What’s Going On With FTX?
If you’ve been following the financial headlines, you have likely seen news stories about the collapse of cryptocurrency giant FTX. This was a major event in the world of crypto, and it bears discussion on our platform, as digital currencies are becoming an increasingly-popular asset in estate plans. In this article, we will talk about what happened with FTX (including the latest news and updates), as well as how you can protect your cryptocurrency in the future.
Who Was FTX And What Happened?
We are using the past-tense because FTX, as of January of 2023, has folded. FTX was a giant cryptocurrency exchange that filed for bankruptcy in November of 2022. Its CEO, Sam Bankman Fried, admitted that the company did not have the capital to meet customers’ demand for withdrawals.
Not only did FTX crash due to not enough liquidity, it also went under because its funds were mismanaged. Investigations by the SEC revealed that FTX had diverted assets that customers had designated for certain coins (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) and taken those assets, without permission, to fund Alameda Research, a venture capital firm. Alameda then took those misappropriated funds and used them to make large political donations and lavish real estate purchases. So, when customers came to withdraw money, FTX did not have that capital on-hand because it had blown it all, spending it clients’ money on assets said clients didn’t know about.
Bankman-Fried was charged with criminal counts in a court in New York City, and he, along with others from the organization-turned-criminal-enterprise, are facing lawsuits by the federal government for wire fraud and conspiracy. In total, more than $8 billion went missing due to FTX’s fraud. In December of 2022, FTX announced that it had recovered $1 billion of assets, but it still owes billions more to its creditors and very unhappy clients.
Ramifications On The Cryptocurrency World
According to Coin Telegraph, the impact of the FTX collapse has been “devastating” for consumers. It sent lawmakers and pundits into a tizzy, as they quickly latched onto FTX’s disintegration to call for more regulation within the crypto industry. Another domino effect had to do with investor confidence.
Shaken by the events and not wanting to potentially fall victim to such a scam, Legal 500 reported that investors fled from crypto, causing Bitcoin’s price to drop 25%. Social media and public opinion largely turned against cryptocurrencies, and the market has attracted attention, mostly negative, even from people who had no interest in it before.
Tips To Protect Your Crypto
We’ll leave it up to you to decide what you want to do with your cryptocurrency. Should you want to continue in the market, here are some tips to protecting your digital currencies:
· If you own crypto, put these assets into an estate plan, so that someone can inherit them if something happens to you. Make sure you include all pertinent information on how to access the currencies (keys, passwords, etc.) within the estate plan. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you with this process.
· Use 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) for your crypto exchange.
· Use an authenticator app to ward against hacks.
· Back up your seed words (master key) thoroughly.
· Always use a strong password.
· If possible, use a hardware wallet.
When it comes to choosing a cryptocurrency exchange, here are some tips on what to look for:
· Look up the company’s tax reports and any information on its liquidity.
· Compare fees between platforms.
· Ensure there is a wide variety of coins with which to trade.
· Check out the platform’s insurance policy, if applicable.
· Make sure the platform has security protocols in place.
This fintech scandal, perhaps one of the biggest, monetarily, in history, is still developing. Its impact on the crypto world can’t be understated, and it is important to protect your digital currencies now. Learn more about cryptocurrency by visiting our website.
How To Start 2023 Off The Right Way: The Importance Of An Estate Plan.
It’s amazing to think that we’ve made it through another year. We’re already a few weeks into 2023, and it’s time to start thinking about ways we can secure our financial situation—and our financial future. When it comes to your financial future, an estate plan is the way to ensure that your assets are protected, even after death. In this article, we will discuss the importance of an estate plan, including its benefits, popular documents, and other information to know.
What Is An Estate Plan?
It’s best to think of estate planning as a process, rather than as a specific document. When you have an estate plan, you anticipate and arrange for the management and disposal of your estate if you are incapacitated or dead. In layman’s terms, in an estate plan, you set up a series of documents that will guard your assets (home, bank accounts, personal items, and more) if you become sick or injured and/or after you die.
The process involves seeking the counsel of lawyers and professional advisors who are familiar with you, your family, and your concerns and goals. It is never wise to “DIY” an estate plan, as the laws, especially in Florida, are intricate and can be complicated for non-lawyers.
Who Should Have An Estate Plan?
