Category Asset Protection

Strategies to shield your wealth

In an increasingly vigilant world, people are looking for solutions to protect their assets and one of the most useful paths is to go for “offshore” alternatives. “Offshore” means outside of the country where one resides. “Protection” means to care for or defend or protect something. By joining these two concepts then we understand the offshore protection of assets as strategies used to care for their assets outside their country of origin. There are different risks for assets today. From civil lawsuit lawsuits that can attach to your assets to be exploited through a court order to satisfy the debt, until a divorce process that can freeze your assets until the spouse receives alimony and/or child support or half of the assets with which property rights of the community are exercised. There the dangers do not end: a business partner can be sued for having an accident while driving the company’s vehicle or for doing the business of the company in which you can be sued, along with your partner; there are the back taxes and the government seizes their assets to pay these taxes. These are just some examples of how many dangers exist and why you need to take action quickly to protect your assets. How can you protect your assets offshore? Having ownership of your jewelry, works of art, expensive furniture, boats, vehicles, planes, and real estate on behalf of a legal entity allows you to protect yourself against the judgments of civil courts and government attachments addressed to you as an individual. Although most countries recognize the legal separation between an individual and a legal entity as a private company or foundation, there may be some that do not accept this separation. Therefore, experts recommend that, in order to better protect their assets, it is better to work with countries that do guarantee anonymity over their legal entities and strict banking secrecy. It is possible to achieve offshore anonymity for assets through various forms, depending on the country that is used. For example, Panama has laws that allow “bearer shares” for its companies, which means that the one that owns the shares of the companies is the owner of that company. Stock certificates are limited to saying “bearer” as opposed to a person’s name. These stock certificates cannot be recorded anywhere, because “bearer” could be anyone who has the certificate. That is why it is important not to lose bearer share certificates. Another way to ensure the anonymity of the property is to use the staff of the law firm to become “nominated” officers, so the client’s name will never appear in any government record on that company. This form of offshore asset protection takes care of the identity of the client.

How to shield your wealth against lawsuits

One of the most popular uses of offshore strategies is the protection of assets against claims. Anyone who lives in the United States or Europe can attest that there are too many civil trials. People make demands (not only in these countries) for anything. Even if you had a $ 1 million insurance policy that would not be enough if the damages claimed in the lawsuit were higher than that policy. In addition, when a plaintiff’s attorney knows that there is a very bulky insurance policy seeks to increase the demand with other arguments, hoping to solve the problem with the insurance company. So, even if you have large insurance policies, you can prevent lawsuits. However, with offshore asset protection, the need for insurance policies is completely eliminated. There are civil naming lawsuits to companies and people who did not participate in anything but are married to the aggressor or there are lawsuits for letting a friend use their vehicle, which then commits a serious accident. Another way to be dragged into a lawsuit is to have a business partner commit an act of negligence that causes serious injury. Even if you have not done anything wrong because of your relationship with the defendant or with the instrument used to cause the injury, your name will also appear as one of the defendants. The offshore protection of assets offers an answer to this problem. Offshore asset protection strategies can reduce and eliminate exposure to lawsuits. This is explained because plaintiffs’ attorneys, in many cases, charge only if they win the lawsuit. Without triumph, there is no payment. If a potential defendant is too poor and has no insurance and does not possess any assets called “trial evidence”, which is the legal jargon for a non-collectible defendant, then the plaintiffs’ attorneys do not waste time filing lawsuits against the defendants. defendants, since they do not see chances of making money. One way to achieve for unnoticed is to have an offshore company on behalf of which all assets will be registered. If an individual is threatened with a lawsuit all he has to do is prove to the plaintiff’s lawyer a simple fact: that he does not own anything. Surely the lawyer will think twice before continuing with the lawsuit because he could not make money.

The simple asset protection strategy at is very effective. With an offshore company, it is also possible to open bank accounts for client funds, so this is another asset protection strategy. The funds are protected from the client’s creditors since they are owned by the offshore company and not the client. This method of asset protection allows the client to access their funds held by an offshore company in a country that has strict banking secrecy laws, making it even more difficult for the lawyer of a claimant or a judgment collection company judicial civil find the funds.

