If you’re facing charges for a white-collar crime or anticipate potentially being charged, protecting your assets and your family’s financial well-being is understandably a priority.
However, tread carefully: attempts to shield assets can, if done improperly, result in further criminal charges or adverse legal consequences.
It’s crucial to seek legal advice from both a criminal defense attorney, an asset protection attorney, and in some cases, a trusted financial advisor, to ensure that any steps taken are legal and effective. Here are some general, preliminary strategies and considerations:
- Seek Legal Counsel Immediately:As emphasized, before making any financial moves, consult with experienced legal professionals to ensure that you’re acting within the confines of the law.
- Transparency:Always be honest and transparent with your attorney. They can only provide effective counsel if they have the full picture.
- Estate Planning:Using legal tools such as trusts can protect assets. Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) and Family Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are commonly used for estate planning purposes and can also provide a degree of asset protection.
- Exempt Assets:Familiarize yourself with state and federal laws regarding exempt assets. For example, in many jurisdictions, qualified retirement accounts, certain amounts of home equity, and certain life insurance policies might be protected from creditors or judgments.
- Avoid Fraudulent Transfers:Moving assets after learning about a potential lawsuit or charges to prevent them from being seized can be considered a fraudulent transfer. If proven, these transfers can be reversed, and you could face additional penalties.
- Consider Liability Insurance:This can be especially relevant if you own a business. Liability insurance can protect personal and business assets up to the policy limits.
- Separate Business and Personal Assets:If you own a business, ensure your personal assets are separated from your business assets. This might involve creating a corporation, limited partnership, or LLC for the business.
- Joint Accounts:Be cautious about joint accounts or jointly held properties. Depending on the jurisdiction and the specifics of the joint ownership, these assets might be vulnerable if one of the owners faces legal troubles.
- Offshore Accounts and Trusts:Some individuals consider transferring assets to offshore accounts or trusts. While this can offer a level of protection, it’s also complex and comes with its own set of legal and tax implications. Moreover, recent crackdowns on undisclosed offshore accounts have made this strategy less anonymous and riskier.
10.Stay Informed: If you’re facing legal action, the opposing party might file for a “lis pendens” or freezing order, which restricts the sale or transfer of assets during the litigation. Ensure you’re aware of any such orders and comply with them.
Lastly, white-collar charges can be complex, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. Prioritize your defense strategy while also considering asset protection. An integrated approach, guided by expert legal advice, is essential.
Member: American Bar Association