Same Sex Marriage-A Constitutional Right

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Family Law, Legal News, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Gay Marriage

Last week, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a constitutional right.  That means that no state can unilaterally deny same-sex couples the right to marry. In a previous decision the Supreme Court gave DOMA [“Defense of Marriage Act”] the boot, holding that its definition of marriage (limited to a union between one man & one woman) violates the guarantee of equal protection provided by the Fifth Amendment. Keep in mind, this only applied on a Federal level, and States could still refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The most recent case, Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided last week, extends this protection to same-sex couples under the fourteenth amendment which applies at the state and local levels of government. Here in South Florida, same-sex marriage was recognized only recently.

Same-sex couples now enjoy the benefit of holding property as tenancy by the entirety, which is a benefit Reserved for married couples; each spouse owns 100% of the property.  One spouse cannot transfer it without the agreement of the other.  Any bank account, for example, in the name of 2 married persons is considered to be held as tenancy by the entirety unless otherwise specified in writing.  Also, any creditor of one spouse alone can’t go after any asset held by the entirety to satisfy a debt.

Another benefit that is now available to same-sex couples is the elective share option, which means that if a spouse is cut out of the will, he or she can exercise the elective share, which entitles the person to 30% of the estate regardless of whether the decedent included the person in the will.

401K funds can now be transferred upon death to a same-sex spouse, which was not possible before, if the state did not allow same-sex marriage.  The Supreme Court Decision now extends the homestead protection to same-sex couples as well, that is, the surviving spouse automatically receives at least a life estate interest in the property of the decedent spouse (the surviving spouse can automatically live in the marital home for the rest of his or her life), which was not possible before in a state that did not provide for same-sex marriage.

While these are certainly great estate planning features for same-sex couples, you don’t want to always rely on automaticity. Rather, you should plan for the future of your spouse and children if you have them, as there is a vast array of estate planning techniques that will ensure your receive all of the benefits of the law.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection, contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at to schedule your free consultation.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?SM

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The Social Networker’s Asset Protection Guide

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Digital Estate Planning, estate planning |


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

Social networking is it’s 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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The Benefits of Preserving Your Digital Legacy

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Trusts, Wills |


Take a moment to consider the wide array of online profiles and accounts that are floating around cyber space; bearing your name, personal information, communications, blogs, stored files, and so on. What happens to our online identities when we are gone? Who will receive access to your email, blog, and social media accounts?

In South Florida, social media & digital assets are all encompassing in our daily lives. Whether it is for work, school, home, or purely social purposes, our digital assets are incredibly valuable, & should be considered with the rest of our assets when planning our estates.

By incorporating your digital assets into your estate plan; you can achieve the following benefits:

  • Control over how your accounts are closed & preserved.
  • Control over choosing someone you trust to be an online executor, & follow your wishes regarding the disposal or care of your digital assets.
  • Privacy – preventing the wrong person from accessing your private information.
  • Ensuring that your fiduciaries discover all the vital account information when the need arises
  • Prevention of identity theft – if no one has knowledge or access to your accounts, there is a higher probability that identity theft will go unnoticed.
  • Easy discovery of electronic bills and similar accounts, to avoid late fees & cancellations that will create losses for the estate.
  • Preserving your story – allowing family members to access your blog, photos, and other digital assets that keep your memory and story alive.

While many may advise you to simply incorporate your digital asset wishes into your will, doing so can be problematic when it comes to privacy. When a will is admitted to probate, its contents become public record. Thus, any private digital asset information you place in your will, such as usernames and passwords, are exposed to the public. As an alternative, said information can be placed in a separate document that is referenced in the will; or better yet, placed into a trust. This way, your social media identity remains private, and you can receive all of the same benefits mentioned above.

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Is your estate plan a dinosaur?

