I have to agree with Jay 100% on this matter.
Here's a good way to know if a domestic based trust will work or not:
1) In 42 of the 50 states, if the trust is revocable, you retain control over the trust, OR continue to benefit from trust assets, then by both statutory and case law you have NO asset protection - end of story. The Queen Elizabeth Statute of common law (I believe it was passed way back in 1571) also forbids all trusts as described above from providing asset protection, so the "common law applies to trusts" argument doesn't stand up, either (and in any case, if a statutory law conflicts with common law, then the statutory law will control.)
2) Eight states (Alaska, Delaware, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Oklahoma) allow irrevocable trusts to provide asset protection, even if the grantor continues to benefit from trust assets. These types of trusts are called domestic asset protection trusts, or DAPTs. However, in order for the trust to work, the grantor cannot retain any control over the trust, and a statute of limitations (ranging from two to four years, depending on the state) must first expire before the trust will protect assets. If you live in and have assets exclusively within these 8 states, you and your assets remain in these states, and the trust is done right, then you will *probably* have asset protection AFTER the statute of limitations expires UNLESS you file or are forced into bankruptcy (in which case the trust will almost certainly fail). If you don't live in any of these 8 states, then forget about using a DAPT. Jay just posted a case on this site (In re: Higashi, I believe) that very much points out the fact that if you and your assets are in a state that doesn't allow DAPT's, then a judge will probably say that trust law of the state you and/or your assets are in controls, rather than the state you formed your DAPT in; this of course means your DAPT just got creamed.
3) If you want to use an offshore trust, and you're willing/able to move assets offshore if need be (easy to do for cash, hard to do for real estate), then you could get good asset protection if the trust is set up correctly and is reinforced so as not to expose you to civil contempt for ignoring a repatriation order. I think the only offshore planners I'd trust to do this (besides myself) are real heavy-hitters such as Rob Lambert, Gideon Rothschild, or Barry Engel. And I will say that I almost never use offshore trusts by themselves, and I pretty much don't use them like other offshore planners do.
4) Keep in mind that, generally speaking, trusts are more expensive to set up and maintain, more cumbersome, and less flexible than some other asset protection tools.
5) At the same time, a trust MAY be the best way to go for you. For example, if you want to pass wealth to your heirs, while reducing/eliminating estate tax liability and avoiding probate, then a trust may be the best choice for you.
6) From a pure asset protection standpoint, however, a domestic trust (where the grantor continues to benefit from trust assets) is a terrible asset protection tool in a non-DAPT state, and is at best a mediocre asset protection tool in a DAPT state. In most (not all) situations, there are simply better tools out their that will meet your needs with less of a headache.
And with that said, you may want to look at the following:
1) Consider equity stripping your home. Jay and I, I believe, are probably the 2 best guys in this subsection of asset protection nationwide.
2) If you are not an employee, I would strongly consider forming a Professional LLC or other professional entity. Note that a PLLC won't shield you from malpractice claims, and if you are the sole owner of the PLLC, you won't gain any significant asset protection benefits, BUT you will likely realize substantial tax savings (especially self-employment tax reduction) by using a PLLC that elects S corporation tax treatment.
And with THAT said, don't try any of the above without first consulting with a qualified professional who works in tandem with a qualified local attorney and/or tax professional, as necessary.
I actually think you can get something set up for about $5000-8000, given your current, relatively simple wealth portfolio. You of course would want to add to your plan as your wealth grows, but this basic plan will serve you well for many years to come. If you're not an employee, then the tax savings you realize by forming a PLLC taxed as an S corp will probably in 1 year pay for the cost of setting your entire plan up.
As far as who to use for a planner, here's the deal: there's less than 20 people nationwide that are really good at asset protection. In my humble and possibly biased opinion, Jay Adkisson, Rob Lambert, me, Randall Edwards (who I often work with), and Roccy De Francesco should be included in the foregoing group, and we all post on this board. I might also add that Chris Riser, Gideon Rothschild, Dr. Arnold Goldstein, Jonathan Alper (who concentrates pretty much only in Florida) and Barry Engel don't post on this board but should also probably be considered in the top 20. Do a google search, if you want, and you'll find their respective websites. The above is a partial list. Sorry if I left anyone out. A few of the above planners specialize in certain areas of asset protection that may not be what you need for your specific situation.
I've ran across and worked with quite a few (easily a few dozen) attorneys, CFPs, CPAs, and other professionals who fancied themselves experts at asset protection. In my opinion, 95%+ of these professionals use outdated and seriously flawed methods. Some have absolutely no clue know what they're doing. The problem is most of these professionals do asset protection "on the side", if you will, in addition to their core practice. Asset protection is simply too complex for the casual practitioner, regardless of their other legal experience and/or educational background. You must have lots of legal and tax training and then you must exclusively or almost exclusively focus on asset protection planning. Very few practitioners specialize at asset protection to this degree, and are thus left in the dust.
I've also taken quite a few CPE/CLE (continuing professional/legal education) courses on asset protection, and I've read quite a bit from the American Bar Association's Asset Protection Journal. Most of the stuff I read is outdated and seriously flawed. Some of it, even CPE/CLE approved courses, is total, complete crap.
In light of all this, my advice is to retain a respected planner with a nationwide clientele, then have him work under your local attorney, who'll cover local tax and regulatory issues, as well as provide a 2nd opinion that is sometimes helpful. Even better, have your attorney be a bankruptcy, divorce, or general litigation guy, who understands how a judge may react to your asset protection plan, and then use a CPA to make sure tax aspects are good.