The offshore bank

An offshore bank is a bank located in a country different from where you live. It can be an international bank with branches in many countries; Although an offshore bank can also be a small bank, which is only found in one country and in most cases these are the most effective for capital protection. Asset protection is one of the strongest reasons for opening an offshore bank account. By taking the assets out of your country of origin and depositing them in an offshore bank account you really protect those funds from any attempted seizure and assault. It should be noted that with the new international agreements that will come into force in 2017, the offshore banks of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco and Andorra, which were previously the most sought after, will become risky as much as the banks in high-tax countries, for which are not advisable. In general, the seizure of a national bank account can occur after losing a civil lawsuit, due to taxes on the income of the country of origin, you can also be fined by a government agency, to pay alimony or child support, or to pay debts. However, when the funds are deposited in an offshore bank account these creditors will hardly be able to obtain information about the funds and the beneficiary. Even if they found the bank account, seizing offshore funds could be difficult or impossible unless there are specific treaties between the two countries that allow this type of action. Experts in offshore asset protection recommend shielding the client and their offshore bank account, using a legal entity such as an offshore company or a private foundation. This will make it even more difficult for the customer’s creditors to locate the bank account. There are countries that have laws that allow the anonymous property of offshore companies and private foundations adding another layer of protection for the client. Another reason to use an offshore bank is to pay fewer income taxes. Having an offshore legal entity to do business in other countries or sell products and services online and send the money to an offshore bank in a country that does not tax this type of income results do not have to pay any income tax. Choosing the best country with strong banking secrecy laws, that does not impose passive or active income tax is an essential first step to really protect assets. As there are many jurisdictions without income tax in the world it is advisable to hire an expert to receive advice as to which country best suits the client’s needs. These needs can be simply placing funds in an offshore bank, or carrying out the trade and having the benefits sent to an offshore bank. With an offshore bank account, you can earn tax-free interest if you open this account in a country that does not levy interest on a bank account. In order to obtain an offshore bank account that offers privacy, it is necessary to find a country with laws that allow bank secrecy, along with laws that allow the anonymous property of its legal entities. Bank secrecy laws make it a crime for any bank employee to disclose information about an account holder. While having your own name as the owner of an offshore bank account in a country with bank secrecy laws provides some protection, it may not be enough to guarantee total privacy. That is why experts in asset protection advise the use of a country that has anonymous property laws of the entity. A legal person can be a company or a private foundation. In an offshore company, for example, the identity of the true owner is hidden and this can be achieved by hiring staff to act as fiduciary. Some countries have laws that allow the issuance of certificates of “bearer” shares of companies. That means that whoever holds the certificate is its owner. There are no records or documents presented that show the names of the shareholders. With this, it is possible to create an offshore company or private foundation that opens the offshore bank account on your behalf. In this way, the total anonymity of the bank account is achieved. It is necessary to clarify that banks will always need to identify the beneficiary of the account, the important thing is that in the country where your bank resides there is a bank secrecy law. An offshore bank account not only earns interest-free of taxes but can also be used to make investments or loans, to obtain more benefits that can also be tax-free. With a brokerage account, the client can participate in the purchase and sale of shares of corporations, commodities, precious metals, international currencies, government bonds, and mutual funds. The benefits derived from an offshore brokerage account can be tax-free if the correct country is chosen to create the offshore legal entity that owns the offshore bank account. There are several countries, with similar laws of anonymity, that do not impose income taxes on their bank accounts or profits from their offshore brokerage accounts, as long as the benefits are obtained outside the country. These are known as countries with “taxes on territorial income”, in which only the income obtained in their territory is taxed.

