New Year’s Resolution: Get an Estate Plan

Posted by on Dec 19, 2021 in Legal News |

It’s amazing how quickly 2021 has gone. 2020 seemed as though it would never end, with one terrible event after the other prolonging the year. 2021 has gone, by comparison, much more quickly for most people. Now, we have less than a month until the New Year. 

As always, everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. A lot of these resolutions have to do with diet and exercise, while others involve curbing spending and other bad habits. Setting New Year’s resolutions is always a good thing, and we hope you stick with yours. We suggest adding a new resolution to the mix if you don’t have one. This resolution is simple: contact WFP and get an estate plan. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to set up an estate plan. This guide won’t be the be-all, end-all, but it will hopefully be helpful enough to set you on the right path.

What is an Estate Plan? 

An estate plan isn’t just one document, though the word “plan” is singular. This plan encompasses a whole host of documents that concern far more than just where your assets go after you die. Common documents in an estate plan include things like a healthcare directive, where you detail your wishes for medical care in the event that you fall ill and cannot communicate them to a doctor. 

Others include things like a power of attorney, which is a specific individual you select to manage your affairs if you are too incapacitated to do so. Of course, you also have things like trusts and living wills, which concern your assets. An estate plan is the ultimate failsafe. If you don’t have one, your estate will revert to probate court, which will use your assets to pay off creditors. Your family will get very little, if not nothing, after you die. 

How to Get an Estate Plan 

It’s not hard to get an estate plan. All you have to do is contact an estate planning attorney and set up an appointment. The fees and length of time necessary depend on the complexity and value of your property. It’s best to spend the money to set up a good, solid estate plan than to try to cut corners. Trust us, it will be far more expensive to have to fix mistakes after the fact. As with anything legal-related, there are other considerations for you to think about when making your estate plan. 

Other Considerations 

Updating It

After you set up your estate plan, you’re not done, never to look at it again. You have to update it and review it. Take a look at your estate plan every three to five years or after a major life event. Make any necessary changes and remove anyone who shouldn’t be there. If you’re moving to a different state, you’ll need to ensure that your estate plan conforms to the new state’s laws. 

Don’t DIY It

It might be tempting to do it yourself and write your own will. After all, you can follow instructions on LegalZoom, right? This is a terrible idea. The law has a million and one little technicalities and intricacies that are easy to miss when you’re not a trained, licensed lawyer. Making legal mistakes could lead to documents being contested or invalidated, something that will tie up your remaining family in court long after you pass away.

Talk to Family Members 

One thing that people often forget when it comes to their estate plan is the importance of talking to their family members. Tell them ahead of time what you plan to do with your assets. If you have young children and want to appoint a guardian, discuss guardianship with the proposed guardian. Keeping an open, honest dialogue will go a long way to prevent any challenges, contests, or confusion after you die.

Hopefully, this guide has at least given you some inspiration to make you realize that an estate plan is the right choice. It’s the best way to give yourself and your loved ones protection and peace of mind, as far as your assets go.

Read More

The Season of Giving (And Protecting)

Posted by on Dec 14, 2021 in Legal News |

holidays givingHave you ever wondered why the holidays are considered the season of giving? Though you receive a lot of gifts, you also give them. The religious aspects of the holiday season (no matter what religion you are) often inspire people to give back to those who are less fortunate, including them in their giving as though they were their own family members. 

The season of giving might have you thinking about your assets and what you want to do with them after you die. You don’t want them to be stuck in probate court, where they’ll be divied up to your creditors, instead of your family. There are ways to transfer your assets now that will not only protect them, but will also give your heirs the gifts they deserve. 

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal proceeding overseen by a judge. The main goal of probate is to satisfy your debts after you die. This means that your assets will go to your creditors, as opposed to your family. Probate court can be avoided, through tools that we will discuss here. These tools include: trusts, joint ownership of real estate, P.O.D. accounts, and small estate provisions. 


When you think of estate planning, you likely think of a last will and testament. However, that is far from the only option for asset transfer. A living trust, also known as a revocable living trust, is a document that creates a legal entity separate from you. You transfer title to an asset into the trust, and you or someone else becomes the trustee. The trustee transfers title to the beneficiary (the person you want to get the asset after you die) at a designated time. 

