Developing the Plan

You should begin to develop your plan well before any creditors begin to pursue you. You need to basically run an audit of all your assets. Look at what ownes them (individual or entity, if owned by an entity then see what else that entity is owned by and who has onwership in the entity), see if they are separated by risk, and find out which ones are exempt and which ones are not. 

(1) A few helpful hints when planning

Establish a relationship with a good attorney, CPA, and business advisor so that in advance you can cover all possible areas of risk. It is also helpful to have your advisors have an interest in keeping you alive because you are a good client and it is in their best interest to help you.

Ideal Situation:

Your advisors (attorney, CPA, Lendor/Investors) will, in effect, "finance" you by doing work for you on credit knowing that you are resillient enough to survive and that you will make good on what you owe them. This allows for a lifelong bonding that protects you in the future. Most people love a winner and if you are ethical and persistant your "team" will back you, protect you, and discourage frivolous attacks and also be there for you emotionally to walk you through the hard time. Also, as you experience more trials and tribulations you become a battle experienced businessman and will bring more value to the table.

(2) Exempt v. non-exempt assets

Each state has a list of assets that are free of seizure by a creditor. In Arizona, where we are located, the following are exempt from attachment and seizure by a creditor (A.R.S 1101 et seq.). These exemptions are important to know, as we have seen in multiple instances where clients have lost exempt assets due to not knowing what is exempt coupled with improper planning.

  1. Homestead: $150,00 of equity in your home (value over any mortgages on the property). Plus if you sell your homestead, the $150,000 cash will need to be in a separate account so that you can buy another homestead within 18 months.
  2.  Automobile: $5,000 of equituy over any liens on the vehicle, this is not relevant to leased vehicles.
  3. Furniture: $4,000
  4. Social security payments you recieve. You need to keep them in a separate account - do not co-mingle.
  5. Life insurance proceeds
  6. One rifle, one wedding ring, watch, bible
  7. 6 months food
  8. IRA's, 401k, retirement - pension qualified
  9. $150.00 in cash in any financial institution (bank)
  10. Child support payments
  11. Healt/accident disability payouts
  12. Annuity contracts

All other assets will be generally subject to seizure if they are not in a protected entity.