What’s Going On With FTX?

Posted by on Jan 26, 2023 in Legal News | 0 comments

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

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The Importance Of An Estate Plan.

Posted by on Jan 24, 2023 in Legal News | 0 comments

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. 

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Is Estate Planning One Of Your New Year’s Resolutions?

Posted by on Jan 19, 2023 in asset protection, Digital Estate Planning, Legal News, Probate, Trusts, Wills |

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.

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New Year, New Assets 

Posted by on Dec 18, 2022 in Legal News |

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Disadvantages include:

  • 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. 

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Get Your Kids A Long-Lasting Gift 

Posted by on Dec 16, 2022 in Legal News |

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 

 

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