November 2007 Archives

November 28, 2007

Maximizing Charitable Gifting in Your Estate Plan

Many Florida residents include language in their Florida estate planning documents which leave either a fixed sum or a percentage of their estate to one or more charities.

The most common gift is an outright bequest of property to a named charity from a Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust. The gifts can be any type of property and often consultation with a tax adviser as to which property to leave can produce additional tax savings. Analysis of the size of the estate, and the cost basis of various assets can make significant differences.

In addition, careful attention needs to be made to the selection of the asset and how it is described in the documents. Contingencies can be made for a change in assets if the person wants to make a gift even if that asset does not exist.

One major area of concern is making a charitable gift from a Florida Living Trust if there are retirement assets included in the trust. As a charity is a non qualified beneficiary, it can a negative effect on the ability for other beneficiaries to take the proceeds over a prolonged period of time.

For more information on these issues you should consult with an Estate Planning Lawyer in your state and your accountant. To contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer follow this link

November 21, 2007

NFA Firearms & Gun Trusts? Are they at risk with the Supreme Court?

Jacksonville Gun Lawyer, Florida NRA trust, Gun Trust, Class 3 TrustThis week the Supreme court decided to review a Washington D.C. Court decision that struck down a 31 year ban on pistols.

Many believe that the argument and decision by the Supreme Court will be based upon the widely contested interpretation of the 2nd amendment. Over the past few decades many have argued that the 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution was meant to only apply to states rights to arm their militia. The NRA, pro gun organizations, and many American have insisted that the 2nd amendment clearly applies to the individual rights of United States citizens.

Generally many communities have been imposing tighter restrictions on the rights of their state residents to own and possess guns of all types. The primary concern seems to be based around Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers) which include silencers, short barrel rifles, and automatic weapons. Some states have restrictions on the ownership and possession of these devices in addition to the federal restrictions that are in place. Other states like Florida have no additional state restrictions at this time.

In many states without additional restrictions, the Chief Law Enforcement Officers of those states have refused to sign the documentation necessary for an individual to possess these items. Many have found that a NFA Gun Trust or Gun Trust is often the best way to acquire these firearms.

When one uses a NFA GunTrust, the federal government does the processing and any background checks instead of the local CLEO.

Many SWAT team members, police officers, and other government employees who are allowed to use their own firearms in their job have had to resort to creating Gun Trusts.

There are many benefits of a NFA firearms gun trust over owning the firearms as an individual, corporation, or limited liability company. In addition to the benefits, there are many risks associated with an improperly created NFA Gun Trust. These are similar to the risk of ownership of NFA items as an individual.

It has been rumored the decision in this Supreme Court case could affect gun laws and ownership in many additional states.

For more information on a NFA Gun Trust please contact a NFA Gun Trust Lawyer.

November 20, 2007

Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 5

Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, PVB, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, Florida WillProfessor Gerry W. Beyer author of the Wills, Trusts, & Estates Professors Blog, as reported on a mistake in estate planning where a Another Self-Help Estate Plan Gone Awry. In this case a man decided not to consult with anestate planning lawyer. He transferred the family home to his stepchildren son and $150,000 of securities to his son.

The house was highly appreciated and as such was a poor asset to select to use as a lifetime gift. Because it was transferred during life, the children had to use the father's basis instead of the price of the home at the death of the father. This resulted in over $80,000 in capital gains liability.

In addition the house, because it was transferred within 3 years of death, was still included in the father's estate value and did not reduce his estate taxes.

The moral of the story: Spontaneous self-help by a Testator / Grantor can backfire and deprive heirs of large percentages of an estate and prompt family tensions. Professional planning would have made a huge difference to this man's family.

Some other examples of Do it your self wills and bad news are covered in my articles listed below

Do it Yourself Wills? More bad news and
Do it Yourself Wills? a Good Idea or Not?
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 3
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 4

This is a common mistake found in Florida Probate cases, when people try to make their own wills, or transfer their assets without getting professional help from an attorney or accountant who is familiar with the effects of gifting and estate planning.

If you have used software, a form, or an online service to prepare your will, you should have it reviewed by a Florida Estate planning Attorney for potential problems.

