Case Example #1
One of our clients, Ed, was a wealthy real estate investor and owned five apartment buildings worth about $3 million. Although he was involved in a lawsuit concerning a property dispute at the time, he felt he had little exposure. We set up a plan for him using several LLCs to hold the properties. A year later we received a call from Ed telling us that he had lost the case and there was a judgment against him for $1.5 million. Had he not set up the plan he would have been in big trouble. The plaintiff would have had a lien on all of the client’s real estate, worth $3 million, as security for the judgment. The property would have been frozen and then seized. The plaintiff would not have taken a penny less than the full amount of the judgment. Nothing to talk about or discuss-just pay up. That’s a bad position to be in.
But because Ed was a smart guy, he was not in a bad position. Since all of his assets had been transferred into the plan, the judgment lien did not affect the properties. Ed was free to sell, refinance, collect rents, and deal with his property just like he had always done. Since the creditor had no security for his judgment and stood to collect nothing, Ed now had the leverage to negotiate a favorable settlement. He held all of the chips, and in fact, he settled the case for $75,000-clearly a better result than losing the $1.5 million. In this case the proper asset protection plan changed the relative bargaining power of each side. Ed could have been weak and vulnerable but instead was able to negotiate from a position of superior strength.