After the financial crisis of 2008, many high-net-worth individuals started seeking alternative investments as a way to protect themselves from losses. Available evidence suggests the desire for investments is being rekindled today thanks to volatility in commodities and equities.

Wealthy people are especially at risk because they are prime targets for ambulance chasing lawyers, rejected relatives, and anyone else who wants a piece of a pie that isn't theirs.

Whether you're already rich or you've just inherited, you may want to consider changing some of your cash into real assets. This can help to keep your wealth free from sticky fingers. Nevertheless, asset protection involves doing things a little differently.

These are the assets the wealthy invest in to preserve what they have:

1. Exclusive real estate.

When people talk about "exclusive real estate, they mean real estate that doesn't hit the market often. It's rarely used to make a big return. Instead, it may be some form of historical building. As long as it maintains its value, wealthy investors are happy.

When this type of real estate does hit the market, there's a lot of interest. However, you don't have to invest in the Taj Mahal. Simply purchasing a 17th-century cottage, for example, is the type of exclusive real estate purchase that doesn't have to cost you a ton of money.

2. Fine art.

Most wealthy investors don't acquire fine art merely because they've fallen in love with the work. They know it has value. Fine art will always have someone who wants to buy it, and those who want to buy it understand its worth. They are not trying to bargain for every cent, which makes this a good investment.

Sometimes fine art can even go in the asset box and generate a passive income. Some wealthy individuals have gathered enough fine art to open private galleries, or to lease their art to famous galleries.

3. Rare coins.

The super wealthy do spend a considerable amount of money on luxuries, at least $1.1 million each year, if CNN Money is to be believed. But this is actually a tiny fraction of their wealth. Furthermore, the luxuries they buy may include things like rare U.S. coins, which many use as a wealth preservation tool. One reason rare coins are a good investment? The market is comprised of historically significant items that are very limited in supply.

According to Michael Contursi, executive vice president of RCW Financial, "The scarcity and exclusivity of many rare U.S. coins creates an environment for excitement where opportunities to purchase these items may only occur once in a lifetime. Ultimately, availability becomes more important than price. This puts an investor with holding power in a very powerful position not only to preserve principal, but also to profit based on the principles of supply and demand."

4. Gold.

Gold has always been a place for the wealthy to store their money. It makes sense because gold maintains considerable value even when paper currency is weak. History has shows us time and time again how the wealthy have survived through simply buying large amounts of this coveted metal.

The good thing is there's a type of gold for everyone. If someone wants to invest a small amount, they may decide to purchase coins. Those with a lot of money may purchase bars they can store in a country like Switzerland.

The rich don't store large amounts of gold in the U.S. Current legislation states that in a crisis, the U.S. government has the right to raid and seize safes containing gold, which is one of the only countries in the world that has this right.

It has already happened once before, under Franklin D. Roosevelt during a time of economic crisis. This is why the rich make a concerted effort to store much of their wealth offshore.

5. Usable precious metals.

Gold is desirable because it's easy to purchase never goes out of fashion. But more and more of the rich are looking toward other precious metals. Titanium and platinum, for example, are used in the construction of many electronics, which makes them prized by businesses and governments all over the world. While not as popular as gold as an investment, these precious metals can be used in a practical capacity. It's no surprise to see them becoming popular among wealthy investors.

Investing in your future.

If you have come into money, you should also consider investing in a higher level of liability insurance. This will protect you and your assets against any lawsuits going forward. When exploring alternative investments, it's more important to look at how they can protect your wealth than on what return they may give you on it.

Published on: Feb 2, 2016