When people think of an estate plan, they likely think of a last will and testament, which, in turn, brings to mind the elderly or super-wealthy. That’s a common misconception, as estate planning is for everyone. If you have assets and a family, you should execute an estate plan, no matter your age, wealth, or the state in which you live. While some factors, such as the size of your estate, do matter with regards to the planning process, most people should have an estate plan.
The Benefits Of An Estate Plan
Now that we’ve covered what an estate plan is and who should have one, we can move on to the benefits that an estate plan brings. The main purpose of estate planning is to secure and plan for the disposal of your assets when the time is right.
Other benefits and functions of estate planning include:
· Your assets will go to the right people (also known as your beneficiaries).
· You can plan for your financial investments.
· You can plan for your healthcare arrangements when you are at the end of your life.
· Guardianship for minors can be arranged.
· You can set up trusts.
· You can minimize the probate process, thus lessening its expenses, loss of privacy, and delays.
· Estate planning protects assets, and it can also protect the future of your business, if you own one.
This comprehensive list underscores the main reasons why you should have an estate plan. But, what if you’re still not sold? What can happen if you don’t have an estate plan? As it turns out, things can get disastrous.
What Happens If You Don’t Have An Estate Plan?
If you die without an estate plan in place, a court will deem to you to be “intestate,” and, therefore, subject to the rules of intestate succession. Your family and estate will go through probate court, an expensive, lengthy, and privacy-invading process. The probate court will distribute your assets as it sees fit, giving them to creditors and people who you might not have wanted to receive such property.
Common Estate Plan Documents
When setting up your estate plan, chances are that you’ll have one or more of these common documents in it:
· Living Trust. This three-party relationship involves you, the grantor, assigning tittle over an asset or assets to a third party, a trustee. That trustee then holds title to the assets until a pre-designated time, at which they will transfer title to your beneficiary.
· Power of Attorney. This arrangement can come in various forms, including a Durable and Healthcare P.O.A. Your Power of Attorney is a trusted individual that you appoint to manage your financial and/or healthcare affairs in the event you become incapacitated and unable to manage them yourself.
· Last Will & Testament. The most common document people think about when they hear “estate plan,” the last will and testament is a final expression of your will as to where you want your assets to go after you die.
Hopefully, this article has gotten you thinking about contacting an estate planning attorney. Our WFP lawyers will help you put together comprehensive plans that include all of the documents pertinent and important to you, your life, and your family.
New Year’s Resolutions: Make Estate Planning One Of Them
The New Year’s holiday has passed us by, and now, we are in a bit of a holding pattern until spring. According to Forbes, around 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, and most involve improving mental health, being more active, losing weight, and eating healthier. Might we add another New Year’s resolution to the group, one that you might not have thought of?
Make estate planning one of your New Year’s resolutions. There are plenty of benefits to estate planning, including the ability to control where your assets go after you die. You also will avoid probate court, and you’ll have the ability to arrange guardianship for kids, end-of-life healthcare, and more.
If you’ve already written, “Make an estate plan” in your list of New Year’s resolutions, good for you! In this article, we’ll talk about common pitfalls to avoid when fulfilling this resolution. Many of these pitfalls, happily, can be circumvented by taking advantage of the counsel of a licensed legal professional.
Pitfall 1: Outdated Documents
If you already have an estate plan, you should know that the rule of thumb is to check it every three to five years or if you experience a major life change (divorce, death, marriage, new births, etc.). Outdated documents are a huge pitfall for people who have an estate plan, as not changing your plan with the times means that you’ll forget about new heirs or, conversely, include people in the plan who are no longer in your life.
Pitfall 2: Procrastinating
Of course, a document can only be outdated if it’s there in the first place. A major pitfall in estate planning is the failure to start. Not to sound gloomy, but anything can happen. Life is fragile, and sickness, injury, and death aren’t exactly unheard-of phenomena (we’d be out of a job if they were).
Don’t wait until something bad has happened to make an estate plan or encourage a loved one to do so. The main hook of estate planning is that it is preventative and protective. Contact an attorney today, while you still have your health, to create this plan for the future.
Pitfall 3: Naming Only One Beneficiary
This one is quite common, as naming just one beneficiary is usually more likely to occur to people than having a backup plan. You should always list more than one beneficiary for your assets, a fact that your lawyer will likely reiterate to you. If the beneficiary dies before you do or is out of your life for another reason, you will need to have a contingent beneficiary who is next in line to receive that asset. This is an easy enough pitfall to avoid—you just have to have a backup plan.
