Asset Protection Attorney in Orange County, CA, Protecting Your Financial Future
As an individual establishes their financial well-being, one of their chief concerns is how to protect their assets. This typically is a straightforward process, but this can quickly change due to marriage and divorce. California is a community property state. This means there’s a legal presumption that all personal assets acquired during a marriage—along with debts—should be equally divided among parties during divorce proceedings. While this may not seem complex on the surface, you should still have an asset protection plan during the dissolution of a marriage. Failure to create such a plan can have unintended consequences—including the loss of property that should be rightfully yours.
In addition to possible exceptions under the law, the possibility that one spouse could be hiding money or property exists. This is why anyone going through a divorce should discuss their situation with an asset protection attorney. Doing so will help you better understand your unique situation and the best way to move forward. Attorney Patrick O’Kennedy has handled thousands of family law cases—including those where asset protection strategies were integral—over the past two decades. Schedule a free consultation with our law offices today so you can have a firm grasp on your situation and ensure you get what you deserve.
How Are Assets Divided in California Courts?
During a California divorce, the legal presumption is that assets acquired and debts incurred from the date of marriage to the date of separation are community assets and debts. Conversely, assets acquired and debts incurred prior to the date of marriage or after the date of separation are presumed to be separate assets and debts. There are some exceptions that can make this process more complicated, but many divorces are simple in this regard. This is especially the case when there are no major assets or special circumstances involved—such as irrevocable life insurance trusts or high-value assets—that may require special considerations.
However, assets that were an inheritance or gift to one spouse often qualify as exceptions to community property laws in the California legal system. There are also instances where one spouse has made a contribution from their separate property to the community estate that requires reimbursement. The existence of such exceptions makes it clear that a divorce in the Golden State isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem when it comes to asset protection. Even in uncontested divorces where the two parties remain amicable, getting help from asset protection attorneys can help ensure things go smoothly and that everyone receives what they’re legally entitled to.
And in situations where a divorce is less simple, creating an asset protection strategy with the help of a family law attorney from Orange County can prove crucial. Don’t take a “wait and see” approach while hoping for the best. Once a judge makes a decision on the division of property, it can be very difficult to modify. By seeking representation early in the legal process, you can ensure all the facts are known at the start of divorce proceedings — and this increases the likelihood that a fair ruling will be reached. Contact the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy today to learn more.
How Can I Create an Asset Protection Plan?
Without legal representation, you could get “taken to the cleaners” during your divorce. An attorney can help identify assets you may have potential claims to through the discovery process. Still, having a plan to protect your assets should be a primary concern. Here are just a few considerations to account for when creating such a plan:
- Consider signing a prenup prior to getting married
- Get copies of your spouse’s financial statements if possible
- Avoid placing gifts and inheritances into shared accounts
- Consider financial planning techniques that can lower the value of an asset
- Keep track of recent tax changes
- Remember that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an option if your debts are too overwhelming
All of these strategies have been utilized by our clients to protect their assets, keep creditors at bay, and uncover hidden assets during a divorce. These steps can help avoid lawsuits and major issues down the road. However, it’s important not to venture into such strategies without fully understanding their implications and how they work. This is one major reason having asset protection lawyers on your side can help.
Do I Need an Asset Protection Attorney?
You may be wondering if you need an attorney to protect your assets during a divorce. Perhaps you have a solid understanding of all marital assets and creditors you and your spouse are facing. Unfortunately, people often know far less than they think. In fact, about one-third of Americans with combined finances with their spouse say they have lied about money in their marriage. Another one-third say they’ve been lied to, and these groups aren’t necessarily in relationships with one another. This can make even the most well-planned asset protection strategy useless. If you’re not working with all pertinent facts, your asset protection options are greatly reduced.
This is one of the chief reasons you should speak with an attorney that has extensive experience and who works with financial planners and other professionals that can assist in your case. Many people fail to realize just how easy it is to hide assets. In some cases, the spouse engaged in such behavior may not even realize they’re committing a criminal act. Just consider a few of the ways an individual may try to hide money and properties, and it will become clear just how important legal representation and proper asset protection planning really are:
- Purchase items that are frequently undervalued or overlooked
- Put cash away in a safety deposit box or other location
- Underreport income to the IRS or on financial statements
- Overpay creditors or the IRS with the intent to get a refund after the divorce
- Create false debt with friends or family members to justify handing over large sums of money
- Set up a bank account in someone else’s name (e.g., new partner, child)
- Defer salary, commissions, or signing bonuses
- Creation of an asset protection trust
- Take cash out on policies from a life insurance company
- Transfer stock into other people’s or companies’ names
During a divorce, each spouse has a fiduciary duty to honestly disclose all financial and asset information. While certain properties and money may enjoy protection during a divorce, far too many assets that should be divided go unnoticed. Even if you think your spouse would have difficulty getting cash to hide without you knowing, there are ways around this. For instance, an individual can take out cash while at the checkout of grocery stores. When looking at financial statements, this will appear as nothing more than an expensive trip to the grocer.
You need an attorney on your side to ensure your financial future is protected during a divorce. Getting it right the first time is much easier than trying to file a lawsuit after the fact.
Contact an Asset Protection Lawyer in Orange County, CA Today
No one enjoys going through a divorce, and this often leads both parties to try to simplify the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, this can sometimes prove detrimental. Asset protection planning is rarely something people consider when entering a new relationship, but when ending such a relationship, it becomes more important than ever. Having an attorney on your side will help protect your assets, and if your soon-to-be-former spouse has hidden assets—either unknowingly or purposefully—an experienced legal representative can access confidential or sensitive information through the discovery process.
Asset protection strategies can go a long way, but a family law firm can go even further. Attorney Patrick O’Kennedy is an asset protection lawyer in Orange County, CA, who fights relentlessly for his clients. Whether you and your spouse rented nearly everything and owned very few assets, or you established limited liability companies together, our law firm can help identify all assets and debts and ensure they’re divided properly. We may also be able to help you eliminate some of these debts so both parties can start their new lives without unnecessary burdens.
Contact an asset protection attorney you can depend on today. Schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy by calling (714) 919-1855. We’re ready to help.