People facing possible judgments that jeopardize their wealth are often in desperate situations; desperate people sometimes do desperate things to protect themselves. When people consult attorneys about asset protection they sometimes find that they do not have available the best legal documents to substantiate exempt ownership or to protect their business LLC or corporations. Later, the client reports that the correct documents have “been found” in their business or personal papers. Sometimes existing documents are actually found, but sometimes non-existing documents are manufactured and back-dated. I heard of a case this week where a “found” document lead to severe adverse consequences in litigation.
Someone told me a story about a person who was defendant in a complicated civil litigation case. His defense rested on letters he had sent the opposing party and corporate documents related to the business transaction underlying the suit. The defendant produced copies of these documents and signed an affidavit that the copies were true and correct copies of original document previously sent to the plaintiff. The plaintiff said he never saw or received the defendants document.
This was a large case and the plaintiff was well-funded. The plaintiff hire a document expert who examined the document copies using modern instruments. The expert found without a doubt that the defendants documents were fake, having been manufactured at a date significantly later than the dates shown on the documents.
As a result of the defendant’s false sworn statement the defendant’s defense was discredited and the court awarded the plaintiff a large money judgment. Criminal action for perjury may follow for filing a false affidavit for the purpose of defrauding the court. .
I have said many times on this blog that two of the most important principles of asset protection are, one, there are no secrets, and two, debtors should never underestimate their creditors. Admittedly, most people who falsify documents in the legal system get away with it. However, as technology advances more and more cheaters will get caught, and if you get caught, the consequences may be worse than loss of a few non-exempt assets. There are enough legitimate asset protection tools under Florida law so that most people can protect themselves honestly and securing if they plan ahead. My advice is simple: start early so you are not tempted to lie or cheat.
Last updated on May 22, 2020