Revising Your Estate Plan (And Other Must-Dos)

Posted by on Sep 22, 2022 in Legal News |

Fall is here! Well, almost. Though it is still pretty hot out there, fall is upon us. After all, most stores have already begun putting out their Halloween decorations, much to spooky-season-lovers’ delight. We’re only a few weeks away from pumpkin spice and horror movies.

With the arrival of this new season, it’s important to make sure that you’ve revised your estate plan, if necessary. In this guide, we’ll talk about why revising is vital, and we’ll give you information on life changes that might require you to add an additional tools to your estate planning toolbox. While the rule of thumb states that you should review your estate plan every three to five years, sometimes, you have to revise it sooner than that time frame.

What Happens If You Don’t Revise?

If you don’t revise your estate plan, this mistake can lead to people being left out. There might be a would-be heir that gets nothing because he or she wasn’t included in your will. On the reverse side, people might be included who shouldn’t be, including exes, individuals with whom you’ve had a falling out, the deceased, and more. It makes everything easier come probate (should your estate have to go through this process) if your plan is up-to-date.

There are several life events that should trigger you to contact your estate planning attorney for a meeting. These include divorce, death, marriage, new births, and illness. We’ll go through each below, giving examples of how they could change your estate plan.

Divorce

Divorce is the legal end of a marriage. It brings with it a lot of challenges, no matter how amicable this split might be (and it’s rarely that amicable). When you and your ex-spouse get divorced, you need to remove him or her from your estate plan. They also need to be removed as a beneficiary from any insurance or retirement policies you may have. When you talk to your lawyer, he or she will help you “scrub” your estate plan to ensure that you remove your ex-spouse.

Death

Death is similar to divorce in that someone deceased also needs to be removed from your estate plan. Though the law won’t recognized dead or divorced parties in certain estate planning documents (it will treat them as void), it’s a good idea to keep your plan updated, so as to avoid confusion and give your estate the best chance possible at moving through probate quickly and efficiently. The deceased, though you might feel more fondly about them than your ex-spouse, need to also be “scrubbed” from your estate plan when you meet with your attorney.

Marriage & Births

On a happier note than divorce or death, marriage and new births mean new heirs and potential beneficiaries. If you’ve welcomed someone new to the family, he or she needs to be added into your estate plan. You don’t want to wait to make this change, lest you pass before you add them and, as a result, they get left out (it happens more often than you think). Act quickly to add new family members into your will and other documents.  

Illness

Illness (and injury) is another reason you’ll want to take a new look at your estate plan. There are many documents in an estate plan that deal with illness and end-of-life care, including a:

Healthcare Directive. This directive informs doctors and nurses of what you want with your care if you are too incapacitated to tell them yourself. Healthcare directives often are deeply personal, including things like a “Do Not Resuscitate” order and more.
Power of Attorney. You can choose a trusted individual to manage your affairs (financial, healthcare, etc.) when you are too sick or unwell to do so yourself. You choose this person yourself, and he or she abides by your wishes and acts as your agent when making decisions.
Guardianship. If you are sick and have minor children, you’ll need to appoint a guardian for them, in the event that you pass on. Talk to your desired guardian before putting him or her on the paperwork.

Though your estate plan should include these documents, if it doesn’t, you’ll need to draw them up with an attorney. Even if you have these in place, it is always a good idea to review them to make sure they are correct. As with all of the life changes in this article, you always want to ensure your estate plan is a correct reflection of your life today.  Visit our website to reach out and learn more. 

 

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The Basics of Cryptocurrency Trustee Service

Posted by on Sep 18, 2022 in Legal News |

crypto The numbers show that cryptocurrency is a huge market. No matter how you feel about the prospects of this digital, decentralized, anonymous currency, there is no denying that crypto coins are a huge part of today’s economy. The global cryptocurrency market cap, as of August 1st, 2022, is $1.06 trillion. $112 billion is traded per day, and 65% of coin owners own Bitcoin. A $22 investment in Bitcoin in 2012 is worth $1 million today.

