Protecting what you have worked hard for is an utmost priority. Hillel Presser of The Presser Law Firm, PA talks about asset protection. In this episode, he chats with Mitch Russo about his bold decision on shifting from a solo attorney at the Broward County prosecutor’s office to going out on his own specializing in helping entrepreneurs protect what they’ve worked so hard to create. He tells us the five fatal mistakes you are probably making that could strip you of all your assets. With these missteps, Hillel offers some tips you could do to prevent them from happening. Ensuring you can sleep well at night, he shows you what their firm can do for you and your assets.

Fatal Mistakes That Could Destroy Your Financial Life And How To Fix Them by Hillel Presser

Before I tell you about my guest, I wanted to mention that this episode is sponsored by VEA, the Virtual Entrepreneurs Association. Finally, a place with all the tools, resources, discounts, education and community to help you on your entrepreneurial mission. Think of VEA as the triple-A or Swiss Army Knife for business. For a limited time, you can get a free trial as well as a copy of Daven Michaels’ new book The Virtual Entrepreneur at VEABusiness.com/mitch. Starting as a solo attorney at the Broward County prosecutor’s office, he decided to go out on his own but the way he did was both unique and powerful. He’s going to share that story with us.

He specializes in helping entrepreneurs protect what they’ve worked so hard to create. It turns out that while you’re busy building your empire, unscrupulous characters are plotting to target you and sue the heck out of you, simply because they want your money. Here at our show, our job is to educate and protect you, which is why I invited this particular and special gentleman to the show. He’s going to tell us the five fatal mistakes you are probably making that could strip you of all your assets and the things you could do to prevent that from happening. Strap in, this is about to get exciting. Welcome, Hillel Presser to the show.

Thanks for having me.

My pleasure, Hillel. Your story was intriguing when I heard it the first time and I said, “I’ve got to get this guy on the show because I know my readers are going to love it.” Hillel, let’s start from the beginning, tell us how you got started.

As far back as I can remember, when I was a little kid, I was growing up in Upstate New York, Rochester, New York. I’m no stranger to the cold weather. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an attorney. It probably had something to do with the fact that back then I was close with my uncle and he was one of the first personal injury attorneys to ever advertise on TV. If you ask me back then what type of lawyer I probably would become, I probably would have told you back then that I would have been a personal injury attorney. My whole life, I was involved in business. I used to take my $10 of allowance, go to 7-Eleven buy a brown bag of candy, sell it and come home with double or triple the money. My mom wanted to know what was going on at school. I like watches. I would buy expensive watches. I would wear and enjoy them and I’d sell them and make a few thousand dollars profit. I went to college and during college, I went to Syracuse University. I was the first student ever to my knowledge to major solely in entrepreneurialism.

I’ll never forget when I went there to tell them what my major was. They asked me, “Are you going to have a minor in marketing or accounting?” I looked them in the face and said, “No. I’m going to be an entrepreneur,” and there’s no backup. While I was in college at Syracuse University, I had lots of different businesses. I had an inflatable 5,000 or 6,000 square foot laser tag arena. We used to take it to all the fares and travel all over, letting people use it at all the different locations and private events. I used to throw club parties. I’d have luxury buses pick up all the kids at their dorms. We had all the basketball players, passing out the flyers. We pick all the kids up. We take them to the club and we would get the door and the club would get the bars. I always loved business. When I got done at school, I ended up going down to Florida, where I went to Law school. In law school, I focused on business law, tax law, and estate planning. That’s where I was comfortable. That’s what I loved. I loved the law and I loved the business.

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When I was in law school, I had businesses as well. I owned a telephone number that I had purchased for about $107,000. The telephone number was 1-800-GREAT-RATE. Back then, there were a lot of mortgage brokers spending a lot of money advertising. You had these mortgage brokers spending tens of thousands of dollars on TV, radio, billboard and bus benches. When you only have three seconds to remember a phone number from an ad or a friend, are you going to remember (865) 382-5643 or 1-800-GREAT-RATE? I purchased this number for $107,000. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy. I leased the telephone number 1-800-GREAT-RATE to one different mortgage broker per state. I probably could have made a lot more if I did it by area code but I had to make sure that I passed Law school. I had a lead, I would charge a guy in Florida $1,000, $1,500 a month. The guy in California $1,500 a month and here I was in law school having about $20,000 a month or so of reoccurring revenue coming in. When I got out of law school, I worked as a prosecutor in the Broward County Prosecutor’s Office, not because I loved criminal law but I wanted to get the experience of trying cases.

