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Articles Tagged with miami lakes estate planning attorney

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 $11.4 million per person (Note: Be careful this is temporary and expected to drop to $5.6 million 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.

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

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

2016 Federal Estate Tax Exemption:  $5.45 Million

For 2016 the federal estate and gift tax exemption is now $5.45 million – up from $5.43 million in 2015.  This means a single U.S. citizen can leave $5.45 million to their family members and friends and pay no estate tax if they die in Florida since Florida does not have an estate tax.  (As some commentators have stated, Florida is a great place to die.  For states where you don’t want to die see Where Not To Die)

By Phil Rarick, Esq., Miami Trust Attorney

Family law attorneys are increasingly using trusts to secure and safeguard the payment of financial obligations in their marital settlement agreements.  Such trusts can provide the following key benefits:

  • Security that payments will be made in a timely fashion

One of the most important decisions a baseball manager must make is his batting order – it can mean the difference between a win or loss.  (We will not digress to the Marlin’s management decisions – although this is tempting.)

One of the most important decisions you can make for your estate plan is your batting order of successor trustees:  who do you want to step up to the plate for you if you cannot?  It is important to place in position those persons in whom you have complete trust.   Your successor trustee is charged with managing your financial affairs.   This person is a fiduciary, and therefore under the law has a high fiduciary duty to follow your trust instructions exactly, pay all taxes on time,  keep a good accounting of all monies coming in and going out – these are just a few of the many tasks.  For a good summary of successor Trustee duties see our report: 12 Point Summary of Florida Successor Trustee Duties.

Many persons prefer to name a family member as a successor trustee – such as an older child.   However, this position can sometimes cause conflict and disharmony in the family – especially when the older child must make discretionary decisions about distributions of trust funds to the other children.

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.

By: Jacqueline R. Bowden and Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Estate Planning Attorneys

A power of attorney is a legal instrument you may give to a trusted family member or friend  (commonly called your attorney-in-fact or agent) to manage your financial affairs and act on your behalf. The person creating the document is referred to as the principal. A Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) differs as it remains effective after the principal becomes incapacitated. In order for a DPA to remain effective it must include language stating that subsequent incapacity will not affect the powers of your agent.

Note:  Florida’s Durable Power of Attorney law was completely rewritten effective October 1, 2011.   See New Florida Durable Power of Attorney Law Makes Sweeping Changes.  If you have a DPA dated prior to October, 2011, we strongly recommend that you update your DPA.

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