Appendix H. For Whom the Bell Toll

AuthorJeffrey Robert Matsen
ProfessionFounder and managing partner of Matsen Voorhees Mintz LLP
For Whom the Bell Toll
Over the last few decades, expanding theories of liability and the proliferation of litigation has given increased
emphasis for Asset Protection Planning to the extent that it is now a well-recognized area of practice. We live
in a victim-oriented society where aggressive plaintiff lawyers are always trying to find the “deep pocket.
There is increased media and social awareness of large plaintiffs’ judgments and a high level of notoriety for
malpractice and other errors-and-omissions types of lawsuits. Obviously, there are individuals who are more
at risk, such as professionals like physicians, dentists, lawyers, CPAs, architects, engineers, etc. Business own-
ers and any individuals dealing with investors also face tremendous liability exposure. A seller of a business
has to worry about a purchaser with buyer’s remorse who can sue for fraud, misrepresentation, and failure
to disclose. Many business owners and real estate investors have to sign personal guarantees in order to carry
on their business activities and purchase their real estate assets. Anyone who owns a boat, an airplane or
an extreme vehicle faces tremendous liability potential. Individuals with high risk businesses such as waste
refuge or recycling are concerned about environmental claims liability.
All of these types of individuals generate terrific liability exposure. But what about the non- professional
or non-business owner—the average individual who is not engaging in a liability-related activity? Does
the average person really need Asset Protection Planning?
Recently, I met with a retired couple who have a very nice home here in Southern California which is
completely paid off, a reasonable pension and IRA assets, and a little over $250,000 in cash and market-
able securities. They had a California Revocable Living Trust, but really didn’t think there was any reason
for them to worry about Asset Protection Planning. However, a few weeks before our meeting, the wife

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