Asset Protection Update: Analysis of Your Exposure

Asset Protection Update: Analysis of Your ExposureIn today’s overly litigious society, defending a lawsuit often means expending large amounts on legal fees just to defend against a claim, even if the claim is not legitimate. It takes additional money to potentially settle a claim in order to avoid even higher legal fees required to take the matter to trial and risk a potentially larger jury verdict against you.
The first thing to do is analyze your potential exposure; see what assets you have and how they could be attached by a potential creditor. Exposure could arise from a variety of sources including:
  1. A professional practice liability
  2. Corporate contract liability
  3. Audits from insurance carriers
  4. Matrimonial liability or some other personal exposure

In order to properly structure a plan, you need to see where your potential weaknesses are and where your equity and assets lie. Typical analysis involves finding ways to separate the operation of your assets from the equity of the assets. In that way, you are still able to maintain and enjoy your wealth or a portion of your wealth, without being exposed to creditors or plaintiffs looking for a “get-rich-quick” payday off your hard earned dollars. How you title your assets and structure them can mean the difference between being a victim of the “lawsuit lottery” and getting rid of a claim.

Physicians typically need to analyse their exposure in the area of malpractice, which can fluctuate depending on specialty, as well as the general business creditors in the operation of their practice. Minor adjustments such as corporate leases and contracts can protect a physician in large ways from exposure that they might not have foreseen at the time they entered into those arrangements.

There are a number of vehicles and structures that can permit someone to still operate freely and separate the equity without losing it. Often a proper plan is structured in layers with many backup scenarios that is structured in such a way that meets an individual’s lifestyle. There is no “one size fits all” plan, and many common strategies laypeople often suggest (such as transferring title to a spouse or family member), can expose one to other risks and exposure. Without analyzing ALL the potential risks, a structure may leave weaknesses that creditors can attack and leave your wealth exposed.

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