Asset Protection Planning is one of the hottest issues in the modern legal world. With the growing division in this country of the haves and the have nots, it is more important than ever.
The state of Florida, as well as the other states in our country, has exemption statutes that protect some of the property owned by all citizens of this Great state. The Florida exemption statute is Chapter 222.
Florida Statutory Protection
SOME THINGS PROTECTED BY THE EXEMPTION STATUTE INCLUDE:
(1) Homestead property under §222.01 and §222.02;
(2) Personal property under §222.061, §222.25 and Section 4,
Article X of the Florida Constitution;
(3) Salary and wages under §222.11;
(4) Life Insurance and Annuities under §222.13 and §222.14;
(5) Disability Income under §222.18;
(6) Pension money including IRAs under §222.21;
(7) Prepaid College funds under §222.22
The exemption statutes, as you can tell for yourself, do not protect much property from the claims of creditors. They only provide a ground floor of items that cannot be touched.
Homestead is the major protection in the state of Florida. Besides the protection mentioned in §§ 222.01 and 222.02, there is also the protection mentioned in the Florida Constitution at section 4, Article X Many individuals and families move to the state to take advantage of our liberal homestead exemption which is virtually unlimited subject to certain restrictions. Even the Florida Medicaid Rules exempts up to $552,000 in equity in the homestead.
Beyond that the only protection against losing your property in the event of a lawsuit is to take action to protect your property. There is an old saying in asset protection planning that you cannot lose to a creditor that which you don’t own.
But people generally own much more than is covered by the Exemption Statutes. So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:
(1) You can transfer your property into your spouse’s name if you have one;
(2) You can transfer your property into an irrevocable trust for the benefit of your spouse, your children or others;
(3) You can transfer money into life insurance and annuities for the protection that is afforded as listed above;
(4) You can transfer money into your homestead property (prepay mortgage) as the money is now protected as mentioned above;
(5) You can transfer money into your pension, IRA, Keogh or other retirement fund as mentioned above;
(6) You can transfer money into a prepaid college fund for your children and/or grandchildren;
(7) You can transfer money and other property into the name of a
(8) limited liability company (LLC). However, you must have other members in that LLC as Florida does not recognize a single-member LLC. Florida also recognizes husband and wife as a one person LLC. You actually own a membership interest in the property rather than the property itself. (See separate discussion of LLCs in this section).