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Austin, Texas Asset Protection • Protecting Your Assets From Lawsuits

Serving Lakeway and the Surrounding Austin, Texas Area

It's an unpleasant fact of life…

  • 25% of Texas physicians will face a medical malpractice claim this year.

A few other scary facts…

  • there are 65,000 attorneys in Texas
  • 80 million lawsuits filed annually!

Your assets are definitely under attack. The lawsuit epidemic will not improve because we are dealing with two basic emotions, revenge and greed. What steps can you take to protect your family and your personal assets?

First, develop a wellness plan for your assets.

Just as you encourage patients to take preventive measures to ward off health problems, it is prudent to organize your financial affairs and assets to guard against risks in advance.

  • What is and is not protected under the Texas homestead laws?
  • Should you use offshore trusts, Alaska trusts, family partnerships, partition agreement, annuities, or what?
  • What are the costs of establishing and maintaining an asset protection plan?

Recent data concerning medical malpractice claims and lawsuits in Texas show that malpractice lawsuits have escalated to an unprecedented number. More and more Texas physicians are being sued.

"Why insurance is not enough"

Second, recognize the limitation of liability insurance. Liability coverage can help protect your practice and your reputation, but it is not a 100 percent solution.

  • What if the judgment exceeds your policy limits
  • What if the cause of action falls under your policy exclusions / limitations?

Recent malpractice verdicts have included very large jury awards against physicians —

  • Anesthesiologist $ 6,500,000
  • Internal medicine (undiagnosed cancer) $ 8,000,000
  • Lasik surgeon $ 4,000,000
  • Dentist $ 3,400,000
  • Dermatology $ 4,500,000
  • Gastroenterology $ 4,200,000
  • Obstetrics $ 33,200,000
  • Pediatrics $ 13,000,000
  • Psychiatry $ 7,800,000
  • Radiologist $ 8,000,000

Without advance planning, your hard-earned assets may be lost and it will be difficult to start over. It only makes sense to put a "stop-loss" into place on your asset base — a fortress of protection around your important assets.

Also, establishing an asset protection program will most likely save you money on your insurance. Perhaps you won't need to purchase as much of it! Additionally, with less insurance and an asset protection plan in place, you become an unattractive target to those who would file frivolous lawsuits.

Besides your own personal exposure to medical malpractice lawsuits, other risk exposures include:

  • employment-related lawsuits
  • contractual claims
  • vicarious liability (i.e. you are responsible for your partners, your employees, etc.),
  • automobile accidents
  • owning hazardous assets such as real estate, boats, airplanes
  • coaching Little League
  • Board of directors

Factor in the additional risk to your assets imposed by:

  • income tax
  • capital gains tax
  • estate death tax
  • bankruptcy
  • divorce

and you may find yourself running, not walking, to a board certified estate planner who specializes in asset protection planning.

The most useful advice I can give is … stop procrastinating! Seek out a trained professional who specializes in this area.

A team approach often works best —

  • board certified attorney
  • CPA
  • investment advisor
  • insurance professional
  • financial planner

The costs involved in setting up an asset protection plan vary with the individual and the complexity of the case but pale in comparison to the exposure you have every day you practice medicine, drive your car, or attend a board of director's meeting without a protection plan in place.

The information provided in this article is not to be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon without specific consultation with a professional.

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Austin, Texas Estate Planning Attorney, Ken Vanway, provides qualified and comprehensive legal planning in the areas of Estate Planning, Estate Tax Planning, Elder Law, Health Care Documents, Advanced Directives, Wills and Trusts, Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Probate & Estate Administration, Special Needs Trusts, Business Law, Business Succession Planning, Family & Small Business, Financial Planning, Buy-Sell Agreements, Limiting Liability, Asset Protection, Exempting Assets, Asset Transfer, Aid & Attendance, and Charitable Planning. The Vanway Law Firm serves clients in the Austin, TX area including, but not limited to, the cities of Lakeway, Spicewood, Bee Cave, West Lake, Barton Creek, and Briarcliff, and the surrounding Austin, Texas metro area.

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The Vanway Law Firm | P.O. Box 1645 Dripping Springs, Texas 78620-1645
phone: (512) 263-2886 e-mail: ken@vanway.org