Don’t Be a Jughead. Think About Business Succession Planning

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning, Probate, tax |

We’re all familiar with the ever popular Archie Comic book series. However, it’s a shame that the company is now subjected to bitter legal disputes between co-owners, Ms. Silberkleit and Mr. Goldwater, daughter in law and son of two original founders, respectively. Both have very different plans for the future of Archie and lack of common ground is disintegrating their work relationship. Ms. Silberkleit has an injunction issued against her from speaking publicly about the company and Mr. Goldwater has a defamation lawsuit on his back. Both parties have seemingly irreconcilable differences resulting in costly legal expenses, all which could have been avoided by a Business Succession Plan.

The founders of Archie, Louis H. Silberkleit and John L. Goldwater forgot that their business could well have been the largest asset they left their family. A good succession plan could have avoided the flaming legal contentions between the current CEO’s and safeguarded the future of the comic book empire. A crucial thing to consider is who will be the successor of the business. Two leaders of a company that continuously butt heads is unhealthy for the business. Other important affairs to consider are whether you want to keep certain relatives from inheriting your company, how to protect your children, what will happen to your business partners, and what the worth of your business is.

With a solid business succession plan in place, you can be sure of timely settlement of the estate after you are gone, avoid probate, and eliminate estate tax. Also, a solid plan ensures an agreeable price for a partner’s share of the business and ease of life insurance policy payouts. You can avoid liquidity issues and time constraints. This can prevent cash flow problems and the need to sell the business.

Learn from this Archie crisis. Avoid toxic family disputes and legal battles by preparing your South Florida Business Succession Plan today!

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please 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?

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St. Patrick’s Day Is All About Painting Your Estate Plan Green

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

South Florida may not have a very large Irish population, but we’re all Irish when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day. On Saturday, most of Floridians will be painting the town green with the Irish spirit in all of us. Why not ponder a little something while spending all of this week’s paycheck downing infamous green beers or pints of dark Guinness? Is there a way you could save more of your hard earned money?

Well, you’ve found your four-leaf clover. You can paint your estate plan green and save some of those green Benjamins you’ve worked so hard for.

Did you know that the average American works about 80,000 hours in a lifetime? However, national statistics reveal that 80% of Americans die without a will. Less than half of all Florida residents have an estate plan in place. Such a result is a nice pot for Uncle Leprechaun to dip into and hoard your treasures.

Do you know that establishing a Revocable Living Trust avoids probate, thus saving you tens of thousands of dollars while providing your family with complete asset protection?

Do you know that proceeds from a South Florida life insurance policy may carry a hefty estate tax? Establishing an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust will transfer life insurance benefits into a trust and save your family hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do you know that about 50 million lawsuits are filed each year? If you own your own business, then choosing the right business entity can protect you from creditor claims. A Limited Liability Company will shield your personal assets from debts and liabilities. A Limited Liability Partnership will protect your personal assets from the mistakes of your partners. The Family Limited Partnership is an ideal legal entity for the family business venture. The main benefit is that the partnership itself pays no taxes. Rather, individual partners report all property or assets in direct proportion to their respective FLP interests on personal tax returns.

This weekend, contemplate step dancing your way into a more solid and secure estate plan. There are many options available that our highly skilled and knowledgeable attorneys can apprise you of.  But don’t delay. Actions speak louder than thoughts.


For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please 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?

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There Is No Place Like Home-Away-From-Home: Protect Your Vacation House

Posted by on Oct 24, 2011 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning, Family Law, Legal News, Real Estate, Trusts |

We all love to take a break occasionally from our busy lives and enjoy a vacation that will help us decompress. Many of us own a vacation home that is the source of our retreat.  Whether we are escaping to our condos on Florida’s South Beach or to a cabin on New York’s Lake George, we rarely stop to consider one thing. Vacation homes are a valuable asset that should be protected by South Florida estate planning.  The most common method of asset protection is through the formation of business entities or trusts that will hold title to the property.