I worked there for about a year or two and tried a ton of cases until I felt comfortable trying cases and then it was ready to pursue my dream. My dream was always to be an asset protection lawyer. The reason that was my dream was because I always loved law since a little kid and I always loved business since a little kid. Naturally, it was a perfect fit because asset protection is a form of business law. I opened up my practice and I wanted to do asset protection, but like most people opening up their own practice, you have what’s called a door practice which means, you take whatever comes in the door to keep the lights on. While I had a lot of asset protection cases and I was doing well and I was representing lots of professional athletes, I was doing well but how well can you do when you start your practice? You need experience.

Luckily for me, I had a mentor. He was one of the grandfathers of asset protection. He had written 30, 40 plus books on asset protection. He was local, maybe about 45 minutes away or so. He had helped my family, my parents, my uncle and my grandparents with asset protection. I remember the story like its yesterday. I made an appointment with him and he had no clue why I was coming in. I looked at his website. He was wearing a dark suit and a red tie. I wore a dark suit and a red tie. I went into his office and I pretty much sat down with him and said, “I want to work with you.” He looked at me and after talking for about an hour he said, “I think you’d be great, but I hired someone. He’s a family friend and I can’t step on his toes.” I said, “No problem. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll come work for you for free for six months, and if I’m not the best employee you’ve ever had, we’ll shake hands and we’ll go our separate ways.”

I left there happy because I figured, “How could he turn me down? I’m going to come work for this guy for a half a year for free.” I leave the office. I do all the right things. I wrote a handwritten thank you note. I FedEx it to him. I follow up. I don’t hear anything. Finally, 2, 3, 4 weeks later, I get a hold of him. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard from him. He said to me, “I’m sorry, you seem great. I know you would be great, but I can’t step on this guy’s toes. He’s a family friend. I hired him and I have to see how he does.” I said to myself, “What am I going to do next?” Thank God I had a successful practice. I wasn’t worried about the money, but the experience I could gain working with my mentor was invaluable.

What I did next is I said, “I want to hire you to do my asset protection.” He looked at me and he laughed and he said, number one, “You know how to do asset protection yourself, why do you need me?” Number two, he said, “You don’t have any assets to protect.” I said, “I want to hire you,” and I did. I paid him, I hired him. As his client, we would talk, we would email, we’d get together whether it was every few weeks or every month or so, but we built this relationship. A long time ago, there used to be an asset protection conference, back then it was held in Las Vegas. When it was time to go to the conference, I called the secretary. I found out what plane he was on, what time he was going, what hotel he was staying at. I naturally booked everything the same. I walked into the airport at 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM. There he was drinking coffee with his wife surprised to see me.

FTC 177 | Asset Protection

Asset Protection: An asset is anything of value, and it might be as little as a musical instrument to as large as a big expensive painting.

 

When we were in Las Vegas, we spent a lot of time together, we sat together, and we had lunch together. We’ve formed this great relationship even better than what we had. While we were there, we came up with the idea of, “Why not have the National Association of Asset Protection Attorneys?” There are few asset protection attorneys in the whole world, why not put together an association where you can help one another? We announced it there. We put it together and then we started working together on the association where we had all other asset protection attorneys calling in and getting everyone together in a form where everyone can help each other.

We’re back in Florida. We’re not only getting together on my case, but we’re getting together for the National Association of Asset Protection Attorneys. This went, this is a year or two years after we had first met. This was a lot of time that we’re putting in here together and I’ll never forget it. He called me in on a Monday. I knew something was going on because I met with them on a Friday. We never met that often, maybe once a month or so. I went in and I talked to him. He said, “I know you have a successful practice already.” He goes, “It’s a Hail Mary pass, but why don’t you come work with me and let’s see what we could do?”

