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Asset Protection


Why We Procrastinate About Estate Planning

A lot of people have not participated in any meaningful estate planning. Most people will admit that it is something they need to do, but keep putting it off. What is the reason?

Listed below are some common reasons why we procrastinate about estate planning:

 (1) It is expensive

The reality is, most people do not have extra money lying around these days. However, not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now.

If you own assets in your name and you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, you (your assets and your care) will likely be placed in a court guardianship. This is not free. All costs (attorney fees, accounting fees, court costs, etc) will be paid from your assets and your family will probably have to ask the court for an allowance if they need money for living expenses.

This process does not replace probate when you die; your family will have to go through the court system again, and that means more expenses and less for your family. Your assets will be distributed according to Florida law, which probably won't be what you would have wanted.

Estate planning does not have to be expensive. You can start off with a simple will and then later upgrade to a trust when you can afford it.

 (2) " I do not own enough"

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. In fact, costs for a court guardianship and probate usually take a higher percentage from smaller estates (which can least afford it) than from larger ones.  Even if you own a small amount, you would prefer to see it go to your loved ones than to courts and attorneys.

 (3) " I am not old enough"

Estate planning is important for everyone (ages 18-100).  Young people seem to think they are going to live forever. The reality is, that any of us, at any age, can become incapacitated or die due to an illness, injury, accident, or random act of violence. (Just read the newspaper or watch the evening news, you will see random acts of violence on a daily basis)

Estate planning does not have to be expensive. You can start off with a simple will and then later upgrade to a trust when you can afford it.

 (4) It is too confusing. I do not know what to do:

Attorneys are called ' counselors at law' for a reason. An experienced estate planning attorney knows what other families have been through, knows what has worked well, and what has not. An experienced attorney can help you understand the process and make challenging decisions easier.

 So why do we need estate planning?

·       To make sure our assets will go the people we want to have them with the least amount of delay, hassle and expense

·       To keep our families from having to deal with the courts if we become incapacitated and when we die

·       Let our families know that we care about them, that we want to provide for them and protect them.

·       We do it for love--but the huge benefit of estate planning: PEACE OF MIND


If you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach county contact an experienced estate-planning attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs. 






Women Don’t Understand the Need and Importance of Estate Planning

Women today are not only in charge of running the household, but a majority of them are highly educated with masters and doctorate degrees. Some own their own businesses and others manage and oversee businesses of others. However, women still fall victim to thinking their husbands will take care of financial and estate planning needs for the household. Usually, that’s not the case.

Potential concerns for a Fort Lauderdale, Florida married woman in her late 30’s:

Rachel, a married woman has 1 young child from her first marriage and 2 young children from her second marriage. She owns 50% of a local South Florida business recently appraised for several million dollars. Rachel is concerned about disputes with her business partner. To top it all, she is in the process of a divorce with her second husband.

At this time, Rachel has no will or trust in place. She is a woman, getting divorced, with children different marriages, a multi-million dollar business, an estate possibly  subject to estate taxation, and problems with a business partner. The urgency and need to consult with an estate planning/asset protection attorney is huge. She needs to start planning now to avoid losing all that she has worked for!

Consequences for Rachel not having a will or trust in place:

Under Florida law of intestacy (meaning no estate planning in place), Rachel’s ownership interest in the business would be divided as follows: ½ to her ex- husband and ½ divided equally among her 3 children. All other assets (besides business ownership) would be divided the same way.

Without a will or trust, the assets her minor children would inherit will be subject to court supervised guardianship. This includes additional expenses that would not be applied if proper estate planning were in place. There will be fees for the guardian, attorney for the guardian, and the court will have to approve all expenditures. Worst of all, all assets inherited by each child will be turned over to the child at age 18 to do with whatever they please. 

With proper planning, assets for minors can be placed in a trust and you can direct (from the grave), how and when the child will receive their assets. For example, you may want to give ¼ of the assets to the child when they enter college, give another ¼ to the child when they graduate, then give the remaining ½ when they turn 25 or 30 years of age. You hope that at that time they will be responsible with their inheritance.

With respect to Rachel, her children and ex-husband would become partners in the business. The court appointed guardian would become a new partner in the business with respect to her minor children’s interest.

Without a will or trust, the assets her minor children would inherit will be subject to court supervised guardianship.

Rachel currently has a life insurance policy. Life insurance is an extremely useful tool in estate planning to help properly provide for your children’s needs you’re your death. Rachel would have to make sure that it was payable upon her to death to her children and not to her ex-husband. If the beneficiary information is not updated and changed, an ex-spouse can receive a nice chunk of change upon your passing.  Pretty sure no one would want that to happen!

Furthermore, Rachel has no planning in place in case she was unable to make financial or medical decisions for herself.  If she were to get into an accident, and was unable to make an emergency medical decision, and she had a health care surrogate drafted, that person could act on her behalf for medical decisions. If,by chance, she falls into a vegetative state and does not wish for her life to be prolonged, she would need to prepare a living will that clearly outlines her final wishes.

Rachel’s action plan to prepare her estate accordingly:

(1) Review all of her beneficiary designations and change them to someone other then her ex-husband.

(2) Prepare a will that will identify who she wants to care for her minor children

(3) Look over her life insurance policy and meet with a representative to see if she has enough coverage to care for her children.

(4) Prepare a trust so her assets can avoid probate.

(5) Prepare a living will, healthcare surrogate, durable power of attorney

(6) Make sure she has a buy-sell agreement with her business partner

(7) Make sure she has a business continuity plan to provide for continuation of the business in the event of her death or disability

Contact an experienced estate planning/asset protection attorney at The Hershey Law Firm, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 303-9468 to discuss your estate planning needs.