How To Save Money This Back To School Season

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in 529 Plan, Legal News, tax |

coffee, cup, mug

How To Save Money This Back To School Season

August has arrived! The time to mark your calendars for your “back to school sales tax holidays!” This sales tax holiday has provided a couple days for shoppers to ravish the malls and department stores for clothing and school supplies. Here, in South Florida, your tax breaks will cover the standard clothing and school supplies, as well as computers and tablets (priced up to $750).

Florida state Rep., Larry Ahern, stated “[w]e are trying to take some of the burden off Florida families as they prepare for their children going back to school in August.” Speaking of burden’s – if you are participating in back-to-school tax savings, your child’s college years are probably just around the corner! While you can shop ‘til you drop every year, there are other tax-planning techniques that can be used to save for your child’s college expenses, while avoiding those pesky taxes.

The 529 Plan is a tax shelter for college savings. It allows you (or really, anyone) to contribute to an account to save for a designated person’s college education (it can be anyone, including yourself), and is not subject to federal taxation. The money in the plan can be used for any qualified expenses associated with college, including room & board, books, fees, computer, internet, etc. There is no age limit for when the plan can be used, and it can roll over to another family member (if little Jimmy Jr. decides not to go to college, sister Sally can use it). You can maintain control, and appoint a guardian/trustee to manage it upon death. So not only do you avoid tax on withdrawals, but any capital gains are taxfree as well. There is no federal income tax on money in the 529-college savings plan (plus, no income tax in Florida). NOTE: you have to keep in mind that any amount that you put in the 529-plan can be considered a “gift” for transfer tax purposes. However, the “annual exclusion” for the year 2016 (this amount changes every year), allows anyone to can make up to $14,000 in gifts that are excluded from transfer taxes (which are collected upon death, and subject to an exemption that is currently in the amount of $5,450,000).

So while you are stretching your legs for the mall-marathon that will be taking place each August, take a moment to consider the significant tax-free benefits of planning ahead for your child’s college education!

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Burgers, Beers & Estate Plans!

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in estate planning, Probate, Special Needs Trust, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Time to break out your red, white and blue gear and get your stomachs ready for some serious BBQ because July 4th is right around the corner!  Most Americans will be celebrating Independence Day with good food, friends, family, flowing drinks and a fire work display.  Why not add an estate plan to the mix?

Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that estate planning is just for the rich or elderly.  Estate planning is actually a necessary step for individuals of all ages, no matter what their economic status may be.  At a bare minimum, everyone should consider having a Will in place to designate guardians on behalf of minor children, spell out wishes for cremation or burial and include how you wish your assets to be distributed.  For business owners or individuals with a growing family, a Revocable Trust is always a great option since it details how, when and to whom the distributions will be made.  You can ensure your children finish college, have the funds for a first home or reach an age of maturity before inheriting a great deal of money.  Other important documents that everyone should have include the following:

Living Will:  This advanced directive is better known as the “pull the plug” document.  By signing a living will, your healthcare surrogate has the authority to tell the doctor to pull the plug and let you pass naturally.

Durable Power of Attorney:  Nominate who will continue to pay your bills, have access to your accounts and be able to make other important financial decisions on your behalf should you temporarily be unable to do so yourself.

Healthcare surrogate and HIPAA Release:  Decide in advance who will have access to your medical records and be responsible for making important healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself.

This 4th of July, don’t just party because it’s Independence Day but celebrate because you know you, your family and future generations to come are fully protected.  Celebrate knowing you have achieved ultimate peace of mind through creating an estate plan.  Call the attorneys at Wild, Felice & Partners at (954) 944-2855 for your free consultation today.

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

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


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Probate…What’s That?

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in asset protection, Elder Law, estate planning, Probate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

With all the media buzz over the recent passing of musical genius Prince you’re likely hearing a lot about Probate and may be wondering what the heck it is and why you should care.  Florida has one of the worst Probate systems in our country which is why it is so important to take the time to understand the process and plan accordingly.

What is it and why should I care?