I looked at him a little confused. I said, “What do you mean by that?” He said, “Pretend you’re on a cruise ship and the captain died.” He said, “Here are the keys to my office, you make the decisions. You’re a 50/50 partner.” It was a special moment for me in my life because he was the guy who wouldn’t let me come work for him for free for six months, now essentially making me a 50/50 partner in a multimillion-dollar firm. That was a special moment for me. I love the education and all that. I ended up going getting my MBA. I taught graduate and undergraduate business law at night. That was a little bit later. That’s the story of how I got to where I was. It wasn’t the money or the practice. Here was a gentleman who had 30, 40 plus year practice. He had 5, 10, 15, 20 clients calling in every single day. You couldn’t buy that experience.

You certainly couldn’t, but the part that I loved most about this whole story is the part where you talked about how after he said, “No,” you then said, “Can I hire you now?” A lot of people would be hurt and upset and feel dejected from this experience. From what you said, it didn’t sound like you went through any of those feelings.

When I heard, “No,” to me that meant, “No, not right now.” Does that mean no in an hour? Does that mean no in two hours? Does that mean no tomorrow? He always used to tease. I’d come in the front door. He’d throw me out the back door. I’d come in the back door. He’d throw me out the chimney. I’d crawl down the chimney. He’d throw me down the basement. I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

That’s exactly what you want from your lawyer. You want somebody who is persistent, someone who finds solutions to problems when the most obvious solution doesn’t work. You guys got together and you became 50/50 partners. The way you tell the story, it doesn’t sound like you cut a check to do that. It sounds like the two of you got together and made that agreement or did I miss that part?

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No, you’re correct. I then worked with him. We built the practice. Unfortunately, he passed away. He was much older than me. He passed away years ago. It’s very sad. When he passed away, I did end up purchasing his half of the firm from the estate. I did have a buy-in, I looked at it as almost like a delayed buy-in. I ended up purchasing his half of the practice from the estate. I didn’t need to do it because in the law, you’re only as good as your next client and I could have had my firm, but I thought that I owed him that as a minimum. He was good to me. He took me in and he taught me so much and for me to write a check and help out the estate or the family, it was at least I could have done.

Noble, generous and most important, savvy. I love the fact that you had put this whole thing together in advance and we’re ready for it to happen. Of course, I’m sure he was fully asset protected when he passed away and I assumed that his family felt grateful to you at that point, how did that go?

It’s always tough when you have death. It’s always tough when there’s a surprise. It’s like the shoemaker’s shoes who don’t have the shoes. It’s important, not that you have an asset protection plan because asset protection deals with how do you protect what you have while you’re alive? How do you protect your business? How do you protect your real estate? How do you protect your money? How do you protect your intellectual property? Estate planning deals with what happens with all these things after death, but when you have a business with partners, that incorporates business succession planning.

There are many different things you need to look at. One of the things we try and do a good job at is that, when people come to us for asset protection, whether they need domestic asset protection, whether they need international asset protection, you can’t look at it alone on an island. You have to look at the asset protection first and foremost because if you don’t have anything, everything else becomes irrelevant. You’ve got to make sure that you’re not looking at the asset protection and that you are looking at the estate planning, tax planning, business succession planning, financial planning and accounting. You have to look and take that global approach.

We might want to take one step back and talk a little bit about what is an asset. To clarify what an asset is would be useful for me and our readers as well.

An asset is anything of value and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have it today. When people talk about assets, naturally they think of, “What money do I have in the bank or stocks or bonds or brokerage account?” or, “What real estate do I have you? What cars do I drive?” Those are the normal things that people think of when they think of assets. There are many other assets that maybe are not tangible. For example, there are intellectual property assets. What’s your phone number worth or your domain name worth if it starts ringing to the competitor? That’s worth a lot. Are you going to get a potential inheritance one day? You might not have the money now, but if your parents pass away or someone passes away and leaves you a million dollars, you got to be prepared to take that million dollars correctly because if not, it will go right to the creditor. An asset is anything of value and it might be as little as a musical instrument to as large as a big expensive painting, but it’s anything of value.

