Back To School, Back To Reality

Posted by on Aug 10, 2022 in Legal News | 0 comments

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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Estate Planning for Cryptocurrency

Posted by on Aug 8, 2022 in Legal News | 0 comments

In this article, we will discuss estate planning for cryptocurrency. While this guide will not be the be-all-end-all to planning for this digital currency, it will cover some important fundamentals, including definitions, strategies, advantages, and disadvantages. 

What Is Cryptocurrency? 

If you’ve been following the financial headlines over the past decade or two, then you’ve probably seen information about cryptocurrency pop up. This digital currency is a medium of exchange, but it is unique because it does not rely on a bank or central authority to govern it. It is decentralized and largely unregulated. The crypto market can be volatile, but it can also be quite lucrative. It is easy to see why people who are not afraid of risk-taking invest in this digital asset. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Cryptocurrency

As with any financial instrument, cryptocurrency has its benefits and downsides. Its “pros” include: 

  • Accessibility. Anyone can buy this liquid currency, so long as they have the funds. Some coins even allow you to purchase currency in fractions. 
  • User Anonymity. If you want, for whatever reason, to remain anonymous, the crypto blockchain allows you to do so. This anonymity is a big draw for a lot of people who value their privacy.  
  • No Central Authority. Crypto is not tied to any bank or government, and it is totally decentralized. 
  • High Return Potential. The flip side of the market’s volatility is that coins worth a few cents one day could yield hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars the next. 

But, crypto also comes with “cons” to consider, such as: 

  • High Loss Potential. There are two sides to that aforementioned volatility, and purchasers of crypto might suffer extreme losses in just a matter of moments on the market. 
  • Limited Use. When compared to cash, credit/debit card, and bank transfer, cryptocurrency is far less accepted at major vendors. 
  • No Government Regulation. While some might appreciate the lack of oversight, others are wary about crypto’s freedom from government regulations. 

Do Estate Plans Cover Crypto? 

Estate plans can cover cryptocurrency, as well they should. After all, it is an asset you own that you may want to hand down after you die. Plus, the market is constantly shifting, so who knows how much value your coins could have one day? Some people do believe crypto is the future of payment (while others, obviously, disagree). 

The nature of crypto (and NFTs, for that matter) can make it difficult to place into a traditional estate plan, though the laws are still evolving. Keeping a digital legacy, regardless, is important. This organized, updated list contains information about your digital assets, including quantity, type, passwords, keys, and information that a fiduciary would need to access your crypto. 

It is currently difficult to put your crypto assets in the name of a revocable/irrevocable trust. But, you can still include this currency in your will. It will have to pass through probate, however. The most important thing to note when it comes to this digital currency is the ability to track it. Your executor cannot execute your will if they do not have information on how to access your coins. 

Challenges In Estate Planning For Crypto

The unique nature of this currency brings with it a lot of challenges. Trustee companies tend to know little about cryptocurrency, according to Bloomberg, but estate planning attorneys are likely to be more knowledgeable. Because there isn’t much personal information associated with crypto and it requires a private key to get in, this asset must be handled differently than others. 

If you are thinking of investing or have already made investments into cryptocurrency, it is important that you talk to an estate planning attorney, if you haven’t already. You will want to protect this asset the way you do your other holdings, in order to keep it available to your heirs. 

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Personal vs. Business Asset Protection

Posted by on Jul 24, 2022 in Legal News |

In this article, we are going to talk about two different categories of asset protection. Though there many different types of asset protection, we’ll be looking into the nature of the asset: whether it is personal or business-related. This distinction matters, as far as legal tools, planning, and taxes go.

To start, we’ll look at some definitions. 

Terms To Note 

Personal assets are items of present or future value that are owned by an individual or a household. Some common examples of personal assets include cash and its equivalents, checking and savings accounts, CFDs, physical cash, Treasury bills, money market accounts, and more. These assets are not owned by a company, corporation, or “entity.” They belong to a person or a household. 