There are upsides and downsides to owning crypto. Advantages include protection from inflation, privacy, no attachment to banks, easy to exchange, and cost-effectiveness. More and more businesses are accepting cryptocurrency as payment. Though the market is volatile, it’s easy to see why many coin owners swear by this form of currency.

More than 300 million people own cryptocurrency, and that means that this digital currency is a big part of estate planning for some individuals. Your estate includes your assets, and crypto is an asset for millions. Because it is an asset, that means that it can be included in an estate plan.

Crypto & Estate Planning Today

The cryptocurrency market is evolving rapidly, and the law is still trying to catch up. Crypto does create challenges in estate planning. The virtual asset is anonymous, and it might not be easily identifiable for heirs. Additionally, Bitcoin transactions require a private key. Each wallet has a private key and public address, but, otherwise, there is little personal information attached to it. Access is not as easy as with other assets (a house or car, for example).

Does that make it impossible to include Bitcoin and other currencies in an estate plan? Not at all. There are even cryptocurrency trustee services, and these services are the subject of this article.

Cryptocurrency Trustee Services

Trusts can own cryptocurrency, and, in fact, it is sometimes recommended that a trust be the primary estate planning tool because trusts afford privacy that wills do not. Wills have to go through probate, a public process. Because cryptocurrency assets are accessible only through passwords, PINs, and other private information, it’s best to keep this sensitive data out of the public eye. In a cryptocurrency trust, the donor transfers legal title to the cryptocurrency to a trustee. At the donor’s request or signal, the trustee transfers the cryptocurrency to the beneficiary.

Here are some things to think about if you have a trust that owns crypto:

Authority. Cryptocurrency can be considered speculative, which means that it could fall outside of a “reasonably prudent” standard of investment for your trust, should this apply. You’ll need to include language in the trust document that gives your trustee the authority to hold the crypto as a trust asset.
Choice Of Trustee. Some professional fiduciaries, like banks, don’t allow their employees to serve as a trustee to a trust that holds crypto. If you want to name a fiduciary, you’ll want to interview them about their policies. Always have a backup in mind in case your first choice doesn’t want to take the appointment.
Access. Make sure that whatever trustee you choose has access to your wallet by telling them what data they need (keys, passwords, etc.) to access the wallet, how to get into it, and where to find it.
Taxes. Distributions of crypto to beneficiaries will have to be reported on your trust tax return. So, it’s important for your trustee to know how much crypto you have for tax reasons. Keeping a record of when and how you acquired your crypto will assist your trustee in complying with all reporting requirements.

If any of this is confusing, don’t worry. It’s a new field, and the law is still evolving to catch up. Contact an attorney today about setting up a cryptocurrency trust.

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What Can A Properly-Designed Asset Protection Plan Accomplish?

Posted by on Sep 13, 2022 in Legal News |


Asset protection acts as a safeguard between your creditors and you if you’re going through a divorce, getting sued, or going through
some other legal battle. In this litigious society, it is vitally important that you have an asset protection plan, no matter whether you’re an individual or business. The more you accumulate assets and wealth, the bigger a target you are for creditors and other people who might be looking to take your hard-earned cash and property.

What Does An Asset Protection Plan Entail?

This plan consists of legal tools and documents that insulate your assets without running afoul of the law, hiding things, transferring fraudulently, evading taxes, or committing bankruptcy fraud. There are plenty of asset protection tools that an AP plan could entail, including:

Land Trust. You can hold property in the name of a trustee, thus keeping your name from being revealed in public records. This is more of a privacy tool than asset protection device.
Living Trust. A trustee delivers your assets to your heirs upon your death, and there are many different forms of these legal tools.
Corporations. Forming your business as a corporation turns the company into a separate person, at least as far as the law goes. When someone sues your corporation, unless they’re able to pierce the veil, it is the business that incurs the lawsuit, not you.
Asset Protection Trust. An APT holds an individual’s assets and shields them from creditors legally. These trusts provide the strongest protection against lawsuits, creditors, exes, and more.