Pitfall 4: Not Talking To Your Family First
Estate planning can sometimes be the cause of difficult conversations among family members. Make sure you talk to your family and keep them in the loop when estate planning. Let them know who the beneficiaries and appointed individuals are (and, if need be, why you made those decisions). That way, there are no surprises, and this disclosure can make it less likely that a will challenge will come about.
Pitfall 5: Lack Of Full Disclosure
Attorneys are here to help you, and you need to exercise full disclosure when you’re speaking to one. Tell them your concerns, goals, and financial situation, and the attorney will be able to craft the best estate plan for you. Holding back will only lead to missed documents, incomplete information, and other similar, equally-problematic events.
Though these pitfalls might seem intimidating, they can often be avoided through honest communication with your lawyer. Estate planning can help you secure your financial future, as well as the futures of your beneficiaries and heirs. Talk to an WFP estate planning attorney today to learn more about this important process.
With the New Year fast approaching, you might be considering diversifying your portfolio with some new assets. And, in turn, those new assets might make their way into your estate plan for your beneficiaries one day. One new asset that has grown more and more popular over the past decade is cryptocurrency. This article will serve as a basic “101” guide to crypto, its advantages and disadvantages, and how it fits in to your estate plan.
What Is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency, often used as an alternative form of payment. Crypto is created through encryption algorithms, which means that it is both a currency and a virtual accounting system. Popular cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Tether, Binance Coin, and more. Crypto is usually separated into three categories, much like regular currencies: majors, minors, and exotics.
Cryptocurrency represents a new monetary paradigm, promising to streamline financial architecture and, in turn, make it faster and cheaper to handle money and pay for things. Crypto’s technology means that you can exchange value and money without involving intermediary institutions like banks and governments.
The State of Crypto
The thing about cryptocurrency, which some view as a negative and others as a positive, is that it is very volatile. Currently, as of December of 2022, crypto is in a bit of a flux. It is a risky investment, and a major reason for this riskiness has to do with the collapse of crypto broker FTX, which incurred a $32 billion meltdown in November of 2022. This has shaken the crypto industry, though, quite possibly, this digital currency will bounce back over time.
How To Invest In Cryptocurrency
Everyone’s financial situation is different, but there are still similar overarching steps to investing in cryptocurrency. Here is an overview of how to invest in crypto in 2022:
- Choose Your Currency. You might choose a major currency, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, or you may want a minor currency or exotic. According to Go Banking Rates, a financial website, Bitcoin is the best currency in which to invest if you are a crypto newbie. It has been around for a long time, and it has a price and market cap that are higher than a lot of other coins.
- Select An Exchange. The easiest way to buy and sell crypto is through an exchange. Popular exchanges include Binance, eToro, TradeStation, Webull, Robinhood, and Gemini. Do your own research to find the exchange that works best for you.
- Decide How Much You Want To Invest. Lastly, you’ll want to decide how much you want to invest. Start conservatively, especially if you are new, and consider adding this asset to an already diverse portfolio. Once you’ve made your financial decision, you can invest and become part of the crypto industry (as a buyer). Monitor your investment over time to decide whether you want to sell or hold.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Investing In Crypto
Crypto has its pros and cons, and there are reasons to invest in and reasons to shy away from this digital currency. Common advantages of crypto include:
- Crypto is protected from inflation, due to its centralization.
- Crypto is self-managed and self-governed.
- Currency exchanges are easy.
- Crypto is private.
- It is cost-effective, in terms of transaction.
- Crypto is a quick way to transfer funds.
- Some exchanges have incurred cybersecurity issues.
- The price is volatile.
- There is a lack of inherent value.
- Cryptocurrency has a scalability issue.
- Crypto has not proven a safe long-term investment yet.
Your Estate Plan & Crypto
So, how does crypto tie into your estate plan? You can leave crypto as an asset, much like anything else, but you must include the keys and other ways to access it. The field of crypto in estate planning is still developing, and the digital currency has presented unique challenges to estate planning attorneys as a result.
While this guide is not the be-all-end-all to crypto information, hopefully, it has gotten you on the path to learning more about this fascinating digital currency and what it can do for you. Visit our website to learn more.
Christmas is around the corner, and that means that Santa is on his way. This year, consider getting your kids a gift that will truly make a long-lasting impact: a trust fund. In this article, we will discuss what a trust fund is and how it works, dispelling any misconceptions you may have about this important financial tool.