November 19, 2007

Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 4

Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, PVB, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, Florida WillProfessor Gerry W. Beyer author of the Wills, Trusts, & Estates Professors Blog, as reported on a mistake in estate planning where a "Do it Yourself" Estate Plan Backfires. In this case a mother who did not hire her own estate planning lawyer made a number a big mistake that ended up causing problems withe Medicaid eligibility.

The mother, a widow, was worth 500K. Her home is worth 400K and has 4 children. After her daughter and son-in-law declared bankruptcy and moved in with her, they suggest buying her home. Unfortunately the home was not transfered at fair market value, and the mother made part of the purchase a gift. Mom ended up not having assets to split between the children like she had intended, and if she needs to qualify for medicaid within 5 years she will be disqualified.

Some other examples of Do it your self wills and bad news are covered in my articles listed below

Do it Yourself Wills? More bad news and
Do it Yourself Wills? a Good Idea or Not?
Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 3

A common mistake found in Florida Probate cases, is where Florida homestead, property that is exempt from probate, is changed to real property and subject to claims of creditors and not exempt from probate.

If you have used software, a form, or an online service to prepare your will, you should have it reviewed by a Florida Estate planning Attorney for potential problems.

November 16, 2007

Gift to your children before year end!

Tax breaks on dividends and capital gains for college-age dependents will end on January 1. In the meantime, families can still take maximum advantage of the current law.

Jacksonville Florida Estate PlanningA significant source of tax savings for American families will disappear on January 1, 2008. That’s when changes Congress made to the tax code in 2007 go into effect, increasing the tax rate on unearned income college-age taxpayers receive from their parents. Simply put, Congress is cracking down on parents who transfer such assets as stocks, bonds and mutual funds to children to take advantage of lower income tax rates.

As a result, the Small Business and Work Opportunities Act of 2007 extends the higher tax rate to children 18 years old and to full-time students ages 19 to 23. For 2008, the unearned income of children that exceeds $1,800 will be taxed at their parents’ usually higher marginal income tax rate—making it more difficult to shift assets to children to, say, meet college costs. (The $1,800 limit adjusts annually for inflation. The limit is $1,700 for 2007.)

Time to act

Families affected by the changes may want to take advantage of the time remaining in 2007 before these new rules go into effect. Your Financial Advisor or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer can help you develop a strategy to transfer appreciated assets to your children ages 18 to 23 and sell that property in 2007 at lower capital gains rates.

For now, you can give your child up to $24,000 ($12,000 per parent) in appreciated property without triggering a gift tax. For example, a couple could make their 19-year-old daughter a gift of stock valued at $24,000. Assuming a $4,000 cost basis and the daughter’s sale of the shares by December 31, 2007, the $20,000 gain would be taxed at her 5% tax rate, resulting in a $1,000 tax. However, if the family waits until 2008 to sell the stock, the tax liability could reach $2,800.

If this same family made transfers in previous years in expectation of selling the assets in 2008 or beyond to pay for their daughter’s college education, 2007 would be a good time to consider selling.

Any tax statements contained herein were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. Please consult your adviser or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein.

November 15, 2007

Enhanced Life Estate Deeds in Florida and Medicaid Planning

A Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed (sometimes called "The Lady-Bird Deed") is a tool used by Florida Estate Planning Attorneys, Florida Elder Law Attorneys, and other by Florida Lawyers to preserve the homestead for the benefit of the family. Upon the death of the homeowner's the property will pass to the people designated without the need for a costly probate process.

Jacksonville Duval Clay Orange ParkWhy Use an Enhanced Life Estate Deed?
The Enhanced Life Estate Deed provides a mechanism to bypass the probate process and thus the creditors. Under this document, the husband and/or wife retain a Life Estate Interest under which he or she retains the right to live on the property for their life. Unlike a Life estate, the husband and/or wife retain the right to sell, mortgage, convey, gift, or cancel the remainder interest at any time during their life. If there is any property interest upon the last to die of the husband and/or wife, the remainder will pass in fee simple to the designated individuals named in the deed.

Who should use the Enhanced Life Estate Deed?
An Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Lady-Bird Deed should be use by individuals or couples who want to simplify the transfer of their property upon their death and retain full authority and possession over their property.