Panamanian societies and foundations

The SA designation after the name of an offshore company in Panama means “Sociedad Anónima”. There are several ways to have a corporation in Panama. One way is to use “Nominee Directors”, who are staff members of the law firm under the same privilege of attorney-client confidentiality. In addition, the client establishes what the nominated directors can do, although in general, it is the same owner who manages the company through a general power of attorney. Another way is for the client to appoint trusted people to be the directors of the company. Once again, the client’s name will never appear in public records. Panama is one of the few countries that allows bearer shares. These actions must be guarded by an authorized agent (bank, trustee, lawyer). Another option is the creation of a Private Interest Foundation in Panama to support the actions of the offshore company in Panama as a holding company. This offers greater privacy. A Private Interest Foundation is also unique in Panama. This country investigated the three original jurisdictions that created private foundations throughout the 20th century: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. Then Panama developed its legislation on the Private Interest Foundation using parts of its foundation laws and created a hybrid between a company and a Trust. This resulted in asset protection and enhanced estate planning entity that offers total anonymity, lower taxes, avoidance of inheritance, inheritance and free estate tax, and a fast and efficient way to transfer assets to the heirs, at a cheaper cost. Panamanian companies and foundations can open bank accounts in Panama or other countries that have strict banking secrecy laws, so it is a crime for any bank employee to disclose customer banking information.

Advantages of a Panama Society

Since 1927, Panama has one of the best corporation laws in the world. More than 500,000 companies and foundations have their domicile in Panama, which makes that country the second largest offshore business center in the world, after Hong Kong. Panamanian companies are so popular because they offer global asset protection, privacy, and diversification of investments. The global protection of assets is one of the most frequent uses of Panamanian companies. Companies can be used for international trade, to maintain bank accounts abroad and to own real estate and other assets outside of their country of origin.

  • Buy the book that explains in detail how to take advantage of an offshore company in Panama

The companies in Panama are easy to incorporate and affordable. You do not even have to be present in Panama and the process can be completed in just a few days. The best feature is that they are anonymous. Most customers prefer to use an anonymous property instead of being registered as the owner of the company. 

In Panama, hermetic anonymity is offered. This is one of the few countries that offer companies “bearer shares”, where they can be issued to the bearer instead of a person. In 2015, Panama had to adopt transparency measures for which bearer shares must be guarded in Panama by an authorized agent (bank, trustee, lawyer) who will issue a certificate of custody to the beneficiary. “Corporate Veil Lifting” is a legal term that refers to the ability to discover who the real owners are and to have access to corporate books and records. This is not allowed in Panama unless there is a court order. The meetings of the directors and the shareholders’ meeting can be held anywhere in the world or by proxy, by phone or e-mail. Corporate books are required; however, it is not necessary to keep them in Panama. No commercial or business license is required unless you sell products or services in the territory of Panama. The law firms that make up the corporations are the registered agent to accept government notices. Registered agents also usually provide their address for the corporate headquarters. Companies from other countries can register to be re-domiciled in Panama. Incorporated companies in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and other countries, whose laws are changing, now choose to re-domicile in Panama, although the country where this is most easily done in Liberia. Tax savings are one of the biggest reasons why people choose Panama to incorporate a company. There, income obtained outside the country is not taxed. Only income earned within Panama is subject to income and sales taxes.

Uses of Companies in Panama

Panama has one of the most important corporation laws in the world, combined with one of the strictest banking secrecy laws. A Panamanian society can be formed without anyone ever knowing who really is the owner. The use of “Nominated” directors and officers and/or the use of certificates of shares of “bearer” companies are two ways to achieve total anonymity. A company in Panama offers total privacy in corporate matters. In contrast to the old and current tax havens of the British Commonwealth that are undergoing a process of transparency that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to have complete privacy in the conduct of business of the companies, Panama remains a totally independent country and that respects banking secrecy and does not easily share tax information.

With a company in Panama, it is possible to carry out different types of activities, such as international trade, the opening of brokerage and bank accounts, or properties of real estate or any other type of property or asset. A Panama company can be very useful to move funds from one country to another in a very private and confidential way.

How to form a company in Panama

The formation of a company in Panama is not difficult, since a specialized law firm will prepare all the legal documents and then submit them to the Public Registry of Panama, you can do everything online in about 10 minutes filling this form and attaching the documents that are requested (copy of a government ID, and proof of residence how to bill for water, electricity, gas, etc.)