A revocable trust can be revoked, while an irrevocable living trust, which is often used for Medicaid planning, cannot. The cost to set up a trust is not cheap, but these legal fees are often less than those of probate. It all depends on the complexity and value of your property. 

Joint Ownership of Real Estate 

Property that is jointly owned with the right of survivorship can avoid probate. This means that when one owner dies, the property passes to the other owner, who has survivorship rights. The property needs to be retitled as jointly owned with the right of survivorship. A new deed might even have to be recorded to delineate survivorship intention; otherwise, it won’t be clear what type of property it is supposed to be, and the estate will end up in court.

P.O.D. Accounts 

Bank and financial accounts often allow the holder to designate a beneficiary in the event that they die. This type of account is called a “Pay On Death” (P.O.D.) account. This is far preferable to jointly owning the account, as the P.O.D. beneficiary won’t have any rights until you die, so you won’t have to fight for control while you’re alive. Setting up a P.O.D. account usually isn’t overly complex. You just fill out the form provided by the financial institution, sign it, and, when you die, the beneficiary gets your funds and your account is closed.

Small Estate Provisions 

There are ways to avoid probate court if you have a small estate. Most states have these provisions in place. In Florida, you can use a simplified estate process if you have no real estate. Also, all property must be exempt from creditors’ claims, save for amounts necessary to pay for funeral costs and the illness expenses of the last two months before death.

These are far from the only ways to avoid probate, but they are some main ones that you’ll likely run into at some point. Contact an estate planning attorney to discuss more options for asset transfer. 

Read More

A Year of Uncertainty

Posted by on Dec 8, 2021 in Legal News |

insecurityThough the events of 2021 have been far less shocking, for the most part, than 2020, things still aren’t certain. A lot of people are still working from home, and it seems like there is a new variant of Covid-19 every other month. The year has been unstable, to say the least, and it begs the question: are you protected? 

Having an estate plan is an essential for your safety. If you have an estate plan, you’ll be able to protect your assets and set up your loved ones so that they are not blindsided when you die. In this article, we’ll talk about one of the most important facets of estate planning: the review. 

Reviewing Your Estate Plan 

Many people make sure that they review their estate plan regularly, planning out a time for the review so that they don’t miss anything. The rule of thumb is to review your estate plan every three to five years. However, that’s not the only time you and your attorney should give it a look. You should also review your estate plan whenever there is a major life event. 

What Qualifies as a Major Life Event? 

This one is pretty subjective—after all, a major life event for you might not be one for someone else, and vice versa. Divorce, marriage, new babies, deaths, illnesses, and similar circumstances are all examples of when you want to review your estate plan. These major life events can change the course of your plans. 

For example, if you’re getting a divorce, you’ll want to take your ex-spouse off documents like life insurance as the beneficiary. If there is a new baby in the family, you might want to add an heir to your posthumous asset plan. Should you fall ill, there are a host of new documents, from last wills and testaments to living wills, that you will likely need in order to be prepared. 

Other Reasons to Review 

A major life event and a regular schedule are not the only reasons you should review your estate plan. If you’re worried that parts of the estate plan are not completed appropriately (for example, your will doesn’t follow the rules of Florida law), you should have it checked out by another attorney. Self-completed wills often need to be checked by a lawyer, as there are a lot of little technicalities that these documents could have missed. 

Also, if you’re moving to a different state, you need to transfer your estate plan. You don’t have to throw it out and start from scratch—that’s not necessary—but you do have to make sure it conforms to the law of the state in which you will be living. The best way to do this is to contact an estate planning attorney who resides in your new state and explain your situation. 

Benefits of Estate Plan Reviewing 

The main benefit of reviewing your estate plan is that you won’t be caught unawares. You might think that you can put off this process or that you’ll “get to it nearer to the end,” but you don’t want to wait. Waiting can lead to people being left out of the will as heirs, and it can even lead to will contests after the fact. An estate plan is not something you should procrastinate creating, nor is reviewing it something you should wait on either. 

It might be tempting to cut corners, but you should absolutely expend what you need to hire legal counsel for your estate plan. This will ensure it is done correctly, saving you the time and money you’d spend if your plan was legally flawed. Contact WFP for questions, advice and to get your estate plan reviewed. 

Read More