Are You Digging Your Own Financial Grave?

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in estate planning, Trusts, Wills |

When you think of October, you might think of witches, warlocks, pumpkins, and cooler weather. However, what you may not know is that October is also Financial Planning Month, during which you can make a commitment to getting your affairs in order and tidying up your finances.

You can dig your own financial grave by doing nothing. You don’t even have to pick up your metaphorical shovel. Simply sit back and make no estate plan, and you will have dug your own financial grave, along with your family’s. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can commit to financial peace this October.

Estate Planning: The Horror Movie Antidote

The real monsters are taxes, creditors, and the government, and they all are lurking at probate court. If you die without an estate plan, your case will go to probate court. Probate will pay off your creditors and saddle your family with estate taxes in the event that they distribute your property to them. The process is lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive. October may be the month for scary surprises, but let’s avoid the unwelcome surprise that is your family having to go to probate court.

Estate planning will safeguard you against the horrors of probate court. Here is a brief overview of estate planning:

What to Know about Estate Planning

An estate plan allows you to decide where your assets will be distributed. It also gives directives on how to manage your care and finances if you are incapacitated. Here are the main documents included in an estate plan (though by no means is this list exhaustive).

  • A living will. If you become incapacitated, chances are you don’t want the state to make your decisions for you. The government might not make the right choice when it comes to pulling the plug or not. A living will gives the hospital healthcare directives and information on your care that doctors can follow. Even if you are unable to give these directions yourself, the living will tells them how to manage your care.
  • A financial power of attorney. If incapacitated, you will also want to ensure that your finances are managed appropriately. Appointing a financial power of attorney means you can pick someone you trust and know is responsible to be in charge of your money when you are unable to do so.
  • A power of attorney for healthcare. A power of attorney for healthcare will also help you make healthcare decisions when you are unable. If your living will doesn’t cover something, this person (who you also pick), will be assist in making these decisions.

While estate planning isn’t the most Halloween-ish topic to discuss, it certainly is spooky to think about what happens if you don’t have a plan. Hopefully, this brief overview helped you to get a sense of what estate planning is and the many benefits that come with it.

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Planning For Everyone In Your Life—Even Your Pet

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in estate planning, Trusts |

Everyone loves their pets. In 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that a little more than 70 percent of Americans have a pet. Even though most pet owners would like to believe they will always be around to take care of their pets, often this is not the case because of death or incapacity. Therefore, many people may want to leave something behind to ensure that their pet is taken care of in the event something happens.

Usually, an animal cannot inherit money, property, or an estate. Therefore, a pet could not be the beneficiary of a trust. Thus, even when someone would try and leave something behind for their pet, the Florida probate courts were unable to enforce the provisions.

However, in 1990, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws changed the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) to allow for the creation of pet trusts. Florida has since then adopted the UPC and has made pet trusts valid for the lifetime of the pet.

These pet statutes provide ways for the courts to distinguish the pets, uphold the trust, and decide the sensibility of assets. If the trust has been established to care for more than one animal, the trust will remain in effect until the death of the last animal. However, when creating a pet trust, testators should consider other factors, like arrangements for alternate caregivers, the day-to-day care requirements for the animal, including emergency care and the final disposition of the pet.

There are also other important considerations when establishing a pet trust, like determining whom the pet caregiver will be. The pet caregiver should be a person or organization that is actually willing to provide for the animal once you are gone. Therefore, it is best for a testator to speak to the potential caregiver before nominating them to ensure that they are willing to accept this responsibility. The pet owner should also consider whether the potential caregiver has the physical accommodations to provide for the pet. For example, if the pet owner has a dog or cat, the pet owner should consider whether the potential caregiver lives in a building that permits animals. Even though everyone would like to take care of their pets after they are no longer able to, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney because drafting the proper document can be complex.

Whether your priority is your children, your pet, or just preserving your legacy, estate planning is important for everyone.  Don’t delay call today for your free consultation.