Will using an Enhanced Life Estate Deed affect my Medicaid Eligibility?
As long as the individuals demonstrate an "intent-to-return" to the homestead Medicaid Eligibility should not be affected.

What are some common mistakes with deeds?
Many Florida residents add their children on their deeds as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.
Many Florida Residents deed their property to their children and retain a life estate.

What can happen if I have made a common mistake on my deed?
1) My home may not be protected from creditors and/or loose its homestead protection.
2) I may be disqualified from Medicaid in the event that I need to go into a Nursing home.
3) I may have made a gift, subject to Federal Gift Taxes, Penalties, and Interest which my heirs and/or family may be responsible for paying.
4) I may not be able to sell my home or use the proceeds from my home to enhance my quality of life, travel, or pay for the necessary medical care I need.

If I have made a mistake transferring my property, can it be fixed?
Yes, You should meet with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to evaluate your situation, and prepare the documents necessary to allow you to qualify for Medicaid, deal with the Gift taxes, protect your homestead, and pass your homestead to the desired beneficiaries without the costly expense and delay of Florida probate.

November 15, 2007

Multi State Estate Planning Techniques

Many people who have reached the age of retirement split their time between Florida and another state. Since we are at the prime time of year for this to be happening I thought it appropriate as a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to write about some of the issues of Estate Planning that can affect these individuals.

Florida's new trust code has a new requirement of a connection with the state of Florida to be able to create and use a Florida Living Trust or any Florida Trust.

In addition there are specific requirement for Valid Florida Durable Power of Attorney that do not exist in other states. If you visit or live in Florida, you Durable Power of Attorney should have the relevant Florida language to make sure it can be enforced in Florida.

Often our clients have well-established relationships with the Estate Planning Lawyers in their home state. Some want to take advantage of the strong and robust trust code in Florida compared to that of their other state of residence. A common question that arises when a person spends time in two different states (dual residency) is: how do you create a Florida living trust and Florida Estate Plan that works as intended when you are not sure where the probate or trust administration will take place?

This issue becomes important because the ultimate determination of domicile for the purpose of probate and trust administration is not conclusively determined until a person passes away. Individuals can take steps to help insure that Florida is considered their domicile to take advantage of the favorable tax, estate tax, and probate costs associated with Florida.

Often when I am confronted with a living trust and family which spans multiple states I try to work with an Estate Planning Lawyer from the other states to make sure that the Living trust complies with the requirements of each state as well as offers the advantages of each state. Often we find that Florida is as advantageous as other states, but sometimes we use aspects from each state to create the plan that serves the clients ultimate needs.

For example, if there is a possibility that my client's estate plan may be administered in Connecticut or another northern state. In these cases we will work with Estate Planning lawyers from these states to make sure that any recent changes in the states laws are included in the will or revocable trusts that are in place or being prepared

Do you have to work with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to make sure your estate plan works in Florida and or a different state than where it was created? In most cases I find that the answer is no. Although competent drafting can establish the site of the trust as the state where it was created it can also establish another state when there are advantages. Most Florida Estate Planning Lawyer focus on one state and are not able to accurately determine what is the best state to use. This means that even if there are judicial proceedings in Florida, the court can interpret the revocable trust according to the chosen state in the trust.

An effective estate plan for dual residency is a challenge and an opportunity. Multi-state Estate Planning can be a can of worms for the ill-prepared and can have unintended or unforeseen consequences to an estate plan that worked perfectly fine in one state. However, if you act carefully you can not only preserve your existing estate plan, but possibly enhance it as well.

If you would like you Estate Planning Documents reviewed to see if they can be enhanced please contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

If you would like your Estate Planning Documents reviewed by a http://www.shealawonline.com/blog/ Connecticut Estate Planning Lawyer you may contact http://www.shealawonline.com/ Richard L. Shea.

November 14, 2007

Why Do I Need Estate Planning?

Mitchell Port a California lawyer posted a link to an article on the California Tax Attorney Blog about an article on the State Bar Website which provides information on estate planning. Although this is a California bar website, many of the same issues and considerations are important to Florida residents interested in Florida Estate Planning. Much of the information is also found on The Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog which primarily deals with Florida issues.

