If you?re waiting for a problem to start knocking ? whether it?s an individual litigant or the U.S. government itself ? it?s already too late. The best time for asset protection is long before a problem arrives.
Right now, like it or not, problems are heading straight up your driveway and your front door is within easy reach.
Through taxation and regulation, the U.S. government has stepped up attacks on our wealth. Eager to avoid dealing with our fundamental fiscal issues, our politicians will continue to dig deeper into our pockets to grab every penny they can, no matter who wins the upcoming election.
At the same time, a bad economy is making more people lawsuit-happy. Does your neighbor have a petty grievance against you and your barking dog? You?d better take that complaint seriously ? anyone with money (even people of moderate wealth) can become a target.
As sovereign individuals, we understand these trends and guard against them. Wisely, we choose where we place our assets and identify places where we can find safety and privacy guaranteed by law.
For true security, we require a system that also guarantees maximum possible legal tax avoidance, the highest possible financial privacy, the strongest asset protection and access to the most profitable investments available worldwide.
Fortunately, there is one legal device that does all of this: the offshore Asset Protection Trust (APT).
The idea of setting up an offshore APT may seem daunting, but it doesn?t have to be a complicated process. In some of my favorite offshore havens, you can lay the groundwork for a solid asset-protection strategy in just three days.
Making Yourself a Hard Target
One of the biggest threats to your financial well-being is litigation. The American judicial system is too often an enemy of prosperity. Courts in the United States are clogged with civil suits demanding enormous sums for imagined or statutorily-concocted injuries that create supposed victims of harassment, disability or discrimination.
No matter how safe you think you are, it doesn?t take much to have a lawsuit filed against you these days. Recent headlines have warned that people are now being sued for ?defamation? for writing negative product reviews on places like Amazon.
A U.S. group, Legal Reform Now, claims that more than 15 million lawsuits will be filed in state courts alone by the end of 2012, one new lawsuit every two seconds, one for every 12 adults in America. According to consulting firm Towers Watson, the direct cost of U.S. tort lawsuits in 2009 was $250 billion ? that?s a little over 1.5% of the entire U.S. gross domestic product.
For lawsuit protection, the best tactic is to shrink yourself and your assets as targets ? and an offshore asset protection trust can help you do exactly that. By transferring legal title and reducing control over assets through donating them to your offshore APT, you make yourself a smaller target. Once an APT is set up, this is something that can be done quickly and easily.
And any time hard assets are transferred to another nation (as when cash, stock shares or precious metals are moved to an offshore trust account, or an offshore trustee?s safe deposit box), a home country creditor will have difficulty reaching them, even if the existence of your offshore trust is known.
There is also the benefit of a harassing party knowing your assets are beyond immediate reach. The cost and difficulty of pursuit may discourage legal action or encourage an advantageous compromise.
A Foundation for a Secure Financial Future
Beyond being just a tool against legal threats, an offshore APT can serve as a powerful wealth-preservation structure in building a secure financial future for you and your family. The offshore APT has long been a favorite of those seeking a legal and safe way to distribute wealth to their heirs. While a U.S. domestic trust provides limited protection, that strength multiplies with distance when the APT is located outside U.S. jurisdiction.
As part of a sound estate plan, it can protect your assets while assuring that your heirs and chosen beneficiaries receive exactly what you wish after you?re gone. This can help you minimize estate taxes through planned giving, and also provide maintenance and tax-free income for a surviving spouse. Offshore APTs can also be set up to make sure you meet your family?s needs in the years ahead ? paying for medical care or arranging funds to pay for your grandchildren?s college education, for example.
Even as our privacy in the U.S. continues to dwindle and disappear, the security of offshore trusts are rooted in the financial privacy laws of the country in which they are created. And these are often always more strict than those at home.
While the U.S. economy continues to sputter, and the dollar continues its decades-long decline, an offshore APT can serve as an excellent investment vehicle with access to offshore profits and exposure to stronger currencies. These will provide you with the income you need to help build a secure retirement.
Where to Set Up Your Trust
While it is possible to set up a trust in as little as three days in places like Liechtenstein, or in five days in Panama, the more time you allow yourself to draft a solid plan, the more it will be able to meet all of your needs in the years ahead. That?s why the time to start planning is now ? when trouble is knocking at the door, it will be too late.
Many offshore financial centers specialize in the creation and administration of offshore asset protection trusts.
What the corporation-friendly State of Delaware is to U.S. companies, these jurisdictions are to asset protection trusts. Many are well developed, globally recognized financial centers. They boast modern, efficient banking, legal and other professional providers who understand servicing offshore APTs and offshore finance in general. Before you choose a place for your trust, always make certain of the latest developments in the jurisdiction you?re considering.
My top havens, based on my own personal experiences, are Panama and the Cook Islands.
Panama has had strong investor and asset protection-friendly laws in place governing trusts since the 1920s. The country has a growing, vibrant economy with a solid banking system that boasts maximum privacy.
A former British protectorate, the Cook Islands began adopting wealth protection laws in the 1980s that now have financial services second only to tourism as the biggest part of this island nation?s economy. The Cook Islands trust law embodies all the best legal concepts concerning modern trusts. As such, it has served as the example for many other offshore centers, from Nevis to Belize.
Both Panama and the Cook Islands can provide you with modern financial services and rock-solid financial privacy, making either an excellent home for your offshore trust. As places of both beauty and protection for your assets and your business interests, I would recommend either.
P.S. Setting up an offshore asset protection trust is an important step towards securing your financial future, but it?s far from the only one. In my Offshore Confidential service, I?m tracking the latest threats to your wealth and liberty and what you can do to protect both. To learn more about how you can take advantage of my research and the steps you can start taking today, click here to read my special report.