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Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
by tgod288
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.

We live in Florida and I am just trying to figure out where to start. Is an irrevocable trust the best option to protect assets? ipug trust? How much can I expect this to cost to set up?
Do I have to pay an independent person/corporation to be the trustee? Estimated cost?

If I place a house/car/brokerage account etc in the trust, how would I control if/when to sell them or change mutual fund etc?

I have lots of questions and appreciate your help!

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:17 pm
by dm200
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.
We live in Florida and I am just trying to figure out where to start. Is an irrevocable trust the best option to protect assets? ipug trust? How much can I expect this to cost to set up?
Do I have to pay an independent person/corporation to be the trustee? Estimated cost?
If I place a house/car/brokerage account etc in the trust, how would I control if/when to sell them or change mutual fund etc?
I have lots of questions and appreciate your help!
Remember also that there are many other risks, besides your wife's profession, to address with "asset protection".

Remember that there may be big differences (depending on applicable state law) between what is protected in bankruptcy and what is protected when you do not file bankruptcy. I learned the hard way in that I lost a lot in civil judgments because I had not filed bankruptcy - but many of that would have been protected if I had declared bankruptcy. Several attorneys, at the time, gave me wrong information.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:38 pm
by afan
Before doing anything about protection from malpractice exposure, get some information about the coverage her employer provides. Many health care professionals get their coverage from their employers, it may be perfectly reliable.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:00 pm
by lakpr
Does she have access to a 401k plan at her work place? 401k plans fall under ERISA law, and have the strongest bullet proof asset protection there is. No creditor can even list your 401k assets to satisfy a judgment.

403b and 457 plans, and IRAs, are next best solutions. These are not ERISA protected, but are protected under the BAPCAP act of 2005. Up to $1.3 million of each type. This protection, though, kicks in only if there is a bankruptcy petition filed by the debtor/judgment liability party.

The next layer of asset protection is 529 plans, but the asset protection here varies based on the state. I read on this forum that Colorado has the strongest 529 plan protection. You will have to research your own state. Create a 529 plan in your own name and/or in your kids’ names, and stuff each account to a max of $350k each. Withdrawal is a pain though, there is a 10% penalty on the earnings if you use the proceeds for non-educational purposes, but if asset protection is really important to you, the penalty can be thought of as an insurance premium you pay to have that protection. You can smother the growth by investing only in treasury bonds, in these accounts.

Last, of course, is the irrevocable trusts.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Do not rely on this advice, do your own research. This is what I have gathered through my own research, no implicit guarantee that it would work for you

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:04 pm
by mhalley
Convoluted asset protection schemes are not worth the effort in my humble opinion. Things to do:
1. Malpractice insurance
2. Max out retirement accounts
3. Umbrella insurance
4. Title home as tenants in the entirety if allowed. States:

https://www.thebalance.com/tenants-by-t ... ty-3505608

Wci on asset protection
https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/intro ... rotection/
This article lists more, with date night being the no 1.
https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/top-1 ... r-doctors/

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:05 pm
by bsteiner
She could set up an asset protection trust in a state such as Alaska, Delaware, Nevada or South Dakota where such a trust is protected against your future creditors. The cost to set it up would probably be in the high 4 figures. The annual cost would probably be about equal to the cost of the malpractice insurance. Our clients who've done this usually are worth in the 8 or 9 figures, and if in the 8 figures, the first digit is usually not a 1.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:57 am
by BolderBoy
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.
It is very unusual for a plaintiff to go after more than financial remuneration (insurance coverage) in medical malpractice actions. Only in the most egregious cases would that be likely and even then, it could include the local DA preferring criminal charges against the defendant(s). (we've seen examples of this in the last 10 years; a Nevada case comes to mind).

To this end it is probably a waste of effort and resources to try to protect physical assets not already protected by law (such as 401k plans).

Being included under the MD's liability policy may be a very good thing. If she gets her own policy there is incentive for defendants to settle out from under each other and to point fingers.