1. What Is Estate Planning?
2. What Is Involved in Estate Planning?
3. Who Needs Estate Planning ?
4. What Is Included in my Estate?
5. What Is a Will?
6. What Is a Revocable Living Trust?
7. What Is Probate?
8. To Whom Should I Leave My Assets?
9. Whom Should I Name as My Executor or Trustee?
10. How Should I Provide for My Minor Children?
11. When Does Estate Planning Involve Tax Planning?
12. How Does the Way in Which I Hold Title Make a Difference?
13. What Are Other Methods of Leaving Property?
14. What If I Become Unable to Care for Myself ?
15. Who Should Help Me With My Estate Planning Documents?
16. How Do I Find a Qualified Lawyer?
17. Should I Beware of Someone Who Is a "Promoter" of Financial and Estate Planning Services?
18. What Are the Costs Involved In Estate Planning?

If you or a family member fees that a Florida Estate Plan will benefit you please contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

November 13, 2007

Discussing Your Estate Planning With Your Children.

Leanna Hamill with the Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog wrote an article on Estate Planning titled Should You Discuss Your Plans with Your Children?

In the article she discusses the fact that clients often wonder if they should share their estate plans with their children. In giving her expected advice of IT DEPENDS, Leanna explains some of the reasons why one should and should not disclose their plans. These deal with the way the property is split between the beneficiaries, who will be the PR, Executor, or Trustee, unfit children, issues of disinheritance, and special provisions for one child.

For more insight on these issues read her article or speak with your Florida Estate Planning Lawyer about your particular situation. While you may have not considered the ramifications and ways to approach your specific issues, an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney has.

November 12, 2007

Florida Gun Trusts: (NFA) National Firearms Trust - Update

If you live in a Jacksonville Florida, like many other cities around the country where the (CLEO) Chief law Enforcement Officer of your city will sign a Form 4 for NFA purchases of Class 3 items, there are several solutions.

Jacksonville Gun Lawyer, Florida NRA trust, Gun Trust, Class 3 TrustTitle II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers) include suppressors, short barrel rifles, machine guns, and other destructive devices.

The most common solution is to create a revocable trust to hold title to the firearm or class 3 items you desire to purchase. Florida now requires a nexus to the state of Florida to create a Florida Revocable Trust or Florida Gun Trust

A Gun Trust, Firearms Trust, Limited Liability Company, or Florida Corporation are all legal entities that are established under Florida State Law. Each of these entities can purchase and hold firearms. There are some advantages and disadvantages of each legal entity. Generally the Florida NFA Gun Trust is the least expensive to create and maintain. In addition the Florida Gun Living Trust provides complete privacy from the public as Revocable Trusts are not required to be registered or filed with the state. The lack of any required filings means, the only people who know the terms of the trust are those you choose to tell.

Florida Business entities typically cost $150 a year for the state filings in addition to the cost of a CPA to prepare and file the federal filings.

Although most Florida Revocable or Living Trusts can hold firearms or other class 3 items, many are not properly setup to deal with the issues involving firearms and other items which are regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). If the NFA is violated, the owners are subject to criminal charges, substantial fines, and forfeiture of not only the class 3 items in question but all firearms in the possession or ownership. ($250,000 penalty, 10 years in prison, and forfeiture of items)

The Florida NFA Gun or Firearms Trust must give the Trustee instructions and special powers so that they can legally manage for unplanned events. Weapons and other assets in a Firearms Trust can not be distributed like other assets upon the death or incapacity of the person who placed the items in the trust(The Grantor or Settlor).

Many individuals are using Quicken or other simple trusts to purchase class 3 items. Before doing something like this you should consider the adverse effects that can be created by this technique.

1) You put your family and friends at risk of criminal and civil penalties in the event of your death or incapacity.
2) What happens if these items are transferred to someone who is not able to accept them because of eligibility, residency, age, or mental condition.
3) What happens if your trust merges with another trust, which will survive.
4) What happens if you will transfers NFA assets to your trust upon your death, can the trustee say no, most trusts do not allow for this.
5) What happens if the beneficiary is under age?
6) Will you know the mental state of the beneficiary, at the time of transfer and who and how will a problem be dealt with?
7) What state will the beneficiary live in at the time of the transfer? Can they accept, or possess these items, if not, what will be done?


