Same Sex Marriage-A Constitutional Right

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Family Law, Legal News, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Gay Marriage

Last week, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a constitutional right.  That means that no state can unilaterally deny same-sex couples the right to marry. In a previous decision the Supreme Court gave DOMA [“Defense of Marriage Act”] the boot, holding that its definition of marriage (limited to a union between one man & one woman) violates the guarantee of equal protection provided by the Fifth Amendment. Keep in mind, this only applied on a Federal level, and States could still refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The most recent case, Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided last week, extends this protection to same-sex couples under the fourteenth amendment which applies at the state and local levels of government. Here in South Florida, same-sex marriage was recognized only recently.

Same-sex couples now enjoy the benefit of holding property as tenancy by the entirety, which is a benefit Reserved for married couples; each spouse owns 100% of the property.  One spouse cannot transfer it without the agreement of the other.  Any bank account, for example, in the name of 2 married persons is considered to be held as tenancy by the entirety unless otherwise specified in writing.  Also, any creditor of one spouse alone can’t go after any asset held by the entirety to satisfy a debt.

Another benefit that is now available to same-sex couples is the elective share option, which means that if a spouse is cut out of the will, he or she can exercise the elective share, which entitles the person to 30% of the estate regardless of whether the decedent included the person in the will.

401K funds can now be transferred upon death to a same-sex spouse, which was not possible before, if the state did not allow same-sex marriage.  The Supreme Court Decision now extends the homestead protection to same-sex couples as well, that is, the surviving spouse automatically receives at least a life estate interest in the property of the decedent spouse (the surviving spouse can automatically live in the marital home for the rest of his or her life), which was not possible before in a state that did not provide for same-sex marriage.

While these are certainly great estate planning features for same-sex couples, you don’t want to always rely on automaticity. Rather, you should plan for the future of your spouse and children if you have them, as there is a vast array of estate planning techniques that will ensure your receive all of the benefits of the law.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection, 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?SM

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Protecting Dad’s Legacy

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Family Law, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |


With Father’s day behind us, we still have an opportunity to celebrate Dad and thank him for everything he has done for you.  A father is for many of us a fountain of wisdom and the person we model ourselves to be, and for that reason it is important to let them know every day how important they are in our lives because unfortunately they won’t be around forever.  Take the time to tell him how much you appreciate all he has done and how he has shaped you.  To ensure that his legacy is preserved, consider planning for your future and that of your children after all, he worked hard so you could enjoy the fruits of his labor.

A common misconception is that only wealthy families and people in high risk professions need to put together an asset protection plan.  But in reality, anyone can be sued.  A car accident, foreclosure, unpaid medical bills, or an injured tenant can result in a monetary judgment that will decimate your finances.   To make sure that your assets are protected from unforeseen creditors, consult an estate planning attorney that can help you navigate confidently the waters of wealth and family protection, so you and your family can have the peace of mind that only comes with knowing that you are prepared for anything.

Plain and simple, estate planning helps protect your family in the event that something bad happens to you. And, yet, 55% of Americans don’t even have a last will, leaving them vulnerable to costly court fees and legal battles.  But even though it’s predicated on incapacitation or death, estate planning doesn’t have to be morbid. In fact, it can actually be life-affirming, because the process will allow you to take a closer look at the people you most care about in life—and ensure their future happiness.

Don’t procrastinate.  Unless you have a crystal ball, you just never know when death will occur. With the help of an attorney, determine which type of document best suits your situation.  You’re the only one who knows the extent of your assets, but if you have minor children, you must get a will.  Keep your will or trust current, life is fluid. As you increase assets, and expand your family, your will or trust should be updated to meet your changing needs. For example, wills and trusts should be revised following unexpected events, such as a divorce or the death of a spouse or a child. A substantial inheritance should also trigger a revision to your will or trust.  Let someone you trust know where you keep your documents.  A family member, relative or trusted friend should be able to easily find your documents at the time of your death to prevent any confusion.

