February 2008 Archives

February 29, 2008

Can I "undo" or cancel a deed that is already recorded?

In Florida, if the wording of your current deed has consequences that you did not intend, you may want to consider a corrective deed. Please consult an Florida Estate Planning Lawyer , title company or other real estate professional to help you prepare your corrective deed. The Property Appraiser's office cannot advise you, since there are many serious considerations that go beyond how homestead exemption is calculated, including income and estate tax consequences. We recommend that you never attempt to change your deed without the help of a Florida Lawyer
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February 29, 2008

How to trandfer property and keep your Homestead Exemption and SOH Intact

Are there other ways of transferring my property for estate planning that will not disturb my Homestead Exemption or SOH Cap?

Two methods of transferring your property will, in most cases, keep your Homestead Exemption and SOH intact: reserve a Life Estate for yourself or transfer your property to your trust. Please consult your attorney or estate planning professional before attempting either option.

If you transfer your property to a trust, your attorney should know that three criteria are required in order for your Homestead Exemption and SOH cap to remain intact:

* You as the homestead owner must have beneficial or equitable title to real property. In other words you must be the trustee or beneficiary of the trust. If you are the beneficiary but not the trustee, your interest must be in REAL property, not PERSONAL property.
* You must have the present possessory interest in the property. Simply, you must have the right to live there.
* The deed that transfers the property into the trust must be recorded.

If you are transferring your property by deed and want to maintain your Homestead Exemption and SOH cap please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to verify that you are doing it correctly.

February 28, 2008

No Florida Estate Taxes: What does this mean?

When one dies the value of their estate is subject to an Federal Estate Tax. This rate is currently 45%. In 2008 the Federal government has an exemption of the estate tax on the first 2 million dollars in value. In addition, many states have additional state taxes that are due when a resident of their state dies. Florida use to have an estate tax, but repealed it when the federal government stopped allowing you to deduct the amount of state estate tax paid from the federal estate tax due.

You should check on the estate tax in your state and consider costs and benefits of your state versus those with no estate tax. One of the reasons so many wealthy people move to Florida is the lack of income tax and estate tax.

How much are estate taxes?

Your estate will have to pay estate taxes if its net value when you die is more than the "exempt" amount set by Congress at that time. Here is the current schedule for the federal estate taxes:

Year of Death.........Estate Tax "Exemption"
2008................................$2 million
2009................................$3.5 million
2010................................N/A (repealed)
2011 and thereafter..........$1 million

In addition you may have to add your states taxes on top of the numbers above.
Although 2010 looks like 0, it really is higher, in 2010 the plan is tax on the increase in value of one's estate. Under the current plan, most assets are able to take advantage of a free stepped up value based upon the fair market value at the time of the decedents death.

February 27, 2008

What Does a Florida Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) Do?

A Florida Life Insurance Trust is an irrevocable trust that allows an individual to make the proceeds of a life insurance poliicy free from income taxes and estate taxes. Typical life insurance policies are income tax free, but many increase the value of one's estate to the point that the federal and or state income taxes are due. By using an ilit one can avoid these taxation issues.

In 2008 the Federal tax exemption is $2,000,000. Lets take a client with 1.5M in assets and a 1M life insurance policy.

If they were to die in 2008 their estate would be valued at 2.5M and 500,000 would be subject to estate taxes. The current estate tax rate is 45% so this estate would have to pay a tax of $225,000.

In 2011 the estate tax exemption is only $1M. With an estate valuation of $2.5M, 1.5M would be subject to estate taxes. Using the same tax rate, this estate would have to pay $675,000.

To find out if or how a Florida Life insurance trust can help you please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 27, 2008

North Dakota NFA Gun Trust Lawyer®

North Dakota has joined the growing list of states in which we have a relationship with a lawyer who is familiar with the (NFA) National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include silencers, short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a North Dakota NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you live in North Dakota or another state and wish to create a NFA trust to protect your family and purchase NFA firearms (Title II) or Title I firearms Contact a NFA Gun Trust Lawyer® in your state.

