November is Nonprofit Awareness Month! 

Posted by on Nov 26, 2018 in Legal News |

Charity is one of the best ways to help others. If you’re strapped for time, you can always donate food or money to the charity of your choice. For every cause, there is a nonprofit organization out there that is willing to help. Philanthropy and charity are two of the ways that you can not only help people in need, but also their families and friends. When illness or poverty strikes one person, it’s not just that individual affected: it affects everyone who is close to them. Charity is, in a sense, a way to protect others. But how can you protect your own family in a similar way? 

Asset Protection 

You might be wondering how your own assets can tie into nonprofits. Asset protection means that you’re setting aside legal tools and documents concerning what will happen to your assets after you pass on. Perhaps there is something you want to transfer to a family member after you die. By setting up a living trust, you can make that happen. This three-party relationship allows you to hand over nominal title to a trustee until your beneficiary is able to receive your asset. A living trust is not the only way to transfer assets, but it is the best way to avoid probate. 

Healthcare Decisions

The time, expense, and mental exhaustion of caring for an end-of-life relative is very draining. Through estate planning, you can ease that process. Selecting a power of attorney and filling out a healthcare directive will allow you to set up your decisions in preparation of a time period where you’re sick or incapacitated. A power of attorney is the individual you designate to handle your financial decisions, and a healthcare directive tells doctors and hospitals your particular wishes concerning your medical care. Having a clear-cut plan of action will save your family from guessing and stress when it is time for you to start receiving intensive care. 

Avoiding Probate 

As mentioned above, tools such as a living trust help you avoid probate. Probate court is the process by which a judge (called a probate judge) divides up your assets after you die. The court isn’t just for people who die without a will. Even a last will and testament is still subject to probate court. The probate judge pays off creditors first, and then divides up the remaining assets as he or she sees fit. You want to avoid probate court because it is time consuming, expensive, and very stressful. Diligent estate planning can keep you out of probate, something for which your family will thank you.

Giving Gifts 

If there’s a charity you love, you might even want to give a gift. Estate planning can help you manage this gift-giving. The gift-giving also applies to relatives and family that you might want to help as well. There are ways around excessive taxation using gift money, and that money also allows you to help someone in need. Gift money is very charitable, and it is definitely in the spirit of Nonprofit Awareness Month. If you think you’d like to take part and give gift money as part of your estate plan, an estate planner can help you do so.

Nonprofit Awareness Month brings attention to the many awesome organizations out there that help people in distress. Celebrate this month by giving a little, whether it is extra time, food, clothes, money, or something else. However, don’t forget to also take care of your own family by preparing for what happens if you yourself are sick or injured. Estate planning offers a similar monetary protection as charity. Taking care of your own family is just another way you can celebrate the charitable spirit of November. 

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What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You? 

Posted by on Nov 20, 2018 in Legal News |

When you think of Thanksgiving, you probably think of the fun time you’ll spend with family and friends, the football games, and, of course, all the delicious food you’re going to eat. Whether you’re the one cooking or one of your family members is, Thanksgiving gives you the chance to enjoy what matters most: family, food, and togetherness. With that sense of family also comes all the obligations and responsibilities attached. Providing your family with security and safety is doable if you have an estate plan. If estate planning is relatively new to you, you can remember the major documents just by looking on your Thanksgiving table. 

The Turkey
If there’s one thing you don’t want to be, it’s the turkey on Thanksgiving. A turkey has a pretty short life thanks to this holiday, and death comes pretty unexpectedly to the unlucky bird. You can’t always be prepared for everything, and unfortunately, we humans can sometimes meet a sudden, turkey-like ending (minus the holiday dinner part). This is why putting off estate planning is never a good idea. Getting together a living trust, last will, or other documents to give instructions about your assets after you die is essential to ensuring that you’re prepared. You might think that you have time, but you never know that for sure. It’s best not to put it off. 

The Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes can seem pretty boring, but they’re one of the most important Thanksgiving side dishes. When prepared correctly, they’re pretty much essential to the meal. This is somewhat like estate planning itself. This field of law can seen boring and dull, but it actually is vitally important. The legal arena wouldn’t be the same without it. Estate planning handles all the posthumous things that would bog down the courts were they left undone. When your estate documents are correctly prepared, they become extremely important, whether they appear boring or not.

The Vegetables 

One day, most of us are also going to be vegetables. That sounds morbid, but it’s just true. There comes a time where most people enter end of life care and aren’t really with it mentally. Decision-making becomes difficult, and even communication struggles. Documents such as a power of attorney and healthcare directive can ensure that your life decisions are handled for you. A power of attorney controls your finances, and a directive tells hospitals and doctors any particulars about your medical care. While it’s no fun to think about and compose—instructions about your own dying are not exactly a thrill a minute—they are important to the process of a smooth transition for your family. 

