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By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq.,  Weston Asset Protection Attorney

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a current, hot selling book written by a physician and advising how to get things right by implementing commonsense systems.

In today’s modern medicine, coupled with our information age, where virtually every procedure can be scrutinized by an “expert” easily found on Google, it should be standard procedure for every doctor to have a comprehensive asset protection plan –  one that is up-to-date to  meet the challenges of our fast-changing legal system.

By Phil Rarick, Miami Estate Planning Attorney 

Sometimes the best designed Marital Settlement Agreements fail because they lack a strong mechanism to ensure that support payments, designated for the children, are not wasted by poor money management, by either or both parents. In such circumstances, Family Law Attorneys should consider a Children’s Future Trust or CFT for short.   A Children’s Future Trust can help protect and safeguard the children’s future education, health and essential lifestyle needs. Here are some benefits:

  1. Secure and Ensure Prudent Management Of Child Support Funds By An Independent Trustee

By Phillip B. Rarick, Weston Estate Planning Attorney

Irrevocable divorce trusts should always be an important tool in the Family Law Attorneys bag of tools as a well designed trust can address multiple issues that cannot be fully resolved through a Divorce Agreement.   It may be a good idea to brainstorm possible irrevocable divorce trust solutions with an experienced estate planning attorney at the commencement of the case. Here are a few examples:

Dissolution #1:           Husband and wife have minor children, ages 8 and 10.  Wife is big shopper and bad money manager.  Your client is the Husband.  He is concerned that if child support payments go directly to wife she will use some of the funds to buy expensive clothing and keep up her lavish life style  – to the detriment of the children.  Both parents agree that they want to ensure that the children go to a private high school and a prestigious college or university after high school.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq. and Jay R. Beskin, Esq.

Last year the Federal annual gift tax exclusion was $15,000 and the amount remains the same for 2019.  This means you can walk down the street and give out $15,000 to every person you meet and not have to file a gift tax return.   If you are married, husband and wife can combine their annual exclusions and give $30,000 to each child or grandchild.  As long as your gifts are below the annual exclusion amount, they are not counted against the lifetime gift exemption which is currently $11.4 million per person (Note: Be careful this is temporary and expected to drop to $5.6 million in 2026).

Note:  Be very careful about making outright gifts to children.  It is far safer to use a “Gifting Trust” so that the money is wisely used for the child’s college education or other needs – and so that the child does not blow it when he  turns 18 or his creditors grab it when he is in his 20’s.

By: Phil Rarick, Esq. 

A Short Story With a Big Lesson

Everyone admired the Anderson family.    Walter and Joan had 5 children and had worked hard all their lives to give their children the best of American life:  each child received a car when they were a junior in high school – provided they had a 3.2 GPA.   Two children went to FSU, two went to University of Miami, and one to Cornell.  They all enjoyed the benefits from Walter and Joan’s small business – a flower import business next to the Miami airport.   Walter and Joan had started the business 45 years ago, the year they were married, and it had grown into a business with 19 employees and many good customers including Publix.

By:  Phillip B. Rarick, Weston Estate Planning Attorney

In 2008 Florida passed an amendment to our Trust Code designed to allow a Trustee to use trust funds to pay legal fees incurred in defending a breach of trust litigation without prior court approval, so long as the Trustee gave notice to qualified beneficiaries of its intent to do so.

On its face, Florida Statute, F.S. 736.0802(10), seems to give the Trustee access to Trust funds to defend itself, but on closer examination, it creates a potential conflict of interest sandtrap.

By: Phil Rarick

Here is a scenario we see more and more with persons who try to do estate planning themselves, specifically Florida Wills, without consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney.     Louise has three adult daughters, Erma, Madeline, and Roseanne.  The daughters are all close and speak to each other at least once a week.   Louise wants to treat them all equally.  Louise has four major assets: her home, a traditional IRA, a checking account, and a savings account.

Louise downloads a Florida Will form on the internet and says each child is to get one-third of everything she might own at death.  She is careful to sign the will before a notary and two witnesses with a “Self-Proving Affidavit”.  Louise dies, and the daughters schedule a meeting with a Probate Attorney.  At the meeting the probate attorney informs the daughters that the Will is good under Florida law.   However, despite the Will, 100% of the assets go to Erma.  Madeline and Roseanne are not happy.  How can this happen?

By: Jacqueline R. Bowden Gold

Our office handles probate estates for many out of state residents through our Florida Counsel services. In handling the estates there are three common problems we see with Non-Florida Wills that can easily be avoided by consulting with a Miami Estate Planning attorney. If you have a non-Florida resident who owns Florida real estate an ancillary administration may be required upon their passing.  You should consider these problems when drafting their Will:

  • Naming an out of State Attorney as Personal Representative or Executor.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq.,  Miami Lakes and Weston Estate Planning Attorney

Within the past week, the Florida Department of State began sending notices by email to all persons with interests in Florida corporate entities, such as LLC’s, corporations, and limited partnerships.  These reports are due May 1, 2019 and there is no waiver of the $400 late fee if you miss this deadline.

The official Florida web site  at www.sunbiz.org has “Consumer Notices”  to alert you to bogus web sites that try to scam persons who file these reports.

By Phil Rarick

All modern passenger jet planes have at least two engines.  Similar reasoning applies to prenuptial agreements.    Many will argue that a good prenuptial agreement should fly safely on its own without the need for a “second engine.”   However, a second engine could be a Nevada Asset Protection Trust (“APT”) that could only be contested in a Nevada court.    Simply by requiring a litigant to seek redress in another jurisdiction will present a strong financial and psychological deterrent to a disgruntled spouse seeking to overturn the prenuptial agreement.  Two engines are safer and stronger than one!

PRENUPTIAL-AGREEMENT-PLANE-TAKEOFF
Here are two initial objections that I hear from some of my Family Law attorney friends:

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