Category Archives: Attorney Advice

HIS HERS OURS: Estate Planning for the Blended Family

“Here’s the story of a lovely ladybrady bunch
who was bringing up three very lovely girls
all of them had hair of gold, like their mother.
the youngest one in curls.

Here’s the story of a man named Brady
Who was busy with three boys of his own.
They were four men living all together
yet they were all alone

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow.
And they knew that it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family,
That’s the way we all became the Brady bunch.”

~~credits to Sherwood Schwartz creator of the Brady Bunch and lyricist

I’m sure I’m dating myself with that one, but it just seemed an appropriate opening.  I’m always saying how Estate Planning is very important, regardless of your age or the size of your family.  Let me follow that up by saying Estate Planning is extremely important when you have a blended family.  Statistics show that about 15 percent of the U.S. population has been married more than once. Blended families are commonplace in today’s world. But from a legal standpoint they bring a whole slew of issues that really are best addressed while you are alive, rather than fought over after you are gone.

What makes a blended family different? At least one and often both adults enter into the marriage with assets from previous marriages.  When you enter into a second marriage, often both parties have children from previous relationships. Then, the couple sometimes has children together. While you want to make certain your spouse is properly cared for in the event of your death, you want to ensure that your minor children are cared for as well, and you may have concerns as to whom will manage your kids’ money if you’re gone or will your adult children get an inheritance or not?  Do you want to provide for your step-children whom you’ve helped raise for most of their lives?  A lot of these things won’t happen or will happen in a way that may surprise you if left to Florida Intestacy Laws.  According to research, the biggest mistake made when making a Will with a blended family is that people fail to be specific when leaving property to “children”.

Creating the Right Plan.  It’s a must.

Making sure your assets will get distributed so that everyone is cared for can be a challenging situation. You need to indicate what goes to whom as leaving it up to the family to divide things and sort things out is not a responsible decision. Your spouse and children should not have to work out the situation on their own. Instead, you need to ask for direction so you can derive the right plan for your needs.

Effective Estate Planning for a blended family can be tricky.  An experienced and knowledgeable attorney in your corner can help you sort through your goals and make the best possible plan for your family.

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb is an Estate Planning and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, Florida. See what clients are saying about Heidi, follow her on Facebook, and connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn

Estate Planning 101: 3 Things to Know When Making Gifts to Children (or Grandchildren)

Daytona Attorney Heidi Webb and family

Estate planning is a tricky thing, and there are a few things I encourage my clients to think about when they’re drafting their last will and testament. I’ve listed three important considerations that you should be aware of when you draft your will – and even as you reexamine it (which you really should do every few years). No matter who your estate planning attorney is, even is you write your will on a napkin, here are three things to remember when you’re setting up or reviewing your last will and testament:

1. Make sure everyone’s treated equally.

Estate planning–and primarily the lack thereof–can cause a lot of contention between family members. Who gets grandma’s diamond ring? How about the nice China? Will the siblings with children get more than the kids who decided to stay single and play live music at tiki bars for the rest of their lives? In estate planning, it’s really important that everything is equal for children or grandchildren left in the will. You don’t want to leave a wake of resentment, bickering, anger, and emotions when it comes time for your actual wake–know what I mean? Make sure you have your estate planning papers in order, but also make sure they will be perceived as fair by all your loved ones involved. 

2. Consider giving those “gifts” in your lifetime, rather than waiting until you’re gone.

A lot of people make estate planning all about death when in fact they could be making good use of their estate in this lifetime. College is expensive – instead of leaving your children or grandchildren thousands of dollars when they’re likely middle-aged or older (with their own money and their own children and estates to look after [or plan]), invest in their future and wellbeing with gifts like tuition funds and money for their deep passions or productive recreational activities. Hey, you know what? How about planning a family vacation if you have a big trust fund or personal nest egg just sitting there until death does you part. Make memories with your family now. Enjoy your money that you’ve worked hard for and take your family along to do the same. That’s much more meaningful then letting them enjoy your money after your death. And I’m sure they’d much rather have time with you and special memories (and a free vacation) then a bigger check when you pass away. 