For more information on Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Probate administration visit our website at www.wfplaw.com

It’s A Wild World. Are Your Protected?

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Plan For A Bright Future

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in estate planning, Trusts, Wills |

back to school, conceptual, creativity

It’ll be time to go back to school soon, and, while you’re buying pencils, notepads, and books, you should also consider giving your children something more long-lasting than a shopping cart full of school supplies: a trust fund.

What is a Trust Fund?

A trust fund is a legal construct that holds property (money, land, possessions, etc.) for another person. The state legislature controls the trust, and some states allow for perpetual trusts, which last forever. There is often a “spendthrift” clause in the trust that prevents the grantor from using the fund’s money for their own gain.

There are three main parties to know when it comes to trust funds: the grantor, grantee, and trustee. The grantor establishes and donates the property to the fund. The grantee is the beneficiary of the fund, and the trustee is in charge of managing it.

Aren’t They Just for Rich People?

Trust funds have been mischaracterized. People think of the “trust fund babies” from movies: the blond, rich kids who always end up being the villain. However, kids who receive trust funds do not often fit this stereotype, and the benefits of trust funds don’t include being able to stick it to the other kids at a summer camp in an ‘80s movie. There are a lot of important advantages to trust funds that help kids have a bright future.

The Benefits of Trust Funds

Trust funds hold property until you feel that your child is ready to handle the responsibility. As you can imagine, teenagers and college kids aren’t exactly paragons of financial stability. By putting money away in a trust fund, parents know that their kids won’t end up in dire straits if worst comes to worst.

Trust funds have tax benefits as well, particularly when it comes to estate tax savings. They also protect assets from the beneficiaries themselves, if you don’t feel that they are responsible. For example, you can leave the profits of your business to your children, without the children being able to control the business. Trust funds are also great options for grandparents seeking to help their grandchildren pay for their education or other expenses, long after the grandparents are gone.

There are many different types of trusts, all of which have different specifications, but, as you can see, the phrase “trust fund baby” is misleading. They’re not just for rich people. They’re for anybody who wants to plan for a bright future for their children or grandchildren.

If you would like more information on how Wild, Felice and Partners, P.A can help with protecting your asset, providing plan for your family and building your estate plan,  please call 954-944-2855 or visit us today at www.WFPLaw.com.

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“The Tooth Fairy Is Real”; “My Kids Won’t Fight When I Die” and Other Lies You Tell Your Family

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in estate planning, Trusts, Wills |

Person Jumping Photo

Remember when you were young and believed in the tooth fairy? You’d put your newly-lost tooth under your pillow and, when you woke up, there was a little bit of money in its place. National Tooth Fairy Day is coming up on August 22nd, and trust us when we say that giving a mythical creature part of your body for unknown reasons in exchange for a small amount of money is preferable to probate court. Probate court takes way more than the tooth fairy, and its process is far more complex than switching out a tooth for some cash.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process in which someone’s assets and debts are disbursed after his or her death. Probate court supervises this procedure. If you die intestate (without an estate plan), your state’s law takes over and governs what happens with your assets.

Why You Need an Estate Plan

Contrary to popular belief, the state doesn’t get everything you own if you die intestate. This only happens when someone has no relatives. If the person in charge of managing your estate digs up some long-lost relative you didn’t know you had, then the state won’t get your money. However, you don’t want to leave the state with the ability to pawn off your possessions onto whomever. This is where an estate plan comes in.

Probate can also take time. The state mandates a period for creditors to file claims. Usually, the process is wrapped up within a year. But, sometimes, the process can drag on for much longer if there are family fights or disputes over property. If your family is like every other family in the world, then you know that there are always relatives who will make things way more difficult than they need to be. Dying intestate opens the floor to lengthy, drawn-out disputes, causing probate to drag on and on.

What All This Costs

Probate is also costly. When you die with no estate plan, the probate court itself oversees the process and appoints an attorney to handle your affairs. The fees for this take money away from your estate, and the administrator isn’t always someone you would have picked had you made a will.