IANAL.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:02 am
by gasman
Assuming that you have a low liability profession, have her title all assets outside of retirement assets in your name.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:06 am
by mhalley
As the U.S. divorce rate is around 50%, this makes her liability much much greater than a potential malpractice suit that is iver the limits of the coverage. Def not a good idea.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:22 am
by student
What is the reason that you do not want to rely on the MD's malpractice insurance policy?

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:26 am
by jdb
With all due respect I think you are overly worried about non issue. Not to give legal advice but in Florida a married couple can hold title to assets as tenants by the entireties and Florida law exempts such assets from a judgment creditor of only one spouse. This includes not only real estate but also other assets like bank and investment accounts. Reason all our Vanguard accounts titled that way. Good luck.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:15 pm
by dm200
I think (but follow legal advice/information) that it may make sense for you to hold most accounts/assets in your name only - not joint with your wife.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:25 pm
by runner540
mhalley wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:06 am
As the U.S. divorce rate is around 50%, this makes her liability much much greater than a potential malpractice suit that is iver the limits of the coverage. Def not a good idea.

This is an outdated statistic, and the rate is MUCH lower for first marriages between 2 college educated adults who are financially stable.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:48 pm
by 1rl9DS5gl2
I have a son who is a physician assistant (very similar to a nurse practitioner). One of the major reasons he chose that field was that he was assured liability coverage would be the responsibility of the doctor or medical practice under whom he worked.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:01 pm
by zlandar
You could be involved in an auto accident tomorrow where you are at fault and someone is crippled for life.

What is your auto policy limit? Likely far less than what it would take to provide a lifetime of care for that person.

Think hard enough and you can come up with all kinds of ways your assets could be at risk.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:18 pm
by Broken Man 1999
Florida is one of the states that offer good protections, plus your wife's employer would cover her. Unless there has been a very recent change NPs have to be under the supervision of MDs, DOs, Dentists. This "full practice authority" is being fought for/against in the legislatures in many states, Florida included.

The one thing you could do would be to jack up your homeowners and auto policies to $500,000, and then add an umbrella policy on top.

Broken Man 1999

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:44 pm
by SrGrumpy
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.
Have you read the policy? Sounds as if she is all set. Has she discussed her (i.e. your) concerns with the MD and any colleagues who are also covered? Asset protection trusts come with considerable annual fees and paperwork, and maybe with the risk of being pierced.

I don't believe umbrella policies cover work-related incidents, but they're great to have anyway.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:56 pm
by unclescrooge
bsteiner wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:05 pm
She could set up an asset protection trust in a state such as Alaska, Delaware, Nevada or South Dakota where such a trust is protected against your future creditors. The cost to set it up would probably be in the high 4 figures. The annual cost would probably be about equal to the cost of the malpractice insurance. Our clients who've done this usually are worth in the 8 or 9 figures, and if in the 8 figures, the first digit is usually not a 1.
But couldn't a creditor could still come after your future income?
Let's say they get a judgement for a million over umbrella limits, couldn't they go to the judge and say "this family makes $200k/year. If they easily afford topay me $50k/year over 20 years"?
Can you protect that?

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:03 pm
by miamivice
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.

We live in Florida and I am just trying to figure out where to start. Is an irrevocable trust the best option to protect assets? ipug trust? How much can I expect this to cost to set up?
Do I have to pay an independent person/corporation to be the trustee? Estimated cost?

If I place a house/car/brokerage account etc in the trust, how would I control if/when to sell them or change mutual fund etc?

I have lots of questions and appreciate your help!
As a licensed professional, you cannot protect your assets against negligence. You can (in theory) insure against that. All of your assets could be seized by a court to pay for damages due to negligence.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:27 pm
by ChicagoBear7
Some comments are missing a key fact - the OP lives in Florida...

