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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 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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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.

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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.
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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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May the odds be with you –but frankly they’re not.    More than 60% of doctors over the age of 55 have been sued at least once, according to a new survey by the American Medical Association (AMA).  Doctors are not the only professionals at risk. Virtually all small business owners and professionals face multiple risks from the person injured at a party on  one of your properties, the “friend” who borrows your jet ski and hits a swimmer,  dissatisfied customers, disgruntled employees, and unhappy ex-partners.

It is a simple reality: We live in a hostile legal environment, and the chance you will not face costly litigation at some point in your career is not good. The good news is that you can fight back.  Here is a quick summary of our “Porcupine” Asset Protection Strategy with tested legal strategies that can help protect your investments and property.

  1. Make Your Assets As Unattractive as Possible to Attack with a Good Asset Protection Strategy
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By Phil Rarick, 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 LLC (limited liability company) or LP (limited partnership). Do you know which assets you own that are protected and which are exposed? If not, we can help analyze this important issue.

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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 www.sunbiz.org 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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