Issue 15 Protect Your Assets

I encourage you to do entity and estate planning as early in the game as you can. I waited too long and had to pay a high price when I finally got the right advice. I cost myself money and opportunities because I wasn't thinking big enough soon enough. I thought I didn't need it in the beginning, and it seemed like an unnecessary expense. I was wrong. If you fail you need it, and if you succeed you need it. And if you succeed big and don't have it, not only will it be expensive but you may have made mistakes you can't undo. My advice is this: Do it right and do it right away.

Very early in your investment career you should meet with a qualified lawyer and estate planner with experience in real estate. Your network will be a good source of people to contact and interview. Once you find the right one or two people, ask all your questions, answer theirs, and make decisions. First, you want to make sure that you and your assets are protected from any liabilities that may arise from your ownership or your position as a landlord. This is the right time to be sure you have proper insurance in place. Second, you want to be sure that your estate is handled properly and that you have minimized the tax consequences for your family and heirs. You want to maximize the amount you can give (tax free) while you are alive as well as minimize the tax burdens on your estate. If you get to work on this early, it will inform some of your investment and acquisition decisions.

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