By Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Asset Protection Attorney
The saddest and most tragic call I have ever received as a lawyer came when a parent called and said her teenage son, while operating a jet ski, had run over a young girl who happened to be about the age of my daughter. I declined the case. The young girl later died, and of course there was a large law suit.
These are the nightmare scenarios you never want to encounter. Of course, the most obvious, common sense step to avoid such tragedies is to make sure that whoever is operating your boat or jet ski is well trained on operation of the vessel and in fact follows safe, recommended operating procedures. With the excellent and free Coast Guard training programs in south Florida there is no excuse not to take advantage of these programs.
After doing the common sense steps, here are three important legal points to know:
1. Do Not hold title in joint name with your spouse – or in your name alone
Holding title in joint name with your spouse is the worst way to hold title to a boat or jet ski. By doing this you have now opened up all assets you hold in joint name to attack in the event of a lawsuit. If you title the vessel in your name alone, you have exposed assets that you own to a lawsuit.
2. Insurance is good – but not enough to protect you
Clearly the vessel should be insured. However, if there is a serious accident, any good personal injury attorney will want to go beyond the policy limits and try to hold you personally liable.
3. Title the Vessel in a Florida, Delaware or Nevada LLC
So, if insurance is not enough, and you should not title the vessel in your name or joint with your wife, then what should you do? The answer is in three parts: (1) title the vessel in a LLC (limited liability company); (2) make sure the LLC has a good operating agreement that is properly structured by a corporate attorney; (3) form the LLC in a state that has strong asset protection laws for LLC’s, such as Florida, Delaware or Nevada.
Note: Many persons think that they can form a LLC for about $500 using an on line company. There is the well-worn saying that “You get what you paid for”. In this case, you will get less than what you paid for – something that is essentially worthless.
Your comments or questions are welcome. Contact Phil Rarick, Miami asset protection attorney, at (305) 556-5209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced Miami asset protection attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.