OFFSHORE & COOK ISLANDS ASSET PROTECTION SPECIALISTS
Asset protection is most effective when implemented in advance of a lawsuit, judgment, or claim. Additionally, a client’s circumstances or developing liabilities may preclude an attorney from accepting the case. If you are an individual or company at risk from lawsuits or other claims, you should consult with our attorneys as soon as possible. The lawyers of Donlevy-Rosen & Rosen, P.A. concentrate their practice in offshore asset protection planning. Our attorneys provide asset protection solutions for clients throughout the United States, and worldwide.
Our effective solution can protect you against lawsuits and creditors. Asset protection is most effective when implemented in advance of a lawsuit, judgment, or claim. But even if you have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit, it may be possible to protect your assets. If you are an individual or company at risk from lawsuits or other claims, you should consult with us as soon as possible effective asset protection planning against lawsuits involves the use of an offshore asset protection trust. An “offshore trust” is a trust formed under the laws of a jurisdiction other than the United States. The prospect of bringing a case in the Cook Islands is extremely daunting to most creditors; after all, unfamiliar Cook Islands counsel would need to be retained (the U.S. lawyer cannot appear in the Cook Islands court).
In the field of wealth protection, there are a myriad of purported strategies that have been put forth to shield real estate from future creditor claims. During our 45 years in practice, we’ve become familiar with all of them. However, only one stands out as truly effective: make your real estate “not worth going after” in a creditor’s eyes. The time to protect your property is before any storm clouds start brewing on the horizon – these arrangements absolutely have to be made before there is a creditor’s claim against you. Once someone has already filed a claim, the independent lenders won’t approve the loan described above.
In 1984 the Cook Islands enacted the International Trusts Act of 1984, becoming the premier location for offshore asset protection trusts. The Cook Islands are a superior jurisdiction for offshore trusts for several reasons: (1) the laws are favorable for asset protection, (2) the Cook Islands court system has proven a track record of defending asset protection trusts, and (3) the Cook Islands have no agreements or treaties with the United States which would force them to enforce US judgments.
What is asset protection?
Asset protection planning is the adoption of advanced planning techniques which place one’s assets beyond the reach of future potential creditors. In our practice, it does not involve hiding assets, nor is it based upon secret agreements or fraudulent transfers. It is based upon proven sophisticated combinations of business and estate planning techniques, often utilizing offshore trusts. Asset protection minimizes the monetary incentive for someone to go after your assets in court.
Why are Cook Islands superior for asset protection?
The Cook Islands are a superior jurisdiction for offshore asset protection trusts, for several reasons: (1) the laws are designed to be favorable for asset protection, (2) the Cook Islands court system has a proven track record of upholding asset protection trusts, and (3) the Cook Islands have no agreements or treaties with the United States which would require them to enforce US judgments. The Cook Islands protective laws are so strong that the US government has failed to reach assets held in a Cook Islands trust. The trust companies we work with are run by attorneys and professional trust officers. Trust business accounts for a significant portion of the gross domestic product of the Cook Islands, second only to tourism. As such, the Cook Islands government requires strict compliance by the trust companies with relevant laws and regulations.
Why shouldn't I get a trust from a trust company?
Some foreign trust companies will provide you with a form trust. These form trust documents cannot be expected to take into account the U.S. tax consequences (income and estate) of settling that trust. If U.S. tax considerations are not properly addressed in the trust document, serious adverse consequences often result. In addition, these form documents often will not properly (if at all) implement your estate planning goals. A number of clients came to us with form trusts which did not do the job, so we had to start from scratch.
Why offshore vs. domestic asset protection planning?
A number of states have adopted asset protection trust legislation (of varying degrees) designed to attract the business of people looking for domestic solutions. In a few cases these domestic asset protection solutions may be effective. However, these domestic structures require you to foresee the types of creditors you will have (all states have loopholes for certain creditors), and the kinds of claims those creditors will bring.
Domestic jurisdictions may protect you from a creditor, until you are forced into bankruptcy. Federal law gives judges the ability to set aside state asset protection trusts under many circumstances (most recently demonstrated by a Federal Bankruptcy Court setting aside an Alaska trust). If you are confident that your creditors and the US legal system will treat you fairly, and that no creditor will force you into bankruptcy for at least 10 years, then consider domestic asset protection.