In Florida, your jointly owned bank and securities accounts as well as real estate can be titled in Tenancy by the Entirety! Thus only a judgement against you AND your wife would attach to these assets - as long as you are married. While this is an extremely strong level of protection, it only survives as long as your marriage does! Death or divorce eliminate the asset protection.

TBE, along with ERISA creditor protection, FL IRA/Roth IRA creditor protection, and the huge Florida bankruptcy homestead exemption give happily married Florida residents a good level of do-it-yourself asset protection. These protections along with the malpractice insurance provided by the doctor may be enough.

I'm not a lawyer, but if you are going to consult with one, study up prior to your meeting so that you can ask the right questions. Also, as noted in one of the attached articles, the devil is in the details in making sure TBE will work as designed. An incorrect bank signature card can void the protection.

https://www.alperlaw.com/asset-protecti ... -entirety/

https://www.floridaestateplanninglawyer ... creditors/

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:44 pm
by Katietsu
ChicagoBear7 wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:27 pm
Some comments are missing a key fact - the OP lives in Florida...

In Florida, your jointly owned bank and securities accounts as well as real estate can be titled in Tenancy by the Entirety! Thus only a judgement against you AND your wife would attach to these assets - as long as you are married. While this is an extremely strong level of protection, it only survives as long as your marriage does! Death or divorce eliminate the asset protection.

TBE, along with ERISA creditor protection, FL IRA/Roth IRA creditor protection, and the huge Florida bankruptcy homestead exemption give happily married Florida residents a good level of do-it-yourself asset protection. These protections along with the malpractice insurance provided by the doctor may be enough.

I'm not a lawyer, but if you are going to consult with one, study up prior to your meeting so that you can ask the right questions. Also, as noted in one of the attached articles, the devil is in the details in making sure TBE will work as designed. An incorrect bank signature card can void the protection.

https://www.alperlaw.com/asset-protecti ... -entirety/

https://www.floridaestateplanninglawyer ... creditors/
Also, not a lawyer. But, I do know a few MDs/PAs married to attorneys. I have not known any that messed with trusts and exotic asset protection plans. Instead, they took all the common sense precautions outlined above (plus an LLC if they were a business owner) tweaking depending on the state of residence. It will be interesting if anyone here responds otherwise.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:44 pm
by dm200
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:18 pm
Florida is one of the states that offer good protections, plus your wife's employer would cover her. Unless there has been a very recent change NPs have to be under the supervision of MDs, DOs, Dentists. This "full practice authority" is being fought for/against in the legislatures in many states, Florida included.
The one thing you could do would be to jack up your homeowners and auto policies to $500,000, and then add an umbrella policy on top.
Broken Man 1999
Sure seems like we read about a lot of rich folks becoming residents of Florida - many of them with a shady past.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:50 pm
by Broken Man 1999
dm200 wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:44 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:18 pm
Florida is one of the states that offer good protections, plus your wife's employer would cover her. Unless there has been a very recent change NPs have to be under the supervision of MDs, DOs, Dentists. This "full practice authority" is being fought for/against in the legislatures in many states, Florida included.
The one thing you could do would be to jack up your homeowners and auto policies to $500,000, and then add an umbrella policy on top.
Broken Man 1999
Sure seems like we read about a lot of rich folks becoming residents of Florida - many of them with a shady past.
Oh come now, OJ has spent untold hours looking for the killers on golf courses in Florida! :D

Broken Man 1999

ETA: According to the 'net, an impeccable source of info, OJ lives large on his annuity from the NFL. No idea if that is true or not.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:32 pm
by Call_Me_Op
lakpr wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:00 pm
403B and 457 plans, and IRAs, are next best solutions. These are not ERISA protected, but are protected under the BAPCAP act of 2005. Up to $1.3 million of each type. This protection, though, kicks in only if there is a bankruptcy petition filed by the debtor/judgment liability party.
I don't think this is correct. Generally, 403B's are covered under ERISA.

https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/erisa_fact_sheet.pdf

Also not an attorney.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:43 pm
by tgod288
I appreciate all the input!