If you are a lawyer licensed in any state and would like to work with us to provide NFA trusts to clients in your state, please Contact David Goldman a Florida Gun Trust Lawyer®.

February 27, 2008

My Bank Wants a Tax ID / EIN number for My Revocable Trust

When creating a revocable trust you may be asked for a Employment ID number (EIN) or Tax ID to open the account or fill out the paperwork. Many banks do not understand the difference between a revocable and a irrevocable trust. Although irrevocable trusts require TAX ID or EIN's revocable trusts do not require them.

When this happens to you, it may be difficult to get them to understand why they do not need this information. It is best to just fill out that section with your social security number - which is your Tax ID number.

If you have questions on a Florida Revocable Trust you should Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 27, 2008

IRS Attacks of FLPs and FLLCs

For a number of years the IRS has attacked FLPs and FLLCs on the basis that there is no valid business purpose for the entity.

Clients have argued that a key reason for using the LP form is so that capital can be concentrated or pooled and then invested for greater resulting returns. Credible evidence is cited to support the contention that money invested with a long term investment time-line and with a disciplined investment policy will yield greater returns than money invested in response to demands for quarterly or annual performance.

Many reported cases have problems because senior family members contribute assets to their LPs while keeping their current invested strategy. It is important for clients to know that the courts have repeatedly cited this lack of change in investment strategy as evidence that the creation of the LP was "only a change of title" or resulted in a "mere recycling of value."

Best practice: After assets are transferred to the LP, it is important to work with the partnership to create an investment policy statement that outlines

• how the LP intends to invest,
• why it intends to invest in a certain way, and
• what results are expected to be achieved.
The LP should then implement the investment policy as soon as possible.

Not all assets need to be sold and reinvested immediately. Stock with built in gains or restrictions will typically have a slower exit in order to avoid or postpone capital gains taxes or to comply with SEC rules.

The more the LP can distinguish its new investment strategy from senior family member's prior strategy, the better it will be against possible attack.

Some cases where the courts have specifically called the tax payers to task for "merely recycling of value" include:

Estate of Harper v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2002-121 (U.S. Tax Court 2002).
Estate of Bigelow 89 T.C. M. 954 (2005).
Estate of Strangi v. Commissioner, 85 T.C. Memo 1331 (2003)
Estate of Concetta H. Rector v. Comm., T.C. Memo 2007-367

February 26, 2008

Out of State Durable Powers of Attorney and Validity in Florida

A Power of Attorney is generally valid when you travel because a Power of Attorney valid in another state will be valid in Florida. That being said there has been a problem with out of state Power of Attorney being properly recognized in Florida. As a result Florida passed laws that when complied with allow the agent to recover fees associated with the enforcement of a Power of Attorney which is in substantial compliance with the statute.

What does that mean for you? There is no reason why someone should not accept an out of state Power of Attorney, but no recourse when they do not.

Generally when moving to Florida, we recommend that our clients execute new Durable Power of Attorney Documents when possible. When this is not possible clients can check with their local banks to see if they will accept them. This should be done prior to transferring money to the financial institution. We have seen cases where banks accept the transfer and creation of accounts and then do not accept the agent's authority later.

To check if your Durable Power of Attorney or Power of Attorney is compliant with Florida law please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 26, 2008

Florida Guardianship Powers Expire at Death of Ward

In Florida, the powers granted by a Florida Guardianship expire when the ward dies. Often people try to use their powers granted by a Florida Guardianship to control aspects of the after death process. The guardian is without any powers granted by the guardianship once the ward dies.

If you are having problems with a Florida Guardianship or Florida Guardian Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 24, 2008

Florida Hospice Refusal to Allow Visitation

Recently we have notice that Hospice organizations are refusing to allow people to visit relatives or friends while under the care of Hospice.

In these cases, the people were turned away because someone with a Power of Attorney was able to state that the person was not wanted.

It is important to remember that a Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney give an agent the right to act in certain circumstances. In Florida, a Power of Attorney does not give someone the right to make decisions regarding where they are located, who they can visit, or who they can talk to.

