The advent of the internet has seen the world change dramatically over the past decade. Unfortunately, not all the changes have been positive and personal privacy has been at the forefront of significant debate recently.
The truth is that Personal privacy has been eroded by the internet and that we, largely, are no longer able to control how much information we share with the world. Through ongoing data leaks and breaches, the web has become a literal dump for personal information which is often misused by nefarious individuals.
Subsequently, the risks of personal data release are on the rise and are of particular concern for anyone that might run a business or company. Doxing (releasing of personal information online) has continued to grow and is now being regularly used against senior executives and business owners. This has largely changed the threat matrix as having your families’ personal addresses and details splashed online is not conducive to security.
As a business owner, it’s therefore important that you take some concrete steps to secure your private information from a range of prying eyes. In many U.S. states, your personal address and that of your shareholders is easily searchable through the Secretary of State’s website. Anyone that is looking for your personal details, wants to serve legal papers upon you, or simply wishes to know what you own can run a quick search.
Wyoming LLCs Provide Significant Levels of Anonymity
The general solution to this is to domicile your LLC/Corporation in one of the states that has anonymized their corporate registry. Wyoming is probably at the front of the list given they restrict almost all of the information regarding a LLC. Subsequently, it pays to base your business in the state to avail yourself of an increase in general privacy.
However, the real solution is to legally separate yourself from your assets using a domestic Asset Protection Trust (APT). These are legal vehicles that you can, largely, retain use and control of your assets, through the use of a trustee and/or protector. They are widely available throughout most states as well as in many offshore jurisdictions.
In practical terms, the trust will act as the member/shareholder of the corporate entity and, through basing it in an anonymous state such as Wyoming, will act as a privacy shield against any interested parties. At this time, there are no central, searchable, databases of asset protection trusts and they are exceedingly difficult to gather any personal information from.
Additionally, Wyoming LLCs possesses very strong case law which means they have a track record of not allowing the corporate veil to be pierced. They also do not allow charging orders over the entity’s assets. Subsequently, Wyoming is one of only a few states that provide a protection centric legal regime.
Ultimately, part of your corporate planning, whether you have a startup or an established company, should be based around risk management. Privacy and information security is fast becoming something that you need to be very concerned about as we enter uncertain economic times with the potential for increased litigation and regulation. Take stock of your circumstances now before a threat arrives.