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Probate, Trusts |


While Jurassic World may be a big hit at the box office, your estate plan won’t be a hit if it was created millions of year ago. As we all know, life is constantly evolving…people get married, buy houses, have children, get divorced and become “extinct.” During all of these changes it is important to be certain that your estate plan is updated.

The following are just some examples of when to update your estate plan and why:


Whether it is your first marriage or any subsequent marriage, it is imperative that you update your estate plan. A spouse does not automatically become your beneficiary. In fact, your spouse may only get ½ of the estate or end up accidentally disinherited completely.


If you don’t have someone named in your Will to act as your child’s guardian, the court will appoint one for you. Do you really want the court to make such a vital decision?

Additionally, setting up a revocable or irrevocable trust will set aside assets so that your children may be cared for throughout their lifetime.


Perhaps after years of marriage you have discovered your ex-spouse is akin to a velociraptor. Contact your estate-planning attorney immediately. It is likely your spouse is named within your plan as a power of attorney and health care surrogate. You’ll want to have that changed. Additionally, you may have him or her as a beneficiary of a trust, retirement plan or insurance policy.

Increase or Decrease in Assets

As your estate grows, you may want to update your plan so it reduces your estate taxes. Depending on the growth or decline of your assets, your plan should reflect that.


Your power of attorney or trustee is unable to serve.

It has been over five years.

You moved to another state.

Federal or state estate tax laws changed.

The list goes on and on….

If you are wondering whether you need to update your estate plan, contact Michael Wild for a free consultation. He will take a look and let you know if the process is necessary.

Contact us at 954-944-2855 or at

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

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Protecting Dad’s Legacy

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Family Law, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |


With Father’s day behind us, we still have an opportunity to celebrate Dad and thank him for everything he has done for you.  A father is for many of us a fountain of wisdom and the person we model ourselves to be, and for that reason it is important to let them know every day how important they are in our lives because unfortunately they won’t be around forever.  Take the time to tell him how much you appreciate all he has done and how he has shaped you.  To ensure that his legacy is preserved, consider planning for your future and that of your children after all, he worked hard so you could enjoy the fruits of his labor.

A common misconception is that only wealthy families and people in high risk professions need to put together an asset protection plan.  But in reality, anyone can be sued.  A car accident, foreclosure, unpaid medical bills, or an injured tenant can result in a monetary judgment that will decimate your finances.   To make sure that your assets are protected from unforeseen creditors, consult an estate planning attorney that can help you navigate confidently the waters of wealth and family protection, so you and your family can have the peace of mind that only comes with knowing that you are prepared for anything.

Plain and simple, estate planning helps protect your family in the event that something bad happens to you. And, yet, 55% of Americans don’t even have a last will, leaving them vulnerable to costly court fees and legal battles.  But even though it’s predicated on incapacitation or death, estate planning doesn’t have to be morbid. In fact, it can actually be life-affirming, because the process will allow you to take a closer look at the people you most care about in life—and ensure their future happiness.

Don’t procrastinate.  Unless you have a crystal ball, you just never know when death will occur. With the help of an attorney, determine which type of document best suits your situation.  You’re the only one who knows the extent of your assets, but if you have minor children, you must get a will.  Keep your will or trust current, life is fluid. As you increase assets, and expand your family, your will or trust should be updated to meet your changing needs. For example, wills and trusts should be revised following unexpected events, such as a divorce or the death of a spouse or a child. A substantial inheritance should also trigger a revision to your will or trust.  Let someone you trust know where you keep your documents.  A family member, relative or trusted friend should be able to easily find your documents at the time of your death to prevent any confusion.

Estate planning and asset protection are proactive methods to secure your family’s future and to ensure their financial stability when you are no longer there to do it yourself.  One of the most difficult things to do is think about the possibility we may die unexpectedly or too early, leaving our children without one of the most important people in their lives.  But stepping up and making a legal plan to protect your children if something should happen to you is one of the best Father’s Day gifts you can give yourself and the people you love.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.

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