ASSET PROTECTION is the concept of protecting and preserving one’s assets from frivolous lawsuits designed to primarily destroy your current and future lifestyle.
Let me put it another way, up to now, you’ve probably worked very hard to get where you are. But my guess is that you’ve worked too hard, endured too much stress … and for what? It can all evaporate before your very eyes because of of one or any frivolous lawsuit.
One of the fastest growing businesses in America is an army of contingent-fee lawyers. Did you know that 80% of total world’s lawyers are in the United States and 130,000 new students are currently attending law school?
Of one well-known and notable frivolous lawsuit that I can recall is the woman who was awarded $2.3 million in a suit against McDonald’s because she spilled hot coffee all over herself. (The Award was later reduced but not eliminated).
Here is an actual account of a frivolous lawsuit: while driving to an appointment, one of the employees remembers he needs to contact a coworker regarding a meeting. He dials the number on his cell phone, and briefly takes his eyes off the road. In that instant, a vehicle in front of him shifts lanes, and he strikes it, seriously injuring a 78-year-old woman. Under exactly this scenario, a jury awarded a $21 million judgment against Dykes Industries of Little Rock, Arkansas.
PREDATOR-PLAINTIFFS FILED 30 MILLION NEW LAWSUITS LAST YEAR
That’s over 82,000 lawsuits per day and the number keeps growing! Opportunists make careers out of filing lawsuits, knowing that the expense of defending against these attacks is so high, a settlement will likely be offered.
How Opportunists Find Out You’re Worth Suing. Your bank, brokerage and credit card transactions provide a remarkably detailed account of who you are, what you own and even describe or provide insight about your opinions, interests, ideology and religion. These records may be subpoenaed in a lawsuit and used against you.
Like or not, your life has become an open book. Literally, you have NO financial privacy. I don’t mean to alarm you but the information that is recoverable about you and your family is frightening. The truth is just about everything you might want to keep private – details of your bank accounts, your phone records, medical records, credit reports and even your Social Security number can be viewed by anyone, anytime – for “the right price.”
The United States has some of the most relaxed privacy laws in the world. Information about you is bought, sold or shared without your knowledge or consent every day. You can slow down this trade in your data, but you can’t stop it.
WHY FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS ARE SO PREVALENT IN AMERICA TODAY
In 2004, more than nine million Americans had their identity stolen and approximately 1.8 million were sued. For a few dollars, you can perform a search on the Internet to locate your target’s home address, work history, and telephone records and even balances in U.S. securities and bank accounts. Most other countries regulate this trade in information much more strictly than the United States. And in countries with bank secrecy laws, it means that this kind of financial information can never be shared, except under stringent conditions. Information about you, your wealth, your home and everything in it is for sale to the highest bidder.
For example: Computers have become valuable digital assistants. But they may also contain sensitive information about your finances, spending habits and personal life. In the wrong hands, these little facts could not only embarrass you but could be used against you in court.
IDENTITY THEFT: CAUSE OF AMERICA’S LAWSUITS?
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in America. In 2005, at least 130 reported security breaches exposed more than 55 million Americans to potential ID theft. In 2006, I.D. theft was spiraling out of control. In 2006, more than 30 million Americans have had their personal data potentially exposed to identity thieves.
STATISTICS ON IDENTITY THEFT
May 22, 2006: 26.5 million military identities exposed when a laptop was stolen from a U.S. Veterans’ Administration employees’ home.
June 1, 2006: 1.3 million customers exposed. The Texas Guaranteed Student Loan company announced that 1.3 million customers were at risk of ID fraud after a contractor lost unspecified “computer equipment.”
June 6, 2006: 72,000 identities exposed. Officials with Ohio’s Buckeye Community Health Plan notified authorities that four computers were stolen containing 72,000 Medicaid subscribers’ personal information.
June 8, 2006: 65,000 identities exposed. The YMCA announced that a laptop stolen from an office in Providence, R.I. held credit card and SSN’s, checking account data and names, addresses and medical information.
June 18, 2006: 970,000 identities exposed. Insurance giant AIG announced that it lost personal information of about 970,000 consumers after a burglary in Midwest.
PROTECTION FOR LAW AGAINST FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS
And forget about the protection of the law. In many cases, the law seems like it’s on the side of those who would steal from you!
Did you know these facts?
– If you loan a vehicle to a friend who injures someone or damages his property, you can be sued. – If you lend money to someone to purchase a vehicle, you may be responsible for any damages or injuries that person causes in an accident. – If a guest in your home does something illegal during their stay, your property can be seized. And you’re not innocent until proven guilty in such cases; rather, it’s up to you to prove your innocence, or lose your property
WHY ARE FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS SO RAMPANT?
You didn’t hang a ‘GET LOST’ sign around your wealth.
