We are all living in a technologically changing world. It holds both the promise of new wonders and threats of existential destruction.
Risk and reward will equally be impacted by the vast new opportunities to acquire wealth and lose it.
Throughout human history, people have been trying to acquire assets and protect whatever they considered valuable. Over the centuries of the growth of civilization, the dominant threats to private wealth came from both criminals and government. It was not always easy to tell the difference.
It is natural that people who are of illegal or legal larceny take what they determine to be reasonable action to protect against being plundered. This widely perceived exposure to being robbed by ever increasing scams and shams including legal, governmental, and financial privateering drives the desire by the everyday citizens for privacy and asset protection.
The protection of private wealth is vital to the maintenance of a stable country. The United States and its Constitution stands witness to this fact as the world changed from agrarian to industrial. The nature of wealth transformed creating a need for new wealth protection methods and means.
Starting in the 17th century and into the 20th century intangible wealth in the form of investments and ownership interests became a major part of the foundation for financial security along with real estate. In this 21st century with encryption technology and cyber currency, what is considered precious and valuable is expanding, taking on new forms, and needing new protection mechanisms.
Advancing forms of prosperity create new exposures for loss. Larceny has always been as much a part of the human character for some people as compassion is for others. Publicly enforced wealth deprivation due to taxes, regulations, and other governmental impositions are becoming more intrusive and complex. The nearly out-of-control litigation industry shows no sign of abating. New and novel means will be required to deal with the growing institutionalized attacks on affluence.
Corporations were initially the dominant vehicles to limit personal legal liability for collective financial risks. Insurance became the dominant means to shift risk. Since then, state legislatures have responded to the increasing needs of the public for more sophisticated means of asset protection.
Politicians sell their services just like everyone else, only they get paid in votes. Legal vehicles as limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships as well as a vast array of other legislation fulfill the needs of political campaign contributing investors and business owners. It creates a boom in the need for offensive and defensive legal and other professional services.
These entities and planning structures also serve a long litany of other individual needs such as means to organize investments, plan for tax efficiency, deal with personal and family disharmony and reduce the risk of economic or legal loss. Even traditional planning structures like trusts and foundations were updated by special legislation to provide an effective and efficient means for asset protection to secure future financial survival.
While nearly all businesspersons, investors, and their professional service providers focus their efforts at making more money, this is only half the equation. After acquiring assets, the other half of the problem is to keep it from being taken away.
The risk of loss is a fear that is on everyone’s mind, although not always spoken out. Dealing with the potential for loss due to physical or economic crime, governmental enforcement, and legal liability risks requires everyone with any amount of retained wealth to take action to protect their downsides even as they capitalize on their potential for upsides.
Asset protection reflects more than a means of wrapping financial wealth up in a protective cocoon. Financial security is a means to achieve other human value objectives such as a sense of fulfillment and purpose, and perhaps the most precious goal of all, piece of mind. The most sought-after commodity in living with other people may be privacy, which will likely be the most difficult for anyone to acquire.
Planning for asset protection should reflect an understanding of why everyone is working so hard to secure wealth and what is most important when reaching financial and personal goals. We human beings are our most precious assets.
Denis Kleinfeld is known as a strategic tax and wealth protection lawyer, widely published author and creative teacher.
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