Business Asset Protection

Many small companies need business asset protection advice just as much as the global corporations. While national and international corporations often utilize the services of both in-house attorneys and law firms that specialize in business concern, the owner of a small company seldom has these kinds of resources. Some small business owners may not realize how important it can be to their bottom line to seek the assistance of an asset protection firm until something horrible happens, such as a lawsuit, a tax audit, or a security breach, that creates havoc and hardship. By then, it may be too late to do little more than to control and attempt to minimize the damage. King Solomon wisely advised that: "Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established" (Proverbs 15:21-22). A business asset protection firm can provide the wise counsel that the owner of a small company needs to ensure he is financially protected should a negative situation arise.

Proper planning begins with the company's formation. When a new venture is being established, the owner or partners need to make a decision on its legal structure. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are the easiest and least expensive options. But these also carry the most risk to the sole proprietor or partners. Basically, these two types of structures don't create a legal separation between an owner's personal and business assets. This means, for example, that if an injury occurs at the company location, the injured party may file a lawsuit against the owner. Should the plaintiff prevail, the owner's personal assets could be at risk. A business asset protection advisor can provide important information on the benefits of structuring a new venture in such a way, perhaps as an LLC (limited liability company) or a corporation so that the company itself is considered a legal entity. Such an arrangement separates the owner's personal and business assets. With such a structure, the owner's personal assets would not be at risk in the event of a lawsuit.

In addition to providing advice on the best way to structure a particular venture, a business asset protection firm can also assist management in appropriate tax strategies. There is nothing wrong with implementing procedures that reduce a company's taxes as long as those procedures comply with the tax code. However, some gray areas exist and it's for this reason that the management will want to be sure that they are working with a reputable, law-abiding firm. It may be helpful, and wise, to seek independent legal counsel before actually implementing recommended tax strategies. A tax audit can be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal that takes resources (both in terms of energy and decreased profits) away from other important priorities. It's probably safe to say that all owners would prefer to spend time and energy managing their businesses instead of going through financial statements and records with a tax auditor. A respectable and knowledgeable business asset protection professional, however, can be a welcome resource for companies when the IRS comes knocking on their doors.

Computer technology plays a part in practically every company's operation. Even the one-person, home office operation usually depends on the internet for its communication, research, marketing, and order-taking features. Financial transactions take place over the internet with increasing frequency as people become more comfortable with shopping and paying bills online. Obviously, many companies store their customers' personal information in databases on servers. This data includes names, addresses, and credit card numbers. Some databases may even include a person's social security number or driver's license number. A business asset protection firm specializing in computer security can assist in minimizing these types of risks by recommending and implementing innovative technologies that protect the company's hardware, software, and its private information. Computer security breaches create a nightmare, especially when proprietary and customers' personal information ends up in the hands of the criminal hackers. Trade secrets, such as recipes, patents, and experiments are vital intangible assets that have value. When these are stolen, a company's competitive edge may be compromised. When thieves access the personal information of customers, these people may find themselves in legal difficulties due to identify theft. Naturally, such an occurrence will result in the victims expressing anger at companies that aren't protective of personal data.

In addition to protecting companies from technological disasters, a business asset protection firm may offer services that protect other assets, such as a warehouse, manufacturing equipment, and office furniture. Advice may be offered on security measures as well as relevant insurance policies that will offset risk. Such a firm may also evaluate and make recommendations regarding employee safety in the workplace and set up procedures for the reporting and managing of any accidents that do occur so that both injuries and costs are minimal. Professionals such as physicians, attorneys, and accountants may seek the services of an asset protection firm to assist in the purchase of malpractice or malfeasance insurance policies. These individuals also will need to be sure that their personal assets are separated from professional assets to safeguard net worth. Members of a corporation's board of directors are advised to purchase errors and omissions insurance policies to protect them from potential legal hassles. Finally, a business asset protection firm can assist owners with succession and estate planning. Effective planning ensures that the company that someone has devoted his life to building will continue after the founder's retirement or death.