Otherwise, consider that properly implemented offshore asset protection is available to effectively protect your assets.
Are offshore trusts legal?
Entirely. the key to effective asset protection planning is the word “ADVANCE”. As long as this type of planning is undertaken in advance of a creditor appearing on the horizon, it is 100% legal to protect yourself. Unfortunately, many people first seek to protect their assets after they have been sued or otherwise incurred an obligation. In such circumstances the planning options are significantly narrowed because of fraudulent transfer laws (in all states) which permit a court to set aside transfers made at the”eleventh hour”.
How can I protect my assets during a divorce?
We have extensive experience helping clients implement trusts in the Cook Islands; helping several people protect their assets from a vindictive spouse during a divorce. The Cook Islands court is the only court which has jurisdiction over the trustee, which, under trust law, is the holder of legal title to trust assets. The prospect of bringing a case in the Cook Islands is extremely daunting to most creditors, scammers, or vindictive spouses in a divorce case.
How can I protect my from a lawsuit?
Asset protection is most effective when implemented in advance of a lawsuit, judgment, or claim. But even if you have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit, it may be possible to protect your assets. If you are an individual or company at risk from lawsuits or other claims, you should consult with us as soon as possible.
Why should I choose your firm?
The most important considerations in selecting a law firm are the qualifications and experience of the attorneys. Our firm has concentrated its practice in asset protection for over 20 years. Our attorneys have published numerous books, journals, and articles, many of which are used by other professionals as research tools for asset protection issues. The majority of our clients come to us through referrals from other attorneys familiar with our qualifications and experience.
7 Important Questions to Ask Your Prospective Lawyer
Selecting an asset protection attorney can be a daunting task, especially when so many inexperienced attorneys advertise asset protection services. So how can you weed out the bad from the good B the unqualified from the qualified? We have developed this list of fourteen questions that should be asked of every asset protection attorney before they are retained.
How long have you been implementing asset protection plans?
Too often an attorney will advertise the number of years he has been admitted to practice law. This can be deceiving, as the attorney may have recently switched his area of practice. Instead, ask how long he has been practicing in the area of asset protection. See if he can point you to his articles or publications that show his years of experience in this specific area.
Will your firm provide federal tax compliance guidance?
Offshore asset protection planning requires a broad knowledge of federal tax law. Look for a firm with extensive experience in tax. Ask if they will guide your CPA in preparing the necessary tax returns.
What portion of your practice is dedicated to asset protection planning?
Many estate planning attorneys purport to practice asset protection planning, but inquiry reveals that 90% of their practice is devoted to other matters. You want the attorney that does offshore asset protection all day, every day 100%.
What is your rate of success?
There is no formula for determining whether an individual or business should Anything less than 100% should have you concerned. How did the creditor reach the client’s assets if the structure was implemented properly?
Can you tell me the total cost of implantation during my initial consultation?
Unlike litigation, the time and costs associated with implementing an asset protection structure are foreseeable for an experienced asset protection attorney, and, therefore, should be determined before you retain the lawyer. Be sure the amount you are quoted includes all legal fees and costs of implementation (such as trustee and protector fees). Does the fee include continuing consultations so you can have questions answered, or will you be charged at an hourly rate to ask a question? Price can be an important factor for a client, but the success of the planning should be the most important factor. Any amount spent is an amount potentially wasted if the client fails to select the right attorney.
Have your structures come under creditor attack? Are there cases showing the outcome?
Perhaps the most important factor in selecting an asset protection attorney is the ultimate result. While many Aexperts@ purport to have drafted dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of asset protection structures, those structures may never have been tested by an aggressive creditor. Ask the attorney to discuss cases where his/her structures have withstood an attack, and ask if there are any cases where his/her structures have failed. If an attorney cannot point to successes, they may have implemented fewer structures than they boast, or you may end up being the test case for their type of planning.
What experience to you have with your planning being challenged in the selected offshore jurisdiction?
While some planners may have had their structures tested in the U.S., few have had their planning challenged in the jurisdiction selected to host the structure or the assets. Ask how many times their planning has been attacked in the host jurisdiction, and what were the outcomes.