June 2007 Archives

June 20, 2007

Estate Planning and Discounts: Can a Fractional Interest In Artwork Be Discounted For Estate Planning Purposes

To discuss how this case may affect you, talk to your Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
In the recent case of Stone v. United States, No. 3:06-cv-00259, United States District Court for the Northern District of California (May 25, 2007), the declined to give a discount to the value of artwork.

Jacksonville, St. Johns, Duval, Orange Park, Amelia Island, Beach, rare artThe Court reasoned that artwork in not fungible. From that, and the testimony of the experts (and commenting that unlike this case, sales of fractional interests in real estate sales had comparable sales evidence of discounts) the Court concluded, in general, that a hypothetical willing seller of an undivided interest in art would rather sell the whole piece and split the proceeds, then sell a fractional interest at a discount. Such a sale might be by agreement or might be by partition. But, because a partition could be sought, no hypothetical willing seller would accept anything less than full value.

Turning to specifics, after dissecting the testimony of estate's expert asserting a 51% discount, the Court said that "a small discount is appropriate to account for legal fees" (here, legal fees would have been about 1%) and a further discount of 2% for costs of sale should be added. No appraisals would be necessary. "Some discount" would be appropriate for the uncertainties involved in waiting to sell the art. The Court would give no discount for lack of control, lack of marketability, lack of liquidity, the time value of money or other discounts commonly discussed in such cases.

The Court stopped short of making a final determination of the appropriate discount. Instead, it ordered the parties to seek to reach an agreement on valuation. But the tone of the Court's opinion suggests that, if pushed to decide, the Court would "just say no" to big discounts.

June 18, 2007

Florida Pet Trusts

This article has many interesting provisions that have been found in wills, but more common today are provisions dealing with trusts for pets.

Pet trusts are quickly becoming more common. Around 20 percent of pet owners include their pets in their wills. Florida have specific rules on how one can leave money or provide for their pets after their death. After years of resistance, more states are making it easier to set up a trust for a pet. A guardian is appointed to care for the animal and a trustee to take care of the finances.

People can be very detailed in planning their own funerals, down to requesting specific songs and Bible verses. “It’s less of a taboo topic,” said Leanna Hamill, an attorney from Hingham, Mass. “People talk about it more.”

The possibility of legal challenges can limit what one can do with a will. “The farther you go from standard provisions the more uncertain they are to be fulfilled,” said Neil Hendershot, an attorney from Harrisburg, Pa.

If you want to do anything unusual, the attorneys give this advice: Do your research. Talk to your family or anyone else involved long in advance. And, of course, consult a competent estate planning attorney.

June 17, 2007

Florida Wills: When do you need one?

Amy Baldwin has a nice article on when people usually think about getting wills. Typically they get wills when they are married, buy a home, have a baby, get a divorce or go on a vacation.
Jacksonville Florida, Orange park, Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville Living trust lawyerShe states that most estate planning lawyers say whether married or not, every adult, starting at 18 needs to have estate planning documents.

In general when people turn 18 they need to have a Florida medical power of attorney . With the new HIPPA regulations parents can not depend on being able to find out about their injured child and provide instructions for their treatment. In Florida and other states, many doctors will not release information to a spouse much less an adult child. Before your child goes to college, you should have him execute some common Florida Estate Planning Documents.

June 16, 2007

Estate planning: What will it do for me, my family and my business

Florida Estate Planning: The “right plan(s)” will accomplish all your goals.

There are basically two types of plans: a lifetime plan that should start now (in the next two or three months), and a death plan (your will and trust documents) that can sit in a drawer until you go to business heaven. By far, the lifetime plan is the more important of the two. Let me say it loud and clear: Never, under any circumstances, can your will and trust accomplish your lifetime goals. Even worse, standing alone, your will and trust rarely accomplish your estate planning (death) goals. Remember, your death documents do absolutely nothing until after you draw your last breath.

And the 11 most common goals in Florida Estate Planning
As you read the strategies, think about the ones that match your goals.

1) Allow us to maintain our lifestyle for as long we live [intentionally defective trust, S corporation, family limited partnership, retirement plan].
2) Control my wealth—including my business—for as long as I live [voting/nonvoting stock for business, family limited partnership].

Continue reading "Estate planning: What will it do for me, my family and my business" »

June 15, 2007

Florida Living Trust - 6 Tips for your Living Trust

Here is a summary of an interesting article on Florida Living Trusts:
1) Florida Estate Planning To Avoid Probate Costs. A Florida living trusts can help eliminate the cost and delay of probate.

2) What About Taxes And Asset Protection In My Florida Living Trust. No Tax Benefit. Florida living trusts do not provide any tax benefits at all. All income from the trust passes through to the personal or joint tax returns of the Beneficiaries. No Asset Protection. Although Florida Living trusts can provide some asset protection in the event of a divorce, Florida living trusts do not protect assets from creditors or judgment lawsuits. If you personally own an asset, and if that asset is not protected or legally sheltered, and if you “lose in court”, then the litigating party or plaintiff will likely obtain a judgment order to reach-in to your living trust and legally remove the target asset.

