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By Phil Rarick, Weston Estate Planning Attorney

______#1.       Successor Trustee.  This is the person you have appointed to step into your legal shoes if you become incapacitated – in other words, one of the most important estate planning decisions you can make.  Who have you appointed to take charge if you are incapacitated?  What is the order of succession of trustees?  If you have any question whatsoever about your order of succession, please call the office at (305) 556-5209.

______#2.       Asset Protection.  Do you have any rental real estate that is in your individual name or an S corporation?  Do you have a single member LLC?  This is low hanging fruit for any potential creditor, and likely needs to be protected by placing the property in a multi-member limited liability company (LLC) or limited partnership (LP).  Do you know which assets you own that are protected and which are exposed?   If not, we can help analyze this important issue for you.

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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.

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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.

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

Note: This 10 Point Checklist is for those persons who have interests in one or more Florida entities, such as a corporation,  limited liability company (LLC),  or  limited Partnership (LP).

1.     Annual Fees.   In January the State of Florida will send notices via email reminding you that annual fees for each corporate entity are due no later than May 1.   Do not wait to get an email notice from the state, as your fees are due regardless of whether you get a notice.   Remember:   The deadline to pay these fees is May 1 without penalty.

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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, 2018 and there is no waiver of the $400 late fee if you miss this deadline.

The official Florida web site  at has “Consumer Notices”  to alert you to bogus web sites that try to scam persons who file these reports.  In my view, this notice highlights the failure of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to shut down these scam operations which have been in existence for over 5 years.

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Does A Trust Need to Be Recorded, Filed or Registered in Florida?

One of the most common questions I get as a Weston estate planning attorney is, do I need to record my living trust? Some persons believe that a trust needs to be publicly recorded like a corporation or a deed. This is generally wrong; not only is recording not required or needed for most trusts, in most cases recording would negate one of the chief benefits of a trust: confidentiality. Let’s look at more specific questions.

Does a Living Revocable Trust Need To Be Recorded During the Life of the Trustmaker?

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Exploring Immigration Options: The Best Visas for Investors, Executives & Skilled Workers

by: Elizabeth Blandon, Board-Certified Immigration Attorney

For investors, business executives and skilled workers, there are several excellent immigration programs available that can help you to live and work in the United States –in most cases you will also be able to bring your immediate family members.

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By:  Phil Rarick, Estate Planning Attorney

Many persons are tempted to have a “Simple Will” in which they want everything they own at death to go outright first to their spouse,  and if the spouse does not survive then to their children in equal shares.    Rather than take the time to consult with a Weston estate planning attorney, many persons are tempted to write the Will themselves, using will forms they see advertised on TV.  Read more:   5 Common Mistakes With Florida Do-It-Yourself Wills

In our practice we have seen many so-called “Simple Wills”.    Most have big problems that end up costing the family much more fees and causing more stress than if the person had the Will drafted by an experienced Weston estate planning attorney.  Here are just four big problems, but there are many more:

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You will miss this deadline if you do not read carefully – and you may need a magnifying glass to find it.  Within the past two weeks you should have received in the mail a “Notice of Proposed Property Taxes” or “TRIM Notice” from your county property tax appraiser.  Buried at the bottom of your  Notice in small print is an important deadline for appealing your tax assessment.

Clearly, the county does not want to encourage you to appeal your property taxes.

Note these deadlines:

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Big Question: Can your practice survive if you suddenly die or become incapacitated? 

Royal-Flush-florida-professional-association-post-300x215Recently, a highly respected physician suddenly died owning 100% of his practice in a Professional Association. No other person was listed on Florida’s as an officer.  Payroll was paid on a weekly basis.   Even though the Professional Association had been assigned to the doctor’s living trust, the bank (a large Florida bank) refused to give the successor trustee access to the Professional Association’s bank accounts citing F.S. 621.06, 621.09 and 621.11.

The statutes cited limit ownership of  a  P.A.  to a licensed professional.   We contend the Bank’s interpretation is overly narrow because no court has held that transfer of any interest to a living revocable trust is a transfer of beneficial interest. A living revocable trust is essentially the settlor.   Although we believe the bank’s interpretation of these statutes is wrong it is not worth fighting the bank.  The bank holds all the valuable cards:  the King, the Ace and of course all the money.

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As most attorneys know, a Florida LLC needs to be multi-member so members are afforded the highest protection. This is the result of recent state legislation which has clarified a charging order is the exclusive remedy against a multi-member LLC, but not against a single member LLC.  For more background on the new LLC law, see our past reports,  Beware of Single Member LLC’sOlmstead Patch Bill Signed by Governor; and 4 Take-Away Points To Know Under Florida’s New LLC Law.

This raises the question, if the LLC should be multi-member, who are good candidates for additional members? If a person is married, the obvious candidate may be the spouse. However, if the spouse is not a good option, or if the client is single, it may be advisable to consider a Children’s Trust, Grandchildren’s Trust, or life insurance trust as the second member.

Such trusts would typically be structured as irrevocable grantor trusts.

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