Estate planning and asset protection are proactive methods to secure your family’s future and to ensure their financial stability when you are no longer there to do it yourself.  One of the most difficult things to do is think about the possibility we may die unexpectedly or too early, leaving our children without one of the most important people in their lives.  But stepping up and making a legal plan to protect your children if something should happen to you is one of the best Father’s Day gifts you can give yourself and the people you love.

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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Changes That Warrant Review of Your Existing Estate Plan

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in asset protection, Family Law, Probate, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

June’s cover of Vanity Fair magazine revealed the transformation of Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner into a woman.  “Call me Caitlyn”, the cover reads.  Life is inherently full of changes, some undoubtedly more drastic than others and while Caitlyn’s transformation certainly falls into the more drastic type of life change, there are life changes that most people go through that may require counsel from an attorney.  Estate planning, for example, is an important undertaking and hiring an attorney to draft an estate plan for you is definitely a step in the right direction.  However, just because you already drafted an estate plan does not mean you can simply file it away and forget about it.  There are certain life changes that warrant a review of your estate plan in order to make it congruent with the changes in your life; it is recommended that you take a look at your estate plan every 3 to 5 years, because within those periods it is likely that one of the following major life events occur:

Getting married: Generally you would want to update your living trust and/or your will to indicate what provisions you would like to make for your new spouse. You should also address your separate property.  You may wish consider a prenuptial agreement if one or both spouses come to the marriage with significant assets.

Divorce or death of a spouse:  The end of a marriage should trigger the need to review your estate planning documents.  That could mean changing beneficiaries, trustees and changing Powers of Attorney and Health Care Surrogates.

Purchase or refinance of a home:  If you have a living trust, your house should be held in the trust. Many times lenders, upon a refinance, will take the property out of the trust, put the mortgage in place and then neglect to put it back into the trust. When buying property many people simply forget to take title in the name of the trust. To have the maximum benefit of the trust, all properties should be in the name of the trust. If your properties are not in your trust, work with your estate planning attorney to help transfer the properties to the trust.

New accounts:  Making sure all savings accounts, brokerage accounts or mutual fund accounts are in the trust is important to avoid probate and make transfer of title to your new beneficiaries easier.

The birth of a new child:  If you have a baby, adopt a child or have a new stepchild, all would trigger the need to review and update your estate planning.

Change is the only constant and your estate plan should be constantly changing.

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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A Roof On Your Head And Money In Your Pocket

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Legal News, Probate, Real Estate, tax |


In Florida, a person who owns and resides on real property and makes it his or her permanent residence is eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000.

In order to qualify your Florida homestead, you and your home must meet three criteria:

  • You must have legal or beneficial title to the home on January 1 of the current year.
  • You must reside at the home as your permanent residence.
  • You must apply for the homestead exemption in person at the property appraiser’s office in the county where your home is located between January 1 and March 1 of the year in which you are seeking the homestead exemption.

While in many other states, a persons homestead is not protected from creditors and can be lost to claims for Medicaid reimbursement, this is not the case in Florida. Some of the multiple benefits of the homestead exemption are protection from creditors, reduction of property taxes and protection to the surviving spouse or minor child.

Less well understood are the homestead protections from the claims of creditors and the restrictions on transfers of homestead property at death. WFP Law can help explain these Florida homestead concepts at a free consultation.

Michael D. Wild is a Florida attorney specializing in the areas of estate planning, asset protection and probate administration. To learn more about estate planning, please contact the South Florida law firm of WFP Law 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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You’re Fired! Rutgers Basketball Coach, Mike Rice, Forced into Early Retirement. Tempting, Right?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in asset protection, estate planning, Legal News, Real Estate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Athletic officials from the New Jersey University, Rutgers, announced the early termination of their infamous Men’s Basketball Coach, Mike Rice.  The decision was based on a videotape depicting Rice hurling balls and gay slurs at his players.  As ESPN broadcast the incriminating footage, Rice’s behavior can be summarized in one word…foul.

Everyone from LeBron James to Governor Chris Christie weighed in on the coach’s shameful behavior. The inevitable decision to fire Rice 3 years into his 5 year contract sealed the fate on his career.  Rice will be forced into an unexpected early retirement.  Given the state of our economy, many South Florida residents have also had to face the prospect of an early unexpected retirement.

