Physicians should have no hesitation whatsoever in protecting their assets to the greatest extent allowed by applicable laws. Physicians have a greater need for asset protection planning than many other individuals simply because of the nature of their work.
If a professional baseball player consistently strikes out half of the time but gets a base hit the other half, he will likely end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Doing well every other time at bat would be outstanding. A professional basketball coach would be ecstatic if one of his players missed only one of twenty foul shots. The player will not lose his house to a creditor if he misses a foul shot every now and then. Things are very different, however, for a surgeon. A surgeon can perform flawlessly in thousands of operations over a thirty year period. Yet a single mistake in a single operation may result in a catastrophic judgment that could place at risk all the assets he or she has ever accumulated. Physicians therefore need to take full advantage of all reasonable, lawful asset protection opportunities.
A physician should carry a reasonable amount of malpractice insurance. Most judgments for medical malpractice will not exceed the insurance limits. To the extent that the physician can choose the insurance carrier, he or she should carefully investigate the alternatives.
Unfortunately malpractice insurance is the starting point but not the ending point for a solid asset protection plan. In subsequent posts over the next several weeks I will address some of the steps that every physician should be taking to lawfully protect his or her assets. These steps include a focus on how assets are titled; maximizing contributions to qualified retirement plans; trust arrangements; and various other alternatives.