A popular type of entity organization is the Limited Liability Company (LLC). This is a family/business operation that is treated like a corporation but is taxed as a partnership.  This provides liability protection for family members from claims of those injured on the property and reduces the risk of creditors staking a claim on your asset. A family Limited Partnership can be created, which is similar to an LLC but has more restrictions on transferability of ownership.  There is also the option of establishing a Family Trust or Irrevocable Trust. A trust is a separate legal entity, which becomes the legal owner of the real estate.   An attorney can help you structure a trust to protect your house from creditors, allow for management by the parents during their lifetime, and protect the house in the event a child becomes divorced. The advantage of a trust is that it offers the most control over your asset and is typically used to keep a house in the family for generations.

To help preserve those valuable memories from past family vacations and to build many more, sit down with a qualified estate-planning attorney to map out the future of your home.  Learn how to protect your property from creditors and potential family disputes regarding its use, management, and future expense sharing.

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

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?


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Recent Florida Legislature Benefits LLCs

Posted by on Jul 18, 2011 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning |

A couple of weeks ago, based on the 2010 case of Olmstead v. Federal Trade Commission, Florida Legislature concluded that multi-member LLCs are protected against creditors seeking to seize ownership interest in the LLC.  They clearly expressed their point by rewriting Florida Statute, §608.433, to match their intent.  As a result, Florida is one of only seven states to determine that the specific charging order of creditors is the only means of recovery against an LLC.

This recent Florida ruling just adds to the list of advantages of choosing an LLC over a corporation in the state of Florida.  In order to be better protected, a small business owner should be familiar with these advantages.

First, assets are much better protected through a multi-member limited liability company than through a corporation. Under a corporation, if an individual owner of a company, even with multiple owners, is sued, the creditor can seize shares of the corporation that form the entire ownership of the company.  Conversely, through a limited liability company, the creditor cannot seize those shares of ownership.

Second, there is tax advantage to using multi-member LLCs compared to corporations.  The owners of an LLC get to choose how their company will be taxed dependent on what form they decide to fill out.  The company can be taxed as an “S” or “C” corporation and, if there are multiple owners in the LLC, it will be taxed as a partnership by default.

Third, a multi-member LLC has an operating agreement that provides additional asset protection for business owners.  Under the operating agreement, which is regulations for the LLC, the owner can include a stipulation that can scare off creditors from even considering a charging order by essentially assuring penalty against them if they do so.

Fourth, multi-member LLCs are also beneficial when estate planning.  For example, if one was to give the gift of their partial interest of a company to a successor, an LLC allows the giver to remain in control of the company even though he or she no longer owns their share.  Furthermore, an owner of an LLC can transfer the interest of the business to the successor while still maintaining control of the operations for years to come while at the same time taking advantage of a $5 million dollar exemption on gift tax, if done before 2013.

Fifth, the transfer from an already existing corporation to a multi-member LLC is an easy and tax free transition. The process of the conversion is statutory based on Florida Law, which makes the process very efficient. Once the corporation is made into an LLC, the company is viewed as if it has always been an LLC since the time the corporation was formed.  Furthermore, after the conversion, if the company has the same owners with the same share proportions as prior to the conversion and those owners choose to have the LLC taxed in the same form that the corporation was taxed, there will be no additional taxation and no changes to how the LLC will be taxed.

In conclusion, unless a business is publicly owned or plans to go public, all business owners should be operating an LLC.  If you own a small business as a corporation and have no plans to go public, we urge you to convert to an LLC for all the reasons mentioned.  Contact a qualified estate and asset protection attorney as soon as possible to assist you.

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

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

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Estate Planning Presentation Today

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning, Legal News, tax, Trusts, Wills |

This afternoon, I will be the guest speaker at Valic’s monthly meeting of life insurance and financial advising professionals. The purpose of this blog post is not to invite everyone to attend but rather to inform my readers as to the topics I will be covering.

