Articles Posted in Trust Administration

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq., Miami Probate Attorney

Florida’s 30% elective share law was completely rewritten in 2001 because the old law could be easily circumvented by placing assets in a revocable trust or using non-probate transfers (e.g. life insurance, IRAs etc.)  In an effort to curtail such tactics, the legislature overhauled the statute and broadened the share.  The result is an expansive elective share that sweeps into the decedent’s “elective estate” many non-probate assets.  See F.S. §732.201 —§732.2155.

What Is Included?  Florida’s  elective share statute retains the 30% share under prior law, but introduces the concept of the “elective estate” (sometimes referred to as “augmented estate”)  that consists of the following property interests under F.S. §732.2035:

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:

By Phil Rarick, Miami Trust Attorney

Hard to believe we are in mid-Fall and 2016 is coming to a close.   Now may be a good time to sit down with a Miami trust attorney and review your estate plan.  One of the biggest problems we see with individual estate plans is failure to keep the plan updated to ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of your dynamic family. Here is a short checklist:

  1. Marriage/Divorce.Has there been a marriage, divorce, or separation of anyone named in your will or trust – such as your adult children or grandchildren?  Most persons want to ensure that their hard earned money goes to their children – or grandchildren –  not to any spouses.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Trust Attorney

Although the main focus of our Florida Counsel Services is probate, trust,  and corporate law,  we can assist your office if you need deeds to a trust or other entity.

If you wish to use our deed services, click FLORIDA DEED INTAKE FORM.  Please complete this form with all relevant information and email it to

Checklist for Amending your revocable trust

Checklist for Amending your revocable trust

Note: Your revocable living trust is designed to be as dynamic as your family.  It serves as the master set of instructions to care for you and your family.  Therefore, when there are big changes in your family, you may need an experienced Miami trust attorney to amend your revocable trust.

______#1. Marriage/Divorce.  Has there been a marriage, divorce, or separation of anyone named in your will or trust?  If there has been a marriage of an adult child (without a prenuptial agreement) you may need to amend your revocable trust to make sure monies designated for this adult child are protected.

Phillip B. Rarick, Esq., Miami Trust Attorney

Florida law requires that a trust must keep the qualified beneficiaries of a trust “reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.” F.S. 736.0813.  A “qualified beneficiary” is a current beneficiary, intermediate beneficiary, or first-line remainder beneficiary. F.S. 736.0103(16).  These information rights fall into two broad categories for a Florida trust beneficiary:  the Duty To Inform and the Duty to Account as follows.

Note:  The notice requirements discussed here typically apply to an irrevocable trust not a living revocable trust where the settlor (trustmaker) is not incapacitated.  If the settlor becomes incapacitated or dies, then these notice requirements likely do apply.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Trust Attorney

You are named the successor trustee and the trustmaker has just died. No doubt these are difficult times, but thankfully there are many resources to help. The following is a checklist of initial important tasks to help guide you after the funeral or memorial service.

Note: You are not required to accept the trustee duties. However, if you begin to act as successor trustee you will likely be held responsible for all acts as the trustee to the beneficiaries and the IRS. Therefore, do not begin to take any actions as Trustee before you know what your duties are. Consult a Miami trust attorney and see our 12 Point Summary of Florida Successor Trustee Duties.

____    1.         Minimum of 10 death certificates (these can usually be obtained through the funeral home)

____    2.         Original Will and all codicils (or amendments to the Will)

Note:   If you have the original, either personally deliver to the attorney’s office or send via Federal Express or certified mail.

By Phil Rarick, Esq.

The sole reason most trusts exist is to serve the needs of the beneficiaries. It is not an employment program for the trustee or any other person. Therefore, a core test for whether a trust is performing – and performing efficiently –  is to examine whether the needs of the beneficiaries are being met as instructed by the trust, and whether the purposes of the trust are being fulfilled.

If you are a beneficiary of a trust, here are some warning signs that a trust is not performing in an efficient way to meet your needs:

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