Asset Protection Spotlight - Automobile Ownership
Should married couples own their vehicles jointly? No!
Many married couples own all of their personal property jointly, including their automobiles. While this is a good asset protection strategy for real property, this is not a good strategy for vehicles. In Florida, a person injured in an auto accident can sue not only the at-fault driver, but also the owner of the vehicle that the at-fault driver was driving. Therefore, if either spouse causes a car accident while driving the vehicle, both spouses can be held liable for any personal injury – which defeats many other asset protection strategies such as ownership by tenancy by the entirety.
The better practice is for each spouse to own separately the automobile that they most commonly drive, which helps separate liability should one spouse cause a car accident. Of course, there will be times when one spouse drives the other spouse’s vehicle. While liability can never be completely eliminated, separate ownership of the vehicles and adequate car insurance (and possibly an umbrella insurance policy) will minimize the potential liability of the married couple.
Therefore, from an asset protection point of view, married couples should almost never own a car jointly. If you have any questions about your current asset protection strategy, the attorneys at Tilden & Prohidney, P.L. offer a free 30-minute consultation to answer your questions.