We all want to protect our accumulated assets. Usually, by the time you engage in estate planning, you have accumulated substantial wealth and are looking for ways to protect it for your own retirement and the future needs of your loved ones. You may also have inherited wealth that you have managed well and want to preserve. With some foresight and the assistance of a skilled asset protection attorney, you can ensure that the wealth you have amassed will be safe from excessive taxation, creditors, and potential lawsuits.
At Hegwood Law Group, our asset protection attorneys have extensive knowledge of, and experience with, laws involving asset protection. When you come to one of our convenient Houston offices, we will listen carefully to your needs and concerns and work out a strategy that offers you and your family maximum protection.
Everyone Is Potentially at Risk
Though we tend to think that doctors and celebrities are the only ones likely to be targeted in lawsuits, we are all at risk. The possibility that you will be sued or have fraudulent claims or frivolous lawsuits brought against your collected resources is always there. This is why it is essential to have the guidance of a competent asset protection attorney. At Hegwood Law Group we are prepared to use tried and true methods to protect your assets in case any of the following types of lawsuits are levied against them:
- Malpractice liability claims
- Personal liability lawsuits brought by former business associates
- Premises liability suits for personal injury
- Personal injury suits for liability in vehicular accidents
- Liability resulting from misconduct or criminal behavior
- Liability for being a guarantor of someone else’s debts
- Fraudulent claims that cannot be disproven
- Claims made by a present or former partner or spouse
Hegwood Law Group asset protection attorneys work hard to make sure your accumulated wealth is safe and that your future, and the futures of those you love, are protected. If you are helping an elderly relative protect his or her assets, you may also want to ensure that your loved one does not mistakenly give money to a scam artist or spend it on sweepstakes, or unreasonable purchases. In other words, we can help you preserve your family’s accumulated wealth from your relative’s declining ability to make rational decisions.
Options for Asset Protection
We have many ways of legally protecting your assets. It is important to make an appointment with one of our well-informed attorneys in order to discuss these options so we can decide on a viable strategy before your assets are directly threatened. Depending on your particular circumstances, we will help you choose the most practical and appropriate types of asset protection. The asset protections we offer include:
- Drafting premarital and postmarital agreements
- Establishing irrevocable trusts
- Purchasing full-coverage insurance policies
- Organizing investments, including foreign bonds and international stocks
- Creating a corporation (LLCs are not responsible for personal debts)
- Establishing charitable foundations
- Opening retirement accounts (e.g. IRAs and 401(k)s)
- Buying annuities (Texas is one of few states in which annuities can provide protection)
- Giving substantial amounts as gifts to your beneficiaries while you are alive
- Opening college savings plans
It should be noted that revocable living trusts do not protect assets because the trustor retains the ability to alter or dismantle such trusts during his or her lifetime. Since irrevocable trusts not only give over control of the money to the trustee, but also give over that control permanently, the assets covered by an irrevocable trust are off limits to creditors or lawsuits. Irrevocable trusts have the added advantage of avoiding probate and estate taxes, further protecting your assets.
Texas Provides Excellent Homestead and Property Protections
For one thing, Texas does not cap the monetary value of your homestead as some states do. Instead, the pioneer spirit is alive and well in the Lone Star State where your homestead is measured by acreage: 200 acres that creditors cannot touch. You are allowed to keep 200 acres unavailable to creditors, whether that land is valuated at $500 thousand or $50 million.
Your home itself, even if it is a city residence, at a distance from the bulk of your other property, is protected, along with 10 acres of urban property. This is in addition to the 200 acres of rural property. There is an exception: if you are a single adult, you are limited to 100 acres of rural property. You should be aware, however, that while these assets are protected from general creditors, they are not exempt from mortgage lenders or the IRS.
Your personal property is also protected, up to $60,000 for a family or $30,000 for a single individual. Personal property in Texas includes: home furnishings (including heirlooms), stored foodstuffs, jewelry, cars, farming or ranching vehicles, clothes, pets, athletic and sporting equipment, specific amounts of livestock (including 12 head of cattle), and two guns.
Serving Clients Throughout Houston, Sugar Land, and Bay City
At Hegwood Law, we understand how important it is for you to protect your assets since that means protecting your family and your future. We take our responsibility to assist you in this task very seriously and will work hard to earn your trust and accomplish your goals. As asset protection attorneys, we pride ourselves on keeping current with any changes in state or federal law, paying attention to details, and being extremely responsive to the needs of each of our clients. To get in touch with us please call one of our Houston offices or fill in one of the contact forms on our website.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (281) 885-8826.