The Pumpkin Pie
Last but not least, there is the pumpkin pie (or any type of dessert, really). This is the extra on top of the meal. There are a lot of documents in estate planning like this. They don’t necessarily make up the meat and potatoes of the meal, but they’re an important addendum. Documents pertaining to niche assets like Bitcoin, antiques, collector’s items, and more are examples of these “extras.” You want to get the big stuff into the estate plan, of course. But, you also don’t want to ignore the smaller, more unique things that are still of great value to you and your family. 

As you can see, the Thanksgiving table gives you a way that you can remember the major documents in an estate plan. These aren’t all the documents that you’ll need, of course, but they are the main ones, and they give you a sense of what estate planning is all about. Your family deserves a sense of security, and proper planning will provide that. When you’re spending time with them, think about ways you can improve or update plans you have in place already. Have a happy Thanksgiving! 

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The Sixth Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant is Here! 

Posted by on Nov 10, 2018 in Legal News |

If you live in Florida, particularly in Broward County, you’ve probably heard of an awesome event called the Sixth Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant. This pageant, presented by the law firm Holland & Knight, empowers girls and women between the ages of six and seventeen who have disabilities. Held at the Parker Playhouse, it gives these young ladies a chance to shine. Excitingly, Michael Wild is sponsoring one of the candidates! Not only should you look into attending the pageant so that you can sit in the audience and cheer on the girls, you can also take this opportunity to think more about your own family. There are different ways that you can support family members and friends who may have disabilities through inclusive, diverse estate planning. 

But First, More About the Pageant

Such a cool event needs more than just one little paragraph. The Miss Arc Broward Pageant is an event from Arc Broward. Arc Broward is an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities. This nonprofit organization has been around since 1956, and the pageant is a relatively recent idea. Arc Broward has ten different locations and provides Broward County with twenty-one programs to help disabled citizens learn life skills. These programs aren’t just great for the more vulnerable parts of the population; they’re great for the community at large. The pageant itself celebrates the young women who take part in Arc Broward’s programs, because women’s empowerment is for everyone, disabled or not.  

Helping Disabled Family Members 

Disabilities are common throughout the world. Everyone is differently-abled in some way or another. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five Americans has a disability, whether physical or psychological. Disabled people have an income that is almost half of what a non-disabled person has. Clearly, disabled people need our help, both as a society and, on a smaller scale, as a family. If you have disabled family members, consider ways to work them into your estate plan and provide at least some security for their needs, whether through asset transferring, gifts, setting aside a fund, or something else. There are many, many different ways besides just those to make your estate plan inclusive towards your disabled loved ones.

Consider the Future

Perhaps the disabled individual is someone in your actual nuclear family. You want to make sure that you consider all the facets of their care. This includes finding them a power of attorney for their finances and medical decisions. If something were to happen that would incapacitate them, having a power of attorney means that the financial and medical decisions would be taken care of by someone they trust. A power of attorney takes important decision-making power and places it into the hands of a trustworthy individual with which the person is comfortable.

Guardianship 

If the disabled members of your family are your children, guardianship takes on an even more enhanced role. In the event that something happens to you, selecting a guardian has a special importance. Choose someone who has experience working with the particular disability that your child has. The guardian should agree to the guardianship, as that is a big responsibility and you want to make sure they are on board. Don’t forget to make sure that your child is okay with the person and likes them, also.

As you can see, the upcoming Miss Arc Broward Pageant is going to be a lot of fun! We’re excited to sponsor one of the contestants. On a less public forum, feel free to schedule an estate planning appointment to talk about how you can take care of family or friends you may have who have disabilities. Estate planning is great at providing a unique type of future security for those close to you.

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Your Estate Planning Playbook

Posted by on Oct 24, 2018 in Legal News |

Football season is the most exciting sports season (to some, that is). Football is a fall American tradition, and the weekends are a great time to tailgate or just stay at home on the couch, eat snacks, and watch the game. Everyone has a favorite team, and, if you’re a fan, you probably know all the stats about your team, including the chances of winning, names of your favorite players, and, if your team isn’t that good, how they need to improve—in your opinion. Post-game talk show analysts pore over the game after it’s done, figuring out what went wrong and what went right. You need to know the game to play the game, and that doesn’t just apply to football. 

Understanding how to plan for your future is of the utmost importance, and, by consulting with an estate planner, you can ensure that you’re totally prepared for anything. While your favorite team might not be able to ensure a win, you can if you plan thoroughly. 