Business assets, by contrast, are items of value that are owned by a business, company, or corporation. These assets deliver value to the business, as they are used for functions such as funding operations, driving growth, and producing goods or services. Examples of business assets include machinery, raw materials, inventory, patents, royalties, and other intangible items, and intellectual property. 

Asset protection is a term that refers to the goal of guarding your property from creditors, taxes, and other judgements. This set of legal techniques follows a body of common and statutory law. The goal is to insulate your assets, all while following the letter of the law and staying miles away from tax evasion or perjury. 

Personal Asset Protection 

Now that we’ve covered the definition of personal asset protection, it’s time to look into the various legal tools and techniques that can be used to insulate your personal property. These include: 

  • Homestead Exemptions. A homestead exemption helps people save money on property taxes every year. In Florida, everyone with title to property (equitable or legal) is eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000. The first half of that $50,000 is applied to property taxes. This removes part of your home’s value from the overall taxation, appraising it as though it were worth a good deal less.
  • Certain Types of Trusts. Asset protection trusts are three-party relationships that hold a person’s assets to shield them from creditors. APTs are self-settled in Florida if the person who creates the trust is also the trust beneficiary. 
  • LLCs. A Limited Liability Company is a mix of partnership and corporation. It is a business structure that has the same pass-through taxation as a partnership/sole proprietorship, combined with the limited liability of a corporation. Individual business owners can classify their companies as LLCs to protect personal assets.

Though this list is by no means exhaustive, those legal tools are common ways that people protect personal assets from creditors. Likewise, there are several techniques that can insulate business assets. 

Business Asset Protection 

There are many ways to insulate your business assets. Some of these include: 

  • Business Type. There are several different types of business structures in Florida, and each has their own role in shielding a business owner. Deciding how to classify your business can help protect your assets in the long run in the event of lawsuits or creditors.
  • Insurance. Insurance is a good idea, no matter whether you are a business or individual. This failsafe protects your company if there is a lawsuit, disaster, or other problem. When it comes to insurance, don’t be afraid to splurge on an expansive policy. You never know when you might need it.
  • Equity Stripping. Another possible way that businesses can protect their assets is through equity-stripping. This process removes the equity/value of an asset, making it unappealing to creditors. This is usually done via a separate company so that the overall assets remain the same. Once equity has been stripped, creditors cannot attack as easily.

As always, the best plan of action is to talk to a lawyer to ensure that your personal and business assets are as protected as possible. Legal counsel will be able to guide you in what tool to pick based on the facts you give them.  Contact our attorneys today. 

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July Is An Unlucky Month For Weddings

Posted by on Jul 18, 2022 in Legal News |

If you’re currently in a state of newlywedded bliss, this article might not be for you, as it is going to be a huge bummer. Let’s face it: the stats on marriage don’t look too great. The divorce rate is 44.2%. This means that if you know ten couples, four probably won’t make it. Some say that January is the most common month for divorces, while others say that it is July or August. Some even claim it is March (perhaps after Valentine’s Day’s pink-and-red haze wears off).

Whatever the month, there’s no denying that divorce is a real thing. In this article, we’re going to discuss divorce and its impact on your estate plan. If you feel, for whatever reason or inkling, that this information applies to you, read on. 

What Is Divorce? 

A divorce is the end of the legal contract known as marriage. When a court issues a divorce decree, that signals that your marriage is officially over in the eyes of the law. Divorce can take months, if not years, to finalize. According to experts, a breakdown of the marriage (arguing, lack of commitment, infidelity, etc.) is usually the biggest reason for a divorce. 

Divorce And Your Estate Plan 

Divorce might change your relationship with your ex, but it does not automatically take your ex-spouse off your estate plan as a beneficiary. Chances are, unless you saw a split coming from a mile away, your ex is in your estate plan as a beneficiary. If the divorce decree contains a stipulation to change your beneficiary designation, that’s one thing. If it contains no such clause, you’ll need to talk to an attorney. 

With a lawyer, revise powers of attorney, trusts, wills, and other documents with your ex-spouse in order to move forward. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned, and that is why it is important to sit down with a lawyer and go through your estate plan document by document. 

