With many practices facing an average of five lawsuits in its lifetime, lawsuit prevention and protection are essential topics for every aesthetic surgeon. It is no longer a question of if, but when you will be sued. To protect against this inevitable outcome – and the loss, injury, disadvantage, or destruction associated with it – doctors must be proactive in their approach to lawsuit protection. In this interview with Dan McNeff, CEO of Legally Mine, an asset protection company based in Utah, he discusses the specialized consulting packages and tools that Legally Mine offers aesthetic practice owners so that they can successfully manage this risk. To learn more about Legally Mine, visit www.legallymineusa.com.
What is Legally Mine and what services does it offer aesthetic surgeons?
Legally Mine is the world’s largest asset protection firm that teaches and helps aesthetic providers make decisions to protect their assets from lawsuits. If there is no motivation for a lawsuit, then a lawsuit will never go forward. Nobody will want to lose time or money in suing you if there is no benefit to them.
Are Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeons more likely than other professionals to be targeted in a lawsuit?
Yes. Twelve years ago, John C. Nelson, the president of the American Medical Association at the time, who started out as a dentist before becoming a plastic surgeon, commissioned a study and discovered that plastic surgeons in America were seven times more likely to be sued in a given year than they were to be in a car wreck.
How vulnerable are a doctor’s assets?
Our laws regarding lawsuits are passed by various state legislatures, but unfortunately they are influenced from the Trial Attorneys Association, and thus often pass laws that expand theories of vicarious responsibility (ways people can sue you). They’ve worked very hard to open up every way possible to access a doctor’s assets. If a doctor is unprepared they may find themselves in a compromising position.
What are physicians generally sued over?
Physicians can face lawsuits from various angles. Even private practitioners face lawsuits from employee-employer relationships. For an unprotected physician, it doesn’t matter how much money they have or not, it is presumed that they have a lot of money and the lawsuit is going to come. Unprotected assets in a doctor’s name are at risk especially as today’s judges know no bounds. Even if the medical practice is placed inside of an LLC or an S or a C corporation, it’ll make no difference if they are not properly structured.
Can a doctor be sued in a lawsuit even after retirement?
In the medical world there is the “late discovery”. For example, if someone decides three years from now that their life was affected negatively by something a physician did in the past they can still pursue a lawsuit. Retired physicians are oftentimes called right back into court and sued. They lose everything they have worked toward for something that happened years ago. It’s one of the major problems we face trying to help people. A plastic surgeon is still on the radar for a lawsuit, even after retirement.
What does Legally Mine do to protect a doctor’s assets?
Most times, lawsuits come from the practice. You can never protect the entity that creates the lawsuit, so your practice is going to get sued. The judge is able to make a doctor personally responsible for the actions of their corporation (piercing the veil) and then all assets in the physician’s name become subject to the lawsuit unless they’re protected. Real asset protection is protecting the asset itself. If the assets (real estate, vehicles, jewelry and other valuables) are placed in separate LLCs, when the judge pierces the corporate veil, the assets will be safe because they’re in their own LLC, not in the doctor’s name. The practice is the target and in order not to lose other assets, we help legally place them in their own LLC so that only an administrative entity will be sued. As long as assets are inside the corporation they’ll be subject to any lawsuit against it and the doctor could end up losing everything.
Can some assets be of greater liability than others?
First, we take each asset and show how it needs to be protected specifically. Safe assets, brokerage account, savings account, art work, jewelry, etc. cannot cause grounds for a lawsuit on their own and can be placed into one entity. However, assets that can create a lawsuit on their own; cars, boats, houses, medical equipment, need to be in their very own asset protection entities, LLCs founded in partnerships. These entities need to be written correctly and properly to give true asset protection. So we do a blueprint for doctors to show exactly where their assets need to be placed and how to protect them. Once they approve it, we create it for them.
What happens if a physician is sued?
As a firm with 20,000 high-risk clients, this happens to us often. We want the clients to notify us. One of our attorneys will contact the attorney who’s filing the lawsuit. We’ll walk that attorney through the whole structure in a frank manner to show that attorney there’s no possible way for him to get any of our clients’ assets. We’ll actually show the attorney that pursuing the lawsuit could make their client face severe tax penalties. Every attorney that we’ve ever had in this situation immediately backs out. If the physician has malpractice insurance, they may pursue the claim against the insurance company to settle it, but not a lawsuit that’ll threaten the physician’s assets.
Are asset protection laws the same in all states?
No they are not, but if you’re not properly structured you’ll lose your assets no matter what state you’re in. There are some states whose laws make it easier to go after assets, like California. They have initiated a lot of the laws used across the country as a model for other states to get assets from the physician. Now, there are certain states that are also considered hard line asset protection states like Delaware, the oldest state doing this. Nearly every major corporation in America today is incorporated in Delaware. Alaska is also a large asset protection state. This means we’ll create a holding company in Alaska that owns the assets no matter where they are. We may need to register that Alaskan entity as a foreign entity doing business in California to meet California Law. We make sure it’s legal so that these assets will be protected in California and under Alaska Law which will be solid.
How does Legally Mine evaluate a physician’s assets?
They can call us or send a request through our website www.legalllymine-usa.com. It’s important to us that people are educated about what we do. We’ll be glad to provide a webinar for a live presentation where they’ll get their questions on asset evaluation answered. We also present to medical groups and societies. Asset protection is not about lawsuits alone. Many physicians feel a very bitter crunch from taxes, and are completely unaware of the various tax advantages available. We have a team of CPAs and CFPs that work cohesively to find the best avenues possible for reducing taxes to save our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars off of their tax bill and make a marvellous difference in securing their future.
To learn more about Legally Mine visit www.legallymineusa.com , or call (855) 361-2686.
To listen to Dan McNeff’s interview on Aesthetic Insider™ Radio. CLICK HERE!