Because of its climate and favorable taxation laws, Florida has become one of the most popular choices of domicile for new arrivals of the United States.
One of the most important concerns that many wealthy immigrants face is the threat of their assets being lost in the event of a successful claim by the creditors. While this concern is warranted, techniques are available so that these individuals may plan their affairs so as to protect much of their assets against this and other foreseeable, and unforeseeable, risks.
There are three (3) primary methods of protecting against all types of creditor claims in Florida.
This is generally true even if the individual files for bankruptcy because Federal bankruptcy law looks to Florida law to determine whether property is exempt (not reachable by creditors) or must be part of the bankrupt’s estate for distribution to the bankrupt’s creditors.
The first method of protecting assets is designating actual ownership of the property in such a manner as to make the property unreachable or, at least, more difficult to reach by creditors. In most cases, the typical creditor claim is against the individual rather than the individual and his or her spouse, jointly, or other family members.
The second method of protecting against claims of creditors in Florida is the ownership of those types of asset that are, by their nature and character, generally exempt from creditor claims under Florida law.
Finally, the third method is by application of common sense business and financial practices, also known as ‘risk management decision making’.
To appreciate the application of these concepts to a typical circumstance, a review of one’s personal and business holdings is helpful.