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Articles Tagged with miami estate planning lawyer

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 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 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.

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, 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.

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.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq. and Jay R. Beskin, Esq.

Last year the Federal annual gift tax exclusion was $15,000 and the amount remains the same for 2019.  This means you can walk down the street and give out $15,000 to every person you meet and not have to file a gift tax return.   If you are married, husband and wife can combine their annual exclusions and give $30,000 to each child or grandchild.  As long as your gifts are below the annual exclusion amount, they are not counted against the lifetime gift exemption which is currently $11.2 million per person (Note: Be careful this is temporary and expected to drop in 2026).

Note:  Be very careful about making outright gifts to children.  It is far safer to use a “Gifting Trust” so that the money is wisely used for the child’s college education or other needs – and so that the child does not blow it when he turns 18 or his creditors grab it when he is in his 20’s.

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.

By: Phillip B. Rarick, Esq.

Most divorce judgments call for one of the parties to obtain a life insurance policy to secure the payment of child support, alimony or some other financial obligation.  Let’s assume the obligation is solely child support:  a potential mistake is failure to secure payment of the policy premiums by use of an irrevocable Children’s Safe Harbor Trust structured as a spendthrift trust.

For securing the payment of child support, the settlement agreement should have specific language that may read as follows:

12 Point Summary of Florida Successor Trustee Duties

Note: Trust administration requires strict compliance with the trust terms and often analysis of complex tax requirements. A trustee is a fiduciary and is held to a high standard of care under Florida law. If you are a successor trustee, we can help. It is important that you follow the advice of an experienced Trust Administration Attorney to avoid or reduce estate taxes or income taxes and to protect yourself against personal liability. Not only are the expenses of an attorney and CPA typically considered routine trust expenses, but failure to utilize such services can expose the trustee to personal liability.

  1. Show Loyalty To All Trust Beneficiaries. Even if the successor trustee is himself a beneficiary, as trustee he has the duty of loyalty to all the other beneficiaries, including the remaindermen. Remaindermen are beneficiaries who do not have a current interest in the trust income or principal, but have a future interest in the trust.
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