A client received a very large lawsuit judgment and the case made the newspapers. Family, friends, and strangers approached her for gifts, loans, and investments. In essence, my client became a target. Our challenge was to shield her from these requests and to protect her assets.
When the world knows you are worth almost $100 million, how can you protect yourself?
What we did
First, we developed a media relations plan. If our client was contacted by the media she was to repeat a carefully crafted script (a script we wrote with her attorney as there were certain things she could and could not talk about publicly). She was to direct all calls and requests to us to handle. If anyone came looking for a handout, the response was the same – “Please contact my advisor to discuss this further.” This was the response if the request was from a family member, friend, or stranger. We developed a standard protocol so the client knew exactly what she would do in any situation. We kept it simple and straightforward so in the heat of the moment she would feel confident she could handle it. We also reviewed her auto and homeowner’s insurance policies as these are the first lines of defense in a lawsuit. We also added a $10 million liability umbrella policy on top of her basic coverage.
- Our client was initially paralyzed with fear and the thought of getting calls from newspapers and having TV crews on her front lawn. She was also concerned who might come knocking looking for a loan or a gift. After she rehearsed her response, she felt entirely comfortable and confident that no matter who asked for money she could handle it. And come for money they did. Family, friends of friends, religious folks, and even strangers all wanted a piece of my client. She handled each request with grace as the respectfully requested they contact me.
- A few years later she received another knock on the door. The man on the other side of the door handed my client a letter and uttered those painful words . . . “You have been served.” My client was being sued. Panic quickly set in until she called and we talked about the insurance coverage that would more than protect her assets. Without this basic coverage, she would be on the hook for potentially millions of dollars. Because she had the proper underlying coverage on her home and auto, the insurance company provided her with an excellent attorney and paid out all settlements with no money coming from my client.
These examples are for illustrative purposes only. Any strategies referenced herein do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation, or particular needs of any individual. They should not be considered individual advice, suitability must be independently determined. Individual results will vary and may be more or less favorable than in the examples shown.