What Is A Trust Fund?
You might know of the term “trust fund,” though you have likely heard it used in a derogatory fashion. Trust funds have a reputation of being only for the uber-wealthy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This estate planning tool allows you to put aside money and, if you want, assets that will be distributed to the beneficiaries you name on the trust. The distribution will take place at a later date of your choosing. Basically, a trust fund is created to house money and assets on behalf of another person.
A trust fund is usually executed and managed by a licensed estate planning attorney. The trust fund requires a grantor (you, in this example), trustee, and beneficiary. The grantor sets the terms for how he or she wants the money gathered, held, and distributed, and the trustee executes the grantor’s directives. The beneficiary, as the name suggests, receives the cash and assets from the fund at a predetermined time.
What Happens to Money In A Trust Fund?
Trust funds can contain a large number of different assets, including bank accounts and money, businesses, heirlooms, and other types of investments. The assets remain in the trust fund until certain circumstances are fulfilled. Once these terms are met, the trust fund’s proceeds are distributed to beneficiaries.
How To Set Up A Trust Fund
There are a few main steps to setting up a trust fund. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but these general steps apply to most people. Here are the steps:
- Set Goals. Be clear about why you’re setting up the trust, as well as what terms and assets you want to include. Make sure that your children get what you want them to get. Clarity is very important when setting up this type of document, hence why legal counsel is a must-have.
- Choose What Type of Trust. Your attorney will help you determine the type of trust that is best for you. For example, a revocable trust, one of the most common types, is flexible, allowing you as the grantor to make changes in certain circumstances.
- Determine the Terms. Name your trustee, as well as who will get what. Determine distributions and provisions, as well as any other details that will help you achieve your “Step 1” goals.
- Create The Trust Documents. After making all your decisions and getting your information together, you will set up your trust fund, with legal counsel, abiding by Florida law.
- Fund the Trust. You can fund your trust through real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies, and more. The trust will not function as intended until you fill it with assets.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Trust Fund
As with anything, a trust fund has its pros and cons. While a trust fund is far more wide-ranging than you might have thought before reading this article, this financial tool is still not for everyone.
Advantages of a trust include:
- You can avoid probate.
- There may be tax benefits involved (legally).
- You can customize and control the way in which your wealth is distributed.
- You can provide for your beneficiaries’ financial future.
Disadvantages of a trust include:
- The structure can be complex.
- A trust can be expensive to both maintain and establish.
- Trustees’ powers are restricted by the trust deed.
Hopefully, this article has opened your eyes to what a trust fund can do for you and your family. It isn’t just a tool for the wealthy—it is great way for families of all economic backgrounds to ensure their kids have a stable future. Contact us if you have questions and to get started.
This might shock some people, but 2022 is coming to an end in less than one month. This year has been eventful, filled with ups and downs, new memes, an election, celebrity kookiness, and more as we have filled out yet another page in this chapter of American history. How did your year go? Did you accomplish everything you wanted?
As we look back at our year, it is important to consider whether we made progress with our long-term goals. For example, did you set up an estate plan? If you didn’t have this as a goal, you should. In this article, we will discuss why an estate plan is important. If you haven’t set up one in 2022, make this your New Year’s Resolution (and then make sure you then accomplish it). Listed below are the life-changing benefits of protecting your assets and loved ones through an estate plan.
Beneficiaries Are Protected
When you die, who gets your assets? When we refer to assets, we are talking about property, cash accounts, physical items, and similar possessions. At some point, your assets will no longer be your own and, without an estate plan, they could wind up in the hands of your creditors, if not the government (eek!).
Through an estate plan, your beneficiaries are protected, and your assets are distributed expeditiously, tax-efficiently, and legally. Through documents like a last will and testament, you can ensure that your possessions go to the people you want and no one else, inadvertently.
Here are some of the benefits of a last will and testament, a document that is the final expression of where you want your assets to go after you die:
- You control what happens to and with your property after death.
- You can leave assets and property to specific people.
- You can appoint certain persons to manage and handle the distribution of your property.
- A will can, if done properly, be the “last word,” minimizing disputes and feuds between heirs and other relatives.
A last will and testament is just one example of the many legal documents and tools in an estate plan, some of which you learn about when you read through this article.