If your trust doesn't deal with these issues or you do not understand why they are important, you should speak to a Florida NFA Gun Trust Lawyer to find out the answers. Feel Free call, email or ask any questions using the contact form

Read more articles on Gun Trusts, NFA Trusts, or using Trusts to hold Guns, Weapons or Class 3 items.

November 12, 2007

Do it yourself Estate Planning: Bad News Part 3

Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, PVB, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, Florida WillA Florida Probate Lawyer Long Duong is reporting a mistake a client of his made with a modification to a Florida Will. The document was not properly executed and it was held to be invalid. This mistake cost the intended beneficiaries over $75,000.

Some other examples of Do it your self wills and bad news are covered in my articles listed below

Do it Yourself Wills? More bad news and
Do it Yourself Wills? a Good Idea or Not?

Recently I saw a Florida Probate case, where a mistake was made in a will that changed a homestead to non-homestead property. Luckily there were no creditors, but in the even that there were creditors, the home could have been lost because of this mistake.

If you have used software, a form, or an online service to prepare your will, you should have it reviewed by a Florida Estate planning Attorney for potential problems.

November 11, 2007

Estate Planning for Grandpop's Gun in the Chest

jacksonvilleFloridaMachineGun NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Attorney.jpgJoshua Prince, a law student has written another article on NFA Firearm issues and estate planning. The article appears on Neil Hendershot's PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog and is the third in a series on Gun Trusts.
To answer these and other question about Firearms and Estate Planning Please read his article Estate Planning for Grandpop's Gun in the Chest. His article deals with the requirements, benefits, and detriments of registering a weapon as an individual person, corporation , or trust. Many of the issues hold trust for Florida Gun Trusts but you should check with a Florida Gun Lawyer to verify what makes sense in your particular situation. His article begins:

As an estate attorney, how do you handle the planning of an estate, which includes National Firearms Act [NFA] firearms? What if your client asks you, prior to his/her purchase of a NFA weapon, what is the best form of ownership, with long term estate planning in mind?

This issue may plague estate attorneys, leaving them to scratch their head in bewilderment as to the correct course of action. More importantly, a probate attorney may be flirting with malpractice, since the registration of NFA weapons is mandatory and ignorance is not a defense.

to read the full article titled Estate Planning 101 under the National Firearms Act follow this link

November 7, 2007

Family Estate Planning and Conflict of Interest

Jacksonville-beach kids divorce estate planning.jpgWhenever a Florida estate planning 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 same is true when a married couple needs a Florida attorney’s help with an estate plan. Depending on the circumstances, the Florida estate plan 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 attorney must advise that person that he or she is entitled to seek the opinion of an independent attorney and, in fact, we are required to recommend a second attorney be consulted.

However, when both spouses are adamant that they wish to be represented by the same lawyer, the lawyer should incorporate both spouses' desires in what is called a "joint" or "dual" representation letter that is signed by both spouses. This type of letter is important because both spouses have acknowledged that each was advised of the potential or actual conflict and waived the right to seek independent counsel.

There are some situations in which each spouse should be represented by an independent lawyer -- such as a premarital or separation agreement and, depending on the circumstances, some second-marriage estate planning situations may also require the need for two lawyers. In addition, where assets are transferred from one spouse to another, extra protection may be warranted.

Our representation in estate-planning situations generally includes

1) review of existing wills, powers of attorney, trusts, etc.;
2) recommendations about how each of you wants to dispose of your property at disability or death;
3) preparation of documents necessary to accomplish your goals, including Florida wills, Florida powers of attorney, Florida health-care powers of attorney and the like.

It is important to understand that we are unable to keep secrets from your spouse and that anything you tell us will have to be disclosed to your spouse.