It is possible to make these decisions for an individual, but only when someone has been appointed as their Florida Guardianship. Even if someone is the Florida Guardian they may not have these rights.

If you have a loved one and you are being prevented from seeing them because of a Power of Attorney you should Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your situation.

February 22, 2008

Interstate Transfer of Title II (NFA) Firearms

Often I receive inquiries from individuals looking to create a NFA Gun Trust to purchase Title I Firearms. Several times these individuals are looking to keep these Firearms in their vehicle, motor home, or boat. Individuals, Trusts, Corporations, and LLC's must get permission to transport these items interstate.

The NFA has an Application to Transport Interstate or to Temporarily Export Certain national Firearms Act (NFA) Firearms.

A written request and prior authorization from ATF to transport interstate or in foreign commerce any destructive device, machinegun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun is required under the provisions of Section 922 (a)(4), Title 18, U.S.C., and Section 478.28, Title 27 CFR, a letter of request, in duplicate, containing all information required on this form, may be submitted in lieu of the form.

The registered owner of NFA firearm(s) shall complete two copies of ATF Form 5320.20 and forward the forms to the Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 244 Needy Road, Martinsburg, WV 25405 (Attention: NFA Branch).

The original of ATF Form 5320.20 will be returned to the registered owner. Approval authorizes the registered owner to transport the designated firearm(s) only during the time period specified in item 3. THE AUTHORIZATION DOES NOT CARRY OR IMPORT RELIEF FROM ANY STATUTORY OR REGULATORY PROVISIONS RELATING TO FIREARMS OTHER THAN 27 CFR 478.28.

In the event item 2 is checked "yes" and the firearm(s) is not returned to the original location by the date specified, the registered owner shall submit a new application on ATF Form 5320.20 to receive approval to return the firearm(s).

If a contract or common carrier is used to transport the firearm(s) a copy of ATF Form 5320.20 shall be furnished to the carrier and shall be in the possession of the carrier for the duration of the transportation. This will meet the requirements of sections 922(e) and (f) of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Privacy Act Information
1. Authority. Solicitation of this information is made pursuant to the Gun Control Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C. 922(a)(4)). Disclosure of this information by the applicant is mandatory if the applicant wishes to transport in interstate or foreign commerce any destructive device, machinegun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle.

2. Purpose. To determine whether the proposed transaction of the listed items is reasonably necessary and consistent with the public safety and applicable State and local law.

3. Routine Uses. This information will be used by ATF to make the determination set forth in paragraph 2. No information obtained from an application, registration, or records required to be submitted by a natural person in order to comply with provisions of the National Firearms Act or regulations issued thereunder, shall except in connection with prosecution or other action for furnishing false information be used, directly or indirectly, as evidence against that person in any criminal proceeding with filing of the application.

4. Effects of Not Supplying Information Requested. Failure to supply complete information will delay processing and may cause denial of the application.

February 22, 2008

Terry Schiavo judge handles divorce cases

Florida judge who presided over the Terri Schiavo case until her death, has a new assignment. He no longer judges Florida Guardianship cases. He judges divorce cases.

The Judges transfer from Florida Probate and Florida Guardianship court to family court should allow Judge Greer who is now 65 to serve the next three years in obscurity before his retirement.

Judge Greer is nationally famous and has 20 honors displayed in his chambers. The largest is the 2005 President's Award of Merit from the Florida Bar, "for your unswerving commitment to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the fundamentals of American democracy."

With the recent cases like Britney Spears competency hearing, many have found the need for a Durable Power of Attorney and the Schiavo case is a good reason people need a Florida Living Will. After all if Schiavo had a Florida Living Will she and Judge Greer would not have had the national spotlight. The fight was only because Schiavo did not have a Florida Living Will.

If you would like a Power of Attorney or Florida Living Will please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your needs.

February 21, 2008

What is a Taxable Gift?

