A Different Script – Preparing for Legal Issues in Life and Medicine

A Different Script – Preparing for Legal Issues in Life and Medicine was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.

preparing yourself for legal issues

You had better come out here. There are two people with badges, and they want to talk to you.

 

The sinking feeling layered with bile rising in my throat was not the punctuation I was hoping would wrap up that clinic morning

Undoubtedly a few readers have found themselves on the receiving end of a subpoena. It’s part of the landscape of medicine but never a welcome experience.

Let’s be clear – I am not a lawyer, attorney, counselor, or esquire, and this article is not legal advice. The hope is in reading this, an urgency to befriend a skilled attorney will arise.

 

The Proper Dose

While tempting, the done-for-your templates or plug-in-play solutions can create a complex web of headaches that are difficult to unravel. As in medicine, algorithms are helpful, but the human touch ensures the proper execution of the proper plan.

The skilled creation of legal documents will protect now and for future legacies. Dig deeper into planning and utilize modern frameworks. Just as science evolves, so do legal theories and practice.

Consider a living trust funded with assets and designed to aid loved ones in the future, after one’s departure. Sort active and hence risk exposed activities form safer passive streams of income. Avoid mixing dissimilar businesses in a single entity. Consult an expert to ensure the setup and structure provides asset protection and can be managed properly.

Life evolves in the human tendency to acquire more stuff; it’s unavoidable without due diligence. A pour-over will captures purchases and possessions that can flow directly into a living trust and avoid the probate issue. Consider a letter of instruction defining who gets what.

In the past, we have been advised to rely on written instructions, hoping that they would be located promptly when needed. With careful creation, digital access provided to those who need to know the worry has largely been removed. Undoubtedly the blockchain will play a role in the future managing of this precious data.

The accumulation of investment assets must be protected. These can be ripe for picking in the event of a judgment handed down by a judge or jury. There are a variety of strategies to layer complexity and hence protection. No one enjoys having the keys to the castle taken away. Utilize powerful legal strategies to move and protect in the event of a judgment.

A knowledgeable and skilled legal team can create an organizational structure that rivals the Krebs cycle’s complexity. Spread the eggs out into separate baskets.

 

Intellectual Property

The creation of intellectual work in the form of journal articles, books, presentations, and online courses is ripe for the picking. Physicians generate a vast quantity of information over a career. These items create some degree of exposure and risk.

Theft in the age of technology is relatively simple. Utilize the proper legal steps to protect creative works. Also, take advantage of the technologies many platforms offer to limit access or unauthorized syndication of work. Good for the patient, good for the doctor

In the era of COVID-19, many have found themselves meeting their end multiple decades ahead of schedule. Power of attorney, healthcare directive, and POLST documents should be completed or updated with haste.

 

In vs. Out

The options for legal suits are nearly as endless as the choice of prescription drugs. Activities outside of the practice of medicine can expose one to significant risk. Do you have a teenage driver? Do you own rental property? Do you own your practice or the building in which it is located? What structure did you use, and is it time to update or change? What entity holds the title, or is it in a personal name? Has your dog ever run off-leash into the neighbor’s yard? Did you cave in and buy your kids the trampoline? Are you sure the gate to your backyard pool was locked when you left for the hospital this morning?

The bottom line is that risk can come from inside your professional activities and a massive variety of events outside of control.

 

Creating Boundaries

It’s important to stay in one’s own lane. In a similar light, an educated patient who has a committed interest in learning more about the condition is always welcome. Still, the inter-webs are a dangerous place fraught with misinformation and misunderstanding. Many a doctor cringes when hearing the phrase – “I Googled this, and here is my diagnosis and the treatment I want.” Let the experts with a law degree be the final decision-maker.

 

An Assignment:

Inventory everything – assets, creative or educational products, investments, bank, retirement accounts, real estate. Everything.

Check your understanding of the following:

  • Charging order protection
  • Land trust
  • Holding company
  • Revocable vs. irrevocable trust
  • Common property states
  • Cost of avg probate
  • Gifting laws
  • LLC – S vs. C

 

Find a skilled legal team to build a blueprint protecting decades of hard work. Steer clear of the $99 plug-in-play templates. Be educated but rely on expert counsel.

Mitchel Schwindt

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