Sell Annuity Payment

Television commercials blare, "Sell annuity payment." The ads promote companies that are in the business of purchasing structured settlements and other types of annuities, such as mortgage notes or lottery awards. These companies urge individuals who are recipients of periodic revenue streams to exchange a portion of that income for a lump sum of cash. The commercials make it sound very tempting to exchange money from the future for money in the here and now. But annuity recipients should think carefully and do their homework before acting on such an offer. These types of companies usually have websites that can provide detailed information about the services that are offered and may have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Advice from financial experts and planners may also help interested individuals to make knowledgeable decisions on the wisdom of heeding the "sell annuity payment" call.

The history of structured settlements is a relatively brief one dating back to congressional action that took place in 1982. At this time, Congress passed the Periodic Payment Settlement Act which regulates the long-term compensation of injury victims. With a structured settlement, the defendant works with an insurance company to set up a compensation plan so that the injured plaintiff receives periodic monetary payments for the rest of his or her life. One of the provisions of the Periodic Payment Settlement Act is that this income is not taxable. To sell annuity payment or payments is to give revenue that may be needed in the future. However, individuals usually don't sell all their future payments. The companies work with annuity recipients to make decisions on the revenue to be purchased so that the individuals can obtain the needed cash. For example, the person may need a down payment on a home. Or perhaps the injury requires a vehicle with certain modifications. A lump sum of money may be needed to make these modifications to a new vehicle. To sell annuity payment or payments for these kinds of needs is understandable.

Structured settlements are regulated by both federal and state laws. In some cases, the injured plaintiff and the defendant, through their attorneys, may reach a settlement before a court trial is decided. The structured settlement will be negotiated between the parties. The agreement will provide such details as how often the specific amount of money is to be received. For example, the recipient may receive monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. The monetary amount may stay the same or may change depending on the circumstances. When the injured person is a minor or an incapacitated adult, the court may require the settlement. This lifelong revenue stream is designed to pay for the injured person's future medical needs and basic living expenses. Because of these details, a legal process is involved to sell annuity payment or payments. Courts often approve or disprove the sale and purchase of annuities.

Let's say that an injured person negotiated a compensation plan that provides $1,000 a quarter. This person needs additional funds to go to college. Instead of applying for a student loan, the person decides to sell annuity payment or payments. Perhaps $4,000 is needed, so the aspiring college student needs to sell four payments. Even if the court approves the process, the student will not receive the entire $4,000. Certain deductions and expenses will lower the amount. For example, the student may be required by state law to hire an attorney to review both the settlement agreement and the sales agreement. The court will want to ensure that the student is protected from scams and hucksters. It would be a tragedy for someone who has already been physically injured to such an extent that a settlement is necessary to then have this income taken away by a criminal. King Solomon wrote: "The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it" (Proverbs 29:7). The courts protect the injured from the wicked.

In addition to certain legal expenses, the company buying the payments needs to make a profit. Since the legal process may take two to three months, the company may give qualified annuity recipients the desired cash before the process is completed perhaps in just a few days. However, this is actually a type of loan. Here again, the individual may want to seek advice from an attorney or a financial expert before signing any papers to sell annuity payment or payments. It's not only the injured who receive periodic revenue. Lottery winners often receive the winnings in annual installments. These people may prefer a lump sum award. They can sell the future payments for cash, but the lump sum will be significantly less than the total of what would be received in installments.

Mortgage noteholders are individuals who are privately financing the sale of a house. The buyers send the seller a monthly check instead of sending a mortgage payment to a financial institution. The time may come, however, when the seller no longer wants to receive the monthly payments. However, the buyer may not want to refinance the house with a financial institution. In this case, the seller may sell the mortgage to a company who specializes in this type of business. The company will give the seller a lump sum of cash in exchange for the future monthly payments. Just like individuals who sell annuity payment or payments, however, the lump sum will be less than the total of the mortgage owed. In all these instances, individuals are urged to seek legal and financial advice before signing any agreements or contracts.

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