3) Pick Your Trustee And Successor Trustee. If you want to personally direct your Florida living trust business, then as grantor or settler you can appoint yourself as the initial Trustee. Make sure to instruct for a successor Trustee who is the person, or institution (like a bank or law firm) who will have the actual job of distributing the assets according to your instructions, and complying with all filing and statutory requirements under Florida State law.

4) You’ve Got To Hire An Estate Planning Attorney - It’s The Law. Reviewing assets, preparing a revocable Florida living trust for inheritance matters, and entering into a legal service contract requires that the preparer be a Florida State bar certified attorney.

Continue reading "Florida Living Trust - 6 Tips for your Living Trust" »

June 14, 2007

Florida Estate Planning: The value of a second opinion

Florida Estate Planning Lawyers often build a Florida estate plan around two basic strategies: The first takes advantage of the unified credit. (This credit eliminates the estate tax on the first $2 million, 2007 and 2008, this credit rises to $3.5 million in 2009. There is no estate tax in 2010 (But there are taxes in the increase in basis - watch out for highly appreciated assets). In 2011, the estate tax credit falls to $1 million.) By using an A/B or two- trust arrangement (often called A/B Trust, or a marital trust and family trust), a Husband and Wife can each avoid taxes on their estate tax credit based upon the year of their death. Next, the Husband and Wife plans usually take advantage of the marital deduction, which means zero estate taxes when one of them passes on.

The traditional estate plan that we see in every state. If you have a plan it is probably similar to what is described above. The problem with this plan is that in some cases it only delays the IRS from collecting their money until the death of the second spouse.

Often by looking at a complete financial picture of the Husband and Wife as well as their family tree and desires, a custom estate plan can be created that will potentially eliminate one's estate taxes (depending on the current law and future changes).

Before jumping into an estate plan with an A/B trust be sure to get a second opinion.

June 13, 2007

Conflict of interest between Husband and Wife

As your Florida Business Attorney or Florida Estate Planning Attorney if there is conflict of interest when more than one person is going to be represented.

There is an interesting article in the Post Gazette today regarding potential conflict of interests between a husband and wife. Whenever a lawyer represents two or more individuals, there is always at least the potential of a conflict of interest, even when the clients agree about everything.

The article goes on to state that:

The same is true when a married couple sees an attorney because the estate plan decided upon, depending on the circumstances, may well result in one spouse being deprived of a legal right. Whenever a person in a joint representation may be deprived of a legal right, the lawyer must advise that person that he or she is entitled to seek the opinion of an independent attorney and, in fact, must recommend a second attorney.

However after being advised of the right to see another opinion of an independent attorney, the couple may decide that they are willing to waive any potential conflict. If a conflict arises, the attorney must decline further representation of either party. For more information on this please review the link above and discuss it with your estate planning attorney

June 12, 2007

Florida Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts

Clients often ask Estate Planning Attorney'sfor a Florida will or a Florida Living Trust. The seldom ask for a will and a trust even though in most cases this is what they need. Clients who want to skip probate and avoid the fees and delays associated with establishing and administrating a probate in Florida often request a Florida Living or Revocable trust. One of the big problems with creating a revocable living trust is that most people never fund them. In Florida, a living trust must be funded prior to the death of the grantor or it is not in existence.

The primary purpose of having a valid Florida Will along with the Florida Living Trust is that if the Trust is not in existence, the decedents Will will determine how the assets are distributed. The will often directs that any remaining assets be placed in the trust and the trust will determine how the assets are distributed. Often the will does not exist, so the will must specify how the assets should be distributed in case the trust doesn't exist.

When you create a trust or trust/will combination please discuss what will happen if the trust is not funded, or you revoke the trust during your life.

June 11, 2007

Why use a Living Trust in Florida

Everyone in Florida seems to be going crazy to setup a Florida living trust. Often we find ourselves asking why does this client need a living trust. In most cases they don't, but if clients are looking for privacy, to save time or money on probate or have assets in excess of 1,000,000 a Florida living trust might be a good vehicle for their estate planning.

Much like a will, a living trust will describe what happens to your property in the event of your death. While you are alive, you can remain in control and have the power to change the trust at any time. Setting up a living trust allows you to avoid the expense and long delays of probate, and may even save you money on taxes.

Continue reading "Why use a Living Trust in Florida" »

June 10, 2007

Florida-Do it yourself Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning - Common mistakes made

Often clients ask about Do it yourself living wills, wills, trusts, and other components of estate planning. I read an interesting post by an Estate Planning Attorney and although they are not in Jacksonville Florida their advice and commentary is very relevant. Basically with a will, you don't often get a chance to correct mistakes or have a professional fix or review the document. The Estate Planning Lawyer compares it to buying a hair dye in a store and then getting a professional to fix your hair after you make a mess or do serious injury to yourself.

