How To Protect Your Assets
Dr. Ronald J. Trevisani
Dr. Ronald J. Trevisani is a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Pharmacist, and an Attorney. As a Resnik Implant Institute faculty member, he is passionate about teaching clinical dentistry and advising dentists from a legal perspective on protecting their assets.
Dentists choose to attend school for an extended time, at considerable expense, and sacrifice many personal and professional opportunities to achieve this goal. After a few years in private practice, they may achieve significant wealth accumulation. These likely include professional wages and salary, personal savings, real estate assets, and other associated business entities. These assets may be at risk if a judgment is held against them in a Court of Law. It’s not just professional malpractice concerns that we are worried about. Risk of lawsuits may also come from Divorce, automobile accidents, business contract disputes, employees, and the IRS, among others.
Although most Estate Planning Statutes and Asset Protection considerations are State-specific, this article will include a few Tips for Dentists that are common across jurisdictions in one form or another. The goal is to have successful Dentists enjoy many additional years in their practices without worrying about catastrophic financial loss due to an untoward event or circumstance. We plan to have a series of Financial articles to address the many concerns of the average dentist. Considering these Asset protection Tips, one may minimize their financial risk to creditors. One does not have to wait until they accumulate a certain amount of assets. Also, earlier planning far exceeds any planning in response to a letter from an attorney or a judgment in a Court of Law.
- MALPRACTICE INSURANCE:
Studies have shown that, on average, a dentist will be sued at least once in their career. (1)
Therefore, the dentist must secure adequate coverage to protect their assets. If a judgment exceeds the policy limits, the dentist is responsible for this amount. This could result in financial catastrophe for a dentist. One option to minimize this possibility is to obtain an Umbrella Insurance Policy, which will be discussed in the second article of this series.
The second recommendation concerning malpractice insurance is to secure enough insurance. It is common for dentists to have a 1M/3M policy coverage, with Oral Surgeons usually carrying a 2M/6M coverage. Dentists must understand these limits. In the 1M/3M example, the $ 1,000,000 is the “per patient limit” and is the most the insurance company will pay for damages for one patient. The “total limit” ($3,000,000) is the maximum the insurance company will pay for claims during the policy period. In general, the more coverage the dentist has, the higher the premiums and the higher the level of protection.
This is the initial article in a Financial Series to benefit Dentists in their quest to protect themselves, decrease their stress levels, and minimize their financial risk before and after retirement.
- Medical Protective internal data. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021413726_dentistverdictxml.html Medical Protective Closed Claims Analysis, 2003-2012.