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By Phil Rarick, Jacqueline Bowden Gold, and Jay Beskin, Miami Lakes and Weston Business Law Attorneys

Note: The following is a preliminary review of key parts of the CARES Act; this commentary is  subject to change upon guidance from the SBA and U.S. government

On March 27th, Congress passed and the President signed into law a $349 billion “Paycheck Protection Program” as part of the massive Coronavirus relief package.  This program will likely be a life safer for many small businesses.  It is available through June 30, 2020, however Congressional leadership has already discussed extending it for additional months.

By: Phil Rarick, Weston Estate Planning Attorney

Editor’s Note:  The following is a public service Alert from Rarick & Beskin, P.A.  This firm does not offer  or recommend Remote Online Notarization Service providers.

Beginning January 1, 2020 Florida joins 20 other states allowing Remote Online Notarization or “RON” for deeds, mortgages and other instruments. Beginning July 1, 2020 RON will be available for “electronic wills” and other testamentary documents. See Florida Ch. 2019-71. This Alert will discuss the RON process for non-testamentary documents that will be of interest to real estate attorneys. A subsequent Alert designed for estate planning attorneys will discuss the new law’s requirements for Florida electronic wills and other estate planning documents that commence July 1.

By Phil Rarick & Jacqueline Bowden Gold, Weston Estate Planning Attorneys

In 1992 estate planning attorneys  Robert Esperti and Renno Peterson wrote the best selling book, The Living Trust Revolution that captured the major shift in estate planning arising from the $6.8 trillion worth of wealth transfer beginning to take place in the United States.  That was 1992.   With the baby boom generation now retiring it is estimated that nearly 45 million U.S. households will hand down about $68.4 trillion over the course of the next quarter-decade, according to research firm Cerulli Associates.  Note: the estimate of this massive wealth transfer is now ten times the size from 1992!

The living trust revolution correctly foresaw the shift in estate planning from wills, as the cornerstone of estate plans, to living revocable trusts.  This revolution has helped many families avoid the cost of probate and keep legal control within the family for managing the wealth transfer.   I am convinced it has helped prevent many family disputes and outright family wars that break out when the family patriarch or matriarch dies without a well drafted trust. A well drafted trust lays out clear instructions about the family matriarch’s wishes and intentions.  It is when the matriarch leaves “in a vacuum” instructions that she creates an environment for family warfare.

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 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!

Here are two initial objections that I hear from some of my Family Law attorney friends:

By Phil Rarick, Weston Estate Planning Attorney

This report is a reminder that the FBAR or Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account is due June 30.    The FBAR is required for U.S. persons having a financial interest or signature authority over one or more foreign financial accounts, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, estate, pension, cash value life insurance, or other type of foreign financial account having an aggregate value over $10,000 at any time during 2015.

Note:  A U.S. person may have a reporting obligation even though the foreign financial account does not generate any taxable income.

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 Jefferson H. Weaver, Esq.

Documentary Stamps Due On Sale

Buyers and sellers of real estate in Florida have some familiarity with the documentary stamp tax as it invariably shows up on their settlement statements as a closing cost.  Whether the seller alone or both the seller and buyer pay documentary stamp taxes depends on the type of transaction.  If there is no financing involved, then the documentary stamp tax will be calculated based upon the sales price of the property itself at a rate of  $0.70 per $100 of value.  The only county in Florida with a different schedule is free-thinking Miami Dade County where the rate is $0.60 per $100 of value when the property is a single family residence.  Other types of properties in Miami Dade County are charged slightly different rates of documentary stamp tax.

Note: Keep In Your Car Glove Compartment in Case You are in an Auto Accident

  1. Safety first. Move to a safe location.  If there are any injuries or property damage call 911 immediately.
  1. Stay calm. Focus on task at hand documenting the accident.  Be courteous but don’t admit fault.  An investigation may later show you were not responsible.
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