My client was an enterprising entrepreneur. He had a successful business career and had earned enough money to call himself a millionaire. However, an unfortunate change in circumstances left him in debt to his bank for millions. He reached out to his lawyer to find out if there was anything he could do to protect his wealth from the legal claims of the bank. His lawyer referred him to an “asset protection lawyer.” After a few phone calls with this lawyer, he agreed to accept a retainer of forty thousand dollars, which my client paid on his personal American Express card.
The asset protection lawyer then set up a series of meetings with my client and his wife of eight years. The lawyer told him he would represent his wife and him in a scheme to place his wealth in offshore accounts in the Caribbean. There was one catch: the lawyer told him the only way to protect his wealth was to give it all to his wife and let her hold it in her name.
Within 30 days of completing these transfers, my client’s wife filed for divorce. When my client called him for help, the asset protection lawyer told him he only represented his wife and he could not discuss anything with him. After a protracted divorce proceeding, the wife was awarded most of the client’s wealth that had been transferred to her.
After filing the lawsuit, I deposed the asset protection lawyer. He arrogantly testified that there were no other possible methods for my client to protect his wealth other than transferring it to his wife. While I do not specialize in asset protection law, I know this had to be wrong. I hired one of the foremost experts in asset protection in the country. In his deposition, he explained that there were other less risky methods of protecting wealth, which the lawyer never offered to my client. They did not involve the expensive trusts and offshore accounts that the asset protection lawyer charged so much money for.
After litigating for over a year and pushing the case to a jury trial, the insurance company for the asset protection lawyer finally settled the case for a confidential seven-figure settlement. My client was able to recover a good portion of what he lost.