Nationally Recognized, Peer Reviewed & Client Approved Estate & Wealth Protection Planning, Trust, & Probate Attorneys
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Avvo Clients Choice 2016
DC Bar
Indiana State Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
The Virginia Bar Association
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Martindale-Hubbell - AV Preeminent - 2019
What Makes Us Different
  • Comprehensive: Integrated Wealth Protection & Estate Planning
  • Trust: Trusted By Over 2,000 Families and Fellow Attorneys
  • Experience: Over 30 Years Protecting Small Business Owners
  • Compassion: We Care About Your Family in Good Times and Bad
  • Cost Effective: We Can Usually Flat Fee Estate Planning Work
  • Commitment: We Strive to Be Your Attorney for Life

Practical, Personal, Compassionate
Florida Trust & Probate Attorneys

“I have known Phil for a number of years, worked with him on a number of matters, and he has handled estate and trust matters for my family. In all things I have found him to be honest, ethical, knowledgeable and skilled. He develops an excellent client relationship, employees a great deal of patience, and provides excellent service for his clients.”
Protecting Your Family & Business in a Hostile Legal Environment

What drives us is helping protect your family and small business in a litigious society that threatens your nest egg you have worked hard to save for your family and loved ones.

For over 30 years, Rarick & Bowden Gold, P.A. has been the law firm other lawyers have turned to for help resolving their client’s estate planning, trust, probate, and business matters. Since 1993, more than 500 law firms have asked us to help their clients.

Good Estate Planning Integrates Asset Protection

Some Miami estate planning lawyers do not integrate asset protection in their plans. We believe this is like planning with blinders on: you see only about 50% of the threats that could attack your family or business. Modern estate planning integrates wealth protection with your estate plan.

You Must Be Proactive: We Live in a High Risk Legal Environment

In our litigation saturated environment, everyone – including the best business person or best physician – is exposed to lawsuits, regardless of how careful you may be. There is no alternative – you must be proactive and plan ahead -before a threat of litigation arises.

“We will help you fight back by taking advantage of laws designed to help protect your exposed properties.”

We pride ourselves in not offering a dogmatic approach or one-size-fits-all solution. We first listen and learn about your family and business. Then we endeavor to tailor a plan designed to meet your core objectives – at a cost you can afford.

Choosing Your Best Legal Options

As Miami estate planning and asset protection attorneys, we will help you decide your best options. There is a wide array of legal tools available. Examples inside Florida, are a Florida multi-member LLC with a good asset protection operating agreement, a Florida Limited Partnership, tenancy by entirety, or smart use of Florida’s strong homestead laws. Examples outside of Florida are: Delaware LLC, Nevada Domestic Asset Protection Trust; and off-shore options, such as the Nevis LLC, Nevis Trust or Cook Island Trust.

We Will Be With Your Family in Good Times – and Bad

Most of our referrals come from past clients, attorneys, and CPA’s. As one of the most established estate planning firms in Southeast Florida, we provide over 60 years of collective experience in business law, Florida probate, tax law, and Miami estate planning for our clients.

“Our relationships with our clients go back many years – in most cases over 10 years – as we are committed to be your family estate planning and business attorney for the long term, in good times and bad.”

After our initial legal work for you is completed, we are available to answer short questions free of charge.

We like to have an understanding with all our clients that if there is a big change in your family you will inform us; if there is a big change in the law we will advise you. We hope to have a long relationship with you as your family attorney.

We endeavor to keep in frequent contact with you through our popular and free Report From Counsel newsletter, which offers practical legal tips and reminds you of corporate filing deadlines and other business deadlines that you need to stay on top of. Every year our clients receive a free Year Beginning Letter with helpful checklists to review priority issues for your family and company.

Statewide Florida Trust Litigation

We fight for you if you are the beneficiary of a Trust and your rights are not respected by the Trustee. We can file a Trust contest claim in any county in the state of Florida.

Trust Termination. Many Trusts are simply old horses that should have been put out to pasture many years ago. These are Trusts that no longer serve the grantor’s original intent but rather may have become a full time employment plan for the Trustee. Florida law allows for such trusts to be terminated.

