First, try different insurance companies. Here is a list of potentially pitbull friendly companies, including State Farm and Farmers: http://www.bullypaws.org/info/display?PageID=8657

      Secondly, get yourselves (you and your other siblings, plus you and your husband would be wise to do so, too) umbrella policies that would cover over and above what a homeowner’s policy would cover. You can get umbrella policies that will cover exclusions in your regular homeowner’s policy if you cannot find regular homeowner’s policy without exclusions. (Of course, you’ll want to check that the umbrella policy doesn’t have the same exclusion… they can.)

      Third, there is such a thing as canine liability insurance, which means that the dog owner purchases a policy that protects them just in case of a dog bite or other dog-related incidents. It would be very reasonable for the siblings to require the sister to obtain and pay for such a policy, and we encourage you to make that part of the requirement for her use of the home. https://dogbitelaw.com/insurance-for-dog-owner/where-to-get-dog-owner-liability-insurance

      Lastly, if agreement on how to manage the home in a way that protects all – preferably at the dog owner’s expense, not yours – cannot be arrived at, I would personally question the wisdom of letting such a situation continue. Perhaps the home can be sold so that you are no longer partners on a property that may have potential for liability. However, I also know that some pet owners are eager to do whatever they can to keep their homes and keep their pets, so as co-owners, you and your siblings will hopefully be able to agree on a solution. I was surprised to learn that over one-third of homeowner’s insurance claims are dog-related, so you are right to be concerned.

      Good Luck!
      Kate

    1. While we give some general recommendations in these two articles, we recommend consulting with an asset protection attorney in your state if you have significant assets. Rules vary state to state, and of course your situation is unique.

      It’s also important to have adequate insurance, an umbrella policy can be a cost-effective way to add additional personal protection from lawsuits, and of course, if you are in business, you’ll need other kinds of insurance appropriate for your situation, as well as a corporate structure, which should be designed to limit personal liability.

      Hope that helps!

    1. Good question… this Nolo.com post relates to your situation. Be sure to read the whole thing… it explains that while most IRAs are NOT protected from creditors when passed to heirs, than Florida is one of the exceptions. That’s a good thing for you, but we’d still recommending contacting a Florida asset protection lawyer to fully understand the situation.
      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/supreme-court-rules-inherited-iras-not-protected-from-creditors.html

  20. My dad passed in March 2016, he was in a property dispute that ended January 23 2013. It all started in 20014, he lost, appealed and won, but it went back to the judge and he ordered the county do a survey and he pay for it. The survey was done 11 months later, no bill for it, no copy of it, just a company came out and put marks in. We hired an attorney to stop the erection of the fence, but everything was dissmissed and we were told that the judge put estopple in the case and the January date is the final decision. We had no option to appeal, because what would we appeal with no paperwork. When dad passed he had 7 bucks to his name, he has this place we live in ( in a trust ) we have paid all the back taxes plus a lien for a survey we have no paperwork on. Now the neighbor is sueing the trust

  21. My spouse is incarcerated in the state of CA? What can I do to protect our CA assets? Restitution upon release is going to be over 125,000.

    1. This is a tricky one. The rule of thumb is that if you have access to assets, then your creditor (the government) would, too. We would recommend consulting with an attorney specializing in trusts. See this article for some possibly relevant discussion: https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-a-trust-s-spendthrift-clause-protect-against-a-628597.html

      If you have money in life insurance, asset protection in California is limited to $19400 for a married couple, according to this article from the asset protection society: http://www.assetprotectionsociety.org/california-state-asset-protection-laws/ Bankruptcy will not protect you from restitution. Occasionally a lawyer can assist with negotiating for a lower amount.

  22. I sold my 50% share in a business to my partner. Unfortuunately I am a personal guarantor on a mortgage our company had on a building. The mortgage company has refused to let me come off of the mortgage. I live in fear of my partner not keeping up the mortgage which could lead to default and the mortgage cpmany pursuing me. Any suggestions on how to protect my assets are greatly appreciated. Thanks

  23. I’m buying my partner out of a home that we live in and is in her name only , she will be quick claiming the owner ship over to me . the morgage is still in her name . how should I title the quick claim deed for now . I’m not changing title at this time.

    1. You’re talking about “quit claim”, which is a document used to release one’s interest in or “claim” on a property.

      I’m sorry, we can’t give specific legal advice, and although there are likely documents you can find online or elsewhere, we recommend you consult a local real estate attorney. Buying someone out of a home when mortgage is in their name can have pitfalls you should be well aware of. It is doable but lenders don’t like it and there are potential issues, as she is still responsible for mortgage and it is still on her credit (and can affect her ability to purchase other properties) but of course “your” house will be foreclosed on if mortgage is not paid. I’ve heard of lenders even calling mortgage due if they realize such a change has taken place.

      Of course, we never anticipate these things being issues… but legal advice and a legal, recorded contract (not just a quit claim) could be an excellent idea.

      Kate (realtor and real estate investor in a former life)

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