While this is true with business planning, often with estate planning there is no time to fix the mistakes. Often one discovers the mistakes in their will, trust, power of attorney only after it is to late to make any changes. Sure we could all go purchase a form, or use an online service and save some money, but if you are trying to protect assets, save money on probate, or reduce estate taxes, the few dollars saved (even if large by percentage) will often cost hundreds or thousands of times as much when the taxes come due.

Be careful with do it yourself kits and services, and if you have something to loose, remember that you often get what you pay for.

June 7, 2007

Florida Business law & Estate Planning: Ways to avoid costly litigation

It is important to have a Florida Business Attorney review important and complex contracts. In my experience as an entrepreneur, I have found that the number one reason why problems occur with employees and clients is a failure to set proper expectations and communicate effectively. Often when one looks hard enough at any problem, the cause and cure deal exclusively with expectations and communication. Often Florida estate planning involves litigation, although this article is focused on business, the same issues tent to apply to probate, guardianship, will constests and other types of Estate Planning.

I ran across this article which describes 5 things that one can do to help avoid litigation.

1 Think carefully about the type of people that you do business with 2 Be the kind of organisation which does not create disputes 3 Seek to communicate effectively and consistently. 4 Have management trained to face up to the dispute. 5 Have plain English and not too onerous legal term.
June 6, 2007

Securita Launches Vital Records PortaVault

As Hurricane season has just started, I thought that this product may be of interest to those of you wanting to secure your important documents.

The Vital Records PortaVault(TM) is a lightweight, binder-sized portfolio made of durable canvas that stores hundreds of pages of paper documents and records, as well as information saved on CDs and DVDs. The PortaVault includes a custom-designed zippered pouch that holds cash, keys and small keepsakes. The sturdy handle and shoulder strap make the PortaVault easy to transport and carry at all times.
The PortaVault enables individuals and their families to aggregate in one place vital information needed to recover from a natural disaster or other types of emergencies. The PortaVault also serves as a convenient repository for vital records for daily use and is ideal for adult children who care for elderly parents. The PortaVault costs $49.95 and can be purchased at http://www.securitaonline.com

June 4, 2007

Clay County Courthouse, Orange Park, Middleburg, Keystone Heights, Florida

Orange Park Estate Planning Lawyer, Middleburg Estate Planning Lawyer, and Keystone Heights Estate Planning Lawyer David Goldman works with clients in Northeast Florida including Orange Park, Clay County Florida. Orange Park is located in Clay County. Orange park. The Clay county courts have additional branch offices located in Keystone Heights, and Middleburg Florida Clay County borders Duval County which is where Jacksonville Fl is located. Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida and the largest contiguous city in the United States. Jacksonville is located about 25 miles south of Georgia. Jacksonville is in the First Coast region of north east Florida and the St. johns River runs through the center of the city. The current courthouse is located in three locations which are listed below.

Clay County Court House

Orange Park Location
825 N. Orange Ave.
Post Office BOX 698
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043-0698
(904) 269/284-6302

Keystone Heights Location
275 S. Lawrence Blvd.
Keystone Heights, FL 32656
(352) 473-8930

Middleburg Location
1836 Blanding Blvd #D
Middleburg, FL 32068
(904) 282-6490

The 1901 burned down the original court house pictured below.
Clay County, Orange Park, Middleburg, Keystone Heights-court-old.jpg
Clay County, named for the "great compromiser" Henry Clay, was founded in 1858. The original county seat, as designated by legislation, was Middleburg. An 1859 election moved the seat to the "McRae House," or Whitesville, thereafter renamed Webster in honor of Daniel Webster. The selection was controversial, eventually resolved by a judge, and in 1872 this "very insecure house" was burned and with it most of the county's judicial records. The current county seat is Green Cove Springs. The latter town dates from about 1830 and is one of many in the state whose promoters wistfully reputed it the site of Ponce DeLeon's fountain of youth.

The historic Clay County Courthouse is among the state's oldest, built in 1889. Combining Italianate and Second Renaissance elements, it is constructed of stuccoed brick with a round arched entrance and arcaded porch. It was designed by A. E. McClure of Jacksonville.

June 1, 2007

Florida Estate Planning: Exercise financial fitness with checkups

Most medical doctors recommend women get an annual physical to ensure good health and to identify issues before they become problematic. When it comes to financial health, a periodic checkup is just as appropriate and important. Unfortunately, many people put off financial checkups or decisions until they are rapidly approaching retirement. By then, it could be too late.

Just as you should get medical checkups, you should have your Florida estate plan evaluated when you move, get married, divorced, or have a significant change in assets.