Undue Influence. The most common basis for challenging a testamentary instrument such as a Will or Trust in Florida is undue influence. See Undue Influence below.

Trust Transparency. Many other Florida Trusts are administered by non-professional Trustees who fail to follow the strict fiduciary duties imposed upon them by Florida law. Trustees cannot operate in secrecy but have duty to be transparent unless otherwise restricted by the Trust.

If you are a current beneficiary of the Trust you may have Beneficiary Rights to important information about the Trust assets, the value of these assets, and distribution plan. But note, even if you are not a current beneficiary, but a conditional future beneficiary, you may also have significant information rights in Florida as a “QB” – or Qualified Beneficiary.

Have your beneficiary information and accounting rights been respected by the Trustee? See our 9 Point Trust Beneficiary Checklist.

9 Point Trust Beneficiary Checklist

As a qualified beneficiary of the Trust, you have important information and accounting rights. Take this quick test. Did the Trustee advise you of:

  1. The Trustee’s name and address within 60 days after the Trustee accepted the Trustee duties?
  2. Your right to request a copy of the Trust?
  3. Your right to an accounting of Trustee assets, income, and expenses? See F.S.736.08135.
  4. How the value of the Trust assets have been determined. Has the Trustee engaged neutral appraisers to value the land, business or other assets?
  5. All cash and property transactions
  6. The compensation paid to the Trustee?
  7. The compensation paid to the Trustee’s attorney, CPA and other agents?
  8. Other Trust expenses?
  9. A plan of distribution of Trust assets?

While the Trust terms may limit your information rights, it is often not a good sign if the Trustee is not transparent about the questions above.

Do not rely upon the Trustee’s attorney to advise you of your fair share of the Trust as many trusts are complex and may be open to multiple interpretations. Remember: the Trustee’s attorney represents the Trustee, not you as the beneficiary. Consult a Florida Trust Attorney before you sign anything.

Aggressive Statewide Florida Probate Litigation

Florida Probate is a bureaucratic and often complex process for filing the inventory of a decedent’s estate, paying the creditors, and distributing the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries if the decedent has a will or if not, the to the decedent’s heirs as determined by Florida law.

Common Reasons for Challenging a Florida Will
  • Undue Influence. The most common basis for challenging the entire trust is undue influence. The signature Florida case in the context of a will challenge is In re: Estate of Carpenter that holds a presumption of undue influence arises when (a) a beneficiary has a confidential relationship with the decedent; and (b) was active in procurement of the will. The court will look at such key factors as:
    • Did the beneficiary drive the decedent to the attorney’s office?
    • Was the beneficiary present at the execution of the Will?
    • Did the beneficiary isolate the decedent – for example was the beneficiary a 24/7 caregiver who was in the constant presence of the decedent?
    • Did the beneficiary monitor calls from family members – or prevent calls?
    • Did the beneficiary make negative, demeaning remarks about family members?
  • Lack of Capacity . Lack of “testamentary capacity” is a lower standard than general competency as the Florida Supreme Court notably said, “even a lunatic may make a will…in a lucid interval.” Murrey v. Barnett National Bank of Jacksonville . Critical factors to consider are, did the Will maker:
    • Understand and recognize his or her family members
    • Know the amount and nature of the property to be distributed under the will.
  • Flaw in Execution . A Florida Will must be signed in strict compliance with F.S.§732.502, and specifically:
    • The will must be in writing
    • Signed by the testator
    • Presence requirement: the testator must acknowledge signing in the presence of two witnesses
    • The two witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and the decedent.

Note: Deadline for Contesting a Florida Will

A person wishing to contest a Florida Will has 90 days after Notice of Administration to file a file lawsuit, but note, this time can be shortened to only 20 days if the claimant has been sent a Formal Notice of Administration.  