If you decide to form a new company in Panama you will have to select a name. A company in Panama can have any name, in any language, as long as there is no other company called similar. That’s why experts recommend managing up to three alternative names in case one or two have already been used. The only requirement is that the name must end with a corporate suffix that identifies it as a partnership. You have the option to put your name as an officer and/or board member of the director. However, by doing this his name will be in the public records of Panama and may be seen. You can have total privacy by choosing to use “nominated” directors and officers whose names will appear in Panama’s public records instead of yours. Your next decision involves corporate actions. You can choose the number of shares and the names to put on the stock certificates. For greater privacy, you have the option of issuing bearer shares, which are like bearer bonds whose certificate, by simply saying “bearer”, means that the one in possession of the bearer certificate is the owner. No one can know who owns bearer shares, because there is no record of ownership. With the new 2015 law, bearer shares must be guarded by an authorized agent. Time: normally it takes 5 business days to establish a corporation in Panama; although it is possible to accelerate the process to between 24 and 48 hours, with an extra payment of the urgency rate.

Private Interest Foundations

The Private Interest Foundation in Panama was created by Law 25 of 1995. It was modeled on the laws of the Private Foundation in Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. The Private Interest Foundation differs from traditional charitable foundations in that it is established for a family, rather than charitable organizations. Its main purpose is to serve the family of the founder and other designated beneficiaries. The Panama Foundation is used for planning international heritage, provides privacy and protects beneficiaries and assets. The types of assets that may be owned by a Panama Foundation include real estate, vehicles, aircraft, boats, art objects, jewelry, bank accounts, corporate stock, securities, investment accounts, and almost all other types of assets. assets located throughout the world. Privacy through the anonymous property is another benefit provided by a Panama Foundation. There are no public records with the name of the founder or beneficiaries and there are no reporting requirements to the government. Only the law firm that represents the Foundation in Panama will know who the founder and the beneficiaries are. The succession planning benefits of a Panama Foundation include avoiding the long and costly process of succession, the immediate transfer of control of the Panama Foundation to the beneficiaries in the event of an event specified in the creation documents (letter of wishes ) by the founder as his / her death or physical/mental disability. 

China selects offshore structures to protect assets

More recently, the marriage in China, as a rule, was for life. However, before marriage for a Chinese woman was not always prosperous and pleasant. In accordance with tradition, by entering into marriage, women had to give up their rights, and completely submit to their husband and his family. All their lives, women served their husbands and their families, and divorce for women in China was considered a disgrace. If even some of the women managed to get divorced safely, they were called the old shoe (po xie). Second marriages were very unlikely and rare, but even if they were concluded, this did not mean that they were trouble-free, but rather even as problematic as they were to remain a loner. Being divorced was a shame not only for the woman herself but also for her parents. If the parents refused to accept the daughter back to the family, then she was doomed to survive in a society that unequivocally considered the woman as an inferior person.

Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, men were the main labor force. Although already in the 1900s, the previous government took the first steps in the struggle for women’s rights. Mao Zedong was the one who began systematically forcing equality between the sexes, in the hope that this would help China become a world power. The first civil marriage in China was adopted in 1950. In order to achieve equality between men and women, it was necessary to take very bold steps, such as introducing a ban on the sale of the bride, organizing marriages, child engagement, concubines and legalizing divorce.

Despite the fact that both women and men had the right to file for divorce in order to invalidate a marriage, divorce was possible only in case of “mediation and counseling” failures, and the couple needed official permission from their employer or district committee before considering a divorce. In 1985, when the mechanism for the development of economic reforms in China was established and began to function smoothly, divorces were still a relatively rare event.

Since then, China’s accelerated economic growth has been accompanied by growing pressure to achieve financial success for the country, which is directly associated with an increase in the number of divorces. Between 1985 and 2009, the number of divorces in China increased by four, from 0.4 to 1.85 per 1,000 people.

