Annual Gift Tax Exclusion to Remain at $13,000

Posted by on Jan 25, 2010 in asset protection, estate planning, Legal News |

As announced recently by the IRS, the annual gift tax exclusion will remain at $13,000, unchanged from 2009.  The exclusion amount is determined at the beginning of each year and is based on the Consumer Price Index of the previous year.  The annual gift tax exclusion has increased  by thirty (30) percent over the past 12 years, from $10,000 in 1997 to $13,000 in 2009 and 2010.  This means that no gift tax return is required to be filed and no gift taxes are due on any gift you give under that $13,000 mark.

Each spouse gets to utilize the annual gift tax exclusion which means that a married couple can actually gift a total of $26,000 to each individual recipient without creating any tax liability or the need for filing a separate gift tax return.  With the proper planning, a married couple would be able to transfer a significant amount of money to their children and grandchildren without any tax consequences and with the benefit of reducing their estate and thus any remaining estate tax burden on their heirs.

A married individual who has three kids who have each married and have each had two children of their own would allow for $312,000 per year to be gifted from their estate.  (i.e. 3 kids + 3 spouses + 6 grandchildren)   Do this for ten consecutive years and this individual could remove more $3.1 million from their estate.  Given that the current estate tax rate is 45%, this could save $1.4 million in estate taxes.

There are many other ways of reducing your estate taxes and you should discuss your objectives and goals with an attorney at Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. who will review your individual circumstances and make recommendations based on them.  For more information about your estate planning needs, please contact Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at

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How Foreclosures Affect Credit Scores

Posted by on Jan 18, 2010 in asset protection, foreclosure defense, Legal News, Real Estate, tax |

Many of my clients ask me about the damage that will be done to their credit score if a foreclosure judgment is entered against them.  A foreclosure judgment will cause your credit score to drop around 200 to 300 points.  A good credit score of 700 could drop to as low as 400, which is considered pretty terrible.  The minimum FICO score is 340.  In addition, a foreclosure judgment may lead to tax consequences from the capital gain on the short sale of propety or a deficiency judgment for the remainder of money owed to the bank.

While a foreclosure can remain active on your credit report for three to seven years and make it difficult in certain buying situations, it won’t ruin your credit score for life.  If you keep all of your other credit obligations in good standing, your FICO score can begin to rebound in as little as two years.  The important thing to remember is that a foreclosure is a single negative item.  If you keep it isolated, it will be much less damaging to your credit score than if you had a foreclosure in addition to defaulting on other credit obligations, such as filing bankruptcy.

For more information on how to protect yourself from the consequences of a potential foreclosure, please contact the foreclosure defense team at Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at

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It’s a Matter of Trust

Posted by on Jan 15, 2010 in asset protection, estate planning, Legal News, tax |

A wrong determination of whether a trust qualifies as a designated beneficiary of retirement benefits can cost the owner decades of tax deferral as well as 50 percent excise tax penalties. Our attorneys know how to provide the best asset protection and estate planning benefits for large retirement plans so that the valuable stretch out does not become a blow out. Most trusts are inadequately drafted to handle retirement plans, especially in light of the recent changes of the Pension Protection Act. New preparer penalties put an additional premium on determining whether the trust is likely to qualify.

Learn more about how to protect your retirement and reduce your estate tax consequences by contacting the Florida asset protection attorneys of Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at

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Financial and Estate Planning Go Hand In Hand

Posted by on Jan 11, 2010 in asset protection, estate planning, Legal News |

As you begin planning how to leave what you have to those you love, it makes sense to want to increase what you currently have.  A good financial planner can guide you down the right path but you need to do as much due diligence when hiring a person to grow your estate as much as you do in hiring an attorney to plan it.  Financial planners are poorly regulated, poorly credentialed, and your remedies against a crooked one are few.  Our firm works with a number of very reputable financial advisors and we can recommend two or three that we feel might fit your needs, but you should still take the time to interview each of them yourself and choose the one that feels right for you.

  • Find out how long the planner’s been practicing. Better yet, ask them if they’ve passed the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) exam — that’s an exam that only 56,000 planners have passed out of the 650,000 folks out there who say they are financial planners.
  • Notice if they are trying to give you advice or trying to sell you products. Stay away from those who are primarily selling products — the odds are that they’re steering you toward products that get them maximum compensation rather than those that will meet your needs best.
  • Ask them if they are preparing your financial plan or hire outside consultants to do so.
  • Find out how they are compensated. Are they fee-only or commission-based? It’s not that one is necessarily better than another, but it’s important to understand how they are being paid and to make sure that they will act in your, not their, best interests.
  • Check with the SEC to see if they have received any complaints about the planner.

For more information on growing and protecting your assets, please contact the law firm of Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. for a free consultation.  You can reach us by phone at 954-944-2855 or via email at

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Mediation Could Be The Key

Posted by on Jan 4, 2010 in asset protection, foreclosure defense, Legal News, Real Estate |

If you are facing foreclosure, and the property being foreclosed is your primary residence, you may want to attempt a mediation prior to giving up on the possibility of saving your home.  Homesteaded properties where the bank has filed a foreclosure summons are eligible for mediation as long as the mortgage falls under the federal truth in lending act regulations.

After you receive a foreclosure summons, you should contact a foreclosure defense attorney.  Included with the summons will be an explanation of the court required mediation program.  Mediation fees of up to $750 are paid by the bank.

Between 60 and 120 days after the summons is received, a mediation program manager will contact your attorney. You will fill out a financial disclosure form and meet with a foreclosure counselor.  A mediation session between you and lender is scheduled.  If mediation is successful the case is settled.  If there is no resolution, the case proceeds in litigation.

The mediation will be held in the mediator’s office or a room provided by a mediation service.  The lender or the lender’s designee will likely attend via speaker phone.  Using your financial information, the lender should be able to tell you during the one- to three-hour meeting whether you are eligible for an alternative to foreclosure such as a short sale, deed in lieu or loan modification.

Your attorney should be well-versed in the mediation procedure and the risk and rewards that go with a loan modification.  For more information, contact the certified mediators and experienced Florida foreclosure defense team at Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at

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