So what happens when you find yourself without the steady income of a job and bills to pay?  Though it is best to avoid taking money out of your retirement plan, emergency situations such as job termination, divorce, sickness, and economic crashes can get the best of us.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that there are some instances when you can take money out of your retirement plans without paying the 10% federal penalty imposed by the IRS.

Here is a list of Uncle Sam’s most common exceptions:

  • Borrow from your own 401(k). You can legally borrow up to $50,000, or half your vested balance, whichever is less, from your 401(k).  Most big firms allow these loans and give you up to 5 years to repay it without any taxes or penalties.  However, if your job terminates for any reason, your ex-employer will likely demand repayment, otherwise the outstanding balance will be treated as an early distribution, subject to penalties.
  • Paying Large Medical Bills.    You can request a distribution from an IRA or 401(k) without any penalties for CERTAIN medical expenses.  Note that only expenses that are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income will qualify.
  • Paying for Health Insurance.  If you become unemployed, you can take money out of an IRA account (not a 401K) to obtain health insurance for yourself, spouse, and dependents, without paying a penalty.  To qualify, you must be collecting unemployment for at least 12 weeks and this exemption ceases 60 days after starting a new job.
  • Disability. If you become disabled before age 59½, you may be able to take penalty-free distributions from an IRA. However, you must carefully understand what qualifies as a permanent physical disability that prevents you from being gainfully employed, as per Uncle Sam’s legal and medical guidelines.
  • Inheriting an IRA.  If you are the beneficiary of a deceased owner of an IRA, you can take money from an “inherited IRA” without penalty at any age. Note that if you roll the inherited IRA into your own name, you lose the ability to take out money without paying the penalty. Note that unlike an IRA, a 401k will automatically transfer to a surviving spouse no matter who the designated beneficiary is.
  • Paying for Education. You can take money out of a pre-tax IRA account to pay for undergraduate or graduate tuition, books, supplies, and fees for yourself, your children, or grandchildren.  Be careful however, because IRA withdrawals will count as income and MAY limit eligibility for financial aid for the following year.
  • First Home Purchase.  You can take up to $10,000 penalty-free from an IRA (not a 401K) to pay for the purchase or building of your first home.  If both you and your spouse will be first time homeowners, the amount doubles to $20,000.


But with all of these tips, the devil is in the details.  It is always best to seek the advice of a well-seasoned Florida attorney before making any major financial decisions.  With the help of our experienced South Florida estate planning attorneys, we can make the complex United States tax-code work for you, no against you!

For more information on successful Florida early retirement tips 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.

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



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Miami Heat’s Winning Streak Snapped by Fate, Yours Will Be Too!

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in asset protection, estate planning, Family Law, Legal News, Real Estate, tax, Wills |

All it took was one whirlwind of commotion in the Windy City and POOF…the Miami Heat are no longer unbeatable.  Last night the Chicago Bulls destroyed the 27 game winning streak that was adorning South Florida’s superstars.  Lebron James fought ferociously to keep his legacy going, but it was snapped away by a more powerful force.

Thought South Florida’s celebrated team was invincible?  Much like you?  Think again.  Every day we go to bed, wake up, and go about our daily routine.  But the inevitable is coming.  Much like the Bulls charged the Heat last night, fate will overcome you too.  But don’t be caught off guard.

We can’t predict or control when we are going to die. However, we can control what happens after we are gone. Today you may be healthy and feeling great, tomorrow an unforeseen event can change your whole game plan.  Life is short.  Get your estate plan in place today.

Wild Felice & Partners is a full-service, Fort Lauderdale, Florida based law firm with a specialty in estate planning, asset protection, tax strategies, wills, and probate administration. We utilize a combination of real estate law, estate planning strategies, family law, and asset structuring to assure that our clients are protected from any threats that may be looming.

Our experienced Florida estate planning attorneys are on your team!  For more information on how to plan for your future, contact our South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, PA for a free consultation at (954) 944-2855.

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


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