Locations Weston

WestonAs a Weston resident for many years, as well as an estate planning and business attorney, Phil Rarick understands the challenges the small business owner or professional faces in a harsh legal environment where a single lawsuit can cause severe damage to your business and reputation. We have been focusing on helping protect the small business owner and your family for over 20 years. Here is how we may be able to help you:

1. Weston Asset Protection: Florida has many strong laws to protect your business and protect your personal savings if you get sued. However, it is important that your corporations are structured properly and are up to date. Here are some common mistakes we see:

  • You have a Florida LLC but it is a single member LLC: this provides little protection
  • You have a LLC but you do not have an up-to-date operating agreement with anti-Olmstead provisions.
  • You have a Subchapter S Corporation, but the annual minutes are missing;
  • Your LLC or corporation is not certificated; by this we mean there are no stock certificates that accurately reflect ownership interests
  • Your Company stock certificates do not match your tax filing for the company

As Weston estate and asset protection attorneys, we endeavor to integrate your estate plan with your asset protection plan to provide an exceptionally strong plan that will be difficult to attack by a creditor.

Important Note: One of the most important factors in establishing such an asset protection plan is timing: You do not want to wait until you receive a summons for a lawsuit because then your legal options are likely limited or not viable. Plan now, when the waters are quiet. This is one critical item for which you do not want to procrastinate.

2. Weston Business Law: Many small business owners are too busy focusing on growing their business that they fail to plan ahead to avoid legal problems. For example, if you have a partner, you most likely do not want your partner’s spouse as a partner. Therefore, you need a clear Shareholder’s Agreement that provides a good exit strategy in event of a partner’s divorce, disability, or death.

Some small business owners attempt to limit their liability by hiring “independent contractors” and giving them a 1099 rather than a W-2. This can sometimes backfire. For example, a professional medical care management company in Miami-Dade County was recently hit with a $13 million dollar judgment even though the employee was a 1099. The take-away here: Giving your employee a 1099 and calling him or her an “independent contractor” does not necessarily make that person an independent contractor. Many other fact will be considered by the court. As Weston business attorneys, we will help you avoid such pitfalls.

3. Weston Estate Planning: Since our firm was established in 1993, a major theme of our legal work has been helping your family avoid court intervention in the event of mental incapacity or death. Most families want to keep legal control in the family and avoid having a judge – whom you do not know – appoint a person outside the family to manage your personal or business affairs. There are four critical legal instruments virtually all families should have in order to avoid court intervention: (1) Living Revocable Trust; (2) Durable Power of Attorney dated after September, 2012 ; (3) Health Care Surrogate; and (4) Simple, Pour-Over Will.

4. Weston Probate: If you have lost a family member, the legal tasks are many and often daunting because Florida probate is a complex and bureaucratic system. We will guide you in these difficult times by first helping you organize the last affairs of the decedent. We will file the Petition in Probate and move the case through the bureaucratic process in an efficient way. Probate cases in Florida require an experienced probate attorney. As Weston probate attorneys, we have over 20 years of experience in Florida probate law.

We are located at 2883 Executive Park Drive, Suite 101, Weston (behind Pollo Tropical). Our staff is multi-lingual in both English and Spanish.

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Miami Lakes

Miami LakesRarick & Bowden Gold, P.A. has been serving the citizens of Miami Lakes for over 20 years. As one of the most established estate planning, probate, and business attorneys in Miami Lakes, we work with families and small businesses to protect your company, hard earned property, and investments.

Phil Rarick has been active in Miami Lakes business affairs as past President and director of the Miami Lakes Bar Association for over ten years. Despite our traffic problems, Miami Lakes is a great place to raise a family and grow your business. (And hopefully our town leaders will resolve the traffic congestion in the near future!)

We are located two blocks from the new Miami Lakes Town Hall. Here are our core legal services:

1. Miami Lakes Estate Planning: Most people believe they need to have a will to make sure they give what they have, when they want, and to whom they want. However, many persons fail to understand the need to have a legal plan now to take care of you in event of mental incapacity.

Estate planning is making sure you have a plan in place to first protect you – and of course your spouse if you are married – in event of mental incapacity. As Americans, we are used to having total control over our personal decisions. In the event of mental incapacity one can lose control because without a strong legal plan a court will intervene in your affairs in the legal process known as Guardianship.

“Our goal as Miami Lakes estate planning attorneys is to help you avoid having a court intervene in your personal or business affairs in event of a mental incapacity or upon death.”

