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4 Things You Must know If You’re Planning Your Property Protection

4 Things You Must know If You’re Planning Your Property Protection

Given the high cost of jury verdicts today, many professionals are looking for ways to protect their personal property from malpractice and negligence claims. For example, if you’re a healthcare professional and own a home, a car or a portfolio of stocks, it’s essential to protect your assets against lawsuits. The good news is that sound financial planning can go a long way to keeping your personal net worth from the threat of litigation. A comprehensive wealth management plan can also help you achieve other long-term financial goals, which may include planning a child’s education, ensuring a comfortable retirement for you and your spouse and minimizing property taxes for your heirs. While it’s advisable to seek out professional opinion from professional limited liability companies, like Wyoming, when planning your assets protection, also keep these 4 things in mind.

1. Have An Idea About Property Protection 

Never jump in making decisions, especially when it comes to protecting your assets. Make efforts to know what‘s involved and what it’ll definitely cost you. Note that:

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  • A well-structured financial plan discourages prosecution.
  • Good asset protection should not be expensive.
  • An experienced asset manager can help you take a more integrated approach to achieving your financial goals.

Starting with the basics, there are three levels of asset protection. The first is to invest in assets that are automatically protected against lawsuits in most states, such as your home, qualified retirement accounts, annuities and the cash value of life policies. The second level is the creation of private trusts and companies that remove assets from your personal domain. The third level is the creation of personal property entities in different jurisdictions, making it more difficult for people to place privileges on your assets through a lawsuit.

For many physicians, a good starting point is to simply implement the first level of asset protection – get the most out of your investments in assets that are automatically protected from lawsuits in most states. Many health professionals neglect these simple strategies:

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  • Your house. Part of your equity is generally exempted from prosecution in most states. In Arizona, for example, up to $ 150,000 in equity is exempted from legal action.[1] Texas and Florida offer unlimited coverage for equity at home.[2] Once you have reached the equity ceiling of the protected property in your state of residence, you may want to consider maintaining a mortgage loan for the mortgage. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit will not be interested in your debt-only assets.
  • Qualified retirement accounts. Funds held in ERISA-eligible retirement accounts, such as defined benefit plans or 401 (k) plans, are generally exempt from prosecution, so it is often logical to maximize your annual contributions to these accounts. Not only do you benefit from asset protection, but you will also benefit from tax-efficient savings, helping you to increase your capital. Unskilled pension plans, such as deferred compensation plans, may also have a role to play in helping you achieve your wealth management goals. Unskilled plans offer some protection against lawsuits, as well as unique benefits for highly paid business owners and employees.
  • Deferred annuities. A deferred pension represents the money you set aside today to create future income, usually for retirement. If you have not yet started making distributions of your deferred annuity, the value of your annuity contract is generally exempt from prosecution. In addition to providing asset protection, annuities can help supplement other sources of income in retirement, such as social security or withdrawals from your IRA or 401 (k) accounts.
  • Cash value of life insurance schemes. Once you have held a life insurance policy for more than two years, the cash value of the policy is generally protected from lawsuits in most states. In addition, the cash value of the policy can often be accessed through withdrawals and tax-free loans at retirement, which can be particularly attractive if tax rates increase in the future. In addition, insurance policies can also be a useful way to transfer wealth to future generations.

2. Myths Aren’t Facts

There are often lots of misunderstandings on asset protection, especially between doctors and other health professionals about strategies that offer true peace of mind. Don’t follow someone’s thoughts or what they think is involved or you should do. The best thing to do is seek a professional’s guidance and opinion to help you make the right decision.

3. Explore Advanced Strategies

If you are just starting your career, the first level of protection (investing in assets that are automatically exempt from prosecution) may be all you need right now. As you go further in your career and your personal equity continues to grow, you may want to consider exploring some advanced strategies for asset protection, including the creation of trusts, companies, and LLCs. In addition, you may consider establishing these entities in different jurisdictions, making it more difficult for people to place liens on your personal property. Take note that “protective” trusts, corporations and LLC(s) can be expensive to generate and maintain, so you should explore all options with your team of trusted advisors before pursuing asset protection solutions.

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4. Create an Air-Tight plan

The most effective asset protection strategies start with sound financial planning.[3] If a judge or court determines that you’re trying to “conceal” assets to creditors, they can remove the exempt status of those assets. For example, if you buy an important life insurance policy shortly before bankruptcy, a court can determine that any assets involved in “last-minute” transactions are still being litigated. The best protection for your assets is to show that you have legitimate reasons for structuring your assets with many other benefits in the way that makes the most sense to you and your family in the long run. In a court of law, your intention is the key. Your intention to set up accounts cannot be to avoid situations of liability. Instead, your intention should be associated with responsible and ethical financial planning, (planning a comfortable retirement or the smooth transfer of your estate to your heirs).

The approaches mentioned here are simply “conversation starters” to have with your wealth manager, lawyer and tax professional. Each physician has unique needs and goals, so your personal asset management and asset protection plan will need to be tailored to your specific situation. In addition, asset protection laws may vary considerably among states. The key to creating an effective asset protection plan starts now before you need it. By creating a team of trusted professionals, discussing your goals and reviewing your plan on a regular interval, you can generate a wealth management plan that can fully covered you from unforeseen circumstances – a plan that helps you feel more confident about your financial future.

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Featured photo credit: WonHo Sung via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Arizona State Senate Issue Brief: Arizona’s Homestead Exemption
[2] Robinson, Tigue, Sponcil & Associates: Protecting Your Assets from Malpractice and Negligence Suits
[3] Public Deposits: 6 Characteristics of a Sound Financial Plan

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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