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Asset Protection Attorneys in Charleston

Attorneys Discussing Asset Protection

One of the essential services an effective estate planning attorney provides is protection of your assets. Whatever amount of accumulated wealth you have, you want to increase it; even more than that, however, you want to protect it from the external threats that are all too common in the modern world. Ours is a litigious society. All around us -- on television, radio, the internet, billboards, newspapers and periodicals, not to mention on the side of cars and trucks -- we see advertisements encouraging people to sue for personal injuries. As a result, a great many individuals are sued in the aftermath of accidents, malpractice, and even dog bites. The millions plaintiffs win when verdicts go their way can be financially devastating if you are one of the many defendants.

At Wiles Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys are experienced in helping to protect your assets from creditor attacks well before such disasters occur. We are well-prepared to identify gaps in your protection that you may be unaware of and to show you options that will protect your home, real estate holdings, and other investments. Because of our well-honed skills in the area of asset protection, we are at the ready to take all necessary steps to keep your assets safe. Estate planning with Wiles Law Firm, LLC will protect the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your family have protection from financial assault.

Types of Asset Protection Available in Charleston

Aware that each of our clients come to us with specific needs, we are adept at refining our outlook and planning services to meet your particular needs. We routinely set up one or another of the following legally binding means of asset protection.

Limited Liability Company Formation

A limited liability company (LLC) is an unincorporated business organization comprised of one or more individuals. Those who own an LLC are considered members rather than partners or shareholders. Though LLCs have the same tax advantages as LLPs, LLCs need not have one managing partner who bears liability for the actions of the partnership. Actually, an LLC combines certain characteristics of a corporation with those of a partnership or a sole proprietorship. At Wiles Law Firm, LLC, we will walk you through the steps of establishing an LLC. These include choosing a name for your company that is cross-checked with the office of the South Carolina Secretary of State to make sure it doesn’t infringe on any other company’s name.

Filing Articles of Organization

In order to establish your LLC in South Carolina, you must file Articles of Organization
with the Secretary of State for which there is a modest fee. These articles must include: your LLC's name and address; the name and address of the LLC’s registered agent; the name and address of each organizer of the LLC; information regarding whether the LLC will be managed by a member or a manager (if the latter is true, the manager's name and address must also be provided).

Appointing a Registered Agent

In South Carolina, each LLC requires an agent for service of process in the state, that is, a person or business entity that agrees to accept legal papers on the LLC’s behalf if it is sued.

The registered agent must be a South Carolina resident or a business entity authorized to do business in South Carolina and must have a physical street address in South Carolina.

Prepare an Operating Agreement

Although an LLC is not required to have an Operating Agreement in South Carolina, most attorneys strongly advise that one be created since the Operating Agreement is a legal document to clarify the rights and responsibilities of each LLC member. In addition, the Operating Agreement provides details about the LLC's internal management, including how decisions are made, when meetings are held, and how new members are admitted.

Comply With Other Tax and Regulatory Requirements

Depending on the number of members of your LLC, you may be required to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. Fortunately, there is no fee to obtain one. Also, depending on the type and location of the business you have, your LLC may be required to obtain other local and state business licenses. If your company has employees or will be engaged in selling goods and collecting sales tax, you will have to register with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

Foreign LLCs Doing Business in South Carolina

All LLCs that have been established outside the state must register with the South Carolina Secretary of State in order to do business here, and must have an appointed registered agent  who is either a South Carolina resident or business entity authorized to do business in this state. In order to obtain a Certificate of Authority to Transact Business, an application must be filed with the South Carolina Secretary of State and a nominal fee must be paid. Furthermore, this completed application must be accompanied by a certificate no more than 30 days old stating that the applicant is of good legal standing in the entity’s home state.

Advantages of Creating an LLC

There are a great many benefits to establishing your business as an LLC. For one thing, the process is not nearly as expensive or time-consuming at most people think. We frequently advise our clients to let us assist them in creating LLCs in order to:

  • Protect their assets by providing limited liability
  • Prevent creditors from pursuing personal assets (home, savings) to pay business debts
  • Pass-through taxation, meaning income or loss is reported on personal income tax forms
  • Increase credibility with employees, vendors, partners, and potential customers
  • Confront fewer state-imposed annual requirements than S and C corporations do
  • Have greater flexibility in daily activities because of the absence of a board of directors
  • Obey fewer rules re: who can be an LLC owner or how many owners the LLC can have

Possible Disadvantages to Establishing an LLC

There are some filing fees associated with the formation of an LLC, but in South Carolina, these fees are so low they shouldn’t dissuade anyone serious about the process. One factor that might make an individual think twice about forming an LLC, however, is that ownership transfer of an LLC is frequently more difficult than with a corporation. Also, LLCs cannot sell shares of stock to increase ownership and usually in LLCs all owners must approve adding new owners or altering ownership percentages. Since LLCs are relatively new business structures, there is less legal precedent surrounding them which makes for a bit of uncertainty about the future.

Beneficiary Defective Inheritors’ Trusts

A Beneficiary Defective Inheritance Trust (BDIT) is a type of irrevocable trust. A BDIT freezes assets for gift and estate tax purposes when such assets are sold to the trust by a beneficiary. The beneficiary has the added benefit of being eligible to receive future discretionary distributions from the trust.

Typically, the way a BDIT works is that the beneficiary-seller contributes his or her own cash or other equivalent property (usually $5,000) to the trust, but has no control over the trust that would result in personal taxation. Furthermore, the trust is set up so that the assets will not be included in the estate of either the trustor or the seller. An independent third party is named as trustee. BDITs are extremely complex, requiring high level legal advice. While such trusts can be quite helpful as a tool of asset protection, great care has to be taken in their creation so they do not have an unintended disadvantageous effect.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust is so named because it can't be modified or terminated without court approval. The trustor, having transferred assets into the trust, effectively gives up all of his or her rights of ownership and control to the assets and the trust. This is, obviously, the opposite of a revocable trust, which allows the trustor to make modification to the trust. Advantages of the irrevocable trust are that it avoids probate, estate taxes, creditors’ claims.

Contact Our Asset Protection Lawyers Today! 

As reading this material clearly demonstrates, asset protection requires well-informed estate planning attorneys like our team at Wiles Law Firm, LLC. We are committed to meeting your needs  with in-depth knowledge, as well as finely tuned legal skills. Contact us today.

Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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852 Lowcountry Blvd., Suite 101, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
| Phone: 843-718-0232

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