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

In our litigious society anyone can become a target of a plaintiff seeking to get a money judgment against you personally.   In today’s real estate market, where it is usually impossible to negotiate with the lender, deficiency judgments are a major concern.  You may have excellent car or property insurance, but a good personal injury attorney will typically seek to go beyond the insurance limits and name you as a defendant if the damages are substantial.    Owning assets that are exposed is an invitation to a lawsuit.

Thanks to the Internet, it is now easy for a creditor to find every piece of real estate that you own.   In fact, if you own real estate for commercial or investment purposes, you might as well publish your property holdings on the front page of the Miami Herald because it now takes minutes to find what property you own on the Internet.

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, 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:

By: Jacqueline R. Bowden Gold

It is no surprise that Florida is different from the other 49 states.  (Exhibit A: Google “Florida Voter Recount”)  What is confusing to some probate attorneys outside the state – and many within the state –  is our unique Procedure for “Probating” Homestead Property.   Pursuant to Florida Statute 733.607, protected Florida homestead property is not considered a probate asset, so why does it usually require a probate proceeding?

First, we must define what is homestead. Homestead is real property, of no more than 160 contiguous acres outside a municipality, or no more than one-half of an acre of contiguous land in a municipality, owned by a natural person, and the improvements on it. Art. X, §4(a), Fla. Const. In addition, to qualify for homestead it must be the decedent’s primary or permanent residence prior to death and the property must be owned by a natural person.

By Phil Rarick, Esq.

May the odds be with you – but frankly they are not:

  • A recent study indicated that the average lawyer can now expect three legal malpractice claims during his or her career.

By Phil Rarick, Esq.

The Message.   

Apparently the message has not got out:  In 2011, the legislature threw Florida single member LLC’s under the bus.  In a compromise with the bank lobbyists called the Olmstead Patch, multi-member Florida LLC’s (or limited liability companies) were given charging order protection, but a Florida single member LLC receive none.   This means a Florida single member LLC can be easily attacked because creditors are not limited to a charging order; rather creditors can foreclose on their interests. See F.S. 605.0503Olmstead V. F.T.C.   Also See Olmstead Patch.

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