In 1984 the Supreme Court in Dickman v. Commissioner, defined a taxable gift by using an analogy. The Court used the income tax definition of “all income from whatever source derived” to describe how a taxable gift should be defined.
Section 2501(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code imposes a tax upon "the transfer of property by gift." Section 2511(a) provides that such tax shall apply whether "the transfer is in trust or otherwise, whether the gift is direct or indirect, and whether the property is real or personal, tangible or intangible." In Dickman, the Court decided that an interest free loan was a gift.
Would a family vacation, or providing a party for a wedding be viewed as a taxable gift? This may depend on whether the person paying for the activity is in attendance of the event.

February 20, 2008

Alabama NFA Gun Trust Lawyer® for Firearms Purchases

Alabama has joined the growing list of states in which we have a relationship with a lawyer who is familiar with the National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include silencers, short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a Alabama NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you live in Alabama or another state and wish to create a NFA trust to protect your family and purchase NFA or regular firearms Contact a NFA Gun Trust Lawyer® in your state.

If you are a lawyer licensed in any state and would like to work with us to provide NFA trusts to clients in your state, please Contact David Goldman a Florida Gun Trust Lawyer®.

February 19, 2008

Family Limited Partnerships and Valuations

A common technique with large Florida Estate Planning is the use of FLP's or Family Limited Partnerships. Neil Hendershot of the PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog summarized the recent highlights of the Heckerling Institute where they discussed those issues in detail.

The most important issues dealt with making sure there was

(1) not a gift on formation of a family limited partnership. This can be done by making sure the partnership is property funded and the capital accounts are credited. The recommendation was that during the next tax year he or she transfer partnership interest. This helps to avoid the argument that the transfer was contemplated at the time of the capital contribution. See Senda, T.C. Memo 2004-160 (July 12, 2004). One must also take this into consideration with additional contributions because they are valued with the amount given instead of a discounted valuation.

(2) Avoiding Bad Facts based on formation and operation. You do not want to have these issues used to devalue the discount on the entity.

• Disproportionate Distributions to senior family members.
• Distributions that cover senior family member's expenses.
• Do not create the partnership by an agent acting under power of attorney.
• Do not use partnership funds to pay estate taxes after death. If this looks like it will be necessary consider using a life insurance policy or a hands length loan from the partnership to fund those expenses if it is necessary.

(3) Senior family member should have no control at death or within 3 years of death to avoid an inclusion look-back period under IRC § 2035. If the senior family member must serve as a general partners remove "sole and absolute" authority language and any overly protective clauses.

(4) FPL's should be created for legitimate non-tax business purposes to avoid inclusion arguments. It is likely that the drafting attorney will provide testimony of the non-tax reasons. It might be advisable to use a separate attorney to draft the agreement who has no knowledge of the discounting opportunities when creating a Family Limited Partnership for Florida Estate Planning

(5) Potential problems arise with using a martial trust for the benefit of a surviving spouse. These interests may not get the same discounted treatment which can cause problems.

(6) Be careful with the 100 Shareholder rule when using S corporations as it is possible to have more than 100 shareholders when you look at all family members who are lineal descendants up to six generations including current and former spouses.

(7) Nonresident aliens or other non-approved shareholders can create problems with S corporations.

(8) S corporations can only have a single class of stock and all must have equal rights. Look out for disproportionate distributions, buy-sell installments, and split-dollar arrangements

The article goes on to discuss other concerns and should be reviewed by anyone looking to create a Family Limited Partnership for Florida Estate Planning

For more information on how a FLP can be an effective tool in Florida Estate Planning Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

February 18, 2008

South Carolina NFA Gun Trust Lawyer®

South Carolina has joined the growing list of states in which we have a relationship with a lawyer who is familiar with the National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include silencers, short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a South Carolina NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you live in South Carolina or another state and wish to create a NFA trust to protect your family and purchase NFA or regular firearms Contact a NFA Gun Trust Lawyer® in your state.

If you are a lawyer licensed in any state and would like to work with us to provide NFA trusts to clients in your state, please Contact David Goldman a Florida Gun Trust Lawyer®.

