Be sure to stick to these resolutions.
We start 2023 with some asset protection and risk management resolutions for physicians and medical practice owners that will help make your success more predictable.
1. Resolve to get or update an estate plan (yes, even if you are single).
A good basic estate plan will address the disposition or your estate after your passing with a minimum amount of stress, expense and delay for those you leave behind. It will also protect you during your life by designating legal authority to the person of your choice if your circumstances ever require help making legal or financial decisions. Failure to do may result in strangers making those decisions on your behalf or significant delays and expensive legal process in settling your affairs.
2. Resolve to invest in personal insurance in the following key areas:
- High limit personal liability umbrella insurance on your home and cars, $2 million is the bare minimum I now recommend to everyone, and more if you are high net worth.
- High limit loss coverage that adequately covers the current actual value of your home and its contents. Carefully consider high limit coverage for flooding and damage related extreme weather events.
- Consider life insurance in an amount both adequate to pay off any debt you want covered for your family in the event of your death (and the loss of your income, like a mortgage, and those who may have guaranteed student debt for you or covered educational costs with an expectation of repayment) and to produce income adequate to support them. Single physicians without children, consider if there are those you need to cover including domestic partners, parents and extended family members you planned to support.
- Obtain true “own occupation” disability insurance in an amount as close as possible to your actual income and that completely covers your fixed personal overhead as a bare minimum.
- Consider long term care insurance.
3. Resolve to check and protect your credit.
We should all be doing this (at least) annually to identify any fraud or errors and to be sure that no unauthorized credit or accounts have been obtained using your iden¬tity. This fraud is most common at the end of every year, during the holidays, when new accounts are commonly opened, and consumers make more purchases than usual. This transaction volume provides good camouflage for scammers who can slip charges in among your legitimate purchases and take advantage of delayed billing and other new account promotions.
4. Resolve to improve your online security and protect your identity.
- Change your passwords, store them securely, and set up two-factor authentication on all your online accounts.
- Don’t use the same password at more than one website
- Don’t store passwords on your desktop in a document marked “passwords”
- Consider a secure password storage service
- Don’t use passwords with your own name or that end in “22” or “23”
- Buy and regularly use a home shredder
A lot of ID theft still happens the old-fashioned way, when mail or trash is stolen and information including account numbers and other personal identifying information on yourself or of 3rd parties you have a legal duty to protect, falls into the wrong hands. The FTC has a simple guide to help identify what you need to keep and what you should securely shred. For other tips on preventing identity theft, visit: https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/.
5. Secure personal electronics like laptops, smart¬phones, smartwatches and iPads with passwords, biometrics and location services (like “find my iphone”). They should not be unlocked and accessible to others. Millions of Americans get new devices over the holidays due to upgrades in technology and financial incentives. Both personal and business usage of these devices has greatly increased due to remote working scenarios and the fact that trade-in programs are more common than ever, especially for Apple users. Given the amount of sensitive personal and financial data they contain, it’s important you and all your family members (are you sharing any accounts?) think and act carefully about security and properly deleting your information before trading them in, gifting them or otherwise disposing of them.
6. Plan to protect your assets, literally. Meet with a professional and examine the steps you can legally take to separate the wealth you currently hold from your personal and professional liability, while you still can legally do so.
Next time, we cover the basic business resolution list.
Attorney Ike Devji has 20 years of legal experience focused exclusively on asset protection, risk management and wealth preservation. He helps protect a national client base with more than $6 billion in personal assets, including several thousand physicians. He is a contributing author to multiple books for physicians, a Physicians Practice contributor for over a decade and a frequent national CME presenter. Learn more at www.ProAssetProtection.com.