While in most circumstances one Florida lawyer couldn't represent both of you, your knowledgeable waiver of having independent counsel represent each of you is the reason a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer is able to proceed in representing both of you. The Florida Estate Planning Lawyer should make sure each of you will provide open and complete disclosures and exchanges of information, and if a conflict does arise in the future, the Florida Estate Planning Lawyer must withdraw from any further joint representation and cannot represent either of you in the current matter or in another matter where the information disclosed is used against the other.

November 6, 2007

FLORIDA ESTATE PLANNING AND THE RECENTLY DIVORCED CLIENT

Jacksonville-beach kids divorce estate planning.jpgWills

•A new Florida will is almost always advisable for the divorced client, especially if there are minor children.

Florida Statute section 732.507 generally provides that after the dissolution the provisions for the former spouse in the will are treated as if the former spouse died at the time of the dissolution of the marriage.

• A subsequent marriage, birth, adoption, or divorce will not revoke a Florida Will.

A Major Concern of Most Clients

-Former spouse will be appointed guardian of the property of the deceased client because they are the natural guardian of minor children and have the highest priority for appointment as guardian. The priority can be altered by naming another individual as guardian under a Florida will.

-Consider avoiding a guardianship of the property by having assets for minors held in a Florida trust. Someone other than the former spouse can then be named as trustee.

"Pour Over" Wills and Revocable Trusts
•If the client has established a revocable inter vivos (living) trust and executed a Florida pour over will (a will that distributes the residue to a trust) prior to the dissolution, the former spouse could potentially inherit the entire estate if the former spouse is the beneficiary of the trust. Florida Statute section 732.507 does not have any effect on inter vivos trusts.

A new or restated Florida trust should be executed to remove provisions for the former spouse for the reasons stated above.

Estate Tax Planning
•If the client has a taxable estate, the fact that they no longer have a spouse could drastically change their estate tax planning due to loss of the marital deduction.
Life Insurance, Deferred Compensation, IRA's, Annuities
•Beneficiary designations should be reviewed to assure that the former spouse is no longer a beneficiary.

•IRA designations need to be reviewed to make sure the effect of the chosen beneficiaries does not adversely affect one of the beneficiaries because of age, or ineligibility

November 5, 2007

IRA's and your Florida Living Trust

Jacksonville IRA distributions lawyerOne common mistake that people make when they have a spouse or children is to transfer their retirement accounts into their Florida Living Trust.

Generally, retirement accounts are not subject to probate because you can name beneficiaries. If you name individual beneficiaries, each beneficiary is given the most flexibility in the way they take and report the proceeds from the IRA.

If you name a Florida Living Trust, the beneficiaries might have to take all of the distributions in the year after death. This can happen when one of the beneficiaries is a charity or not an individual.

The other main problem is when there is a great difference in age between the oldest and youngest beneficiary. Often this happens when the spouse is one of the beneficiaries and there are children or grandchildren that are also named beneficiaries. When this happens it is possible to make all of the distributions the same as with the oldest beneficiary.

These problems can be solved or avoided if the retirement accounts are properly setup, separated, or if the problem beneficiaries are dealt with timely.

Generally its best to either name beneficiaries with retirement accounts individually, separate the retirement accounts while you are still alive, or name a separate revocable trust for these benefits that is different that the main revocable trust.

For more information on how to deal with retirement accounts in probate you should talk with a Florida Probate Lawyer who is familiar with Retirement benefits. It is even better to plan things upfront by using a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

November 4, 2007

Florida Domestic Partners Estate Planning: More important than you would think

In Florida Domestic Partners need the help of a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to handle their complex situations. Domestic partners are considered any two people no mater what sex who live together and what each other to benefit in the event of the subsequent death of the other.

Without a valid Florida Will or Valid Florida Estate Planning Documents the domestic partner will not receive any portion of the others estate upon their death. The Florida intestate statutes do not provide any benefits for a domestic partner.

If one creates an invalid Floria Will using software or a form, the Florida statutes provides benefits to the spouse and children of the deceased. Although the decedent's desires may not be complied with completely. Their family, who is usually the intended beneficiary, will receive the proceeds from the estate. This is not true with domestic partnerships. The domestic partners will receive nothing from the decedents estate.

To make sure you and your domestic partner are protected, you should have your Florida Estate Planning Documents reviewed or created by a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or Attorney.

