Legal Real Estate

The Basics of Domestic Asset Protection Trusts

Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPTs) are a powerful planning tool. They are the most effective legal tools for protecting your home against creditor attacks.

These legal arrangements sever your connection to assets, shielding them from creditors and other lawsuits. They are typically irrevocable and include a spendthrift clause.

DAPTs are governed by the laws of the state where they are established. Nineteen states allow this trust, including Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Tennessee.


A domestic asset protection trust is a legal tool that can shield assets from creditors and lawsuits. It’s unavailable in every state, but it can be a good option for people concerned about cases who want to protect their assets. This type of trust works by severing the connection between you and the assets in your name.

The key to a successful DAPT is timing. Like purchasing life or home insurance, it’s best to set up such a trust before you have any major issues.

A DAPT is an irrevocable trust that may protect against many creditor claims. It can be used for cash, investments, real estate and other assets. A well-structured DAPT can protect your assets from lawsuits and judgments, but it’s important to talk to an estate planning attorney before making any decisions. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor match service can help you find a local advisor.


A domestic asset protection trust (DAPT) is an irrevocable trust that protects assets from creditors. It is an effective strategy to consider if you are worried about being sued. A DAPT is typically used as a preemptive strategy to put obstacles in the way of a potential creditor, forcing them to weigh the cost-benefits of suing you.

While a DAPT can offer protection, it could be more foolproof. Speaking with an estate planning attorney is important to see if this trust would benefit you.

A DAPT is an irrevocable trust, meaning that once it is established, you cannot revoke it or change its terms. It also means that the trustee has control of the assets in the trust. The trustee must distribute according to a specified standard: health, education, maintenance and support. Creditors can still claim that the trustee committed fraud by transferring assets to a DAPT, although this is rarely successful.

Statute of limitations

Generally, asset protection trusts cannot shield assets from a claim already filed. In this regard, they are much like life insurance or home insurance. The best time to set up these types of trusts is before a potential claim occurs.

Each state recognizes pre-existing and exception creditors (such as alimony and child support claims brought by ex-spouses). Whether a creditor can attach trust assets depends on that state’s classification and public policy of these categories.

For this reason, the client must create a self-settled asset protection trust while they are still in good health. Also, a DAPT should be made in a jurisdiction that encourages the use of these trusts. This allows clients to protect their wealth from potential lawsuits and creditors after passing away. This type of trust can also help mitigate gift and estate tax issues.

Modification or revocation

DAPTs are irrevocable trusts that protect assets from lawsuits or other legal action. They are popular among people in high-risk professions, such as business owners and physicians. Although unsuitable for every situation, a well-designed DAPT can protect your assets significantly.

The trust allows the settlor to retain access to their assets while protecting them from creditors. The trustee, who is usually a family member or trusted friend, manages the trust according to the terms of the agreement. However, the trustee cannot sell or distribute assets to creditors without the settlor’s consent.

If you are considering a domestic asset protection trust, consulting with an attorney familiar with this type of planning is important. SmartAsset’s free tool can help you find an advisor who fits your needs. Once you’ve found an advisor, you can interview them for free to decide if they do.


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