Everything starts with education, and we are not just talking about learning about asset protection. In the protecting wealth context, education involves creating a culture around you that values safety, compliance, risk assessment and mitigation. This includes your business owners, employees and family members. Let’s explore what can be done prior to an event causing a claim.
Business owners and executives.
Business owners and executives should provide continuous training to their co-workers and employees. Training should be job-specific to increase the employee’s knowledge in their area and general, such as legal and professional standards in the workplace. Job –specific training can improve quality and reduce claims. General training in workplace conduct and security must also be a part of the training. Simply putting an anti-harassment policy in your employee manual is insufficient. Business owners must create an environment where inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. Don’t be fooled into believing you can act as you want without consequences. Just ask Harvey Weinstein about what can happen in today’s workplace. Maybe if his brother or other stakeholders had taken action to educate Harvey or their workforce, the Weinstein Company would not be in bankruptcy. Or would former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling be banned for life from the NBA if he received some education on race relations and sensitivity? These are just a few high profile examples. For the more mundane, think safety programs for construction workers. Compliance training for HR personnel. Defensive driving classes for delivery persons. Assess your organization’s needs and implement a program that is relevant. A commitment to training must start at the top by clearly communicating expectations, providing opportunities to obtain the training and managing the programs. Training your business associates to identify risk and take action to mitigate that risk may save your organization.
Family members should educate kids and parents too. Driving cars, boats and planes is a privilege and carries with it certain responsibilities. Make sure your family has the appropriate skills and training for the vehicle they are in control of. That sleek high powered sports car you gave your daughter at sixteen may make you the cool parent, but exponentially increases the risk that child will end up in an accident and potentially harming herself or others. Have you also provided appropriate skills training to control the vehicle? Defensive driving classes, training and education on the consequences of reckless driving are invaluable. There are also products and apps that can track a family member’s driving habits such as speed, stopping and turning so you can identify and correct risky behavior. This does not just apply to your children. Allowing grandpa to continue to drive after a few too many fender benders may be careless. Diminished vision, mobility, strength, reaction time and memory can severely impact a person’s ability to prevent or avoid an accident. Simply passing the state’s driving test does not mean grandpa is a safe driver. Sure, allowing grangpa to keep his license is the easier route, but if he has significant assets that need protecting, isn’t there another option that reduces the risk he will get into an accident and harm someone, something or himself? Consider regular driving assessments, a driver or Uber to minimize the risk of an accident.
Education is the first step in any effective asset protection plan. For a description of other important defense strategies see the post on protecting family assets here.