I have written before about asset protection. It’s the hot item right now as people are getting sued, finding out they co-signed something they should not have, and finding out that personal guarantees mean you can actually be personally LIABLE! Today I am going to write about a simple thing you can do with your current (or about to be set up) revocable “living” trust to give you a small amount of asset protection.
A standard revocable trust provides NO asset protection for you. However, what is a very common method of determining a potential defendant in a lawsuit? Lawyers look in the real property records. Amazingly the public records show what real estate is titled in your name, what you paid, what your down payment was, what your first mortgage was for, what your second (or re-fi’s) were for, what banks those loans are with, and a whole host of other information. Yes, it’s PUBLIC. Also, a lot of older records include your phone number even if you have an un-listed number. Call the county assessor and find out what public information there is out there about your house.
What if you could put a little hurdle to make it more difficult for potential litigants, or just random crazy people, to find what property you own? It’s just a little mis-direction play but it can be a touchdown in your asset protection. Though you may be unlisted in the white pages you likely ARE listed in the real estate records which are likely search-able on many websites! Let’s say you live on Main Street and your name is John Smith. Most people would call their trust the “Smith Family Trust.” Now that’s good but it’s still in your name and thus shows up in name searches. What if you changed your trust name to the “Main Street Trust?” A person wanting to sue you would do a search for “Smith” and they would not find your house or other real estate as they are titled in the name of the Main Street Trust!
NO this is not an impervious wall but this will reduce your chances of a lawsuit and will put up one additional wall to make it harder for lunatics (or criminals) to find out where you live. Check back in a few days for another simple tip like this….