Is it ever too late to protect assets? Sometimes, but after 3000 asset protection transactions, we can tell you that it is always impossible to protect assets if you do nothing. Timing is usually a question of effectiveness. Planning early is always a lot more effective than planning late, but it is almost always better to do something than to do nothing.
We get many inquiries such as, “Someone may soon have a judgment against me. Can I still protect my assets?”
The answer to this is YES, but the level of protection will not be as high as when you plan ahead of time and the structures will necessarily be more complex and more expensive.
We occasionally get inquiries from prospective clients who ask, “The creditor just got a judgment against me and they do not have my assets yet. Can I still protect them?”
Perhaps you can protect your assets even after a judgment is obtained against you, but you will have a hard time finding a lawyer willing to represent you. We do not represent clients after a judgment is entered – there is no longer a defense against a fraudulent transfer claim.
The goal of every asset protection plan is to make it difficult and expensive for a creditor to go after a debtor’s assets. Several strategies can be used to accomplish this depending on the case. However, the most damaging thing a debtor can do in their case is to ignore a judgment. It will not go away.
What can I do if I am worried about a pending claim?
1. Pay the other party,
2. File bankruptcy, or
3. Contact an asset protection attorney to explore your options. You may still end up paying the other party or filing for bankruptcy. You may also end up paying a lot less or nothing at all.
In our years as asset protection attorneys, successfully protecting assets from creditors and judgments, we have noticed several patterns. When an asset protection structure is presented to a creditor, in most cases:
They choose not to file a lawsuit because they are not able to locate the assets.
They might abandon a lawsuit that is pending because they conclude that there are no easy assets to collect against.
They may abandon an existing judgment because the debtor is or appears to be judgment proof.
They accept a negotiated settlement on terms that are a lot more favorable to our client.