FTC 177 | Asset Protection

Asset Protection: The reason why people use corporate entities is they want to protect their personal assets from business debts and liability.

 

Things of value could be non-tangibles like a phone number or a URL. We’re familiar with assets like musical assets, instruments and copyrighted assets like songs that are the property of the songwriter. What about tangible assets? You mentioned that you could be driving down the road and your phone rings and your eye gets distracted for a minute, you look down at your phone and you hit another car. At that point, the insurance company won’t pay the claim because you are on the phone.

Don’t get me wrong. I tell all my clients to buy as much insurance as you can because it’s cheap and it helps you sleep at night. If you think about it, insurance companies are the most profitable industry in the world. If I ever come back, I want to come back to an insurance company. What a great business, they take premium after premium and if there’s time to pay, they usually don’t want to pay. Last time I looked at it, 70% of lawsuits were not covered by insurance. My dad used to tell me growing up he’d say, “The big print gives it, the small print takes it away.”

Anybody who’s read their insurance policy, which is few and far between, they know that there’s about a page or two of what’s protected and what’s covered, and then there’s 50 pages and four types font of what’s excluded. I’ll give you a personal example, you talk about texting and driving or talking and driving, everybody does it but that allows your insurance company to potentially wiggle out of paying a claim. I’ll tell you something that happened to me personally. I had a house on the intercostal, it used to be my primary home, we ended up moving and I rented out the house. The house had a small detached guest house, steps away from the main house and I rented it to someone who had a younger child. They thought it would be cool to have the younger child live in this small detached guest house. The girl comes back from summer camp and I get a phone call that says, “A few months ago, before we went camping, we smelled mold.” Why didn’t they tell me months ago when they smelled the mold? I still don’t understand.

I did what I thought was reasonable and prudent. I said, “Get out of the guest house immediately. I want you to be safe. Go live in the main house. I’ll decrease the rent and I’ll have the problem fixed.” That’s exactly what I did. Months later after they left, they had their lawyer called me saying that the daughter was sick as a result of the mold. What do I do? I called my insurance company. I have what I thought was a great policy on that piece of property. At that point, I maybe had a $5 million or $10 million umbrella on that specific property. They pointed me to, I’m making it up to page 37, paragraph three, line two, subsection A-1, were in small letters it said, “Mold is only covered up to $5,000. What a joke, here you are, you’re paying every single day for insurance, but when it comes time to use it, “I’m sorry sir, you’re on your own.”

Even you, the asset protection specialist, never found that tiny little clause in the small prints.

Thank God, I’m uncollectible and judgment-proof, so it’s irrelevant.

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In the intro, we talked a little bit about the five fatal mistakes that most business owners are probably making. Certainly, there’s asset protection. We know most people are not protecting their assets. What other mistakes do you think entrepreneurs and business owners are making?

They’re endless. Number one is, how they title their business and their assets. For example, someone will create an entity for their business. Maybe it’s an S Corp, maybe it’s an LLC and they think that they’re safe because they’ve created this protective entity. They’re only half right. I’ll sit down with someone and I’ll say, “Why did you create this protective entity?” Their answer is always the same, “I wanted to make sure that if something happened with the business, I didn’t get sued personally.” Take the example of a car wash. If you open up a car wash in your name and someone gets injured at the car wash, they could sue you when coming after everything you have. If you open up a car wash in the name of an S Corp or an LLC or corporate entity, if somebody gets injured at the carwash, you can only come after that S Corp or that LLC or that corporate entity. The reason why people use these corporate entities is they want to protect their assets from business debts and liability.

However, whenever I sit down with the business owner or an entrepreneur, whenever I ask them, “What’s your biggest asset?” What do you think it is that they tell me? It’s their business. The business is the nucleus. That’s what makes them money. That’s what funds the vacations, the college tuition, the credit card, bills, etc. What people don’t realize is that you own shares in the S corporation. If you own shares in a C corporation, in some states if you own a membership interest in the LLC, that’s an asset. If I sue you, the first thing I’m doing is I’m taking your shares in your S Corp. I’m taking your shares in your C Corp. I’m trying to take your membership interest in the LLC.