Kids Are Protected
If you have minor children (kids who are under eighteen), then you especially need an estate plan, not only so that you can name your children as your beneficiaries, but also so that you can set up guardianship papers.
Guardianship papers are a “worst-case scenario” type of documentation. These papers detail who will be your kids’ legal guardians in the event that something terrible happens to you (and your spouse, if you have one). Talk to your proposed guardian before appointing them to this big role. Make sure they are willing to take on this responsibility, and ensure that they can take care of your kids’ day to day needs, much in the same way you would.
Probate Is Minimized (Or Even Avoided)
Though a last will and testament must go through probate, a trust does not. A trust is a common tool in estate planning. It is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the grantor (you) gives title of an asset to a third party for the benefit of a beneficiary.
At a time you specify, such as when you die, the title to the asset will pass to your intended beneficiary. The trust does not have to go through probate, which protects you and your family’s privacy. It is easier to transfer title of your assets via a trust than if you had to pass through the time and expense of probate court.
Assets Are Managed Even If You’re Incapacitated
While many documents in an estate plan deal with what to do after you die, there are some, such as a healthcare directive and power of attorney, that involve what happens to you if you are too incapacitated, due to illness or injury, to make decisions for yourself. Through these documents, you can ensure your wishes are still honored. Here is a brief overview of each:
- Healthcare directive. This “living will” details what you do and don’t want, as far as medical treatment and lifesaving care goes. This document, which often deals with resuscitation and similar procedures, is very personal. It is also important to ensuring your wishes are met, even if you can’t communicate them.
- Power of attorney. A power of attorney is a trusted person that you appoint to manage your financial and/or healthcare affairs in the event you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf.
Again, these documents are just two of many examples of how estate planning can help you take control of your present and future. Contact a WFP attorney today to create your own estate plan.
The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, and a lot of people love to shop on that quasi-holiday, as stores across the country have great sales. We’ve all seen the footage from Black Friday—the fights, stampedes, and general bad behavior. In the face of this greed, you might wonder if loving to shop and obtain assets is wrong.
It’s not, though stampeding someone to get a brand-new coffeemaker on Black Friday certainly is. There’s nothing wrong with working hard to purchase something you really want. And, when you get the item you want, you should have the tools to protect it. Asset protection is a series of techniques that legally insulates assets from creditors and civil judgments.
Unlike Black Friday stampeders, asset protection follows the law to a T. In this article, we’ll talk about different asset protection tools and how they can benefit you.
Who Is Asset Protection For?
Certain types of people, such as business owners and professionals, are at a higher risk of incurring a lawsuit than others. For example, dentists face a higher number of lawsuits than everyone else, and 39% of these suits are successful (Bureau of Justice). Of those awards, 21% are over $250,000 (the average is $53,000, says the BoJ).
Right or wrong, America is a litigious society. That is why the field of asset protection has popped up as a semi-defense to these creditors seeking judgments. Here are some tools to note when it comes to protecting your assets.
In Florida, a land trust separates equitable ownership and legal title of a parcel of land. The person who establishes the trust is the beneficiary, and they are the ones who contribute or borrow money to buy the property (i.e. the economic owner). Land trusts provide you with privacy of ownership of this real property, and they are a great asset protection shield.
Some business structures, such as a corporation or LLC, provide asset protection from creditors. An LLC in particular is the most popular tool for holding real estate.
Corporations can help protect assets, as they work as a limited liability tool for officers, directors, and shareholders. This business structure can protect your assets from those coming to collect corporate debts or other claims. It can even serve, sometimes, in the right conditions, as a barrier to a breach of contract judgment (something many business owners experience).
An LLC is not only a fantastic way to hold real estate; it also is a great protection tool for stock market investment portfolios. A Limited Liability Company has the same asset protection benefits that a limited partnership does. A creditor cannot take your interest in an LLC, and a judgment usually cannot take your personal assets in the event of a business dispute.
Equity stripping reduces the amount of equity you hold in a property, making it unattractive to creditors. Unfortunately, this tactic, which became widespread in the 2000s, has also been used by predatory lenders who want to take advantage of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Though equity stripping can be successful, it does not always work. Tax liens, for example, will always trump whatever lien you levy against your property, wrecking chances you have at protecting your assets.
