Physicians, asset protection, and the seasonal risks of spring

Doctors face a variety or risks far beyond medical malpractice liability. We examine some of the predictable risks of spring and surprises from current headlines that can threaten physicians’ wealth.

Doctors face a variety or risks far beyond medical malpractice liability. We examine some of the predictable risks of spring and surprises from current headlines that can threaten physicians’ wealth.

Congratulations on your engagement

December through February are traditionally common peak times for proposals and summer wedding season is right around the corner. If you are engaged, an important part of your asset protection planning is a professionally drafted and properly executed pre-nuptial agreement. This includes both young physicians with limited current assets and older physicians with more significant assets that may be re-marrying. The most common lament of those in a divorce is the lack of a pre-nuptial agreement that would have made the process cheaper, faster, and less traumatic because, “We didn’t have any assets when we got married”. You eventually will and failing to have this conversation and document can cost you half or more of everything you own, including retirement savings and even your inherited wealth, if you don’t follow certain rules.

Spring Break

Spring break is here, and many families are finding safe ways to get away as vaccine eligibility grows and COVID travel restrictions are lifted or loosened for those recently vaccinated.

Spring break presents a variety of predictable and recurring family and personal liability issues I’ve previously addressed as well as some new ones specific to the current COVID-19 reality. I’ve I would not presume to give medical advice on this issue to an audience of medical professionals beyond cautioning you to choose such excursions carefully including taking into account the local conditions of the place you are visiting and take into account your most vulnerable family member. I’d also caution you to consider your public profile and position as a healthcare authority and how your choices, lacking context and how they are portrayed in social media in particular, could affect your professional reputation. You are held to a higher standard by the media and the public and a headline like, “Local doctor cavorts mask-less in sea of irresponsible spring break revelers” is not one you want to be part of, but it is nonetheless one we are likely to see soon.

Sorry to Hear About Your Divorce

While love may be blooming at one home, the war of the Roses may be going on next door. Unfortunately, a year of forced togetherness during quarantine in a high stress situation has not been kind to many relationships and lead to a significant number of divorces after many couples are seeing the best and worst of each other. Some divorce attorneys expect an increase in this number as restrictions continue to lift and make the process of separating, moving, finding a new home, job, getting access to the courts and other related issues much easier. If you are facing this change it’s important that you start planning early to make the process as smooth as possible and that you are professionally represented, particularly if you don’t have a prenup or if your practice maybe implicated because your partnership is missing a plan for the divorce of a partner.

Tax Time Landmines

As tax-day approaches both good, legally complaint tax plans and the tax evasion scams we’ve previously warned you about are being heavily promoted and may look very similar to consumers. Choose carefully and have any plan vetted by your CPA or a tax attorney before committing to it.

The plans being marketed range from basic and well proven strategies like funding qualified retirement plans and setting up self-directed IRAs for real estate investing to outright lunatic conspiracy theories about the ability of the government to tax you at all. The ones that use legitimate strategies like captive insurance and conservation easements in an abusive and non-compliant way are also dangerous as they appear legitimate on the surface in their marketing but fail to meet IRS guidelines the way they are actually implemented. Tax attorney and tax plan related expert witness Lance Wallach recently commented on this issue and provided strong warnings for consumers that may face audits and harsh penalties for engaging in these transactions, including his opinion on defense strategies and malpractice claims against those selling them. In many cases, this liability will actually start when the promoter of an abusive plan gets on the IRS radar, causing every one of their clients to get audited.

About the Author

Ike Devji, JD, has practiced law exclusively in the areas of asset protection, risk management and wealth preservation for the last 16 years. He helps protect a national client base with more than $5 billion in personal assets, including several thousand physicians. He is a contributing author to multiple books for physicians and a frequent medical conference speaker and CME presenter. Learn more at www.ProAssetProtection.com.