Medical practice exposes practitioners to a wide range of professional risks, including legal actions by patients for negligence. It is important that medical professionals seek advice in relation to maximising asset protection. Asset protection for a doctor means protecting the professional’s assets and wealth from litigation and legal risks.
Insurance is generally the first line of defence for protection against both patient and non-patient related risks. However, this only provides a basic shield to potential claims and is subject to exclusions and limitations.
What is effective asset protection?
Prudent asset protection requires consideration of the medical professional’s business and investment structuring, asset ownership, and superannuation. An effective asset protection plan provides the professional with control over wealth while also creating opportunities for optimising taxation and estate planning. Also, it is important to note that a structure that worked in the past may not be appropriate in the present or future. It is important that asset protection plans are regularly reviewed.
Asset protection may only be effective when strategies are implemented before signs of trouble begin to surface. We can assist you in matching asset protection strategies to your goals, needs and risk profile.
To find out more about how you can protect your assets is with asset protection advice, call our experienced solicitors on (02) 4929 7002 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have developed a number of asset protection strategies tailored to the needs of medical professionals. These strategies range from simple protection strategies to protect key assets to more complicated solutions which incorporate asset protection, estate planning and complex taxation advice. It is important that medical professionals receive personalised advice from experienced legal professionals in relation to asset protection as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
There are a range of strategies which can be used for asset protection, including business and investment structuring, internal arrangements, and superannuation.
Business and investment structuring
It is important that a medical professional’s business and other investments are structured in a manner which provides the maximum available level of protection of the practitioner’s assets while minimising taxation liability. This includes creating new entities and trusts, and making decisions about ownership of assets. Some popular structuring options include companies, discretionary trusts, and unit trusts. Often a practitioner’s business and investment structuring will combine a variety of these options. For example a practitioner may set up a company as a corporate trustee of a discretionary trust which allows the practitioner to hold assets without being the legal owner of the property. A practitioner may also set up a service unit trust in this manner which can minimise liability as only the trustee can be sued on behalf of the trust. This minimises risks for the practitioner who would be the unitholder.
If a practitioner is in business with other shareholders, unit holders, associates or partners, it is essential that these relationships are appropriately documented. Shareholders agreements, unit holders agreements, partnership agreements and associateship agreements set out how decisions can be made about the business, and minimise the risks inherent with another practitioner leaving or entering business, dying or becoming incapacitated, or becoming bankrupt.
Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs)
SMSFs are a vehicle to protect the retirement benefits of members but can also provide asset protection benefits. Superannuation benefits are generally protected under the Bankruptcy Act which provides that a self managed super fund is exempt property of a bankrupt member. This may provide additional asset protection for doctors and medical practitioners
A SMSF may be an important consideration for medical practitioners who intend to purchase assets such as a room or commercial property to start-up or expand their practice. How can we help?
Over the years, we have helped many medical practitioners with protecting their assets and wealth. We can advise on the best legal mechanisms to protect your assets and can draft and implement the necessary legal documents to put your asset protection strategy into effect. We can also review your present arrangements or agreements and advise you of underlying risks or more effective alternatives.
Related Medical Topics
Estate planning for doctors
Business structuring for doctors
Superannuation for doctors
If you want to talk to our experienced solicitors about asset protection for doctors or other medical professionals, email us at email@example.com or call us on (02) 4929 7002.