This conventional trust is formed under the laws of an overseas (offshore) jurisdiction. This estate planning tool, essentially, grants an individual some jurisdiction outside of America. The individual’s assets are transferred overseas, where they are generally placed under the supervision of estate plan/financial managers. An offshore trust is asset-protective, but it is expensive to set up, generally costing between $12,000 and $25,000.
As you can see, there are multiple ways to protect your home, some of which are not included on this list. Talk to an estate planning attorney today if you feel that asset protection fits your financial situation.
Well, we can tell you right now what we’re thankful for: being experts at drafting estate plans. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and, just from the name, we all know that this holiday is a season to be grateful for what you have. This year, Thanksgiving (AKA Turkey Day) falls on Thursday, November 24th.
This annual national holiday celebrates the “harvest” and blessings of the past year. Most Americans consider their holiday to be based on a harvest feast in 1621 that was shared between the Wampanoag Native Americans and the English colonists (Pilgrims). Thanksgiving also takes place in Canada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and Grenada, and there are similar festivals in Japan and Germany, too.
If you think of your assets as a Thanksgiving dinner, what’s the “turkey”? Chances are, your home is your “main course,” as, if you own your home, it is probably the most expensive, largest asset you have. In this article, we’ll talk about different ways you can protect your abode through estate planning.
Home Protection Strategies
You’ll want to contact an estate planning attorney to discuss these home protection strategies. Deciding what you want to do with your home is a financial, emotional, and logistical decision that you’ll want to talk to your family about before going ahead.
Some of the main options for home transfer include:
- A Will
- Revocable Trust
- Qualified Personal Residence Trust
- Through A Sale
Below, we’ll go through each tool individually.
This is a pretty simple method. A lot of people put their kids as co-owners on their house deed. If the deed lists another person as a joint tenant, that joint tenant can become a co-owner when the deed is changed. When the original owner dies, the child can automatically take ownership of the house. Note: you’ll have to think about taxation when considering this approach.
Of course, you can always use a will to pass your home to someone. The owner can put the home as an asset in the will, though you will still have to pass through probate. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, and there are privacy concerns, as wills are, generally, public documents.
This legal structure allows the trustee or grantor to retain control over the assets during their lifetime. They can specify when and how their assets are passed to beneficiaries. The house can be placed into this trust, and, upon death of the creator, the assets will be quickly, private distributed with no need to go through probate. The homeowner will have control or use of their home throughout their lifetime, and efficient distribution will occur upon their death.
Qualified Personal Residence Trust
A QPRT, as it’s known, is a way to move a primary/vacation residence out of your estate using a reduced gift tax cost. The home is transferred to the trust right away, though the owner retains the right to live there during the QPRT term. They are still, during this term, responsible for all aspects of ownership. The QPRT will have an end date, upon which the home will transfer to a beneficiary.
Note: a transfer on death deed is permitted in some states, but Florida does not permit this. In Florida, there has been no adoption of the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act.
Through A Sale
Of course, you can always sell the home to transfer it. If you don’t think your kids will want your home, consider selling it and, later in life, renting a place to live. Maintenance, lifestyle, and health are all factors in whether this will work for you, and you’ll also want to consider the tax impacts of your decision.
Your home is likely your largest, most expensive asset, and you will want to make sure that you distribute or dispose of it in the way that works for you. If need be, contact an estate planning attorney to talk about transferring your home, and have a safe, happy Thanksgiving!
This Friday, November 11th, we’ll celebrate a holiday that calls on us to remember our veterans and what they have sacrificed to keep us safe. Veterans’ Day has been observed for sixty-eight years, and it is a federal holiday, which means a lot of people have the day off to reflect.
While you’re reflecting, consider focusing on what truly matters in life: your family. Estate planning can be an excellent way to protect your family after you pass on. Estate planning, in a nutshell, is the process of arranging and anticipating, during your life, for the management and disposal of your estate when you pass away. It can be a gloomy topic, but we choose to look at estate planning as a celebration of life and a way for your legacy to live on.
Protective Estate Planning
The thing about estate planning is that it doesn’t work if you drag your feet. If you’ve been thinking about getting an estate plan but haven’t done it yet, consider this your wakeup call to meet with an attorney. There are five main components to an estate plan, though there are a lot more tools you can use besides these main five.