 3. Don’t forget about long-term care.

You’re going to need help in your golden years. Therefore you’re going to need plenty of money in your golden years. It’s great to make gifts in this lifetime, but don’t forget the importance of caring for yourself and your own future as well. Medical care is expensive, and you want to be comfortable and secure when you’re older. It’s really important that no matter how healthy or young you are, no matter how much money you have (within reason), you should set a good chunk aside to prepare for the worst – or at least the inevitable. Nursing homes, physical therapy, assisted living, and hospice care should be part of your estate planning mindset. Your health and peace of mind is crucial as you encounter the many limitations and medical upsets that go along with being a senior citizen.

So, those are three basic things I would encourage all of my estate planning clients to consider and prepare for when writing out their will. Keep these things in mind and don’t forget to reexamine your last will and testament every few years to ensure that everything is set up to prevent family squabbles and the financial ills of not preparing for long-term care. 

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb is an estate planning and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, Florida. See what clients are saying about Heidi, follow her on Facebook, and connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn. Heidi’s AVVO profile is also available online, as well as many other lawyer referral sites.

Situations That Will Require You to Change Your Last Will & Testament

As an estate planning and elder law attorney, of course I’m going to recommend you make it a point to always reexamine and update your will; however, there are certain instances when you should definitely consult your lawyer and make a change to your last will and testament. I’ve listed these situations below: 

1. You Have a Kid – Or You Get Some Grandchildren.

Obviously when you take steps to have children–or add to your current clan of kids–you’ll want to reexamine your will and make changes to reflect that. However, some forget to make changes to their will in old age, you should always reexamine your estate planning when you’re in your golden years, especially if grandchildren are a big part of your life and/or will

2. You Have New Stuff, or You Got Rid of Old Stuff.

When you make a big purchase (a new car, vacation home, piece of jewelry, etc.) you should consider altering your will to include it. You can name a beneficiary or include it in part of the assets allotted to a current beneficiary. Perhaps you inherit property, this may require altering your current last will and testament.

3. You Get Married or You Divorce.

Any change in your marital status should prompt a review and alteration of your will. Consult your attorney to set the best course for a change in any instance. What’s kosher in one state or jurisdiction may be different in another. 

4. You Change Your Mind About Something or Someone. 

God forbid you have a falling out with a relative, friend or beneficiary. However, if you do it’s likely you want to change your will – do this with your lawyer so that you can make sure there are no loopholes. Also remember that you must be of sound judgment when you change your will. So in other words, wait until the whiskey wears off.

5. You Have a New Partner (or Maybe Even Some Stepchildren You’re Close To).

If you’re not in a state where gay marriage is legal, you’ll (again) best to seek the counsel of an elder law or estate planning attorney. Also, if you get remarried and decide you’d like to include your stepchildren in your will, you should arrange it as soon as you make up your mind that’s what you want.

6. Someone Named in Your Will Dies.

If a death in the family or a death among one of your beneficiaries occurs, it’s time to change your will. It’s not the first thing you’ll think of after a devastating loss, however it’s important you address it in due time.

Ways to Change Your Will

Consult an attorney before you make a change to your will. That’s a surefire way to ensure that your wishes are carried out as you please. Creating a last will and testament can save your family a lot of heartache, stress and trouble after your passing. They’re going to go through enough, so stay on top of your will and keep it updated to avoid any family tension or ambiguity in the future. Remember that in some states it’s imperative that when you change your will you also revoke the old will.

Execution of Codicils

You might want to make a minor change to a will without rewriting the whole document.  Such changes, amendments, or clarifications are called “codicils”.  Florida will recognize these changes to your will, but only if a codicil meets the formal requirements for the original will’s execution. This is why it’s best to check with your attorney before changing your will. 

Heidi S. Webb Attorney at office

 

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law – Heidi is an estate planning, elder law and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, FL. She serves clients in Daytona, Ormond, Port Orange, and surrounding areas. Her office is located in the historic Kress building on Beach Street in Daytona. 

6 Myths About Starting a Small Business: A Business Attorney’s Perspective

Daytona attorney Heidi S. Webb debunks myths about starting a small business.

Daytona attorney Heidi S. Webb debunks 6 myths about starting a small business.

As a small business attorney here in Daytona Beach, I’ve heard it all from hopeful entrepreneurs. I’ve come to learn that there are two breeds of people that see a business venture on the horizon, yet have it all wrong when it comes to what it takes and what to expect when starting a small business.

