South Florida Hospital News
Saturday October 31, 2020
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September 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 3
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Asset Protection for Physicians - Is It Worth the Money? (535)

What is asset protection? Who needs it? What should it cost? Asset protection is a risk management tool that everyone should have and has minimal cost.

Let’s work backwards:
• What does asset protection cost? Asset protection can be achieved cost effectively.
• Who needs it? Anyone/anything with legal exposure and exposed assets.
• What is asset protection? It is the process of titling assets to minimize exposure in the event of a judgement against you.
 
Asset protection in the State of Florida can be achieved at little cost using the following techniques:
• Tenancy by the Entireties which is restricted to husband and wife.
• Putting assets in a spouse’s name.
• UGMA Uniform Gift to Minors Act is a gift to a minor.
• 529 education plan which is a gift to a minor.
• Qualified Pension Plan which is an ERISA plan
• Qualified Wage Account which is granted by the Florida Legislators.
• An Irrevocable Trust (revocable trusts are not protected)
• Life insurance cash value
• Your Homestead subject to guidelines
 
Asset protection is not only for physicians, but anyone with the following issues should protect themselves:
• Teenage drivers
• Rental property
• Slip and Fall on any property you own.
• Car Accidents by you and family members.
• Malpractice
• Divorce, separation, death of spouse with assets you inherit.
 
The cost of asset protection will vary based on the level of legal exposure and the need for legal and professional advice. If you are interested in trust and titling planning, identify an asset protection attorney. If you are interested in using Pension Plans, Qualified Wage Accounts and life insurance, identify a professional who can get you to an asset protection specialist.
 
The Rub
A fraudulent conveyance is an illegal or unfair transfer of assets for the purpose of hindering, delaying or defrauding a future unknown or presently known creditor. Asset protection must be designed, structured and executed properly.
 
Each strategy has pros and cons and asset protection is not a no-brainer. Many financial people think they know how to do this but provide only partial protection based around selling you an asset protected financial product. A CFP is not required since a CFP designation does not qualify a person as an asset protection specialist.
 
My best advice is the following: Identify a fee based fiduciary financial planner with experience in asset protection planning, many do not. Pay them to complete a written financial plan for you. But many plans do not address the economic rational of every financial decision. If you are in a high-risk profession and need a comprehensive asset protection strategy, have your planner add the rational and financial benefit of each suggestion and decision. By doing this, you start to distance yourself from a fraudulent transfer challenge.

Howard Wolkowitz is a licensed independent insurance broker with 28 years of experience working with professional clients on sophisticated financial matters. Howard is also the author of The Health of Your Wealth, Your Financial Guide to What They Never Taught You in Medical School. Howard can be reached at Lifeinsure-assure.com and at (954) 558-3673.

Please be advised that I do not offer tax or legal advice, this article is solely for purposes of an introduction to this complex topic.
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