If you own more than 50%, then forget about it. Now, I have voting control. I can hire or fire or liquidate the bank account, bankrupt the company, essentially take over your entire business. I’ve seen people lose their entire business not because the business gets sued, but because they get in a car accident or they have a slip and fall or a divorce or a breach of a contract or a short sale or foreclosure deficiency. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I see is that people have some corporate entity, they’ve taken a step. They think they have some level of protection and they do, but they haven’t protected their biggest asset, which is the business itself.

We, as entrepreneurs, think of legal work as expensive, time-consuming, boring and scary. We do the least amount possible, which is why we start with an LLC, to begin with. The illusion that we operate under, as you’ve described is we think we’re protected because we have that. If I have simply an LLC and somebody sues me or sues the company, the dumb move is that they’re going to be able to attack my most powerful main asset which is my company. How do you isolate the value of an LLC or the value of a company from a potential lawsuit?

To touch on a little bit what you said because unfortunately, it’s true. I get it. No one wants to spend any extra money. No one wants to spend anything that they don’t have to. I tell people, “You need to look at it, whatever the legal fee maybe as part of the cost of doing business, whether it’s starting the business or operating the business.” I try and give them examples. You don’t buy life insurance after death. You don’t buy car insurance after the accident. You have to be protected and you have to make sure that you do it proactively. In that way, you don’t find yourself in a bad position.

FTC 177 | Asset Protection

Asset Protection: Buy as much insurance as you can because it’s cheap and it helps you sleep at night.

 

There are many different easy ways and simple ways that you could protect the business. I’ll give an example and there are hundreds. In Florida, there was a June 2010 Supreme Court case called Olmstead not to be confused with homestead. What Olmstead states is that, if you have a single-member LLC, there’s no protection. If you own your own business and it’s in an LLC, and you own it 100%, there’s no protection, all you need to do to protect it. Not have a single-member LLC, you can have a multi-member LLC. What does that mean? That means we can add a friend or a relative or a business partner for 1% or 2% or whatever it is, and that’s the difference of keeping your business or losing your business.

Another example is, let’s say you own an S corporation, S corporation shares don’t have as much protection as LLC shares. What you can do is, you can do what’s called an F-Type reorg, I call it a conversion where you take your S Corp and you convert it to being an LLC. The great thing about it is nothing changes. It’s the same tax ID number. It’s the same bank account number. It’s the same name to your clients. You might use LLC instead of Inc, but doing that conversion from an Inc to an LLC is the difference between keeping your business and losing your business.

That’s interesting and important to know. Let me ask you this because I once got the advice from an attorney that I could fix all of my problems with a family limited partnership. I was told that if you have that and anyone tries to sue you, they’d find it registered in your state and at that point look elsewhere for money. Is that true?

It’s somewhat true. It’s not fully true. First of all, there are lots of different types of limited partnerships, there’s the family limited partnership, the LLP, the triple LP, and they go on and on. The limited partnership is a great tool to protect assets sometimes. When I say sometimes, first you have to talk about, what’s the location? For example, a limited partnership in Delaware or a limited partnership in Florida might give you a lot more protection than a limited partnership in Georgia. One thing you need to look at is, what’s the jurisdiction of the limited partnership? That’s number one. Number two is you have to look at what type of assets are you trying to protect? A limited partnership is a great place if you want to put safe assets like liquid assets, stocks, bonds, CDs, money market, brokerage accounts, checking and savings. It’s a terrible place to put what I call risky assets like cars or boats or businesses or toys.

It’s not about having this limited partnership. It’s not about what jurisdiction is it formed and it’s not about what assets are in there. The devil is in the detail. The way that these limited partnerships get their protection like most legal entities is, what is the partnership agreement say? Do you have a three-page partnership agreement that is generic? Do you have a 33-page partnership agreement that has every single asset protection clause, every single anti creditor clause, that’s going to be great for you in case you get sued and terrible for the creditor? There are limited partnerships where if you do it the right way, not only can the creditor get the money, they may end up with a tax liability on the money they’ll never see. Also, how do you set up a limited partnership? Do you set it up, so it’s private, so it’s anonymous? The statement that you made is somewhat true and I like limited partnerships a lot, but like most things a lot more goes into it.

