In my career as an attorney, I have had the opportunity to help many successful people “mold” a plan of protection around their assets. I have found that you do not have to be a genius to be a success or rich. A degree, in and of itself, does not make you rich. Its true that you don’t have to be a lawyer, doctor, or a CPA to be rich and successful, although some professionals just fall into that niche.
While most truly wealthy professionals & business owners make high incomes, it’s how they mold a protective shield around their money that keeps them firmly in their category.
I hear it all the time, “Mike when I win the lottery, I’m going to call you, then I’ll be just like your other clients.” Ask yourself, is the Lottery a surefire way to become wealthy? I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying lottery tickets as an investment strategy. For those few that win, they become rich overnight. Say you were lucky enough to win the lottery, worth $10,000,000.00! The truth is, you would keep only a small part of it. The “rub” is that you would need to make a choice and, unfortunately, right away. Do you choose the $10,000,000.00 winnings payable over 20 years or “rub” your hands together with gusto and be ready to pinch that nice big check for a lump sum with you fingertips. The lump sum would be an amount equal to the present value of the winnings, which would be about $2,000,000.00. From that, the IRS takes about 1/3. So, you may not end up being as rich as you thought you would be. Sadly, many lottery winners wind up broke within a few years.
Why?? It’s what they didn’t do with their money. If you happened to have looked around your community, you may noticed many truly rich people who may have little or no college education and for the most part, can be confirmed, they are NOT lottery winners. I can tell you, they did what many of us intend to do, but sometimes fall short in the discipline of implementation. I can tell you they found overlooked opportunities, then they took calculated risks without over analyzing. They sheltered their assets by taking steps to create separateness within their entity structures, thereby molding a business protection environment that derives its “strength in numbers”. Typically, they have unglamorous businesses and have lived within or below their means. These people found a way to mold the clay they were given, become rich and stayed that way as a result of the shields of protection built into their estates.
You may have also observed many prominent people who live in big houses, drive the latest luxury cars and are members of the country club. This may not be news to you, but some of those people are not truly rich. When and if you happen to look around to see who is truly rich, do not be fooled by displays of material wealth. Many people with big houses, late model cars, and expensive clothes also have large debts; and very possibly, with no solid assets. These are consumable items, not wealth building assets. Some spend more than they make, even though they earn a lot. “Keeping up with the Joneses”, or now, the Kardashians, has become a way of life. In fact, this very trap can keep you from becoming truly successful. And remember, as my wife likes to call my little random but meaningful sayings: Dickersonism #7, “Looking rich does not MAKE you rich”.
So, why are we not molding our “clay”?
Henry Ford, the inventor of the automobile, once said, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way you’re right.”
Inaction is the one of main things that keeps many people from shaping a path towards their dreams, be it becoming independently wealthy or any other goal, for that matter. Inaction, or doing nothing, is the easiest thing to do, but not the best thing to do. Doing nothing means not having a path for success. You do not need a path if you are not going anywhere. This is the same as saying, “I just can’t do that.” “I can’t” means that you don’t even have to try. To be successful and protected, you must do something. It is not just going to happen.
Something I often say to my clients is that over analyzation is almost as bad as inaction. It has the same result, but only after a lot of wasted time and effort. This is also known as “Analysis Paralysis.” If you look at different maps and plans of action but you do not make up your mind, you will spend a lot of time getting nowhere. It is easy to look at an opportunity and see all the many ways that it can go wrong. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Some people avoid taking any risks because they are so focused on not losing. They look over many opportunities and see only the risk, not the reward. The result? They don’t do anything at all. Unfortunately, those people become cynics, and discourage other people from making an investment. If I asked one of those people about investing in a rental property, they would likely say, “Why would I want to do that? I don’t want to be fixing toilets in the middle of the night.” Really?! How many rental properties do you think that person owns? None. Owning a rental property does not just mean fixing toilets. It is important to analyze, as opposed to “over analyze” your opportunities and realize that not every prospect is a winner.
If you can see yourself clearly as not having taken much “action” in molding your future and shielding your assets, you might be asking yourself, how do I get going? I’m going to tell you, you need to make way for your path. Where do you want to be next year? In five years, or ten years? If you set a measurable and attainable goal, you are have the path in front of you. Once you set your sights on your goal, you take the steps to get there and then, you plan to protect everything you built up; which makes up your asset protection shields. Not having a plan to protect your assets is like not insulating electric wiring. There is always a risk of exposure, if your assets are not insulated and protected, a board-certified Estate Planning attorney can help you with proper protection and the maintenance that comes with it.
Finally, you should listen to advisers and others with experience, but in the end, you need to make the clarifying decisions for yourself. It is important to mold and follow your own plan and not let others dictate the direction of your life.