We spend a lot of time talking about how to accumulate wealth. Being a Dentist, Physician, or other another noble high income professional gives us a path to accumulate wealth. However, it isn’t handed to us. We have to work hard. More importantly, we have to be smart with our money , save a lot, and have a written financial plan. We even need to give some of it away. However, we don’t want it taken away. What’s the use of building wealth if we just have it taken from us against our will. That’s why I’d like to discuss the top 5 ways to protect your wealth.
Top 5 ways to protect your wealth
1) Professional Liability Insurance
This is the #1 no brainer as a dentist or physician. The good news is you can’t even get credentialed with insurances without it. So this shouldn’t be anything that someone over looks. Make sure you have high enough limits to cover any cases that may be brought against you. But you don’t want to have too much either. Lawyers will go after as much as they can and if you have higher limits than others, it may make you a target. You really want to do some research and see what most people in your same profession and specialty have in your area. A 1M/3M policy is pretty standard for a general dentist which is what I have.
2) Practice good Dentistry
You don’t need to practice scared and never expand your skills and procedures you offer. However, you also shouldn’t practice in a cavalier manner. Only do the things you are skilled to do. You need to always do what is best for the patient. If there is a procedure that will make you good money but it is beyond your abilities, then refer. Making good money is a good benefit of being a dentist, but that never should come at the expense of the patient. Always do what is best for the patient and everything else will work itself out.
Taking great notes and records is also part of this. Documentation is key. I know that at the end of a day we are tired and want to go home. However, making sure all of your notes are specific and detailed is very important. Not only for a potential lawsuit, but just for yourself. Sometimes you have a difficult patient or case that you haven’t seen in a long time and being able to catch yourself up quickly with your notes is a huge help.
3) Disability Insurance
As dentists, we don’t just work with our minds. We work with our hands and whole bodies really. I joke with my wife that it is manual labor. If I hurt my hand, or even leg, back, or neck then it could make me not be able to practice. As a dentist, there is not much we can do even if your mind is 100%. We need our bodies. Our #1 asset to build wealth is our bodies to be able to practice dentistry. We need to protect our wealth by protecting our bodies with disability insurance.
Having a good disability policy is essential for protecting your family’s wealth potential. Make sure that you have a policy with a good True Own Occupation clause. I have Guardian and they have a great one. What does True Own Occupation mean? It means that if I get my hand chopped off I really can’t practice dentistry. However, I could go on to have a career in something else. With a true own occupation policy I will still get my entire benefit even if I go on to have a successful career in something else, because I wouldn’t be able to practice dentistry.
Make sure you have enough benefit to support your family in case you are disabled, as well as pay off your debts and save for retirement. You still need to save for retirement because your disability insurance usually stops paying around age 65-67. There are also many riders you can get. The insurance salesperson may try to get you to add a lot of these riders. However, a lot are unnecessary, The riders I recommend are FIO (Future Increase option), COLA (Cost of living adjustment), and residual disability. Most others are not necessary. However do your research and consult with people you trust to get the best policy and riders for your situation.
4) Personal Liability Insurance
Unfortunately as dentists and physicians we are targeted for malpractice claims. I addressed those in previous sections. However, everyone assumes we are rich and we can be targeted in other claims outside of our profession as well. There are a few ways to make sure we are covered with insurance.
First of all we have personal liability insurance built in to our auto and home owners policies. Make sure that you increase these limits as much as possible. I know it increases your premiums but it is worth it. It is much cheaper than professional liability. One way to offset the premium increases from raising your liability limits is to increase your deductible as well. If you save well and have an Emergency Fund, having a higher deductible on your cars and home shouldn’t be a big deal.
You also can and should stack an Umbrella policy on top of that. In case you, your spouse or child are in a car accident, or a neighbor breaks their leg on your trampoline, your liability limits on you car or home policy may not be enough. If you have an umbrella policy then that policy will cover the rest. I have a 2 million dollar Umbrella policy. It is less that $1,000 a year. It is very cheap compared to professional liability insurance and well worth it. Remember, your Umbrella policy will not help in a malpractice case.
5) Don’t get Divorced
The chances of getting divorced are much higher than getting sued over your insurance policy limits. Divorce can cause many problems, and finances is a huge one. It can cause major financial problems and destroy your wealth.
Obviously your happiness matters and there are definitely reasons to get a divorce. However, having a good marriage and staying married can help you maintain the wealth you have built. The good news is divorce rates are on the decline. The divorce rate in America used to be over 50%. Now studies are showing it is somewhere between 40-50%.
I am no marriage counselor, but having a weekly date night can go a long way in not getting divorced (and protecting your wealth). Being on the same page financially and combining finances is also a good way to prevent this.
Building wealth and becoming financially independent is a goal for all of us. We need to work hard, save a lot, be frugal, invest wisely, and have a written financial plan and stick to it. If we do this, we will be wealthy. However, there are ways we can lose our wealth. We need to protect ourselves from losing our hard earned wealth. We can do this with a sound insurance plan, practicing good dentistry or medicine, and not get divorced. I encourage you to make sure you have all of these things in order. There are many other ways we can protect your wealth and so I advise you to talk to a CPA, financial advisor, attorney, and trusted family and colleagues to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your wealth and your family.
-Debt Free DDS
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*Nothing on my website is professional or legal advice. I am only sharing information that I have learned and it may or may not be accurate. I am not liable for any problems you may have by following this advice. Please do further research and get professional and/or legal advice about any of these topics. This post contains affiliate links. This site could be paid for clicks or purchases made through these links.