Homestead Protection—One of the Many Benefits of Living in Florida

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in estate planning, Real Estate |

Summer is about to end.  Classes are about to start and stores are crowded with parents trying to get the best deals on school supplies.  Florida has many benefits, like inexpensive college tuition for in-state residents, warm weather all year round and access to theme parks, like Disney and Universal Studios.  However, there is also another benefit of living in Florida—the homestead protection provided by the Florida Constitution.

The overall purpose of the homestead exemption is to protect the family by protecting a family’s shelter from being attacked by creditors. In this regard, the Florida Constitution protects homesteads in three specific ways: (1) it provides a homestead with an exemption from taxes; (2) it protects homesteads from forced sale by creditors; and (3) it delineates the restrictions a homestead owner faces when attempting to alienate or devise the homestead property. Also, homestead prevents loved ones from having to go through the lengthy and expensive process of probate because the homestead is passed directly to the designated heir.

Be that as it may, homestead creates interesting circumstances with regards to probate. When a property owner dies, there are restrictions on how the property can be transferred to the family.

Who gets the property will often rely on who survives the decedent. If a spouse or minor child survives the owner of a homestead property, the homestead may not be devised.  If there is no minor child, the surviving spouse gets the property. However, the property owner may not give less than a fee simple interest to the surviving spouse.  If a spouse and lineal descendants survive the decedent, the surviving spouse takes a life estate in the homestead with a vested remainder to the lineal descendants in being at the time of the decedent’s death, per stirpes.

Ultimately, homestead laws trump any clauses in a will or trust.  If a spouse or lineal descendant survives a decedent, the descendant cannot devise the property to anyone in a will or trust.  Therefore, it is important to understand how homestead property could affect your overall estate plan.

For more information on Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Probate administration visit our website at

It’s A Wild World. Are Your Protected?

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in estate planning, Probate, Real Estate, Trusts, Wills |

What’s that you say?  You want to leave your home to a loved one?  Great!  That’s a wonderful way to leave a legacy.  Just be careful how you leave this property to your loved one.  Simply retitling the property could have harsh consequences, such as:

Gift Tax and Capital Gains:  We all know your intentions are good.  Unfortunately, the law doesn’t consider your intent when transferring property to another (i.e. retitling as joint tenants with right of survivorship).  Whether or not you intended this transfer to be a gift is irrelevant; if you did not expect anything in return of equal value the IRS will consider this transfer to be a gift and gift taxes will apply.  Additionally, when you pass away the individual will be subject to paying capital gains if they choose to sell the property.  Capital gains are profits made from the sale of property where the sale price exceeds the purchase price and can be very high.

Creditors: Like most responsible individuals you have paid your bills on time, have good credit and aren’t worried about the possibility of creditor claims.  Yet, are you aware that once you add another individual to the title of your property that the property is now subject to that individual’s creditors too?  This means that no matter how diligent you are with paying your debts, the property will never be totally secure since it remains open to the other individual’s possible creditors.

Control:  Adding someone to title means you now share rights of ownership to the property.  This means you can’t continue to treat the property as your own.  If you wish to sell it, for instance, you must have their full consent to do so.  By adding this additional name to title you have given up control as the sole owner of that property.  While you may be ok with this decision today, can you guarantee that you will be on board with this decision in five or ten years?  I sure hope you can guarantee it since you will not be able to change your mind and remove them from title without their consent.  What’s done is done.

There is another way to accomplish your goals and avoid these harsh consequences; a Revocable Living Trust.  The trust will allow you to remain in complete control of the property while you are alive, prevent possible gift taxes and capital gains.  Upon your death, the property will then be transferred to named beneficiary, therefore accomplishing your primary goal!  Call (954) 94-2855 for your free consultation and our attorneys will explain in greater detail the benefits of creating a Living Revocable Trust.

For more information on Estate Planning visit our website at

It’s A Wild World.  Are You Protected?  SM

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Posted by on Feb 1, 2016 in asset protection, estate planning, Limited Liability Company, Real Estate |

Chances are that at some point you have considered using your IRA funds to make some type of profitable investment (or you will at some point in your future!).  You may have also felt limited in doing so to either investing in only stocks or bonds.  If you find yourself nodding your head while reading this blogpost, then rest assured you’re not alone in feeling that way – most individuals feel limited in their options when investing their IRA funds.  The good news is that taking control of your IRA is only two steps away!

