The primary concern for most of my asset protection clients is a sudden catastrophic lawsuit. Physicians, business owners and high net worth individuals (and almost anyone else with assets worth protecting) are fearful of that one mishap that could threaten everything they have earned during their lifetime. A surgeon who has performed thousands of successful surgeries can still potentially lose everything from a single, inadvertent mistake during one procedure. It is unfortunate our current system allows this; but that is the reality.
The recent government shut down (and our coming within one day of a federal debt default) is a different kind of reminder: that general economic conditions can also turn disastrous at any moment. While we once again averted a potentially devastating economic problem, budget battles and confrontational style politics continue to create economic uncertainty. Real estate owners and developers discovered only a few short years ago that their very substantial net worth could plummet rapidly from completely unexpected changes in the economy.
Considering the use of various trusts, limited liability companies and other entities; maximizing your use of 401(k)s and other protected asset categories; and considering a variety of other asset protection alternatives is advisable before you have any unexpected financial troubles.
Asset protection planning obviously cannot completely insulate you from adverse changes in the stock or real estate markets. But long term planning while you have no serious creditor issues can pay a very high dividend in the long run.