November 3, 2007

IRS to Hold Workshops for 501(c)(3) Exempt Organizations

The Internal Revenue Service announced that it is offering one-day workshops for small and mid-sized section 501(c)(3) exempt organizations during fall and winter 2007 and spring 2008.

The closest one to Jacksonville looks like the Columbia South Carolina workshop on December 4th, 5th, or 6th.

There is also one in Austin Texas on May 6th, 7th, or 8th. Check expressjet for non-stop fares to Austin for less than $100.

For a full schedule check the IRS website.

November 3, 2007

Who Should Help Me with My Estate Planning Documents?

Jacksonville Estate Planning Jacksonville meetingCan I do it myself?
It is possible for a person to do his or her own Florida estate planning with forms or books bought at a stationery or bookstore or from the State Bar. At the least, a review of such forms can be helpful in preparing you for doing estate planning. If you do review such materials and have any unanswered questions, however, you should seek professional help form a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

Will documents I prepare myself be valid?
In Florida most estate planning documents must comply with the Florida Statute of Wills. This requires that they be witnessed by two witnesses in the presence of each other and a notary who is present and witnesses the signature of the creator of the document. There are other documents which make the documents easier to use in the event that becomes necessary. For example a will or trust can have a self proving affidavit which eliminates the necessity to prove the will in a probate process. Many forms, software, and online services are not current when there are law changes. For example this year there were changes in the way Florida revocable trusts must be executed in Florida.

What about updates?
One of the most common problems with using software to create wills is that to make minor changes requires a new license. Most will software only comes with a 1 year license. This is good because it will probably be current under the laws or recent laws. The bad part is that there are often additional fees incurred with the new software licenses.

Do I Need a Professional To Help?
If you do seek advice, Florida Wills and Florida Trusts are legal documents which should be prepared only by a qualified Florida Estate Planning Lawyer. However, many other professionals and business representatives may become involved in your Florida Estate Planning Process. A certified public accountant, life insurance agent, bank trust officer, and financial planner often share in a Complete Florida Estate Planning process. These professionals can help you in planning your estate.

November 2, 2007

Review Your Estate Plan. (And Your Parents)

Jacksonville Estate Planning Documents, Jacksonville Family Estate PlanningIf you or a member of your family was to have a crisis are you prepared? That is the question you should ask your Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or Attorney on a regular basis. Often we only look at significant events in our lives and do not consider the effects that a significant effect in our parents or children's lives will have upon us.

When you review your Florida Estate Plan you should also review or remind your parents and adult children to review their plans also. There are changes in the laws which may prompt updates to your estate planning techniques. In addition, significant changes in your life including births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and changes in assets should trigger an estate plan review.

Generally when an Florida Estate Planning Attorney creates Florida Estate Planning Documents their duty is over once the documents are prepared. The obligation is up to you to seek a regular review of these documents.

In addition to reviewing the documents you should consider the following:

1) Make sure you know where your parents documents are, and you tell your personal representative and beneficiaries know where the documents are. If you are concerned that the documents may disappear, you may keep them with an attorney. If you keep your documents with a Jacksonville Florida Estate Planning Lawyerr or Jacksonville Florida Probate Lawyer you should tell people who has them.

2)Check to see that the Florida Estate Planning documents are complete and reflect their current family and financial situation.

3)Make sure that the documents reflect your or your parents current mind set. Wills and trusts need to be reviewed for changes in their financial condition as well as the beneficiaries family and financial condition.

4) Make sure all Estate Planning Documents are signed and witnessed as necessary under the current statutes or those in place at the time of execution.

5)Make sure any Florida Durable Power of Attorney documents mention the current Florida Statutes, many durable power of attorney documents are not honored when they do not comply with the Florida Statutes.

6) Make sure your Florida Living Trust or Florida Revocable Trust or any Florida Trusts are funded. That means that the bank accounts, CD accounts, land, and other assets have been transferred to the trusts. Any deeds to this effect should be properly recorded.

If are not funded they will provide none of the expected benefits upon the death of the grantor.
If you have a Florida Durable Power of Attorney and would it reviewed free of charge by a Jacksonville Florida Estate Planning Lawyer use the contact form on this page.