Magazine article USA TODAY

Do Not Get Caught with Assets Showing

Magazine article USA TODAY

Do Not Get Caught with Assets Showing

Article excerpt

In Florida, a man serving 12 years in prison for DUI manslaughter is suing his victim's survivors for his pain, suffering, medical bills, and "loss of capacity for enjoying life." In Illinois last year, siblings aged 20 and 23 sought more than $50,000 in damages from their mom for 'bad mothering," including setting a curfew for her then-teenage daughter, "haggling" over clothing prices, and failing to send college care packages.

Lawsuits like these are more the rule than the exception, indicates Hillel L. Presser, an attorney specializing in domestic and international asset protection planning and author of Financial Self-Defense. "Litigation is America's fastest growing business, and why not? Plaintiffs have everything to gain and nothing but a few hours time to lose. Even if a case seems utterly ridiculous, like the guy in prison suing his victim's family, defendants are encouraged to settle just to avoid potentially astronomical legal fees."

So, where does a person begin? You likely will need the expertise of an asset protection planner, Presser indicates, but here are some steps you can take on your own:

* Inventory your assets--you probably own more than you think. Besides savings and retirement accounts, consider any money owed to you, anticipated inheritances, and future assets. Properly includes homes, vehicles, jewelry, and land. Do not forget to consider intangible assets, those nonphysical but valuable brands, trademarks, patents, and intellectual property. …

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