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:59 pm
by lakpr
Call_Me_Op wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:32 pm
lakpr wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:00 pm
403B and 457 plans, and IRAs, are next best solutions. These are not ERISA protected, but are protected under the BAPCAP act of 2005. Up to $1.3 million of each type. This protection, though, kicks in only if there is a bankruptcy petition filed by the debtor/judgment liability party.
I don't think this is correct. Generally, 403B's are covered under ERISA.

https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/erisa_fact_sheet.pdf

Also not an attorney.
That PDF document itself explicitly states that a 403b plan will be an ERISA plan only if it is a private employer sponsored plan. Government sponsored plans are not ERISA plans, and most 403b /457 plans are usually offered by the government employers (state and municipal governments, school districts, etc.)

If you mean I erred in making blanket statement that all 403b plans are non-ERISA plans: I admit it. But most plans, being government sponsored plans, aren't.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:27 pm
by toofache32
miamivice wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:03 pm
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.

We live in Florida and I am just trying to figure out where to start. Is an irrevocable trust the best option to protect assets? ipug trust? How much can I expect this to cost to set up?
Do I have to pay an independent person/corporation to be the trustee? Estimated cost?

If I place a house/car/brokerage account etc in the trust, how would I control if/when to sell them or change mutual fund etc?

I have lots of questions and appreciate your help!
As a licensed professional, you cannot protect your assets against negligence. You can (in theory) insure against that. All of your assets could be seized by a court to pay for damages due to negligence.
Huh?

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:38 pm
by drawpoker
miamivice wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:03 pm
As a licensed professional, you cannot protect your assets against negligence. You can (in theory) insure against that. All of your assets could be seized by a court to pay for damages due to negligence.
True, but this needs clarification.

Assets can be seized if a court award for damages exceeds the limit of the defendant's insurance.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:46 pm
by Rwsawbones
It may be possible for your wife to be added to the MD’s policy as a separate insured with her own limits of coverage. This is apt to be much more economical than having her own policy. In MA NPs affiliated with an MD can have $3mill per event with a total of $6 per year for a occurrence premium of about $600 per year

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:46 pm
by Rwsawbones
It may be possible for your wife to be added to the MD’s policy as a separate insured with her own limits of coverage. This is apt to be much more economical than having her own policy. In MA NPs affiliated with an MD can have $3mill per event with a total of $6 per year for a occurrence premium of about $600 per year

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:36 pm
by toofache32
If she is on the MD's policy, who holds the liability for awards in excess of policy limits? If it's the MD, why would the MD agree to that?

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:20 am
by BuddyJet
student wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:22 am
What is the reason that you do not want to rely on the MD's malpractice insurance policy?
My ex was a hospital nurse. The hospital said that nurses were covered under their policy but we always paid for an individual, separate policy. Coverage under an employer policy is fine as long as the interests are aligned and you don’t want separate legal advice. However, if the hospital can avoid likability by blaming the nurse in a way that saves the hospital money, expect to be cut loose.

Our decision was to pay for an individual policy for the separate legal representation if nothing else.

We got the policy through a nursing professional association so you might shop through a PA association.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:32 am
by student
BuddyJet wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:20 am
student wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:22 am
What is the reason that you do not want to rely on the MD's malpractice insurance policy?
My ex was a hospital nurse. The hospital said that nurses were covered under their policy but we always paid for an individual, separate policy. Coverage under an employer policy is fine as long as the interests are aligned and you don’t want separate legal advice. However, if the hospital can avoid likability by blaming the nurse in a way that saves the hospital money, expect to be cut loose.

Our decision was to pay for an individual policy for the separate legal representation if nothing else.

We got the policy through a nursing professional association so you might shop through a PA association.
Thanks for the response.

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:41 pm
by smackboy1
tgod288 wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:14 pm
my wife is a new nurse practitioner and the cost of personal malpractice insurance is very high $3k - $5k per year in relation to her salary which has led me down the asset protection route. She works under an MD who added her to his malpractice policy, but I don't want to rely on that.

