An Attorney Can Guide You In Protecting Your Wealth
At Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene, we help people and families protect their assets by using a wide range of legal tools. We understand how important it is to clients to ensure that the assets and property they have worked hard to obtain are safe and can be used to provide for loved ones in the future. Therefore, we take the time to understand each person’s unique individual situation and craft a strategy designed to meet their specific needs.
Protecting Assets of Married Couples
Florida offers residents plenty of sunshine and beach, and also one of the best basic asset protection devices available for married people—tenancy by the entirety. One benefit is that property held in a tenancy by the entirety arrangement is shielded from the claims of one spouse’s creditors. However, there are qualifications that must be met to qualify for this form of ownership, which often proves to be a valuable tool in asset protection.
Family Home Protection (Homestead)
Florida’s homestead law is one of the best asset protection tools in the country. In addition to reducing your tax burden, Florida homestead offers significant protection for a primary family home. Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution outlines that a judgment creditor cannot force the sale of your home in an attempt to collect. For many hard-working Floridians, a home is their greatest investment. We can help ensure your property is protected through the Florida homestead.
Protection of Wages
People who work in Florida can also protect most of their wages from creditors and others, at least for some time. Per section 222.11, Florida Statutes provides that protections vary based on whether the person is considered a “head of family,” providing more than one-half of the support for a child or other dependent.
Earnings, which include compensation provided in the form of wages, salary, commission, or bonus payable to a Florida head of household, cannot be garnished by a creditor. Furthermore, the exempt earnings put in the head of the household bank account remain exempt for six months.
Retirement Accounts, Life Insurance, Annuities
Retirement accounts and annuities are some of the most common ways Floridians secure their financial well-being. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) as well as Florida state laws, protect eligible plans from creditors in most cases.
Pensions, 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and other tax-deferred retirement accounts are all protected from creditors under Florida law and include inherited and rollover IRAs. However, it is important to note that they no longer benefit from the law’s protection once assets are withdrawn from a protected plan.
There can also be benefits to transferring assets to a business entity. When setting up a business, it is essential to choose the right business entity and, importantly, set up your business properly to create a solid corporate veil.
Rather than operating as a sole proprietorship, which means the owner is personally liable for the business’s debts, a business entity will help legally shield the individual from the business’s debts and vice versa.
An experienced attorney can advise you on properly setting up a business entity and maintaining your corporate veil.
Asset Protection Trusts
While more complicated in Florida, asset protection can be achieved by using an estate planning trust. Although assets in a debtor’s living trust are not protected from creditors, a Florida resident may be able to preserve assets in a trust created by someone else.
An estate planning attorney can help you determine the best strategy in setting up a trust to help you protect your assets in Florida.