California Asset Protection: Attorney Gary Fales Separates Fact From Fiction

Attorney Gary Fales talks about the asset protection industry. What is legal and what is illegal? What is the best way to protect assets in 2010? How to understand the changing laws.

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Q: Gary, what is asset protection? For someone who doesn't know anything about it, what is the most basic explanation of what it is?
A: Asset protection means planning for lawsuits and planning to shield assets from lawsuits. In my practice, when I refer to asset protection, I refer to it in a broader sense. Asset protection is protection from anything that can take destroy what a person has saved. There are five Asset Invaders: 1) death; 2) disability; 3) lawsuits; 4) the nursing home; and 5) divorce.
Taxes are also an invader that affect each of the five Asset Invaders.


Q: With all that's going on in the economy these days, why should more people be thinking about asset protection?
A: I like to say that you can be sued by anyone, for any reason, at any time. With the downturn in the economy, more and more folks are losing their jobs, their homes are losing value, their investments are shrinking and people are getting more desperate. If you get sued because you can't afford your mortgage payments, most states will let the lender sue you for the deficiency. In that case, all the assets you own can become subject to seizure by your creditors...unless you shelter them with asset protection strategies.

Q: What happens to asset protection planning if the American dollar is devalued significantly over the next few years?
A: Many of the strategies that are used encourage folks to diversify their investments and tactics. Generally speaking, the bailout is going to be funded with an increase in taxes and inflation. Inflation is simply a tax on those who hold wealth. With the increase in inflation, there are more dollars chasing fewer goods. I recommend three ideas for my clients to consider. First, invest in some gold. Gold is a hedge against inflation.
Gold also has inherent asset protection benefits. Next, for my clients who have bank accounts offshore, it's reasonable to choose some other currency to hedge against the falling dollar. Finally, invest in the normal anti-inflation investments...but do it with a twist. Build asset protection structures around the investments so they cannot be invaded. And make sure that you invest with mutual insurance companies for annuities and life
insurance. The mutual insurance companies must answer to the policy holders not Wall Street, so they are more conservative and many have been making dividend payments for 50, 70 or more years in a row.


Q: Is asset protection legal? There are many people on the internet claiming to be experts in asset protection and many sites claim that asset protection is a scam and to beware.
A: Asset protection is legal, but there is a dark side to asset protection. I always look to the bias of the promoter. Are they selling life insurance? Are they licensed attorneys? Are they just people claiming to be experts? Are they regulated by the government? Do they have to answer to a government institution? Most of the companies on the internet should not be trusted because the advice they give can either not be strong enough or, on the other extreme, it could land you in prison. Asset protection must always take into consideration the tax consequences of the planning, so great care should be taken to get it right.

Q: What makes you interested in helping people with their asset protection needs?
A: When I was thirteen, I met the qualifications to receive my Eagle Scout. When I was 17, I attended free workshops on finances, business and asset protection. I have six kids. Asset protection is the fusion of business and tax planning with the American spirit of freedom, family and capitalism. Unfortunately, the government and our legal system has eroded a person's ability to make and save money. But, what most people don't realize is that the legal system can also protect you from the Asset Invaders...but only if you know how.

Q: What makes you different from other people offer asset protection planning services?
A: First, we fix many of the planning that others do incorrectly. Much of what I do is to review the planning that has that is already in place. We use a checklist I created to review the documents...and it is surprising how many fundamental features are missing from most plans. Second, I personally work with the clients that hire us. Third, I have the only maintenance plan that I am aware of for this type of planning. It's not a matter of if there will be changes but when. There are changes in the law and changes in the client's life. And because those two areas are changing, my planning changes. For a one-time yearly fee, my clients have the ability to get unlimited amendments, phone calls and conferences. They also get access to our educational workshops and emergency access to their health care documents. In short, we become the trusted family attorney.


Q: When you talk to a new client for the first time, what are the questions you ask them about their finances and asset planning needs?
A: I want to know the types of assets, the approximate value of those assets and their liabilities. I need to know about their family situation and who they trust. Are they getting ready to retire? What types of dangers do they face from lawsuits? What are their goals, dreams and passions...that's what I fight to protect.

Q: Are there people who should not consider asset protection planning?
A: Yes...anyone who wants to evade their taxes. Part of the dark side of asset protection are those who try to teach you that you don't need to pay taxes. Those people and those who listen to them eventually end up in prison.

Q: How can a new client be prepared when they talk with you about their needs?
A: As long as they have a desire to protect their family, then there is nothing else needed for preparation. When I meet with people I often spend time teaching them the principles of asset protection so they can properly choose for themselves the level and type of protection that is right for their family.

Law Offices of Gary Fales & Associates
6900 Westcliff Drive Suite 705
Las Vegas, NV 89145
Phone: (702) 804-0024