If you pass away with assets left by Will then your assets must go through the Probate process.  Probate is the legal process of proving a Will in court.  The size of your estate will determine which type of probate administration will be necessary.  A smaller estate (one where the assets are valued at less than $75,000) will require a Summary administration.  Summary administration is less costly but may still last as long as a year, which means your beneficiaries will have to wait quite some time before receiving whatever is you left them (no matter how much they may need the assistance).  If your estate is worth more than $75,000, then your estate will require a full administration which is very costly and can take years before it is finished.  At a time when everyone should be focused on grieving and healing, they will instead be forced to deal with the judicial system and related stress that accompanies it.

Probate is time consuming, costly and offers no real benefit to the family members left behind which is why you should really consider avoiding it all together.

How can I avoid Probate?

Probate avoidance can be accomplished in a number of ways but the most favorable tends to be through a Revocable Living Trust.  By creating a Revocable Living Trust you not only ensure Probate avoidance but you remain in control of how your assets will be distributed.  If you die without an estate plan in place, you die intestate – which means that Florida intestate succession laws will decide who gets your assets.  By being proactive you remain in control of your assets, may be able to reduce estate taxes, can name guardians on behalf of your minor children and, of course, avoid probate.

For more information on Probate, Estate Planning, and Asset Protection, visit our website at or call (954) 944-2855 for your free consultation.

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

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Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in asset protection, estate planning, Probate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

The Miss Universe pageant was especially entertaining this year thanks to Steve Harvey crowning the wrong winner. Miss Colombia enjoyed seeing her dreams come true and the false sense of security that followed for a brief moment before it was literally taken away and given to someone else.  Can you imagine how she must have felt?  The bad news is there is a chance you may feel something very similar without proper estate planning.  If you have a taxable estate, your hard earned wealth may end up in the hands of the government instead of remaining with your loved ones, continuing to support their health and wellbeing as you had hoped.

Taxes aren’t just for the living. Estate tax is a tax on the right to transfer your property after death.  This means that all of the property you own will be subject to federal estate tax.  Currently, the tax exemption amount is $5.43 million dollars.  This means that up to 5.43 million dollars of your estate can pass without being taxed but the remainder is not so fortunate.  If you have a taxable estate, there is still hope: you can still save by taking full advantage of the available federal tax exemptions or by creating an estate tax saving trust, such as a Qualified Terminable Interest Trust or a Bypass Trust.

Most Americans are familiar with Federal Tax Law Exemptions such as the personal estate tax exemption, marital deduction and charitable deductions. Taking advantage of these deductions will allow you to leave substantial amounts of property free of estate taxes.  Making annual gifts is another way to cut back on estate taxes.  Annual gifts of $14,000 per person may be made tax free.  Be very careful to not exceed $14,000 because then the gift becomes taxable and the amount of your personal exemption will be reduced.  It is best to keep any gifts under this amount to ensure you maximize your personal exemption.

Other then taking advantage of the Federal Estate Tax Exemptions, you can also seek the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney to create an estate tax saving trust, such as a Qualified Terminable Interest Trust (“Q-TIP Trust”) or a Bypass Trust. The Q-TIP Trust is ideal for any married individual who may wish to retain control over any remaining property once their spouse passes away.  This is typically the case with those who are well into their second marriage and both spouses have children from a previous marriage.  In this particular situation, your surviving spouse will benefit from what you left behind but whatever remains after their passing will then be left to your children from your prior marriage.

Many times the Q-TIP Trust is utilized in conjunction with a Bypass Trust. A Bypass Trust shelters the property from estate taxes and “bypasses” the property from your spouse to someone else, such as your children.  Your spouse continues to benefit from the trust during their lifetime, even though the sole benefit of this trust is for your children.