There are many other asset protection tools; what is seen above is just a selection. Contacting an estate planning attorney will help you put together the right plan for your assets and situation.

What Can This Plan Accomplish?

There are many different goals that having a well-structured, properly-carried-out asset protection plan can accomplish. This plan can achieve your important objectives, and it also:

Uses the most favorable asset protection laws on the books
Keeps your property free from attachments and liens, if possible
Provides privacy and protection for future earnings and accumulated wealth
Protects against liability that exceeds your insurance coverage
Enhances your legal negotiating leverage
Protects retirement savings
Protects business assets from claims
Protects accounts receivable from claims
Insulates rental properties from outside/inside lawsuits

Generally, estate planning is thought to involve only issues of passing property and preserving assets for family members after your death. But, asset protection, which is a part of this general field, deals with the immediate, vital need to protect your assets during your lifetime.

Who Needs An Asset Protection Plan?

Every individual and every business can benefit from an asset protection plan, but there are some who are especially in need of an APP. They include individuals who work in high-risk professions, such as doctors and lawyers. People sue doctors and lawyers all the time, and asset protection can keep these professionals’ assets safe from liability.

Additionally, wealthy individuals might be a target for creditors because they have a high net worth, so asset protection plans offer a shield. Sometimes, APTs are even used to replace a prenup.

It’s important to contact an attorney to set up an asset protection plan. The attorney will be able to maneuver through the legal jargon and technicalities, setting up the plan without legal errors that could make it vulnerable to challenge.

Additionally, going through a lawyer ensures your asset protection abides by the law. There are many laws that prevent concealment and fraudulent behavior, and it is important that you do not run afoul of any of them (or you’ll find yourself with far bigger things to worry about than creditors). An attorney can make sure you toe the legal line, all while getting the most asset protection possible – contact WFP now. 

 

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Small Business Planning FAQs

Posted by on Aug 21, 2022 in Legal News |

There’s no denying that small businesses are the backbone of America. According to the SBA, there are 31.7 million small businesses in the United States. By the end of 2022, 17 million more will be formed, something that NASDAQ expects will set a record for entrepreneurship. These new business owners likely have a lot of questions, so, in this guide, we will answer some of the most common small businesses planning FAQs in the state of Florida. 

Writing A Business Plan 

What Should This Plan Include? 

According to the SBA, it is vitally important to write down your business plan, no matter whether you’re seeking financing or not. This business plan should include your mission statement, product or service, and information about your employees, location, and leadership team. If you are seeking funding, you should include information about high-level growth plans and other financial must-knows. 

Starting A Small Business 

What Is An Overview of the Process? 

There are a lot of steps to starting a small business, but you should first conduct market research, as that will help you decide whether your idea will be successful in the environment in which you’re starting your company. Then, write your business plan, decide on funding if you’re seeking it, and pick your location.

You’ll want to choose a business structure. There are several from which to pick, and some of the most popular include: 

  • Sole Proprietorship. This uncomplicated form of business is simple, and, in Florida, you do not need to register it with the state. There is no formal paperwork required to set it up, and it is owned and operated by one person (you).
  • Partnership. In Florida, this is created when 2+ people agree to conduct business together in pursuit of a profit, even if the people do not intend to form or do not write an agreement to form this partnership. 
  • Limited Liability Company. A very common type of business structure, an LLC combines the easy administration of a partnership with the tax benefits of a corporation. In Florida, you get pass-through taxation when you form an LLC. That is one of the reasons this type of business structure is so popular in this state. 
  • Corporation. This type of business is its own legal entity, and it exists separately from the people who own and operate it. A corporation is considered its own “separate” person, as far as the law goes. 

