How can I protect my assets in case my son who lives at home is involved in a car accident?

My 25 year old son lives with me. He works part-time and attends graduate school part-time. How can I protect my assets in case he is involved in a car

accident? I have not only car insurance but an umbrella policy. I was thinking of a Trust?

Asked on March 8, 2016 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A trust isn't really a good option here, because to provide protection, it would have to be an irrevocable (can't take it back or change it) trust which you personally do not control--if you control the trust or can revoke it, a court will basically conclude the trust is just a pretense and the assets and still yours, and so there is no protection. So to get protection, you would have to give up ownership and control of your assets, which is, to say the least, very extreme and subjects you to significant risks (e.g. what if the trustee does something you disagree with, with your belongings or assets)?
Really, the best way to protect yourself is by maintaining adequate or even "excessive" levels of insurance (car and umbrella) and making sure that your son is listed as an authorized driver (if he uses your car), so there is no grounds to deny claims involving him.
And/or let him get his own car and provide his own insurnace and do NOT let him drive your car, EVER. If he has his own car (registered, titled, insured, etc.) in his own name, you will not be liable for his accidents even if he lives at home: one adult is not liable for another adult's, even a child's, car accidents unless the first adult provided the second's car. But if you do this, it MUST be his car, paid for by him, with no connection to you.


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