Asset Protection for Professionals and
Business Owners in Ohio
Serving Business Owners & Individuals Throughout Ohio
Including Columbus, Gahanna, Canal Winchester, Pickerington
Reynoldsburg, Lancaster, New Lexington, Logan & Athens
Asset protection planning involves making prudent decisions today to protect yourself, your business, and your hard-earned assets from loss due to lawsuits, creditors or bankruptcies. This type of legal planning is especially prudent for professionals and business owners, whose personal assets could be at risk due the nature of their employment.
Statistically and anecdotally, we all know that the number of divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies is staggering. While no one believes lightning will strike them, wealth created through a lifetime of work, saving and investing can be lost overnight if these forms of man-made lightning do strike.
To protect your assets from such disaster, proper risk management strategies should be given careful consideration. These strategies include exempting your assets from the claims of creditors, limiting your liability through legal entities, and transferring your risk through insurance.
Exempting Assets in Ohio
Often, individuals can choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the exemptions allowed by their state. Ohio, however, has a specific list of exemptions (from Ohio Revised Code Section 2329.66):
Household furnishings and belongings
Residential real estate
Cash on hand or in bank accounts
Awards for personal injury
"Wildcard" protecting any other item of property
Each of these categories is assigned a specific dollar figure. If the assets fall within that value, they can be exempted from liquidation. These amounts are frequently revised so it is crucial that you work with an experienced attorney to ensure that you are taking advantage of the generous exemptions provided to you as well as avoiding the pitfalls of improper planning.
Limiting Liability for Professionals & Business Owners
Many entrepreneurs operate their businesses as sole proprietors rather than through a legal entity, such as a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company. Whether their business is home-based or in the Fortune 500, these business owners are attracted by the informality of sole proprietorship. They also do not want to incur legal fees and hassle necessary to create and maintain a legal entity. However, in addition to other advantages, conducting business through a legal entity may offer substantial risk management benefits.
While lawsuits brought against a sole proprietorship are really lawsuits against the owner's personal assets, lawsuits against a properly created and maintained legal entity are really lawsuits against the entity's assets. The selection of the appropriate legal entity is critical for managing your risk of loss.
Transferring Risk with Insurance
When was the last time you reviewed the details of your liability insurance program with your insurance professional? Are your policies current? Are the coverage limits adequate and are the deductibles reasonable? Have you scrutinized the policies for loopholes? Remember: the fundamental philosophy of any insurance coverage is to pay a premium you can afford to transfer a risk you cannot afford. Take time to understand both the risks you have retained and the risks you have transferred.