We have many legal options available under Florida law to achieve this goal, but the strongest option for most persons is a living revocable trust , which is simply detailed, legally binding instructions to take care of you during your life, and provide for your loved ones upon your death. As Miami Lakes estate planning attorneys, we will work with you to help ensure that you keep control in the hands of trusted loved ones regardless of the ups and downs of life.

2. Miami Lakes Probate: Probate is the legal process of proving up a decedent’s will and making sure the decedent’s wishes as stated in the will are fulfilled. It is basically a lawsuit. In Miami-Dade County – and all Florida counties, probate is a bureaucratic and often complex legal procedure. To navigate this system in a cost effective way you need an experienced Miami Lakes probate attorney. Rarick & Bowden Gold, P.A. has over 60 years of combined experience in Florida probate law.

Some attorneys offer probate services as a side area of law. At Rarick & Bowden Gold, P.A., probate is a primary focus of our work.

If you have been named as a Personal Representative (or Executor) of a will we will guide you through the Florida probate process. We will (a) file a Petition for Administration; (b) secure your Letters of Administration; (c) notify beneficiaries and creditors; (d) file the Florida estate inventory. This is a short list of some of the tasks the Personal Representative must do. As Miami Lakes probate attorneys, we will help you every step of the way to open and close the Florida probate estate in a cost effective and expeditious way.

3. Miami Lakes Business Law: The many small businesses in Miami Lakes give the town its special character. As Miami Lakes business attorneys, we enjoy helping small businesses grow – and stay out of court. This may be obvious but companies that stay out of court grow faster!

Florida law offers many legal tools and entities to help protect your small business – and most likely you want to take full advantage of all of these laws. For example, if you like to invest in real estate, then you likely need to title each property in a Florida LLC (limited liability company) that is multi-member and has a robust operating agreement with anti-Olmstead provisions.

Note: Do not fall for “cheap” do-it-yourself corporate creations for your LLC. If not set up correctly at the beginning, a Florida LLC can be penetrated by creditors.

If you have a Miami Lakes business with another partner, you most certainly should have a Buy-Sell Agreement (or Shareholder Agreement) to make sure you have an exit strategy if your partner does not work out, or your partner gets divorced, becomes incapacitated or dies.

If you have a small business and do not have a Miami Lakes business attorney, give us a call. We will be happy to meet with you, learn about your business, and discuss your best legal options to help you grow.

Ft. Lauderdale

Ft. LaudardaleAs experienced Ft. Lauderdale estate attorneys and business law attorneys, we have developed our reputation by helping doctors, professionals, and small business owners fight back in a legal climate where a single lawsuit can severely damage or destroy your business. Florida and other states provide multiple options to protect your savings; often the most cost effective strategy is to take full advantage of these Florida law asset protection legal options. Here are some of our services:

1. Ft. Lauderdale Asset Protection Attorney: There is a wide range of legal options available to protect your investments. As Florida asset protection attorneys, we do not employ a dogmatic approach or a one-size fits all approach in designing an asset protection plan that meets your objectives and budget. Rather, we look at your unique risks and design a plan tailored to those risks.

“Your legal analysis should usually start with making sure that you are taking full advantage of Florida laws designed to help protect your business and investments.”

If you have a Florida Sub-chapter S corporation, is your corporate record up to date? Do you have annual minutes? Do you have stock certificates that clearly show the ownership interests of all shareholders?

If you have a Florida LLC, it is important that your LLC be multi-member – you do not want to be the sole member of a Florida LLC because this can be penetrated by a creditor. It is also critical to have a detailed Operating Agreement with anti-Olmstead provisions.

Other states also offer excellent asset protection legal options. For example, Delaware is a good environment for establishing a LLC or corporation. Nevada is a good state to establish a domestic asset protection trust (DAPT).

Physicians and persons in high risk professions may want to consider off-shore planning and such options as a Nevis LLC or a Cook Island spendthrift trust.

These just a few of the legal options available to help protect your investments. As Ft. Lauderdale asset protection attorneys, we are available to meet with you and design an asset protection plan unique to your risks.