As we begin 2011, there is much uncertainty in the areas of both estate planning and asset protection. For much of 2010, we expected 2011 to greet us with a 55 percent estate tax on all assets over $1 million. Toward the end of 2010, President Obama gave in to Republican demands of a reprieve on this exorbitantly high death tax and agreed to reduce the estate tax for 2011 and 2012 to 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption amount. If you plan on dying in the next two years, you may be relieved. However, if you plan on living well past 2012, uncertainty still remains. As of today, the estate tax rate for 2013 will revert to 55 percent, with only a $1 million exemption amount. We will hope for the best but must plan for the worst, which is why we recommend that our clients set up Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts for all life insurance policies over $250,000 and Bypass trusts for all marital estates over $2 million. As the estate laws change, we will continue to update you so that you may better serve your clients and protect yourself and your family.

The world of asset protection was turned slightly on its head as well in 2010. On June 24, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in the case of Shaun Olmstead, et al., v. The Federal Trade Commission and raised the question as to whether Florida limited liability companies (LLCs) will continue to have charging order protection. A charging order is a remedy that a creditor of a member in an LLC can receive from a court that instructs the entity to give the creditor any distributions that would otherwise be paid to the partner or member from the entity. Generally, a creditor who receives a charging order with respect to a member’s interest in the entity does not have any authority to mandate distributions from the entity or to participate in the management and affairs of the entity, nor are they able to access the assets of the company.

Charging orders are governed by state law, and in many states, a charging order is the exclusive remedy for a creditor with respect to a debtor’s LLC membership. However, the Olmstead ruling allowed the creditor to “pierce the corporate veil” of the LLC and access the actual assets of the LLC. While the LLC at issue in Olmstead was a single-member LLC, many attorneys are concerned about the slippery slope that would allow the piercing of multiple-member LLC’s as well. It is definitely something that we will keep an eye on in the coming months.

If you have any questions about anything above, or anything regarding estate planning, asset protection, or probate in general, please feel free to contact me directly at 954-944-2855 or via email at It’s a Wild world! Are you protected?

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Should My Business Be Categorized as an S Corp or an LLC?

Posted by on Jan 5, 2011 in asset protection, corporate formation, Real Estate |

A difference between a corporation and an LLC is that a creditor of an owner may directly levy on the debtor/shareholder’s stock in a corporation and thus take all the rights that compose the stock share, such as voting rights, right to elect directors, etc. By contrast, a creditor of an LLC is usually limited to a lien against the debtor/member’s economic right to distributions only until the judgment is paid, but the creditor usually takes no other of the debtor/member’s rights in the LLC. (This is often referred to as a “charging order lien” from the form of the relief usually specified in the RULPA/RULLCA).

Calculator on the beachKeep in mind that one can have an “S-LLC” by the simple expedient of checking the box for the LLC to be taxed as a corporation instead of a partnership, and then making the S-election for the LLC.

Although the ruling in the Olmstead case subjected single-member LLC assets to liability tied to its single member, this may be held to be a bad ruling in the future. It certainly goes against the purpose and spirit of the LLC laws. In any event, this potential adverse result may be easily avoided by interjecting a second member in any Florida LLC until the law is further clarified. Another significant problem with an S Corp is that they are, by far, the worst structure for advanced planning purposes. The limitations imposed on financial planning and estate planning and the limitations against international shareholders are major impediments to using S corps, particularly in an increasingly more complicated estate and tax environment and a world that is quickly globalizing.

Too many attorneys and CPAs don’t seem to know that you can make the S election for the LLC; in general I much prefer the LLC for estate planning and asset protection purposes (although the single-member issues can be a concern if their are not two viable members to include in the LLC). While S corporations still have some effective uses, their use in the future as business entities will be far more limited, and LLCs will continue to be the vehicle of choice for privately-held and family businesses.

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