  1. In order to open up your investment options you should first consider moving your IRA to a Self Directed Custodian. Truth is, you could stop here but there will be a few draw backs. First, you will have to consult with the custodian prior to making investments, such as purchasing a piece of real estate inside your IRA. The custodian would have to title the real estate on behalf of your IRA – a task that would not only be time consuming and inconvenient, but costly since the custodian will charge extra fees for it. If this doesn’t seem appealing, then move onto step two below.
  2. Once you have moved your IRA to a Self Directed Custodian, you then will want to create an IRA Checkbook Limited Liability Company (“LLC”). Once you create this Checkbook LLC, the Self Directed Custodian will give you a check for the amount of cash you desire from your IRA. You will then deposit this check into your LLC’s account and, since you are the manager of this account, you have full “checkbook control” over the assets. Now the options really begin to open up! You can purchase real estate, stocks, bonds, notes and make other investments permitted by the IRS. If this task seems a bit confusing or scary, have no fear – the attorneys at Wild, Felice and Partners will guide you through the process and simplify everything along the way.

For more information about IRA investing or the Checkbook LLC, please call the South Florida Law Firm of Wild, Felice & Partners at (954) 944-2855.  Call today to schedule your free consultation and allow our attorneys to provide you with the ultimate peace of mind!

It’s A Wild World.  Are You Protected? SM

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Asset Protection… Are you protected?

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in asset protection, Business Plan, corporate formation, Digital Estate Planning, estate planning, Limited Liability Company, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Are you protected?

Are you protected?

Don’t leave your assets vulnerable to attack. Much like a goalie, asset protection planning will help to shield your assets from attack.

Asset protection is a broad term, encompassing many different techniques, but here at our South Florida law firm, we focus our asset protection on two areas: estate planning and business formation. In the area of estate planning, the main approach is to use trusts to dispose of your assets rather than a will. A trust protects your assets by first avoiding probate and all of the costs (both monetary and time) associated with that process. Secondly, trusts protect your assets by keeping them in your family. With a will, the asset is no longer yours to control following the first disposition, a trust allows you to control the asset for multiple generations. This makes sure that the inheritance will never be taken by divorce or remarriage. For example, if you want to give all of your estate to your daughter and then to her children, a trust allows you to do this without giving any to her spouse. Furthermore, a trust protects your beneficiaries from themselves, if they are either too young or not fiscally responsible. Because they are the beneficiary and not necessarily the trustee, you can name a trustee who will make the financial decisions for them. Finally, trusts offer asset protection by being creditor protected. Assets that are in a trust can not be reached by creditors, assuring that the inheritance remains with the beneficiary.

Choosing the proper business form also works as asset protection. If you own a business as a sole proprietor or even in a general partnership, you can be personally liable for all of the debts of the business. Limited partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can protect your asset from business debts. A limited partnership consists of two classes of partners: a general partner, who manages and is more active, and a limited partner, who is more like an investor. The limited partner’s liability is limited to whatever they have put into the company, whereas the general partner remains liable for all the debt. An LLC offers limited liability as well, while allowing for more active participation. The manager of a multi-member LLC makes the decisions and runs the company, but is still afforded protection. If someone sues an LLC, they can only recover the company’s assets. Subsequently, if a person sues the manager of an LLC for a personal matter, the assets of the LLC are protected from this personal creditor. Finally, a corporation offers protection to all of its shareholders while also offering increased flexibility with the management structure. A corporation allows for different classes of stock with different voting abilities. Corporations also allow you to raise capital by issuing stock.

Regardless of what business form you end up choosing, you must also engage in business succession planning. Because all of these business forms are separate legal entities, they will survive after you are gone. Therefore, you must plan for what happens to your companies or you risk them dying. If you have multiple members or partners in your company, you can arrange a plan beforehand in which they buy your shares at a predetermined price. The company could then purchase life insurance in that amount to make sure that the company does not have cash flow issues and does not have to sell off company assets to buy your stake.

