By Christopher Gonzalez, Managing Partner
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So what keeps the lawsuits away?
Just as with your physical health, a little preparation can keep you legally sound, so you can survive whatever life throws at you. This analogy is surprisingly apt: an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
In other words: if you have a strong legal portfolio, you can effectively prevent most lawsuits and other legal battles. For many people, this will turn out to be the best investment you’ve ever made - or the biggest oversight of your life.
What can really go wrong? Well, you may be familiar with a certain major company (which we won’t name here) that, in the 1970s, was forced to go public in order to pay an inheritance tax. This family-owned business had thrived for a century, but their legal wellness plan didn’t include legacy planning. When it came time for the younger family members to inherit, they could not afford the cost of the transfer.
For those of us not earning multi millions each year, it can be easy to think that these risks don’t apply to us. Let me assure you, they do. An unexpected legal problem can cost you your home, your car, even your job. If you are married, your jointly owned assets are also at stake - meaning your spouse will also bear the brunt of any legal issues. Worse, if you were to pass away without proper estate planning, your family could inherit taxes and debts they are not prepared to deal with.
If you own a business, the lack of a proper corporate structure can be hugely problematic. Without a corporate structure in place, you expose your private assets - including jointly owned assets - to potential lawsuits and other problems.
So now that I’ve scared you sufficiently - what does it mean to have a strong legal wellness plan? Well, just like that apple a day (or, in modern day terms, 45 minutes on the treadmill a day), it’s a matter of regular maintenance and assessment.
I review my clients’ legal portfolios with them at least quarterly, to ensure we’ve covered all the possibilities, and their defenses are strong. We look at everything from estate planning, to stock and real estate holdings, to business analysis. And we ensure that they are prepared for nearly every potential problem.
The last thing anyone wants is a lawsuit, so the biggest goal is always to avoid it. When you’ve got a problem, you should be able to defend yourself; there’s no reason to enter a risky legal battle, unless your defenses aren’t protecting you. And that’s the true cost of ignoring your legal wellness: not the risk that something might go wrong, but the risk that if it did, you would be vulnerable to it.
You’ve worked hard for what you’ve got. Defend it!