Asset Protection applies to anyone who has assets they really want to keep. However, for some professions the attorneys consider it a bit more important than others. Of course we would include the usual suspects like doctors and medical professionals, as well as builders and absolutely anyone with employees. But there is another area in which it is becoming more and more important – Landlords.
Landlords Need Asset Protection
20 or 30 years ago, landlords weren’t particularly worried about lawsuits. Sure they happened, but insurance was easy to get and was likely to cover almost anything that could happen. Today the world is just a bit more complicated. Here’s why:
- Claims availableto tenants have increased from just a few simple, obvious and insurable actions like breach of contract or a failure to follow State law in enclosing a pool, etc, to dozens of claims that would have been unimaginable to your parents. These include harassment, slander, negligence, MOLD, emotional distress, discrimination, neglect and pain and suffering to name just a few. Many of these are excluded from your insurance policy or simply uninsurable. (Try for yourself to search “Can I Sue my Landord” and see how many pages you get with “ideas”).
- Awards and judgmentsagainst landlords have gone from limited and predictable to unclear and wildly erratic. I was able to find dozens of pages doing a quick net search dedicated to horror stories from landlords for claims usually stemming from tenants who were behind on their rent or conducting illegal activity. Imagine an uninsured award for $490,000 to a handicapped tenant for emotional distress. Of course the tenant was not paying the rent, and its hard for me to imagine any scenario where a $550/mo apartment would reasonably result in a half a million dollar award no matter how rude or insensitive a landlord may be.
- In a world with few claims and reasonable judgments insurance companies stood behind their insureds and paid claims regularly and in good faith. In a world ofout of control juries and unpredictable awards, insurance companies regularly look first to how to avoid being responsible for the claim and only after being held to the fire accept responsibility for the action. Often this occurs only after the insured spends considerable time and money of her own to fight the insurance company.
- Plaintiff’s attorneys have found a solid and reliable referral source in the tenant pool. If you haven’t noticed, plaintiffs attorneys now dominate most of the outdoor billboard and afternoon television advertising in most major U.S. cities. There is a reason for this and it doesn’t take a rocket s scientist to determine what it is. Advertising for questionable claims within the afternoon television watching demographic has proven very profitable! This includes quite a few tenants who are like couch potatoes it in the afternoon wondering how to pay the rent. Lawyers are only too happy accept their calls and counsel them on the possible claims they may have against a variety of potential defendants. At the top of that list are their current or former employers and their current landlord. Welcome to America!
- Finally, landlords have at least one asset worth pursuing, and often more than one. If you have real estate or investments of any kind, then you are a target today like no other time in the history of the world (except perhaps in the French revolution where being rich alone could ensure a date with the guillotine). We are living in the American version of a redistribution of the wealth mentality which pervades our legal system. It has now become culturally acceptable to gain money or wealth by being a successful plaintiff.
How to make a Asset Protection Plan
So what does this all mean if you are a landlord? It’s simple.
- Figure out where your exposure is on all sides.That means making sure you have the right amount and types of insurance with companies which are least likely to play the “It’s not my responsibility” game with you.
- Get a clear and accurate analysis of your current asset picture and what you can do to protect it.There is nothing which reduces the chances of having an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney on your tail like moving his cheese. No assets, no reason to sue. It really has become that simple.
If you are reading this then you are likely doing research on the Internet. This is a great thing, but be aware, it has its limits. Asset protection is an area where a little knowledge can definitely be dangerous. Once you have done the basic research I recommend that you pick up the phone and speak with some of our experienced attorneys.
Asset protection has become a very popular field, which means there are a lot of people now counseling in the area. Make sure you find someone with experience who can provide both the legal tools you need as well as the ongoing counsel required to make those tools really work.
In the end, asset protection has become an essential part of any wealth planning strategy and taking it seriously can make all the difference when it comes to keeping what you have worked to create.
Free Initial Consultation with an Asset Protection Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506