Pets & Estate Planning

Posted by on May 25, 2023 in Legal News |

Beloved Peanuts creator Charles Schultz wisely said, “happiness is a warm puppy.” Whether you’re a cat lover, dog lover, or another furry (or feathered) creature connoisseur, you know how true that sentiment is. Animals, certainly more so than humans, are capable of truly unconditional love. While our pets occupy many of our daily thoughts and tasks, too often they are forgotten when it comes to planning for our futures.

Your Wishes

It’s difficult to imagine your pet outliving you, but it’s an important scenario to consider, particularly if your pet is young. Think about where the best place for your pet would be in your absence. If you’d like your pet to live with a family member or friend in the event of your passing, make sure to discuss it with that person and have your wishes reflected in your last will and testament. If entrusting your pet to someone you know is not a viable option, look into a local organization that cares for and rehouse animals to thoroughly vetted people looking to adopt an animal. Make sure to have a designated short-term care person named in your will who can care for your pet before the organization takes possession. This process can take a few days or a few weeks, and you want to make sure your four-legged friend is well cared for during this transition time. As with any wishes in your will, make sure your family is aware of your plans so there is no confusion after your passing.

Do’s & Don’ts

While you may wish you could leave your estate and possessions to the friend who has been with you for your best and worst days, unfortunately the law recognizes pets as property and as such, they cannot inherit any assets. You can, however, set aside a sum of money to go toward a pet’s care. These funds must go to a named individual or organization though and not directly to the pet. 

Backup Plan

You may also consider outlining a backup plan in your will in the event that your named caregiver becomes unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility of your pet. In general, it’s also a good idea to revisit your will every few years to make sure your wishes are accurately reflected. 

Estate planning can feel daunting and complicated, but the attorneys at Wild Felice & Partners have over 40 years of combined legal experience and are well-equipped to guide you through the process. Contact a WFP attorney today to discuss your estate planning options.

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How Prenups Affect Estate Plans.

Posted by on May 16, 2023 in Legal News |

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” can be thought of as a bit controversial, but they are effective tools to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of assets, not only in the unfortunate case of divorce, but also when it comes to estate planning. Prenups are also becoming more popular–according to a study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 62 percent of attorneys said prenups are on the rise, particularly among millennials.

Providing Clarity 

Unless your wishes are clearly spelled out, in some states (known as “community property states”), the surviving spouse is automatically entitled to a substantial portion of your assets. A prenup can more clearly and accurately spell out what portion of the estate is left to the spouse. Prenups can also help decide what property or properties are considered shared or singularly owned. This delineation will help alleviate potential issues that might arise among surviving family members after a spouse’s passing. 

Protection From Prior Debts

A prenup can offer protection to the surviving spouse from creditors trying to collect on a debt that preceded the marriage owed by the decedent. Without a prenup, creditors can attempt to collect from the surviving spouse, undoubtedly causing more undue stress and suffering during a difficult time.

Working With a Will

A last will and testament is not always as iron clad as people believe it to be. A will is certainly an important estate planning tool and it can work best in conjunction with a prenup. At Wild Felice & Partners, we can walk you and your family through the estate planning process and help set up a plan that works best for all parties. A last will and testament should be revisited periodically to reflect major life events or changes–such as a marriage or divorce but also birth of a child or grandchild, a significant increase or decrease of assets, a serious illness or injury, etc. 

Many couples will wait until after the marriage to work out an agreement, this is referred to as a “postnuptial” agreement. These can function similarly to a prenup, but consult with a lawyer about your state’s laws as many have different requirements for “postnup” agreements. 

Prenups are an extremely useful tool in estate planning and work well with a traditional will. If your wishes are not clearly spelled out, shared with family members and reviewed by an attorney, you risk causing a great deal of confusion and turmoil after your passing. Mentioning your wishes to a spouse or sibling doesn’t hold up in court. Contact a WFP attorney today to discuss your estate planning options.

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