The Social Networker’s Asset Protection Guide

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Legal News |

What you need to know about “deceased -user policies”

Social networking is its own category of digital assets, as these accounts are more personal to the owner, and often leave behind a surviving legacy. Their value is rarely monetary, but rather sentimental to those the Networker has left behind. When planning ahead, the most important consideration for the Social Networker is the “deceased-user policies” that are agreed to upon creation of the account.

For example, Facebook allows a family member to “memorialize” the account, so that friends can continue to interact with the Facebook wall, in memory of the deceased. Certain access and features are limited to protect the account holder, and the account can be closed upon a formal request that meets certain criteria. Therefore, in your will, you can merely direct your personal representative to close or memorialize the account. This same memorialization can be made for LinkedIn accounts as well.

For Twitter, however, a family member can deactivate the account and receive an archive of the tweets by merely submitting basic information to twitter in a formal request. Therefore, the account holder may not be concerned with leaving provisions for such accounts, beyond an instruction that they merely be closed (or left open). There are some accounts, on the other hand, that will give family member’s access upon a court order. Keep this in mind for accounts that you specifically do or do not want others to have access to. If you do, then provide the username and password. Otherwise, you may want to include express language that prohibits access to these accounts. This will likely prevent a judge from ordering that your account be accessible to family members.

The Social Networker can start planning ahead today with the following steps: (1) make a list of your social networking accounts; (2) designate the accounts you want private verses those you would like passed on to loved ones; (3) read the user agreements for each account, or have an attorney do it for you (as these policies are often buried in legal language); (4) consult your estate planning attorney with your digital asset wishes, and incorporate them into your will &/or trust; (5) rest easy, your digital legacy is now protected!

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Probate: The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Ugly

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in Legal News |

Person Holding Silver Pen Signing Photographers Signature

The probate process is necessary to wind up the affairs the decedent leaves behind. It is necessary whether or not a decedent drafted a will. If someone dies without a will, he or she dies intestate. This means that Florida statutes determine the distribution of assets. On the other hand, a will determines how assets will be allocated to beneficiaries based on the wishes of the decedent. A Circuit Court Judge supervises the probate proceedings. The Last Will and Testament is validated and a personal representative is appointed to administer the estate. Creditors, including the IRS, must be properly paid before any beneficiary gets his or her share. Probate can easily cost between 3% and 7% of the total estate value. A will can also be contested which can delay the distribution for years adding to the expenses of the estate in the form of attorney fees and court costs.

There are some web programs that allow you to make “quick and easy” plans. However, “do-it yourself” wills can cause more harm than good. When it comes to estate planning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Planning ahead does not mean go to the office supply store and get a “fill-in the blank” will or download it from an unknown source. For a will to be valid, it must adhere to the Florida laws and requirements. There are very specific formalities for properly executing this legal document, such as, who can or should be a witness and, where and when you and your witnesses may sign. Improper execution can also cause a will to be contested. Also, certain family members may have rights given by statute. Minimize the possibility of your will being contested or invalidated by seeking a South Florida Estate Planning attorney. In addition, you may have certain desires that cannot be achieved with a “cookie cutter” document.

Even if you already have an estate plan, making the time to see your probate attorney to review documents is a high priority. Estate planning is not a one time process that is done once and never revisited. It is an ongoing activity because life can be capricious and people change. Don’t be that person who leaves loved ones with the extra burden of straightening your financial affairs. Unforeseen snares lie in wait to snag even the most carefully constructed estate plans. Many circumstantial changes may arise that affect major impact upon your life- without a moment’s notice. Is it not better to take some time to consult your attorney and be safe than sorry? A South Florida estate planning attorney has the requisite training and skill to shield clients against such uncertainties in life and construct a comprehensive plan on your behalf and for the protection of those you love most. Don’t delay and let another minute pass you by. Ward off the potential for disaster by calling your attorney today.

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YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: PASS THE VEGETABLES

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Legal News |

delicious, dinner, dish

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: PASS THE VEGETABLES

Remember the days when your play-time was conditioned on your willingness to eat all of your vegetables? The parental encouragement to “eat your vegetables” has somehow managed to coexist with the warning that “you are what you eat” – which begs the question, who wants to be a vegetable? There are two universal truths: (1) broccoli is not tasty; and (2) no one wants to be a vegetable. But the truth of the matter is, temporary or permanent incapacity can happen to any of us. Thus, supplemental documents need to be in place prior to any capacity issues. We cannot help you develop a taste for broccoli; we can, however, prepare you for the unknown. There are many documents you should have in your plan to ensure that you are prepared when life passes the vegetables. Look to the following health-related documents to plan for the day where you many not wake up and smell the broccoli:

1. Durable Power of Attorney – this allows you to designate and authorize someone to legally act on your behalf, in the event that you become incapacitated. The instrument will specifically state the powers that you are giving the person that you nominate to act on your behalf. Furthermore, this person must make decisions that are in your best interest, not their own. Take careful consideration in determining who you want stepping into your shoes.

2. Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – this outlines important healthcare decisions in advance, and appoints a healthcare surrogate to make healthcare decisions for you when you become unable to do so yourself. Be certain to name someone, otherwise, a proxy may be designated in which you would never chose yourself. You want to chose who’s hands your life is in, right?

Whether or not you are what you eat, and what you eat is vegetables — be sure to include medical-related documents into your estate plan, ensuring you have control when you otherwise would not!

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How To Save Money This Back To School Season

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in 529 Plan, Legal News, tax |

coffee, cup, mug

How To Save Money This Back To School Season

August has arrived! The time to mark your calendars for your “back to school sales tax holidays!” This sales tax holiday has provided a couple days for shoppers to ravish the malls and department stores for clothing and school supplies. Here, in South Florida, your tax breaks will cover the standard clothing and school supplies, as well as computers and tablets (priced up to $750).

Florida state Rep., Larry Ahern, stated “[w]e are trying to take some of the burden off Florida families as they prepare for their children going back to school in August.” Speaking of burden’s – if you are participating in back-to-school tax savings, your child’s college years are probably just around the corner! While you can shop ‘til you drop every year, there are other tax-planning techniques that can be used to save for your child’s college expenses, while avoiding those pesky taxes.

The 529 Plan is a tax shelter for college savings. It allows you (or really, anyone) to contribute to an account to save for a designated person’s college education (it can be anyone, including yourself), and is not subject to federal taxation. The money in the plan can be used for any qualified expenses associated with college, including room & board, books, fees, computer, internet, etc. There is no age limit for when the plan can be used, and it can roll over to another family member (if little Jimmy Jr. decides not to go to college, sister Sally can use it). You can maintain control, and appoint a guardian/trustee to manage it upon death. So not only do you avoid tax on withdrawals, but any capital gains are taxfree as well. There is no federal income tax on money in the 529-college savings plan (plus, no income tax in Florida). NOTE: you have to keep in mind that any amount that you put in the 529-plan can be considered a “gift” for transfer tax purposes. However, the “annual exclusion” for the year 2016 (this amount changes every year), allows anyone to can make up to $14,000 in gifts that are excluded from transfer taxes (which are collected upon death, and subject to an exemption that is currently in the amount of $5,450,000).

So while you are stretching your legs for the mall-marathon that will be taking place each August, take a moment to consider the significant tax-free benefits of planning ahead for your child’s college education!

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If It’s Me Before You, Then I Have a Plan

Posted by on Jun 19, 2016 in Legal News |

If It's Me Before You, Then I Have a Plan

If you enjoy going to the theater, maybe you’ve had a chance to see the movie Me Before You which is currently showing, and is based upon the best-selling book of the same name. The story revolves around a successful, vigorous and adventuresome young man named Will Traynor, who experiences a traumatic accident and is subsequently left a quadriplegic.

Fortunately, it’s fiction and so we can cry and cheer for him as he struggles with love and his reason to live, and when the movie ends, move on with our lives. Yet, it’s hard not to wonder what we’d do if this happened to us or to someone we love. Although you may not be spending your time scaling mountains and traveling to exotic locations as Mr. Traynor did prior to his accident, it’s possible that our lives, and those of our family, could be altered both suddenly and drastically.

It’s hard to consider our vulnerability when our lives are going as swimmingly as Will Traynor’s life had been. Yet when things are smooth, it’s the ideal time to plan for when they might not be. If we’d been written into the book (surely just an oversight), we’d have advised Mr. Traynor to put some thought into his estate plan for this sort of unanticipated event. A few important documents could ensure that you have control of your health and wealth decisions, including a:

  • Living Will – An advanced directive that is sometimes called the “pull the plug” document. If you sign this document, it will allow your healthcare surrogate to give the OK to the doctor to remove any artificial life support. This is only after two doctors have agreed that nothing further can be done and that the artificial support is what is keeping you alive.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – This document will allow someone to make important financial decisions for you, allow access to accounts and continue to pay bills if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Healthcare Surrogate and HIPAA Release Form – Your healthcare surrogate will make informed medical decisions after reviewing your records, which the HIPAA release will allow them to do. In the event that you are unable to authorize a surgery or make any other type of important medical decision, your healthcare surrogate will step in and do so for you.

Make the important decisions today. Call the estate planning attorneys at Wild, Felice & Partners for your free consultation at (954) 944-2855.

For more information on estate planning, asset protection and probate, visit our website at www.wfplaw.com.

It’s A Wild World. Are You Protected? SM

 

 

 

 

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Estate Planning Tip Of The Week: Be Sure to Designate The Proper Beneficiary!

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Legal News |

Designating your minor children as a beneficiary can be disastrous!  Believe it or not, there is a strategy to listing your beneficiaries; one that can save your family money and stress once you’re gone.  Listen in as Michael Wild explains in greater detail the importance of proper beneficiary designation.  Give us a call at(954) 944-2855 and schedule your free consultation today!

For more information on Estate Planning, visit our website at www.wfplaw.com.

It’s A Wild World.  Are You Protected?  SM.

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