Here are the five main components of a solid estate plan:
- Wills And Trusts. Though they’re in the same section in this article, wills and trusts are two different things. A living trust is a legal document that is established during your lifetime. It transfers assets to a trustee to be distributed upon death to your beneficiary. A trust bypasses probate court, which makes it an attractive option. Wills, on the other hand, are last expressions of your final wishes for your assets. They go into effect after you die, and they must pass through probate court.
- Medical Or Healthcare Power of Attorney. This power of attorney is a trusted individual who you appoint to make your financial or healthcare decisions if you are too incapacitated to do so. This PoA acts on your behalf and having such a designation can be very important for your wellbeing.
- Durable Power of Attorney. A PoA is a written document that designates another person as your agent to make decisions on your behalf. The Durable Power of Attorney covers a wide range of business and legal matters.
- Living Wills/Advance Directives. Living wills/advance directives are legal documents that specify the medical treatments you would or wouldn’t want to be used to remain alive in the event of a medical emergency. It can also detail your decisions on pain management and organ donation. As you can imagine, this document is very personal to the creator.
- Beneficiary Designations. A beneficiary designation lets you transfer assets to individuals no matter the terms of your will. These designations are usually used when a retirement account, life insurance policy, or financial account are established. Your beneficiary gets the proceeds of the account when you die.
Asset Protection vs. Estate Planning
Estate planning is an excellent way to manage your affairs and ensure things are in order when you die. Estate planning is different from, though no less important than, asset protection.
Asset protection consists of a body of legal techniques, which abide by the law, that protect the assets of individuals and entities from judgments and creditor claims. Asset protection planning insulates assets from creditor claims without committing tax evasion or perjury. Insurance, transferring assets, retitling assets, creating a trust, and more are all legal, useful ways to insulate your property and money from civil judgments.
Both estate planning and asset protection are necessary for those who want to ensure that their assets are distributed in the best way possible. Contact a WFP estate planning attorney today to learn more.
Halloween is just around the corner, and it seems as though everywhere you look, there are fall festivals, pumpkins, scary costumes, and stores full of festive décor. For a lot of us, it is our favorite time of the year. However, horror movies and haunted houses are one thing—the real scary moments in life are another.
Estate planning can help you through life’s scariest moments, such as illness and injury, death, divorce, and even happy-scary times like marriage, new births, and other major changes. This article will walk you through how estate planning can help you prepare for huge events in your life.
Illness and Injury
Illness and injury are perhaps the two most common items on this list of life changes, and that’s a shame, as neither are very pleasant. Luckily, estate planning can help you through these tough periods of your life, even if you’re not well enough to handle them yourself. Here are some legal tools that can aid you if you’re sick or injured:
- Financial Power of Attorney. This trusted individual is someone that you handpick and appoint to manage your financial affairs in the event that you’re too incapacitated to do so yourself.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. Much like the financial power of attorney, this person is someone you trust with decision-making. Except, instead of financial decisions, your healthcare PoA helps you with healthcare-related issues, talking to doctors, nurses, long-term-care facilities, and more on your behalf.
- Healthcare Directive. A healthcare directive communicates your wishes to doctors and nurses in the event that you’re too sick to do so yourself. This is an intensely personal document, often consisting of DNR orders, religious views and preferences, and similar requests.
Alas, death comes for us all—as the old saying goes, death and taxes are the two unavoidable burdens in life. One of estate planning’s primary goals is to distribute assets responsibly after you die, and having documents like a last will and testament can help you do so.
A last will and testament is a final expression of your will. This legal document appoints an executor and lets the court know where your assets should be distributed and to whom. A trust, on the other hand, does not have to go through the probate process, as it is an immediate transfer of property title to a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary.
Whichever legal document you choose, you don’t want to DIY it. Hire an attorney to draft your estate plan in order to ensure no technicalities are missed and all documents comply with the law.
Divorce and Marriage
When you get divorced, you will want to immediately revise your estate plan. You won’t want your ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary on any legal documents and changing that in your plan is a must-do. On the reverse side, the same goes for marriage. You’ll want, in this case, to add your spouse into your estate plan wherever applicable. Both of these major life events require you to take a second look at your estate plan.
When new members are added to the family, that is a cause for celebration. It is also a cause to call up your estate planning attorney. A new birth might mean a new heir, and you don’t want him or her to feel left out in your will.
The rule of thumb is that you should update your estate plan every three to five years or after a major life change like the ones listed above. Life can throw curveballs at you, but estate planning will help you keep your eye on the ball. Call WFP to draft your estate plan today.