Don’t continue to be comforted by a false sense of security. Protect your crown!  Call the South Florida office of Wild, Felice & Partners, P.A. today for your free consultation.  Allow our attorneys to help you plan for your future and provide you with peace of mind.  Call (954)944-2855 or visit our website for more information at

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

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Even When The Lights Shut Off, Everyone Still Wants A Piece

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Digital Estate Planning, Elder Law, estate planning, Probate, Special Needs Trust, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Robin Williams

It’s not all glitz and glam once the lights turn off, something that Robin Williams’ family is quickly discovering. The beloved star, who passed away last year, is having his estate  administered through probate, and fighting among family members is beginning to plague the process. Although Robin Williams had an estate plan, much of his assets were unaccounted for, leaving his children from prior marriages, and widowed spouse in disagreement over who is entitled to what. Avoid this hassle, and spare your loved ones the stress and grief that accompanies a contested probate process. It is imperative that you not only have a prepared and updated estate plan in place, but also that you speak with your family members to discuss these plans so that there are no surprised, or even worse, angered members once you’re gone.

Avoid some of the more common Estate Planning Mistakes:

Top Estate Planning Mistakes

  1. Thinking That You Have Plenty Of Time To Get To It:  No one has a crystal ball and tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  I have clients that have hired me to draft their estate plan and then they died prior to being able to sign it or fund it.  There are other people who die too young to even sit with the attorney.  Estate planning is necessary for everyone and you should sit with your attorney as soon in life as possible.
  2. Drafting Your Own Estate Plan:  There are so many moving parts with a trust-based estate plan that attempting to do it yourself is the equivalent of trying to take your own appendix out.  There are legal requirements in drafting, executing, funding, and updating.  If you miss any of them, it could invalidate your entire plan.  An estate planning attorney doesn’t sell you documents, they provide the service that goes into making sure that those documents are correct.
  3. Not Knowing Where All the Assets Are: A scattered estate plan by a secretive decedent may cause some assets to be left uncollected, undistributed and even lost.
  4. Not Updating Your Estate Plan:  It is imperative that your estate plan is reviewed on an annual basis to avoid unintended results.
  5. Not Communicating with Trustees and Beneficiaries:  It is important to let the people who are named in your estate plan know what role you are asking them to play.
  6. Leaving the Living Trust Unfunded: A living trust is merely a vehicle that allows you to pass your assets outside of probate.  However, if there are no assets in the trust, nothing has been accomplished.  You can buy the most expensive safe at the store but it wont protect your valuables unless you put the valuables into the safe.
  7. Leaving Assets Outright to Beneficiaries: Assets that are left outright to heirs and beneficiaries are exposed to creditors, predators and divorcing spouses.
  8. Not Having a Living Will:  A living will gives guidelines for your physician to follow in the event you are in a terminal, end-stage, and persistent vegetative state.
  9. Not Having a Durable Power of Attorney:  A durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate and authorize someone to legally act on your behalf, in the event that you become incapacitated.

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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It’s Always The Right Time To Think About Your Estate Plan

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in asset protection, Business Plan, Elder Law, estate planning, Probate, tax, Trusts, Wills |

Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is something done only for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all would like this process to be as seamless and easy as possible to reduce costs, delay and stress for our loved ones. The topic of estate planning, or even one’s mortality is a stressful one to discuss, but an important one. Without proper preparation and documentation, assets—like houses, retirement plans and savings accounts—can end up in limbo for years, sometimes requiring expensive legal assistance to straighten matters out.

Everyone should have the following items in place:


  1.  Living Trust –A trust can be more expensive to set up, but it provides benefits that a will cannot. First, when they’re structured properly, trusts will help avoid probate, which helps beneficiaries gain access to assets more quickly as well as save time and court fees. Depending on how it’s structured, a trust may also reduce estate taxes owed and can protect an estate from heirs’ creditors. 
  2. Assignment of Property – place all of your property into the trust, and avoid costs & headache associated with probate.
  3. Last Will & Testament – used to distribute property to beneficiaries (or a trust), specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children.
  4. Durable Power of Attorney – A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows someone else to make financial and legal decisions for a person if that person should become hospitalized, disabled or otherwise incapacitated.
  5. Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – gain control by making important healthcare decisions in advance.

This will allow you to ward off:

  • unnecessary taxes
  • costs and headache associated with the probate process
  • creditors and outsiders who may have claims against you
  • any undesignated individual making legal or healthcare decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated

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 or to schedule your free consultation.

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

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