If you have no estate plan, navigating the probate process is exhausting and annoying. Creating an estate plan and keeping it current will help your loved ones have peace of mind and wrap up your estate quickly and efficiently after you die.

If you would like more information on how Wild, Felice and Partners, P.A can help with protecting your asset, providing plan for your family and building your estate plan,  please call 954-944-2855 or visit us today at www.WFPLaw.com.

 

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The Future Awaits…Are You Protected?

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in asset protection, estate planning, Probate, Special Needs Trust, tax, Trusts, Wills |

It’s that time of year: graduation season. Four years of hard work have finally paid off. This is the time that seniors have anxiously awaited for, and dreaded, to come. It is time for seniors to grab their cap and gowns and wave goodbye to all the crazy parties, all-nighters at the library and three am pizza runs.Although this is such a big transition for students, this is also a big change for parents who’s student loans may be kicking in or may have a student moving back home in order to figure our his or her next steps.
 
Whatever your situation may be, it may be a good time to take a second look at your estate plan to make sure everything is in order. A properly executed estate plan will allow you to control what happens to your assets in case anything were to happen.  By executing some necessary documents, you can remain assured that everything you worked so hard for is left in the right hands. Some important documents to consider are:
 
Revocable living trust: this trust will act as a roadmap for your loved ones, in case you were to fall ill or pass away. These trusts will help your loved ones avoid probate, which can save them money from getting to avoid going to court and fighting over what was left.
 
Pour over will: upon your death, this will leaves any property not transferred to your trust before your death to your trust. This trust functions as a safety net to insure that your trustees as ultimately manage property owned in your individual name rather than in the name of your trust provided in your revocable living trust.
 
Irrevocable trust: this trust may not be changed or revoked when made. The purpose of this trust is to produce certain tax or asset protection results.
 
Last will and testament: this trust communicates a person’s final wishes in regards to possessions and dependents. This trust instructs the court what to do with all assets in case anything was to happen. However, unlike in the revocable living trust, your loved ones still have to go through probate proceedings, which can be costly.
 
Durable power of attorney: in case you are not able to handle specific health, legal and financial responsibilities yourself, nominate someone, like a trusted friend or relative to handle it.
 
Living will: gives you some control, in case you are to become ill. This document allows you to express your wishes to doctors in case you become incapacitated.
 
For more information on Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Probate administration visit our website at www.wfplaw.com
 
It’s A Wild World. Are Your Protected?
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MAXIMIZE FINANCIAL AID THROUGH THE USE OF AN IRREVOCABLE TRUST

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in estate planning, Trusts |

accomplishment, ceremony, education

MAXIMIZE FINANCIAL AID THROUGH THE USE OF AN IRREVOCABLE TRUST

A strategic estate planning tool that you may want to consider is creating an irrevocable trust for child’s college fund. Funds transferred to an irrevocable trust remain subject to trust terms and conditions until the established time for distribution. A trust can protect your child’s college fund from creditor’s demands. Also, an irrevocable trust has its own tax ID number and is not considered an asset when calculating your taxes thus providing certain tax benefits. Trust property is excluded from the trustor’s gross estate for federal tax purposes.

Additionally, a trust does not go through probate. Therefore, if a child needs money for school, she can access the funds immediately in the event of your death without being subjected to a lengthy and costly court process. Furthermore, a trust can be set up with restrictions regarding how and when your money will be distributed to your child.

How your trust is drafted and reported on FAFSA dictates the eligibility of your child for need-based financial aid. A common error is reporting the full value of the trust fund when there are proportional shares of ownership in the trust. Also, a typical mistake families make is reporting trust fund amounts incorrectly when ownership of the income and principal from the trust fund are split.

You should consult with your qualified and experienced South Florida estate planning attorney to review the terms of your existing trust to advise you as to what your options are under your trust or draft one for you to meet your objectives concerning your child’s educational needs and goals.

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