Hillel, we are at a point in the show where I love to go a little bit deeper about you. We do that by using two particular questions. When I ask you this next question, I want you to think about it because this will tell us a lot about who you are. Who, in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?

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There’s a lot. I’d probably have to say and maybe I’ll narrow it down to two, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. Steve Jobs, what a creator, what an innovator and what an out-of-the-box thinker. I would have loved to have the ability to sit down and speak with him and get his views on things. Warren Buffett, what a controlled conservative investor. Things don’t scare him. You don’t see him getting emotional. I know you asked for one, but those two would be interesting to sit down with.

You mentioned the characteristics of Warren Buffett that I’ve always admired and that this man never gets ruffled feathers. In the throes of the market gyrating multiple standard deviations in a day and I’ve lived through that, he doesn’t seem to care, but I know it’s not that. I know that after 80-plus years of life, he knows better and that’s a quality that I would love to have. I’d love to have that quality where you are secure that nothing can rattle you. That to me is one of the best places to be. By the way, that’s what we’ve been talking about with the type of work you do. You can give people that confidence to know that you’re completely safe no matter what you do.

It comes with time and it comes with experience no matter what you’re doing, but it’s my job to give people financial security. People work hard, whether they’re a school teacher, whether they’re a professional basketball player, whether they’re a business owner or an entrepreneur. People work hard and they spend every single day worrying about, “How do I make money?” The problem is, people don’t ever spend time thinking about, “How do I protect it?” The challenge I always give to people is I tell them I say, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.” Preservation of principle is the most important thing. I always challenge them and I say, “For every 60 minutes you spend making money, stop. Spend 60 seconds thinking about how to protect it.” If you sell the business, take the chips off the table. If you’ve made some money, get those assets protected because you don’t want to look back saying, “Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve,” and you certainly don’t want to have to look back and start over in your career. It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.

Along those lines, what I also love to talk about is what do you do with assets? If you’ve worked and built the business and as you say, take the chips off the table and now you have this pile of chips. Most people know how to make money the way they did before, but most don’t know how to make money after the liquidity event. I know that’s not your field, but could you give us an idea of some of the things you’ve seen your clients do? As a way of taking that money and keeping it growing.

I’ll preface it like you said, I’m not a financial advisor. It’s not my job to make my clients richer. It’s my job to make sure that my clients can sleep at night and that they don’t become one penny poorer. Probably, a good answer here an easy answer here is diversification. First of all, you need to do what you feel comfortable in. I don’t like the ups and downs, so I’m not a huge stock guy. I like bonds they’re not sexy, you don’t make a ton of money, but you also don’t have the big lows. You have to see what you’re comfortable in and what you can stomach, but no matter what it is you need to have diversity.

Whether you have some life insurance, whether you have some stocks, whether you have some bonds, whether you have some real estate, whether you have some operating business, whether you have some precious metals, there are many different categories that you can invest in. What I would do is I would find at least a good 3 or 4 that interest you and that you can stomach and that you feel comfortable with and then I would diversify. I would never want to put all the assets in one thing because at the end of the day you don’t want to have to start over.

FTC 177 | Asset Protection

Asset Protection: You don’t buy the life insurance after death or the car insurance after the accident. You have to be protected and you have to make sure that you do it proactively. That way, you don’t find yourself in a bad position.

 

This thought of starting over at my age, that’s scary. That’s why I stay diversified and well-protected at the same time, which is great. Here is the final question, the grand finale, the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do, that truly has the potential to change the world?

This is not to relate it to what I do. When I come to work every day, it’s my goal to help people and it’s my goal to have fun. The more people you help, the more fun you have, the better the world becomes. It sounds cliché, but at the end of the day, there are thousands of lawyers in every single city trying to find a way to sue you. How do we take the money from the hard work and business owners and entrepreneurs, redistribute the wealth and of course take our 40% in between? While there are millions of millions of attorneys in the world trying to take your money, I love being one of the few in the entire country that helps educate and teach people how to protect it. I joke when I say this, but I am the lawyer that hates lawyers. If my clients can go to sleep at night knowing that they’ve made it difficult, expensive, if not impossible for anybody to collect against them that either A, they don’t want to sue my clients in the first place or B, they’ll settle with my clients for $0.05, $0.10, $0.15 on the dollar. To me, that makes me happy.

