Smart Planning For Lake Norman Homeowners.
At Lake Norman Law Firm, we often talk about the utility of asset protection plans for successful individuals who are in high risk professions. Doctors, other health care professionals, contractors, land developers, and even lawyers are often subject to liability risk associated with their jobs. But what about the common homeowner entertaining guests at their Lake Norman property? You’ve worked hard, invested wisely, and bought your dream home on the shores of Lake Norman. Part of the allure was being able to entertain guests and enjoy water activities.
A recent lawsuit should alert lakefront homeowners to the liability risks associated with entertaining guests on and around their property, and reinforce the notion that all successful folks should have adequate insurance coverage and a reliable asset protection plan. The lawsuit arose after two out-of-state visitors had a serious jet ski accident on Lake Norman. Their host, an area doctor, issued the jet skis. One guest lost his leg in the accident and thereafter sued the other visitor and the host-doctor for negligence. Ultimately, the uninjured guest was found liable for the accident at the tune of $5.75 million. Reportedly, his insurance umbrella policy covered $1 million. The host-doctor was fortunate to avoid disaster as the jury found no fault. I can’t say what the responsible gentleman’s resources are – but suffice to say that the $4.75 million overage not covered by his insurance policy will drive him into bankruptcy. But, what if the host-doctor had been found liable as well and his assets were not adequately shielded from such an event? It is certainly possible that a successful individual such as the host-doctor would have the assets and funds to pay out a multi-million dollar award, including the lakefront home that he graciously provided for his guests’ enjoyment.
Now, looking at this example, how many of our area lakefront residents have hosted guests, some of whom they do not know well – offered their property, their boats, their jet skis, or other toys? How many host cocktail parties and entertain visitors around their docks and shores? Notwithstanding the water as an added liability risk, how many face the possibility of a guest simply falling from a deck or suffering a serious injury on the property? Under the above scenario, even the most elaborate umbrella policy still leaves our host subject to considerable liability – enough so to place one’s home and cash at risk. A proper asset protection plan, however, would not only protect a homeowner’s property from the reach of an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney, but it would also serve as a deterrent to a lawsuit from the beginning. A good asset protection scheme is likely to force a reasonable settlement as opposed to years of litigation and correlating attorneys’ fees. The idea is not to avoid deserved liability; rather to protect assets that took years to earn; to avoid one freak accident wiping out all of your resources; and to protect your heirs’ inheritance.
At Lake Norman Law Firm, we devise a Smart Honest plan uniquely designed to each client’s circumstances that provides appropriate layers of protection to your estate. We incorporate a number of thoughtful and innovative asset protection tools such as LLCs, Series or Offshore entities, Personal Residence Trusts, Asset Protection Trusts, and Family Partnerships in order to provide a comprehensive plan to protect your livelihood. For more information or to set up a Free Consult, call us at 704-765-1617, or fill out our handy contact form on the website