Take Cover!

In football, the offensive line’s job is to cover the quarterback and make sure nobody sacks him. Much in the same way that the O-Line covers the quarterback, your estate plan will cover you and prevent you and your family from a lot of headaches down the road. Your estate plan will protect your family in particular from probate court, which is a time consuming, expensive process that usually leaves everyone pretty unhappy with the way in which the assets are divided. Judges don’t know your family and what you want, so give your family some cover from probate and create an estate plan with the right tools to avoid it.

Who is estate planning for? 

Estate planning is for everyone! Even minors benefit from estate planning through third-party means, as parents often designate guardians for their minor children in the event that something happens to them. College-age kids benefit from estate planning because they are able to designate their parent as power of attorney and lay out any healthcare directives they may have for their medical care. And, of course, older adults benefit from estate planning because it provides a way to make sure your assets are divided the way you want them to be after you pass on. While the documents may differ from person to person, and the benefits may not be the same from person to person, estate planning is still a tool for everyone. 

Different Plays 

Much like how a successful football team has tons of different plays, you should have a lot of tools in your estate planning toolkit. There are documents for just about anything, including assets, your family, guardianship, your medical decisions, and more. Provide coverage for the various areas of your life and livelihood by securing each in the event of your incapacitation or death. 

Make Sure to Keep Your Playbook Updated 

Don’t forget to update and review your estate planning materials every three to five years. Families change. There are marriages, new babies, divorces, deaths, and more that may change your estate plan and give you a new person to add in or someone to take out. You could have all the estate planning safeguards in the world, but if you don’t have it updated to reflect your current family situation, you won’t be happy with the results.

A successful estate planning playbook ensures a win for you, and an estate planning consultation is a great way to prepare for the future. To win the game, you have to know the game, and the different tools that estate planning provides will help you secure your future and your family’s future.

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Breast Cancer Awareness: Take Care of Your Future and Focus on Your Health

Posted by on Oct 12, 2018 in Legal News |

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Bringing attention to this disease is crucial, as it affects millions of women. One in eight women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer at some point in their lives, and a smaller percentage (though still significant) will experience non-invasive breast cancer. This disease affects not just women, but men as well, and the families and friends of those suffering. One of the most important things to do during such a tough time is to keep stress low and focus on your health.

A way to do that is to plan for the future. Psychological research indicates that when you’re stressed or anxious, planning is more difficult. The ability to plan things out is disrupted by the parts of your brain experiencing the stress. The future can seem daunting. However, there is a way to put things in motion now that will greatly ease your mind: estate planning. 

Protecting Your Family 

In order to protect your family, you will want to keep them out of probate court. Your kids and grandkids will not want to go through the experience of probate court, which is time consuming and stressful. Probate court is the process by which a judge divides up your assets after you pass away, focusing first on repaying your creditors and then giving what’s left to your loved ones. Rarely does probate actually divide things up the exact way you would have wanted. In order to protect your family from this arduous process, estate planning tools such as a living trust (a three-party relationship where you transfer title to a trustee who holds it for your beneficiary) and others are available. 

Thinking About Your Kids 

If you have kids, you should definitely consider arranging a guardianship plan for them, just in case. Everyone should have this, whether they’re sick or healthy, as it never hurts to be prepared. Guardianship papers designate a guardian for your kids in the event you are unable to care for them. Choose a guardian for your kids who you feel will take care of their physical and emotional needs while providing a structured day-to-day lifestyle. This intensely personal decision is totally up to you, and you should, of course, think it through carefully and talk to your proposed guardian before executing the papers. 

Power of Attorney Considerations 

A power of attorney is an individual that you trust to make financial or healthcare decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them yourself. This person ensures that your wishes are carried out, and he or she makes sure you’re treated well and not taken advantage of. The power of attorney for finances takes care of your financial decisions while you’re incapacitated, whether it’s deciding what to do with your house, how to pay for medical care, how to pay for your kids’ school, or anything else. The power of attorney for healthcare is also a decision-maker, just with regards to medical decisions. 

Healthcare Directives 

Healthcare directives allow you to tell the hospital what you want ahead of time. You can lay out your specific wishes for doctors and nurses to follow. That way, you get the medical care you need even when you’re unable to communicate. These directives are something you can make while you’re with it and feeling well, which means that they will reflect major decisions that are made when completely aware. 

With estate planning, there are a lot of tools that will help you prepare for the future and whatever it might entail. You don’t have to feel anxious and nervous about where your assets will go if something happens, and this is a good, productive way to ease the stress that you’re carrying so that you can focus on your health. 

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