Despite the fact that there were certain factors that contributed to the increase in the number of divorces, the amendment to the marriage law in 2003 was central. Formal permission from employers or district committees that were previously necessary for a divorce was canceled, and the procedure itself was greatly simplified, allowing people to obtain divorce certificates in an easier way. According to a report published by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in early 2011, starting in 2003, the number of divorces in China has increased by an average of 7.65% per year. And this trend seems to be only gaining growth.

According to a report published on May 5, 2011 in the daily newspaper, which is the best-selling in Chinese, the Beijing Times, during the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, there was an increase in the number of couples who officially informed the state about his intention to cancel the marriage by 17%.

Statistics may be especially relevant for Pekingans, who lead this trend. From 2004 to 2010, according to government data, the number of divorces in the city was almost two times higher than in other cities of the country. Data for 2009 showed that by the number of divorces, Shanghai was practically “on the tail” of the capital, reaching 38%, compared to 39% in Beijing. Shenzhen and Guangzhou were far behind, reaching 36% and 35%.

If you try to discern the cause of the growth of divorces, the statistics indicate pressure due to the accelerated pace of life in large commercial centers in China. The sharp rise in housing prices and the difficulties faced by working career-oriented mothers. Many of them are forced to raise children in foreign cities, without ties and support of their families, which can also provoke stress, which leads to the destruction of marriage.

The fact that the Chinese generation, often called the “post-80s,” which has only one single child, began to marry only in the early 2000s, is perhaps the most frequently mentioned reason for the increase in the percentage of divorces. Selfishness, immaturity and materialism are among the characteristics associated with the generation of the “post-80s.” They grew up in a family where parents had only one child and loved him endlessly. As a rule, in addition to parents, there were two sets of grandparents, which were summed up with close parental attention.

Statistics of the Beijing District Court confirms the arguments associated with this era of parenting. The number of divorces, in accordance with the data published by the court in 2009, among young men to 30 years has doubled, compared with the previous year. 97% percent of couples under the age of 30 were the only children in the family. Today, in order for a man to be considered ready for marriage, society requires him to possess a certain wealth, but it is this attitude that creates marriages based on the mercantile approach.

More and more people in China admit the possibility of divorce, while they are preparing for this worst event, as the best way out of the situation. Divorce – and its emotional and financial consequences – this is something that the newlyweds do not think about on the wedding day, however, wealthy individuals who can lose millions should take precautions. No matter how undesirable or unexpected future events may become.

Perhaps it is an offshore investment that is the most effective way to protect assets in unforeseen circumstances, even though divorce is only one of many possible events, possession of offshore assets, as a rule, protects against the entire spectrum of threats. There are various ways in which offshore structures can be used to protect assets, and the choice of method usually depends on the specific needs of a well-off person, as well as on the distribution of onshore assets.

Offshore asset protection

Offshore companies, offshore funds, offshore trusts and a diversified combination of assets of a wealthy person are all viable methods of protecting clients’ assets in China.

All offshore financial products protect assets to some extent, but when wealthy Chinese spouses specifically seek to protect their assets from divorce, offshore trusts are considered the most favorable. In the case of a trust, there is absolutely no risk of transferring assets during a divorce, because – by their nature – the assets are not legally owned by either spouse.

In China, despite all the scandals and the threat of transparency, the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands is a priority when choosing an offshore jurisdiction due to its attractive tax rates, as well as the ease and cost-effectiveness of the services offered.

Chinese customers who plan to emigrate to another country fall into another category. They do not choose offshore financial centers based on their convenience and cost. Offshore trusts and other products, as well as onshore operations, such as investment in property, are often key aspects in the procedure for emigration to other countries.

The next step, after a clear definition of client assets, is deciding which offshore jurisdiction is best for the client — this process is especially important if the goal is to protect the assets during a divorce.

Usually, lawyers in China recommend that their clients categorize their assets before marriage, such as real estate, cash, stocks, and shares in a company. After that, they develop an appropriate asset management structure.

Regarding the type of assets that can be redirected to offshore jurisdiction, China believes that antiques, real estate, and securities should remain in onshore, and funds and shares can be invested in offshore. ” Except when real estate and securities can be cashed and then invested in offshore. Chinese lawyers also advise couples to sign a marriage contract in which the personal property of the spouses should be mentioned and defined before marriage. Next, the couple must agree in advance on how the property will be divided after marriage.

