What on earth do I mean by “Be Invisible”? Do I want you to run out and get Dumbledore’s Cloak of Invisibility? Hardly. What I want you to do is keep your name out of public records and fly under the radar in your personal life. Why is this necessary, you ask. I’ve followed Rule 1, 2 and 3, you say. Am I not safe now?
The sad answer is: Nope. Here’s why. The attorney Angry/Crazy/Crook speaks to knows every lawsuit has blackmail power: even if the suit is baseless, the business owner may find it cheaper to settle than to fight. Business lawsuits are rarely about principles; they are always about money. But the attorney will want to know whether you have sufficient assets to pay either a settlement or a judgment. By the way, if you have insurance covering The Angry/Crazy/Cook claim, you will be sued. You won’t have to pay for your defense or the settlement or judgment as the case may be, but you will be sued.
But if you don’t have insurance, the attorney will look in two places to see whether you have assets sufficient to pay his blackmail. The first place the attorney will look is your local real estate records to see what real property you own. Since all states have some form of homestead protection, finding the house you live in may not help him much, but if you own commercial properties or rent houses or a second home, those properties will be vulnerable. The governing rule here is: don’t own real property in your own name.
The second place he will look is the records of the Secretary of State of the state you live in. Why? Because records of every entity operating in your state – whether limited liability company, limited partnership, limited liability partnership or a corporation – are lodged with the Secretary of State. In those records, the lawyer can usually find your name if you are one of the owners or officers of the entity which holds some of your assets. The rule here is basically the same: do not hold your business entities in your own name.
How you make yourself invisible is too complex a topic to discuss in this brief note. Contact me and schedule one of my $100 Special Consultations so we can talk about asset protection strategies.