There’s the Pollyanna, dreamer type who jumps right in – without much thought or quite enough preparation in place, thinking it’s all going to be gravy. And then there’s the over-thinker, glass half-empty individuals who could have a great thing going but are too intimidated, overly apprehensive, or just uninformed about what it will take to start a venture of their own.

For these two types, I’ve debunked some common myths to knock some sense into those that have misconceptions about starting a small business:

Debunking Myths About Starting a Small Business (For the Pollyanna-Type Entrepreneur) 

 Myth 1:

“I’ll have more time for myself / with family / to do what I want.”

Starting your own business is an incredible dream that I think more people should consider. However, some forget that owning your own business is not always going to be a walk in the park. Yes, you get to make your own schedule. But your schedule doesn’t stop with your appointment book, and you’re never truly “off the clock” when the computer shuts off or the Open sign gets turned over. Your brain and to-do list will be brimming day and night, and that’s why when starting your own business you must have an unwavering passion and energy for what you do. As they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

  Myth 2:

 “I can write everything off.” 

Not true. Yes, you can certainly count on being about to write off some of the business expenses you incur while starting or owning and operating your own company – but remember that even though it’s a small business, you still stand the chance of getting audited (and that’s no joke). Entrepreneur gives the advice of Philip C. Roventini, a New York City-based CPA with more than 25 years of experience working with small-business owners: 

“You can easily identify a real business expense vs. what isn’t by asking yourself this question: ‘Is this an expense I would incur if I were not in business?'”

For example, you can’t just save random receipts thinking you’ll be able to write off all of those equally-random expenses you’ve had over the year…

The IRS would not be pleased with this one! Fear the audit!

The IRS would not be pleased with this one… Fear the audit!

  Myth 3:

“I don’t need a business plan, and there’s no need for a contract (we’re all friends, right?).”

Having the right plan and the right documents in place–with the help of the right experts–is essential to any business, whether you work alone or for yourself as an LLC or whether you plan on taking employees or hiring a friend, family member (or anyone at all) to work under you. You must take the time to consult a business attorney, no matter what the make-up of your company is like, but this is especially the case if you’re starting a small business as a partnership. Consulting someone in the field of business law will pay off; you’ll have templates to use at later dates for contracts and other transactions that may take you a lot of time and thought otherwise. You have enough to do, and you shouldn’t risk doing some of these things on your own, anyway. To learn more about types of businesses click the link.

Debunking Myths About Starting a Small Business (For the Nervous Nelly Entrepreneur):

  Myth 4:

“I wish I could make a living doing this, but it costs a lot of money to start a business.”

For most cases, starting your own company is actually very simple and not at all expensive. In Florida you can literally just log on to sunbiz.org and start a business the very same day. I believe the cost adds up to about $125-$150 to file, but don’t quote me. Do your research on the website. Of course, depending on the business you’re starting, you may have more to consider than just a filing fee and some new software to get you going. 

  Myth 5:

“I have a product/service/set of skills in demand, but I’m not experienced with numbers/marketing/keeping up with files/accounts (administration).”

A lot of people have something great to offer, yet they’re intimidated by the prospect of starting, owning, or operating a small business. Rest-assured that there are many resources and professionals out there that can help. Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks, and if you can’t do some research/self learning, track down a mentor, or take a class to learn the business skills you need to make it – remember that you can outsource or delegate these tasks or duties to a professional that can accomplish them properly. Look to business attorneys and accountants for help with contracts and numbers, and check out the free resources available to entrepreneurs both online and in your community. In Daytona Beach SCORE is a great resource, check out my blog on essential steps to small business success to learn more about them. 

  Myth 6:

“I can’t start a business until I am able to quit my current job.”

You can start a business at anytime without going gung-ho or doing everything all at once. Many people have gone on to own and operate successful small businesses that they’ve started while working at another occupation. Many solo entrepreneurs even use there small business as a second source of income. Whether you’re selling your homemade jams and jellies or initiating the next great tech start-up, you can indeed begin and go at your own pace. Every little bit counts.

Starting a Small Business, Living the American Dream

Starting a small business is never quite as easy or as hard as most people think it is. Working as a lawyer in Business Law, I see these two polar opposite views from would-be entrepreneurs all the time. The best advice I can give is do your research and consult professionals like business attorneys, accountants, professional marketers, and business consultants in order to have the best results and the best experience with your small business dreams. Good luck!