2. Ft. Lauderdale Probate Attorney: In choosing a probate attorney, it is important to find an experienced law firm that focuses on this area of law. Florida probate is essentially a lawsuit – in a complex and bureaucratic court system. Without an experienced Ft. Lauderdale probate attorney, this process may be much longer and more costly than necessary. At Rarick & Bowden Gold, P.A., we have a combined 60 years of experience as Ft. Lauderdale probate attorneys.

If you are the Personal Representative (or Executor) of a Florida probate estate, we will help guide you through the probate procedures. As a Personal Representative, you have a high degree of liability if you do not carefully follow Florida law. You must marshal all assets of the decedent – failure to find all assets could subject the Personal Representative to liability. You must pay creditors – but only legitimate creditors. You must pay all taxes – income taxes, property taxes, estate taxes, and other taxes – on time. You must distribute assets of the estate precisely according to the will and only to the legitimate beneficiaries of the will. And this is just a short list of some of your responsibilities as a Florida Personal Representative.

As Ft. Lauderdale probate attorneys, we will guide you every step of the way through the Florida probate system.

3. Ft. Lauderdale Estate Planning Attorneys: Every person should have an estate plan unless you want a court to intervene in your personal affairs in event of mental incapacity or death. As Ft. Lauderdale estate planning attorneys, our discussion with you usually begins with four important legal tools:

  • Florida Living Revocable Trust: A trust is simply your detailed instructions to first and foremost take care of you during your lifetime. A living trust, properly funded, can avoid probate and in event of mental incapacity, avoid the very costly and burdensome process known as guardianship.
  • Florida Durable Power of Attorney: Florida completely revised their Durable Power of Attorney (“DPA”) laws in 2012. If you have DPA signed prior to 2012, it almost certainly needs to be updated to take advantage of the strong powers available under the new law.
  • Florida Health Care Surrogate: No one wants to be left to the mercy of hospital bureaucracy. An up-to-date Health Care Surrogate is a necessary tool to make sure your medical decisions are made by a person you trust – and not left to an anonymous hospital bureaucrat or anonymous judge.
  • Florida Pour-Over Will: If you have a living revocable trust, you should have a pour-over will. This is a simple will and a safety net to make sure all your assets are controlled by one master set of instructions – your living trust.

These are some of the important legal options most persons should have as a Plan B to make sure you keep legal control with persons you trust in times of good health and times of poor health.

This is an area we all procrastinate in: Get this work done now and you will be surprised the peace of mind that it gives you. As Ft. Lauderdale estate planning attorneys, we are available to help you put in place a plan that will help give you this peace of mind.

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What Drives Us Is Helping You Fight Back In A Hostile Legal Environment Play Video ›
Our Mission Is Clear and Simple:
  • Protect Your Family & Business
  • Speak and Write in Plain English
  • Provide Advanced Legal Services at a Fair Price
Meet Our Team
Phil Rarick, J.D.
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Jacqueline R. Bowden Gold, J.D.
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How We Can Help
1 Take Advantage of the Strongest State Laws
As Miami trust and asset protection attorneys, we help you take full advantage of the latest estate planning and asset protection laws in Florida. When needed, we can help you use state laws in such top tier states for asset protection as Nevada Asset Protection Trusts and Delaware LLC’s.
2 Stay Out of Court
A big theme of our Weston estate planning attorneys is to help keep the court from intervening in your personal affairs or business affairs in event of disability or death.
3 Anticipate the Unexpected; Plan for the Expected
Many small businesses are successful because they have a Plan B to fall back on for the inevitable ups and downs of business. Our Miami, Miami Lakes, and Weston estate planning attorneys will help you prepare a robust and comprehensive Plan B.
4 Keep Legal Control in the Family - Stay Out of Court
No one wants the court to stick their nose into your personal or business affairs. A time-tested theme of our Firm is to help build a comprehensive plan to help avoid court intervention in event of a rogue family member, ex-spouse, or business partner.
Trusts & Probate Blog
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  1. 1 Nationally Recognized
  2. 2 Highest Ranking by Martindale Hubbel, JUSTIA, and AVVO
  3. 3 Hablamos Español

Fill out the contact form or call us at (305) 556-5209 to schedule your consultation.