Do you have a story for us about someone who came after one of your clients promising to take all their wealth, then walked away with their tail between their legs?

I can tell you a story after story. I had a client and essentially and I’m generic to always protect the attorney-client confidentiality, but he was suing in a big company. He expected to have a huge outcome in the lawsuit. We had done some work together. We had done some asset protection planning together in the past, not for any other means but being proactive. Never in a million years did this guy think that the lawsuit would turn around and he would end up being the defendant in the lawsuit. Which not only happened but the judge had made it clear that not only was this guy going to lose, this guy was going to lose tens of millions of dollars, which would have wiped him out.

The judge said that?

Before giving the final ruling, you can read a judge and without saying that, that’s what he said. It was going up. I’ll never forget it was weeks before the final judgment. They would be talking settlement, wouldn’t be talking settlement. Here’s a guy who thought he was going to make a gazillion dollars and now he’s being told that he’s going to be wiped out. Thank God we had proactively years and years before, put together an asset protection plan. We were able to go to the other side and his litigation attorneys were able to sell our protection. They were able to tell the other side that even if they did win, which maybe they will, maybe they won’t, that our client is uncollectible and judgment-proof. We ended up settling that case for a couple hundred thousand dollars, which my client still wrote a check, but it’s a lot better than going bankrupt for tens of millions of dollars. It’s not always that you’ll never be sued, but if we can settle a $10 million, $20 million, $30 million lawsuits for $200,000, $300,000, to me that’s a victory.

What would you say would be the simplest thing a reader could do that it wouldn’t take as much time as they may think, to put at least one layer of asset protection between them and potential predators?

I give it a quick three-step process. Number one, educate yourself, you can’t do anything until you educate yourself. A lot of times, people haven’t heard of asset protection until it’s too late. The first thing I would tell a potential client or anyone that they want to help themselves is to become an educated client. Read asset protection books, read asset protection websites, but number one is to educate yourself. Once you’ve educated yourself, what you can do and it doesn’t take long, number two is, inventory what you have. Write down what you own, write down what it’s worth, write down what you owe, and write down when you bought it. Write down if you plan on selling it. Many people have much more than they think they do, until they get it down on paper.

Once you’ve educated yourself and once you’ve inventoried what you have, I would crawl before I walk and I’d say, “What is the most important asset to me?” If its real estate, I would get the real estate protected. I would wait six months and then I would say, “What’s the next largest asset that’s most important to me?” Maybe it’s the business, and then I get the business protected. I’d wait and do nothing and then 6 to 12 months later, I’d say, “What’s the next biggest asset?” I’d say, “Maybe it’s the liquid assets,” and then I’d protect that. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Any steps that you take and if you protect one asset is better than doing nothing. I would educate yourself. I would inventory your wealth and then I would choose your most important and most vulnerable asset to protect. Anything is better than nothing. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

Hillel, I understand that you have an offer for my readers to help with step one, which is education, what would that be?

It's not what you make, it’s what you keep. Click To Tweet

If any of your readers go to our website, its www.AssetProtectionAttorneys.com. There’s a Contact Us form and as long as they mention your show, we’re going to send them out a complimentary copy of the book on asset protection.

Like a real paperback book or an eBook, what do you mean?

We have both, and whatever is best for the reader. We have regular paperback books, audiobooks and eBooks. However, they enjoy it.

That’s quite a gift. You could probably look up Hillel on Amazon and see the various books he’s written. Even using Amazon, first understand what he does. Read a little bit more about him, then go to the website and get your free book. It sounds like a great offer. This has been a pleasure for me and educational as well. I am certain readers are going to enjoy this and all of what you shared. Thank you for being with us. I hope we get a chance to talk again soon.

Thank you for having me.

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