 

Heidi S. Webb Attorney at officeAbout Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb has nearly two decades of experience working as an attorney in the areas of small business and commercial law, elder law, estate planning, probate, wills, trusts, and medicaid planning for long term care. She works in the historic Kress building in Daytona Beach; and in addition to being an attorney at her own private practice, she has started a variety of successful small businesses – including managing office space at Work Webb in Daytona Beach, planning events and cooking up delights for Gourmet Girls, and making drinks unique and great tasting with her Not So Simple Syrup line.

Contact Heidi at (386) 257-3332 for a free consultation, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ Heidi Webb, Attorney at Law on Facebook for worthwhile updates, sprinkled with tips and free advice on estate planning and small business. 

The Benefits of Consulting a Small Business Attorney: Ensuring Business Security and Protecting Your Assets

business attorney

If you own or operate a business, you need to ensure you have every legal document in place. There’s a great deal of security earned through taking steps to consult with an attorney on matters related to setting up and running your business. 

Whether you are deciding how to set up your business, how to partner, or how to pass down your business to family members, the information and process can be long and complicated. On top of that, business law is constantly changing.

Whether you opt to establish your Florida business as an S Corporation, Incorporation, LLC, or Partnership, an experienced attorney can help you make the best choice for your individual situation. To learn more about these designations, visit this page with  types of businesses explained.

Business Law in Florida

Business laws in Florida are constantly being updated and adjusted. You need to stay current on the latest laws to ensure your business is operating legally and appropriately adhering to the current regulations. However, you can also look to a business attorney to navigate the process much more smoothly and securely. 

Asset Protection, Even for Small Businesses

Asset protection is essential in maintaining the stability of your business and its assets. Assets can be put at risk because of multiple vulnerabilities. Liability is always out there, and there is always a potential for lawsuits.

Examples of liability issues could pertain to personal injury on your premises, injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident, your responsibility for debts as an individual or as a guarantor for the debts of others including the business, allegations of misconduct, any pending lawsuits from former business partners, personal liability for yourself or the personal liability of business partners.

Florida is no doubt a litigious state, so it’s best to have all the proper business documents, contracts and agreements in place and the advice and foresight of a trusted business attorney at your side.

Without properly setting up your business, none of your assets are protected. Consulting with an experienced attorney who is skilled in all aspects of business law is seriously advised even for those with small businesses. In the case of partnership or employment, it’s especially important.

 

When it comes to business law matters in the Daytona Beach area, schedule a consultation Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law. Finally, the practical, professional and affordable legal guidance you’ve been looking for. Contact Heidi for a free consultation today.

“I stay updated on business law and take the time to fully assess your individual situation so I can help you make the best decisions for your individual needs.” – Attorney Heidi Webb

Can I Write My Will On A Napkin? Burning Questions About Estate Planning

napkin

Estate planning can be a complex process, and it is never pleasant to predict the end of yours or a loved one’s life. However, a carefully-planned estate can help your family avoid the headache of dividing an inheritance, a problem that has strained many relatives’ relationships in the past. You can write your will yourself; and yes, I suppose you could essentially write it on a napkin––but without an attorney’s help your decisions can easily be contested by the state, your heirs, and other parties you may not want to mess with your property, your rights or your decisions.  

There are four documents that every person, no matter his or her age, should have in the event of an untimely tragedy:

  • Last Will & Testament
  • Living Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Surrogate

What is Power of Attorney, and Who Has It?

Power of Attorney designates who makes legal decisions concerning your estate if you have reached an end-stage condition or passed away. You can name anyone you like, from a trusted family member to an attorney you already have on retainer. Just remember: they will be signing on the dotted line for all of your legal matters.

Perhaps the person possessing power of attorney is also your Health Care Surrogate and can execute both living wills and last wills & testaments (decisions about your healthcare vs. decisions about your property/finances).

How Old Do I Have to Be To Write a Binding Last Will and Testament?

In most cases, you must be a legal adult (18 years of age or older) to write a Last Will & Testament. It must be written in sound judgment and mental capacity, and you must name an executor to carry out your wishes after your death. In many cases, the executor also holds durable power of attorney. An executor is responsible for the following:

  • Taking inventory of property
  • Appraising and distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Paying taxes to Federal and State Governments
  • Settling debts owed by the deceased

How Often Should I Update My Will?

