October 2006 Archives

October 7, 2006

Florida Estate Planning & Digital Assets

A new problem has begun to surface in Florida Estate Planning. What happens if you use email, or other online services? Will your loved ones be able to act upon your behalf if you are incapacitated or unable to act on your own?

Jacksonville, Duval, St. Johns, Clay, PVB, Ponte Vedra, North FloridaWith the rising use of the internet, it doesnt matter if you are in Jacksonville Florida or another city.How can you give your heirs access to information that may be stored online but secured by a password, but without the risk of unauthorized access.

If you put your passwords in your Florida will, they could change, or people who should not have access to them might gain access. Likewise biometrics (fingerprint or retinal scans) could also pose problems if there is not a password in addition to the biometrics.

The best solution seems to deal with a password vault where there is a master password. This way if your passwords change, the person who has access to the master password would always have the current password.

The master password could be on a document that is referenced within the will or other estate planning documents.

With the increase in electronic communications it's important to choose a Florida Estate Planning Attorney who is familiar with the technology and how to deal with these recent problems in estate planning.

Another solution is to create a Digital Asset Revocable Trust. This trust can be the owner of all of your digital assets or the assets you wish others to have access to upon a disabling event or your death. Since most of these digital assets are licenses, the trust will survive your death and others will be able to access the information. You still need to plan on how to transfer the information or knowledge to the successor trustee or beneficiary - this is Digital Asset Protection.

October 5, 2006

Living trusts: Best to transfer assets soon?

A general power of attorney will not be effective when the principal, the one who wrote and signed it, becomes incompetent, but a Florida durable power of attorney will still be valid after a person becomes incompetent or incapacitated.

One of the primary tax purposes of a durable power of attorney is to provide a mechanism for reducing a person's estate by making gifts of his or her assets. A similar objective in a smaller, nontaxable estate may be to make the principal eligible for Medicaid planning or assistance. In either case, it is prudent, and good practice demands, that the attorney at law who drafts the power of attorney includes the power to make gifts.

Jacksonville, Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Jacksonville BeachIf the gift-making power is not included, the validity of the gift may be challenged. The IRS has successfully challenged gifts that were made when there was no specific authority in the document.

A power of attorney is not the same as a trust, a will or a living will. But it is a separate legal document that is an important part of a Florida estate plan.

Please make sure when creating Powers of Attorney, trusts, or wills they are setup correctly. Often fill in the blank forms can provide a framework, but they are not able to take into condideration the particulars need of individuals. Its best to have an attorney prepare these documents and have them reviewed yearly by your Florida Estate Planning Attorney for changes in your status, and the law.

October 3, 2006

Estate planning & Financial Options: Reverse Mortages and Estate Planning

NOTE: Check with your Florida Estate Planning Attorney or one from your state on the effects of a reverse mortgage on your estate planning goals.

Today, many financial planners and insurance agents are advising seniors to consider reverse mortgage as a way to pay for healthcare and/or home exspense.

Reverse mortgages allow seniors to use the equity in their homes to pay expenses and still live in their home. The money can either be paid in a lump sum payment or montly payments or be available as they need the funds. Some reverse mortgages can even be setup as a combination of the options.

October 1, 2006

Types of Trusts: Your estate is a matter of trust (and not just for the wealthy)

For an understanding of Estate Planning you might read an article for some background. Mark A. Cline has written an article about the value of trusts for Megayacht news online where he talks about Trusts not only being for wealthy individuals. I am not sure any people who are not wealthy will be reading Megayacht news, but thought that others might find the article interesting.

He does a good job of explaining the various terms of trusts like the grantor, beneficiary, and trustee. In addition, he makes the point that " these documents (trusts) protect your assets and carry out your wishes in the event that you cannot." Here is the link to the article

For those who like this article you may also want to read his article on Estate Planning (wills, trusts, or both)