Whether you are looking at asset protection from an estate planning or business formation standpoint, our attorneys can help be your goalie and protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation, or visit our website at

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

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What is Probate?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in asset protection, corporate formation, estate planning, Family Law, Legal News, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |


The death rate in Florida is 100%, which means NO ONE can completely avoid the probate process. The term probate generally refers to the method by which your estate (the totality of the assets in your personal name at death) is administered and processed through the legal system after you die.  The probate process helps you divide and assign parts of your estate in an orderly and supervised manner. Your estate must be divided according to the specifics of your Will, if you die with a Will, or according to statute if you die intestate or without a Will. (Your debts and taxes must be paid before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance, for example).

If you have creditors at death, those debts must be satisfied before dividing the remainder of your assets, additionally there may be taxes due and those must be paid before distribution as well.  This means that the process of finding your creditors and paying those debts can take months and the distribution of the remainder to your heirs may become complicated.  There are legal methods that allow a person to make the process of distributing assets after death more efficient and less costly, which is an advantage to your family and loved ones and a wise investment.  Planning for the future will save your family members additional grief and possibly avoid conflict among family members and other beneficiaries.

Having a Will is a solid first step in the right direction to ease the probate process, but that is not all you need.  Placing your property in Trust to protect it from creditors, drafting a Power of Attorney, a Living Will and a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate are other methods to ensure that nothing is left to chance, that your family will be protected and that somebody you trust will make legal decisions for you when you are no longer able to make them yourself.

An attorney that specializes in estate planning can help explain the legal tools that are available to each individual depending on their financial situation and their specific needs.  Common methods that are utilized to avoid probate are Revocable Trusts which allow your property to be protected from creditors and susceptible to probate.  By scheduling a consultation an attorney can better explain the additional benefits of creating a revocable trust and how this can save you time and money in the long run.

It is important to note that you do not have to have a large estate to take advantage of the benefits of having your assets in a trust or any other legal estate planning tools.  This is a common misconception, but having an estate plan is something that everyone should give serious consideration to.  Additionally, it is also important to mention that although having an estate plan may not seem like a priority to most people, you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Nobody likes to think about death or incapacity, but these are facts of life and it can happen to any of us at any given time.  If you have a family and if you have small children you should plan for their care in case you can no longer care for them and this is something that an estate planning attorney can help you with.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.

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When Relationships End

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in asset protection, Family Law, Legal News, Real Estate, tax, Trusts |

Broken Heart

When Relationships End…

Over the Fourth of July weekend we found out that it’s over for Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian.  Kardashian, 36, and Disick, 32, shared nine years and three children together despite the fact that their relationship was frequently strained by Disick’s drinking problem, partying ways, and his regular stays in rehab including one earlier this year. I bet we all saw that one coming!

The early stages of a romantic relationship and marriage are usually of joy and happiness.  When a couple gets married there is little time to contemplate the possibility that maybe someday the relationship may fail, but it can! (Just ask Kourtney Kardashian). Nobody likes to think about that possibility and for the most part, couples trust each other with everything including their assets, even when those assets that are non-marital, that is, the spouse owned the asset before entering into the marriage.  The act of mixing non-marital and marital assets (like joint accounts or transferring title of solely-owned property to the marriage) is called “co-mingling”.

The problem that arises when one co-mingles marital with non-marital assets is that in the event that the relationship does fail, equitable distribution may be required and this may mean that a person who did not intend to give up ownership of non-marital assets may end up losing half of their interest in them because he or she failed to keep them separate.  Don’t make this rookie mistake!

Failing to keep non-marital assets free from mixing with marital assets creates a presumption that a gift was intended to the other spouse and the burden is on the person that co-mingled non-marital funds to overcome this presumption.  Establishing a trust and transferring to it assets that are non-marital, is a great way to keep them protected from the reach of an ex-spouse and by managing it in such a way that marital assets are never transferred into the trust. A Prenuptial Agreement is another commonly used and effective method to protect non-marital assets.

There are other alternatives to ensure that your non-marital (and marital) wealth is protected, but you must seek legal counsel to make sure you can take advantage of all the options available to you. Our firm specializes in wealth and asset protection and can help by providing you with more detailed information and tailored strategies to meet your individual needs.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.

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