Seek Out International Asset Protection

Joel M. Nagel, JD

Physician's Money Digest, February29 2004, Volume 11, Issue 4

Bad luck:

Dr. Jones recently sold his medicalpractice for several milliondollars and retired.Before retiring, he created aninternational asset protection trust. Thetrust is based outside the United States ina jurisdiction that has a pro-defense reputation. A few weeks later, theunthinkable happened. Several formeremployees initiated a civil and criminalinvestigation into Dr. Jones' Medicareand Medicaid billing practices.

Deposition Inquisition

When government investigatorscouldn't find evidence to support aninvestigation, they dismissed the chargesagainst Dr. Jones. Despite this, the plaintiff'sattorneys refused to give up on thedeep-pocketed physician-retiree. However,the attorneys didn't focus theirattention on possible wrongdoing orfraud during the deposition. They wereonly interested in the proceeds from thesale of Dr. Jones' practice, his declaredincome, and taxes.

"So, where is the money now, Dr.Jones?" one attorney asked.

"In an irrevocable trust," Dr. Jonesconfidently replied.

"And where is that trust?"

"In Belize."

Upon hearing Dr. Jones' response, thecolor drained from the interrogators'faces (apparently the funds did not showup during a search of the doctor's assets).After a moment of silence, the attorneysasked for a brief recess to confer withtheir client. Eventually, one attorneyreturned to the room and postponed therest of the deposition.

Physicians' Best Ally

A few weeks later, Dr. Jones learnedthat the civil case had been dropped. Theplaintiff's attorneys were willing to continuethe case, but, due to complicatingfactors, they were not willing to continueon a contingency basis. Subsequently,they asked their client for a substantialretention fee to pursue the case on a globalscale. When the client was unwilling tohand over his own hard cash to continuethe case, it was abandoned.

While international asset protection isnot foolproof, it does level the playingfield for American physician-investors.Plaintiffs are at a serious disadvantagewhen they are forced to leave the proplaintiffUnited States and enter a prodefenseforeign jurisdiction. Internationalasset protection strategies are a great allyfor today's physician-investors.

Joel M. Nagel, a frequent writerand speaker on international assetprotection concepts, is the creatorof "The Physician's Asset ProtectionPlan." He practices law inPittsburgh, Pa, creating legal structuresaround the world to protect his global clientele.He welcomes questions or comments atnagellaw@aol.com, or visit www.nagellaw.com.