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Articles Tagged with miami trust attorney

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.

Know your rights.  If you are a qualified beneficiary of a Florida trust you have important legal rights protected by Florida law.

The trustee of an irrevocable trust in Florida is a fiduciary with numerous responsibilities that run like a laser beam to the qualified beneficiaries.  See our 12 Point Summary of Florida Trustee Duties. “Qualified beneficiaries” are generally all beneficiaries who are current beneficiaries, intermediate beneficiaries, and first-line remainder beneficiaries, whether vested or contingent.  See F.S. 736.0103(16)

The Trustee has a core duty to keep the “qualified beneficiaries” of an irrevocable trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.  If you are a qualified beneficiary” of an irrevocable Florida trust you have the following “information” rights under F.S. 736.0813:

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:

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.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq. and Jacqueline R. Bowden, Esq.

In Florida, when you die, your debts remain in your estate – and are not transferred to a surviving spouse or family member.  However, this simple legal concept does not stop some creditors from harassing the surviving spouse or a family member into payment of a debt for which they have no legal obligation.

Creditors may strike immediately after death, showing empathy and false kindness, and then try to convince the surviving spouse they have a legal or moral obligation to pay.  Beware and do not pay until you have consulted an attorney.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq. and Jacqueline R. Bowden, Esq.

For same-sex couples living in Florida, now is the time to take full advantage of rights long delayed to make sure that your spouse or partner is cared for come rain or shine.  Here is a checklist of some of the most important action items.

  1. Living Revocable Trust: Make instructions to care for your spouse and children. Every couple should have detailed, legally binding instructions to care for their loved ones. The best way to accomplish this is to prepare or update your living revocable trust.  Such a trust can help avoid court intervention in the event of disability or death and make sure all your hard earned money goes to your spouse or children in a wise and prudent way.  For more information about Florida living trusts, see our Quick Reference Guide:  Understanding Living Trusts for Florida Residents.

By Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Trust Attorney

A Living Will is not a will and it is not a living trust.  It is simply detailed, legally binding instructions to your physician that you do not want to be maintained in a persistent vegetative state if there is zero possibility of recovery.

The term “living will” is confusing because it is not a will.  A better name is Declaration Regarding Life Prolong Procedures.  Such a Declaration is important to most persons because, at the end of life, they do not want to maintained in a vegetative state if there is absolutely no possibility of recovery.

Within the past 10 years, the Living Trust has replaced the Will as the best way to care for you and your loved ones because it can avoid the fees, cost, and stress of court intervention in the event of mental incapacity or death.  Properly funded, a living trust can help you keep legal control in your family or with persons you trust and avoid having a judge – an unknown third person –  make decisions about your personal affairs.

A living trust is simply detailed, legally binding instructions to care for you and your family.  There are three key players in a trust.  First, the Trustmaker or grantor; this is the person who makes the trust.  Second, the Trustee, whose job is to follow the instructions of the trust exactly and to the spirit of the trust.  The third role are the Beneficiaries.  The Trustee’s fiduciary duties run like a laser beam to the beneficiaries:  every penny of the Trust must be used in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Initially, you can act in all three roles in your living trust:  You can be the trustmaker, trustee and beneficiary.  Your spouse, children, or other loved ones can also be beneficiaries.

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