What Does The Law Say? 

In Florida, the law provides that a provision of a will that affects the ex-spouse of a married person is void upon divorce, annulment, or dissolution of the marriage. The divorce will not invalidate the entire will, though it does remove the spouse as a personal representative or beneficiary. It treats the spouse as though he or she has died and therefore cannot inherit or execute. 

Keeping this in mind, most lawyers agree that after a divorce, someone in Florida should not just rely on this law to cover them. Go through your estate plan and ensure that the documents officially have your ex-spouse removed. Neglecting this task will cause awkwardness at best. At worst, your ex-spouse might get a benefit from your estate when you really don’t want him or her to.

Protecting Assets From An Ex

Along this same line, you might be in a position where you want to protect assets from an ex. There are different financial tools that can help you with this, such as trusts, retirement accounts, and more. The bottom line is that divorce law and estate planning law often find themselves tied together. You don’t want to navigate this process without a lawyer. You might find yourself missing something important or getting an unfair shake from opposing counsel or the court. 

During the turbulent time of divorce, we understand that estate planning is likely the furthest thing from your mind. Some divorces are a terrible, heartbreaking tragedy. Others inspire less-negative emotions. No matter where you are on this spectrum, it’s important to contact WFP‘s legal counsel immediately to ensure your estate plan is updated after the marriage ends. 

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Cryptocurrency Trustee Services: How Does It Work?

Posted by on Jul 10, 2022 in Legal News |

crypto

If you’ve seen the news, whether tech, political, or otherwise, within the past few years, chances are that the word “cryptocurrency” has popped up on your feed. Cryptocurrency is a type of decentralized coinage. This digital asset is not reliant on a bank, government, or other central authority. Though cryptocurrency has its naysayers because of its volatile price and fluctuations, it seems that this digital asset is here to stay.

No matter whether you’re mining Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, or any other major, minor, or exotic coin, cryptocurrency can have an impact on your estate plan. It is, after all, an asset, and it therefore falls under the umbrella of estate planning. In this article, we’ll discuss cryptocurrency trustee services and how they work. 

Can Cryptocurrency Be Placed In A Trust? 

A trust is a tri-party fiduciary relationship. The donor, also known as a grantee, transfers title of an asset to a trustee. This second party holds the asset for the beneficiary of the third party, also called the beneficiary. At the donor’s authorization, the trustee eventually transfers title to the beneficiary. 

Though you might think of a trust as holding only cash or property, cryptocurrency can be placed in a trust. This has a lot of benefits. Namely, your cryptocurrency will not be subject to an expensive, complex probate process if you pass away. 

Some Upsides To A Crypto Trust 

Before discussing who administers a trust, it is important to talk about why putting cryptocurrency into a trust could be a good idea. It’s understandable why some crypto holders might be wary. After all, they’ve chosen a decentralized currency for a reason. That said, here are some of the upsides to a crypto trust that you should know: 

  • Lessens Risk Of Loss. How do you access your cryptocurrency? Chances are, you have a wallet, password, key, and other digital safeguards that come with owning this type of asset. When you die, who knows these safeguards? If you put your crypto into a trust, there is a lower risk of it being lost after you die, as other people will have necessary information. 
  • Privacy. In addition to avoid the hassle of probate, a process that can cost your beneficiaries time and money, a trust allows you to keep your crypto private. It isn’t going through probate court, so hackers and scammers won’t catch wind of it. Everyone knows about high-profile crypto hackings, and you don’t want to give these cybercriminals any reason to latch onto you. 
  • Helps Beneficiaries. Your intended crypto recipient(s) won’t have to access and manage your Bitcoin or other crypto before it’s their time to do so. This relieves them of a rather immense burden, and a trusted individual with far more experience, such as a trust services company, will take over the reins. According to CNBC, 10% of people have some type of digital asset. So, companies and individuals have emerged that handle trustee services for cryptocurrency.