Registering Your Small Business In Florida

For certain types of business structures, you will need to register your small business. It is advisable that you seek the counsel of an attorney to do this, as the attorney will be able to make sure it is done properly the first time, with no technicalities missed.

How Do I Incorporate a Business in Florida? 

There are several steps to incorporating a business in Florida, should you choose a structure that requires this process. First, you’ll need to select a new, unique name for your business that no one else has. Then, you should choose the type of business you want and file Articles of Incorporation with the State Department of Florida.

On those Articles, you’ll need a company name, physical address, mailing address, names and addresses of the company’s owners, and an email address. The next step will be to obtain an EIN filing (Federal Employer Identification Number). If you have an LLC and it is a single member, you may just choose to use your social security number for business transactions. 

You’ll then want to secure a business/occupational license with your county. This is required by most Florida counties in order to do business. You’ll want to check with your local tax collection office to see their requirements. One final step will be to secure a bank account for your company, as monies entering and leaving the business must go through this account. 

If these steps seem overwhelming, they don’t have to be, if you have the right legal help. Contact an attorney today to help you get through the process of starting your business. 

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Back To School, Back To Reality

Posted by on Aug 10, 2022 in Legal News |

While the summer has been fun (and a scorcher, at that), reality is slowly coming back to everyone, as the beginning of school season is, once again, approaching. This new era brings with it some estate planning considerations. The number-one thing on your mind, if you already have an estate plan, should be to ensure that it is up to date and, if necessary, revised.

A lot can change in a short period of time—we all know that. Though the rule of thumb is to edit and update your estate plan every three to five years, big changes might have occurred in far shorter a time frame than that. In this article, we’ll talk about revising your estate plan: the dos, don’ts, and must-knows. 

What Does Revising Mean In This Context? 

In the context of your estate plan, revising refers to looking over the different documents in your plan to make sure that they are still aligned with your current situation. Are the people listed in the documents still in your life? Have things change with them? In the next section, we’ll discuss the times when revision is the most necessary, though this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other changes that could occur that would make updates a must-do. 

When Do You Truly Need to Revise? 

Listed below are some major life events that require you to go back and look at your estate plan, ensuring that the plan reflects the current changes, if applicable. 

Divorce

Alas, the divorce rate is pretty high, with around half of marriages saying goodbye the legal way. If you divorce your spouse, you will need to go back to your estate plan and ensure that, in the documents, your significant other is no longer listed as a beneficiary or a power of attorney. Even if you two had an amicable split, it’s best to change that role rather than leave it. 

Marriage

On the reverse, getting married is a happy occasion to change your estate plan to include your new spouse. You will want them to be a beneficiary or take on important roles in the plan, so this is another occasion where meeting with your attorney would be an excellent idea. 

New Family Members

Whether you’re gaining new family members through marriage, birth, adoption, or however else, you’ll want to make sure they are included in your estate plan, if you are close to them. Don’t think to yourself that you’ll get to it “eventually”—do it now, lest something happen, leading it to be too late.  

Role Change-Ups

Almost every estate plan has roles delegated to other people, including powers of attorney, guardians, and executors. These roles are vitally important to the administration of the plan, and you want to continuously make sure that the person you’ve asked to carry out that role is still fit. 

If illness, addiction, or injury, for example, have rendered your named power of attorney incapacitated, you’ll need to remove them from that role. If you’ve divorced your spouse, but they’re still executor of your will, you’ll need to make alterations. If your proposed designees are of sound mind and still close to you, they, obviously, can stay. 

What Happens If You Ignore Your Estate Plan? 

A whole lot of conflict, that is what can happen. In addition to people being left out or included who should not be, families can challenge wills post-mortem, leading to expensive inter-family strife. For your loved ones’ sake, it is important to keep up with your estate plan. 

Hopefully, this short guide has inspired you to contact your estate planning attorney to look over your plan again. And, lest we forget, we hope you have a great start to the upcoming school year! 

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