No matter how logical these proposals may sound, the marriage contract is still rare in China. Chinese customers have not yet accepted the concept of a marriage contract. This is due to a number of complex reasons that are beyond the legal nature. For example, emotions and personal trust.

The well-being of a certain person in China is usually associated with the fate of the whole family – either because offspring will expect their parents to support them financially in old age, or because young couples rely on their parents before becoming financially independent. Family members play a large role in managing and determining how assets are divided into marriage. Promising husbands are those who acquired real estate before marriage. Then they will be considered “suitable” from the point of view of the bride’s parents, especially if the parents are wealthy.

Such principles are especially characteristic of parents whose offspring is known as the “second generation”. Although they were also born in the eighties, this “generation” is different from the posterity of the “post-80s” known for its egoism. But these two groups are not mutually exclusive.

The “second generation” appeared in wealthy families who began to “make money” at the beginning of China’s economic reform and in the following years increased their wealth in different sizes. Having only one child, the parents feared such a possible threat as a divorce for their son or daughter.

If adequate legal measures are not taken prior to the marriage, or the marriage contract is not signed, which can equally protect both spouses, there is a risk that the family may lose most of its welfare.

Owing to the increase in divorces in China, today families who belong to the “second generation” of highly wealthy individuals and their parents think more about protecting their assets than in the past.

Some of these people took 30 years of Chinese reform and open policy to make their fortune. A sufficiently large number of representatives of the “wealthy second” and even the “wealthy third” generations appeared under such circumstances. Many countries have gone through a long period of development, but China is unique in this sense.

China differs from other countries in that, in addition to all reforms, China also has a family planning policy, which means that today many wealthy individuals are the only successors in the family.

It does not matter how big the family condition of the bride or groom is, Chinese society is not ready for marriage contracts. If someone in a pair offers to sign a marriage contract, then immediately there are conflicts and suspicions that can lead to the termination of the marriage even before it starts. Offshore asset protection is an alternative that high-income individuals in China are increasingly resorting to in order to protect their assets before marriage.

Due to the increase in the number of divorces in China, private high-income individuals are forced to look for ways to protect not only the welfare of their family but also the feelings of the future spouse.

But, despite the fact that in China, the majority of highly wealthy individuals are men who are trying to protect their assets from divorce, using offshore structures, this does not mean that everything goes according to the same scenario, when a young wife digs gold in a garden from an elderly husband Lawyers in China today advise women clients on the allocation and protection of assets in case of divorce. And women in these matters can go very far.

For example, such a situation for China is almost classic: “The client is a woman who owned assets in the total amount of RMB 100 mil. including movable property, stocks, funds, etc. She filed for divorce, a year after the wedding, accusing her husband of treason. Before marriage, she became pregnant and opened a trust in New Zealand. And the beneficiary of the trust appointed her child. “

If both spouses in China disagree by joint mutual agreement, the fact that they had previously planned everything in case of divorce allows the process to proceed smoothly and honestly towards both spouses. One lawyer in China told the following:

“My client was an investor. At that time, he owned 1 billion yuan in assets. The marriage lasted 15 years, and at the time of the divorce, his wife ran another company. They had two children, a son and a daughter, who studied abroad. The couple filed for divorce because of misunderstanding. As a result, they divorced in accordance with the contract: the husband received custody of his son, and his wife received custody of his daughter. Their joint cash, securities, and assets were divided equally. Foreign investments belonged to the husband, but the husband agreed to pay the full support of the children until their son and daughter turned 18 years old. In addition to these assets, the couple created separate offshore trusts [in the British Virgin Islands] for old age. And they also set up trust funds [in the British Virgin Islands] for their children. ”

Both legal cases show the true value of offshore asset protection and pre-planning of the future. They also argue that the more a person knows about the offshore and onshore services available to him, the more likely it is that everything will go exactly as it should in the case of a situation like a divorce.