Trustee Services 

A trustee can be an individual, corporation, or other custodian. A trust company is a business tasked with the management, administration, and eventual asset-transfer to the trust’s beneficiary. This company acts as a custodian, and, though it can be nerve-wracking to give up control of your crypto to a company, there are some good reasons to go with a service, as opposed to appointing an individual (family member, friend, etc.).

Benefits of Trust Service Companies 

These companies can provide a lot of services to their clients from one central location. This saves a lot of time and effort, as clients do not have to coordinate financial assets, broker information, tax advisors, financial planners, and other services. These companies do charge fees, but their experience in protecting assets and managing investments makes them an attractive choice for some grantors.

If you own cryptocurrency, talk to an attorney about setting up a trust and potentially working with a trust services company. Our attorneys can help answer any questions or concerns you may have about the process. 

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Corporate Formation FAQs

Posted by on Jun 24, 2022 in Legal News |

corporate In this article, we will discuss the set steps to forming a corporation in Florida. A business law attorney can help you with anything you need, as they are experienced in this field. Listed below is a brief overview of the steps for forming a corporation. 

How to Form a Corporation in Florida

1. Choose the Name

Your corporation’s name has to include “Corporation,” “Company,” or “Incorporated,” as well as their applicable abbreviations. Additionally, the name has to be different from other businesses that have registered with the Department of State. You can check the Division of Corporations business name database, accessible at http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ByName, to make sure your name is unique. FYI, you cannot reserve a name ahead of time. 

2. Prepare/File Your Certificate 

This is where you might need the help of an attorney. In order to legally create your corporation, you have to file Profit Articles of the Incorporation with Florida’s Department of State Division of Corporations. You can file the articles online or via the mail. The articles must have: 

  • The corporation’s name
  • Principle office street address
  • Purpose
  • Number of shares the company can issue
  • The names/addresses of initial directors and/or officers
  • The name, signature, and address of an agent that gets service of process
  • Name/address of incorporator

3. Appoint Your Corporation’s Registered Agent

All corporations in Florida have to have agent for service of process, and that individual or company has to be listed on the articles. This entity accepts legal papers on behalf of the corporation in the event it is sued. The registered agent can be a human being, or it can be an entity authorized to conduct business in Florida. Prior to designation, the agent has to agree to accept service of process for your corporation. 

4. Create Bylaws

These internal corporation documents set out the basic ground rules about how to operate your corporation. You do not file bylaws with the state, and there is no legal requirement to have them. That said, it is a very good idea to have corporate bylaws, as they set your corporation’s operating rules on paper. This shows creditors, banks, and the IRS that your corporation is legitimate. There are plenty of sample bylaw forms online. 

5. Appoint Directors/Hold Meetings

Directors are appointed when you name them in your articles, and the person must appoint them after you form the corporation. These directors are on your board until shareholders’ first meeting. After this first meeting, directors should do the following, if applicable: 

  • Appoint corporate officers
  • Select a corporate bank
  • Adopt bylaws
  • Authorize issuance of stock shares
  • Adopt an official stock certificate
  • Adopt a corporate seal
  • Set the fiscal year
  • Record these actions in fiscal minutes 

6. Issue Stock 

Next, the corporation can issue stock to shareholders in exchange for shareholders’ contribution of cash, property, and/or services. Small corporations issue paper stock certificates, and you’ll need to enter the shareholder’s contact information and full name into the transfer ledger. In Florida, corporate stock’s default is no par value. But, if you want to establish par value, you can. Again, this is a step that would be best carried out by a business attorney, as the law can be somewhat complex. 

7. File an Annual Report

In Florida, if you want to maintain an active status, your for-profit corporation has to file a yearly report. The report’s first version is due the year after you form your corporation. File online between January 1st and the first of May. Reminder notices will be sent to the email address you have provided to the State. 


8. Get an EIN

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. This federal number is mandatory. You can get an EIN by filing an online application on the IRS website, for which there is no filing fee. 

We strongly advise that you contact a business law attorney to help you form your corporation, as they law can be difficult for laypeople to maneuver. 

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