A Last Will & Testament can be updated at any time by the person whose estate it concerns. There are a few key lifestyle changes that can signal when it might be time for a revision:

  • Has the value of your assets changed?
  • Are you recently married, divorced or remarried?
  • Have you recently had a child?
  • Have you moved to a different state?
  • Has your executor become incapacitated, or has your relationship changed in a substantial way?

Generally, an Estate Planning Attorney is an excellent option for making sure that you have at least a basic will and that your will is up-to-date and reflects both your current lifestyle, assets and relationships—and they are trained to keep an eye out for changes that might affect the disbursement of your estate.

So the answer is yes, you can write your will on a napkin—it probably just won’t be distributed the way you truly want it to. To ensure that your Last Will & Testament is carried out to the letter, it’s best to enlist the help of a qualified Elder Law attorney in your area. That way, you can save your family the sometimes bitter fighting that comes with dividing up a deceased loved one’s belongings.

Attorney Heidi S. Webb specializes in Estate Planning and Small Business Law. Her office is located in Daytona Beach, FL, but she serves clients throughout Ormond Beach, Port Orange, and surrounding areas. Contact (386) 257-3332 to set up a free consultation. 

 

3 Essential Steps For Starting a Small Business in Florida – By Heidi S. Webb Attorney at Law

If you’re thinking about starting your own business or you’re already a budding small business owner and unsure about where to go next, there are a few essential steps to creating a promising model of success.

Consider and “check-off” the steps in this 3-part blog series before consulting with a small business lawyer to assist you with any contracts, documents or the general formation and expansion of your company or organization.

  1. Write a mission statement and outline a general business plan.
  1. Become official and get all your ducks in a row.
  1. Ask for help.

Be sure not to miss part 3 of this series, which provides small business owners with links to free business counseling services located right in Daytona Beach and Volusia County – I ensure you these organizations will be invaluable to your business plan.

If you’re looking for a small business attorney for any legal or advanced needs your business may have, contact Heidi S. Webb Attorney at Law to set up a free consultation. 

Heidi S. Webb Attorney at office

Heidi Webb is a Small Business and Estate Planning lawyer located in Daytona Beach, FL, practicing throughout the areas of Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Port Orange, and elsewhere in Volusia and Flagler Counties. Attorney Webb gives you straightforward, compassionate, and affordable legal counsel, and is experienced in the many facets of business law – including contracts, partnerships, incorporation, and company development from a legal perspective. She also works with clients in areas of expertise that include estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate matters.

Part 1: 3 Essential Steps For Starting a Small Business in Florida – By Heidi S. Webb Attorney at Law

STEP 1 – Write a mission statement and outline a general business plan.

Every business needs a mission statement behind it – whether you decide to make it public or not. A mission statement is essentially the skeleton of your entire company, and the very nucleolus of your more fleshed-out business plan.

That’s why, first and foremost, you should establish and continuously refer back to a concrete mission statement. Otherwise you’ll have a bunch of great ideas and good intentions floating around without a common goal lined up­­­­, no body or vessel for the soul of your business idea to live in, so to speak.

While the soul of your business is what counts – a soul without a body (or a foundation) doesn’t have much agency to make things happen (sorry to get all metaphysical on you, but it’s a good analogy!). 

So, after you get a solid mission statement in order – next draft a general business plan.

What you include in this plan really depends on the nature of your business, but here are a few things you can choose to record:

  • Your start-up list and goals: What have you done so far? What do you need to accomplish next? Where do you hope to be in 6 months, a year, 5 years?
  • Determine your purpose, your potential, and your potential market as best you can.
  • Make sure to list your “differentiators”, the things that make you different than the competition. These will be important to your success in the field. 
  • Your finances and budget. What’s the projected cost of your operating materials, rent, staff, etc.? These are very early projections, but this will give you some direction as you move forward.

Drafting even a quick, general business plan will help you make the best use of your time when you consult with a small business attorney, bank representative, or accountant. Don’t blindly jump into anything – take time to organize your thoughts, goals and perimeters before establishing any concretes. 

Now check out STEP 2 of the 3 Essential Steps for Starting a Small Business in Florida, all about making your business official and navigating your choices on the very allusive yet essential, sunbiz.org.