It’s a justice system run amuck. In the United States, we have a highly unusual judicial system. Contingent-fee lawyers act like predators or armed street gangsters. Judges and juries act like Robin Hoods, determined to redistribute your wealth. Statistics are staggering: you will be sued more times than you will have a hospital stay.
And what’s outrageous is that our judicial system helps them by:
(1) making it easy for your predator-plaintiffs to sue. (2) predator-plaintiffs and their lawyers will sue you for just about anything they can dream up; and (3) plaintiffs don’t need to pay their lawyers in advance. They will work for a percentage of whatever they can squeeze out of you.
The Trap has been set! Clever gold-digging lawyers have been successful in casting you as the villain. You are the “greedy rich” at the expense of working stiffs. Judge and juries are out to get even.
It’s always about “the money!” Lawsuits have become the plaintiffs’ number #1 negotiating strategy. Lawyers have learned that for the $175 court filing fee, one of two things will likely happen:
1. Either you give them money to go away. Or else, 2. They’ll keep you tied up in court for 2 to 5 years and then the jury will give them your money. In either case, the money comes out of YOUR POCKET.
That’s their strategy and it works every time. Sure you may win your case but at what price? You could win yourself all the way into the poor house. To win your case, you could easily pay six figures to your law firm (beginning with $5,000 to $15,000 retainer and $350.00 per hour).
So even if you win, you lose.
For many self-made, hard-working citizens, the “American Dream” can become the “American Nightmare.” Exorbitant taxes, lawsuit-friendly courtrooms, persistent predator plaintiffs, and contingent-fee clever lawyers are a constant threat to everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. It could all evaporate before your very eyes.
Common traits shared by plaintiffs’ lawyers and armed street gangsters:
They love money. The more they stand to gain, the better they like it.
They love to gamble. They don’t mind losing cases now and then, because the winners far more than pay for the losers.
They love to fight. They don’t mind wrestling with your lawyers for years in an effort to see who comes out on top.
They love to control. They will gladly spend weeks in depositions asking you tough questions so they can show you who’s boss.
WHERE FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS CAN ARISE?
Who can’t wait to sue you? Just about anyone you can name. A partial listing, but not all inclusive:
EMPLOYMENT LAWSUITS ARISING FROM:
– Age discrimination – Racial, Gender – Religious – Pregnancy – Disability – Mental illness – Addiction discrimination – Sexual harassment – Peer harassment – Gossip among employees – Job references (good or bad) – Whistle blowing retaliation – Wrongful termination – Negligent employee retention – Releasing medical information – Unequal mental vs. physical health coverage – Employee injury from chemical exposure and the list goes on
PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS ARISING FROM:
– Medical malpractice – Legal malpractice – Psychological malpractice – Engineering malpractice – Architectural malpractice and much more
BUSINESS LIABILITY LAWSUITS ARISING FROM:
– Environmental cleanup liability – Products liability – Shareholder liability – Securities fraud – Liability of outside directors – Liability from unsatisfied customers – Personal injury when a customer drinks too much and hurts someone – Personal injury when a customer slips and falls and much more
PERSONAL LAWSUITS ARISING FROM:
– Divorce – Lawsuits by children – Lawsuits from business partners – Creditors claims – Accidental injury caused by a family member – Pregnancy (your son gets a girl pregnant) – Personal injury caused by a drinking guest – Personal injury when a guest slips and falls and much more
THE KEY TO AVOIDING FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS
So the key to preventing and minimizing lawsuits is NOT TO OWN ANYTHING IN YOUR NAME. The key to protecting your assets is to make sure predator-plaintiffs and their gold-digging lawyers can’t get their hands on your money. When plaintiffs’ lawyers discover they can’t get your money, they won’t waste any time trying. If they can’t get anything, they will get 1/3 of nothing. They can and will find someone else to sue.
Question: Which do we need more -Doctors or Lawyers?
Answer: The American Medical Association lists a total of 650,000 licensed doctors in the U.S. and with approximately 67,000 medical students in school.
Take a look in your own telephone book yellow pages. There are approximately 950,000 lawyers with approximately 130,000 attending law schools. Most of them live on a contingent-fee basis. Don’t become a statistic. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Learn to become every contingency-fee lawyer’s nightmare.
I urge to start planning today and start planning for solid asset protection and wealth preservation strategies. Then implement your plan. I always say it’s better to do something than nothing. If you do nothing then you’re a bulls-eye target for these lawyers and any frivolous lawsuit they can dream up of.
Rocco Beatrice, CPA, MST, MBA award-winning estate planning and trust expert MS – Taxation, Master of Science Taxation MBA – Management / Taxation BSBA – Management / Accounting CPA – Certified Public Accountant —– Asset Protection: Irrevocable Trust Personal Injury Lawyer Protect Assets 71 Commercial Street #150, Boston, MA 02109 tel: +1.508.429.0011 fax: +1.508.429.3034