We live in Florida and I am just trying to figure out where to start. Is an irrevocable trust the best option to protect assets? ipug trust? How much can I expect this to cost to set up?
Do I have to pay an independent person/corporation to be the trustee? Estimated cost?

If I place a house/car/brokerage account etc in the trust, how would I control if/when to sell them or change mutual fund etc?

I have lots of questions and appreciate your help!
My wife used to be practicing OB/GYN in the Philadelphia tri-state area. Anybody that knows anything about med mal and personal injury law knows that that region is renown for being plaintiff friendly and sky high insurance rates. Med mal premiums for OB was sky high. There's a joke amongst OBs that it's not a question of if you will be sued, but when. Did we have a self settled domestic asset protection trust (DAPT)? NO. Did we make sure she was always covered by a $2-5MM occurrence policy with an A rated insurer (or claims made policy + tail coverage)? YES.

Managing risk is shifting burden of loss. It should be holistic and one should see the entire forest, not just a few trees. I know a lot of doctors and lawyers and I cannot think of a single situation I've heard of where a plaintiff went after the personal assets when there was adequate insurance coverage. Plaintiffs want the easy money so they can get on with their lives. The vast majority of lawsuits settle without a trial, because it's expensive, lengthy, and unpredictable for both parties. If there is a big insurance pot of money, plaintiffs are not going to want to try to convince a judge to seize real estate, investments, business assets, garnish wages.

Professional liability is just one risk. The people that think that re-titling assets in the non-medical spouse's name are not thinking. You are just shifting the risk of loss from the right hand to the left hand. What about the other risks in life?

Divorce
Personal injury (slip and fall, car accident)
Loss of income (death, disability, loss of professional license, unemployment)
Contract dispute (business gone bad)
Debt (medical costs, long term care costs, retirement costs, recession)
Bad decisions (scams, spendthrift)

As BSteiner mentions, it's pretty straight forward to create a DAPT, but it is expensive. A lawyer who genuinely has expertise and experience in asset protection probably bills in the $500-1,000/hr range. What's more, a trust does not replace the need for insurance. But I don't see anything in your facts to warrant spending the time and money on it.

By far the biggest risk I see doctors ill equipped to face are bad financial decisions. Examples include: investing in high fee low return products like whole life insurance; investing in real estate/restaurants/sure things; lending money to the wrong people. Another thing I've seen in places like medical conferences is the asset protection scam. Unscrupulous lawyers who sell fancy trusts as a one size fits all solution to asset protection.

The answer for most medical professionals is the same as everybody else:

Carry adequate insurance: professional; life; disability; medical; long term care; auto; homeowner; umbrella; etc..

Ask your families to leave you an inheritance in trust (this is different than self settling a DAPT).

Re: Asset protection

Posted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:19 am
by Call_Me_Op
lakpr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:59 pm
Call_Me_Op wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:32 pm
lakpr wrote:
Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:00 pm
403B and 457 plans, and IRAs, are next best solutions. These are not ERISA protected, but are protected under the BAPCAP act of 2005. Up to $1.3 million of each type. This protection, though, kicks in only if there is a bankruptcy petition filed by the debtor/judgment liability party.
I don't think this is correct. Generally, 403B's are covered under ERISA.

https://www.tiaa.org/public/pdf/erisa_fact_sheet.pdf

Also not an attorney.
That PDF document itself explicitly states that a 403b plan will be an ERISA plan only if it is a private employer sponsored plan. Government sponsored plans are not ERISA plans, and most 403b /457 plans are usually offered by the government employers (state and municipal governments, school districts, etc.)

If you mean I erred in making blanket statement that all 403b plans are non-ERISA plans: I admit it. But most plans, being government sponsored plans, aren't.
Yes, I was responding to your blanket statement. There are a number of private not-for-profits that have ERISA-qualified 403B's.