February 18, 2008

Wisconsin NFA Gun Trust Lawyer®

Wisconsin has joined the growing list of states in which we have a relationship with a lawyer who is familiar with the National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include silencers, short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a Wisconsin NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you live in Wisconsin or another state and wish to create a NFA trust to protect your family and purchase NFA firearms.

February 17, 2008

Fund your Revocable Trust

The most common problem with Florida Estate Planning or estate planning in general is that those how are in the most need of the benefits a Florida Revocable Trust can offer are the ones who usually fail to fund their trust.

Creating a Florida Revocable Trust is only the beginning. No benefits are received by signing the documents. It is only when the Florida Revocable Trust is funded that the benefits of the trust can be used.

These benefits include avoiding delays in probate, reducing or eliminating the costs associated with a Florida Probate, and not having your assets or the distribution of your assets in the public record.

There are many other benefits that are specific to each Florida Revocable Trust .

If you have not funded your Florida Revocable Trust now is the time to do so. Don't forget to transfer your bank accounts, stocks, bonds, land, and other assets. Generally personal property can be assigned to the Florida Revocable Trust with a simple assignment. This is one type of asset that many people forget about and can often cause a Florida Probate to be necessary.

For more information on how to fund or create a Florida Revocable Trust Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 15, 2008

Another Reason to Have a Florida Durable Power of Attorney

Mississippi's Supreme court decision reinforces the importance of having a Durable Power of Attorney. A Florida Durable Power of Attorney can be one the most important Florida Estate Planning Documents, a Power of Attorney allows a person you "agent" or "attorney-in-fact" -- to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

In this case, Mrs. Goodlett admitted her mother, to a nursing home. During the mothers stay at the nursing home, Mrs. Goodlett developed two decubitus ulcers (bed sores), which required surgery. Mrs. Goodlett told the nursing home that she was going to sue the nursing home for negligence and sent them a medical authorization with permission to release Mrs. Goodlett's medical records. Due to complications from a stroke, Mrs. Goodlett was unable to sign her own name to the medical authorization. The nursing home refused to release the medical records, claiming that because Mrs. Bernadette did not have a Power of Attorney over her mother, only Mrs. Goodlett could authorize the release of the medical records.

Mrs. Bernadette sued the nursing home on behalf of her mother for negligence.

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court's decision because Bernadette did not have Power of Attorney for her mother, she was not entitled to her mother's medical records. Therefore, Bernadette could not file suit without including the required form.

Had Mrs. Goodlett given Bernadette a Power of Attorney before the medical records were requested, the lawsuit would have been able to proceed.
A Power of Attorney is an easy document to put into place and can make things much easier for your family if you are incapacitated.

February 15, 2008

Estate Taxes or Probate Fees

As the Estate tax exemption continues to increase, fewer and fewer American families are subjected to the death Taxes. On the other hand this is creating a real problem with probate fees. Since fewer families are concerned with estate taxes, the overlook the fees associated with probate.

There are many techniques used to avoid the need for assets to be subjected to probate. These include: Joint accounts, payable on death designations, beneficiary designations, and Florida Revocable Trust . There are many issues that determine which of the methods is best for your particular situation.

With the increase in divorces and numbers of families with children from outside the current marriage, the Florida Revocable Trust often offers the best flexibility. It is important to evaluate a clients objectives, the risks associated with each method, and the costs.

To find out of a Florida Revocable Trust is the right solution for you, please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your specific circumstances.

February 14, 2008

Is your Enhanced Life Estate Deed Valid?

signing.jpgAll Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed are not created Equal.
In the past, I have had clients come to me for help when a title company would not accept the language on an Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed. Each title company has specific language that they look for in the deed. As as result we have had several title companies review our deeds and make recommendations. We took these and complied them into a single form that satisfied all of their requirements.

If the title company is not happy with your current deed, they can refuse to write title insurance. As title insurance is required by every commercial lender in Florida when a home is sold, this can create a problem when you want to sell your home. In some cases, we have had to open or reopen a probate case to get the judge to issue an order to clear up the title concerns.

Often these deeds are used to avoid the delays and expenses of Florida Probate, not create ineligibility periods for medicaid, allow for stepped up basis, and not create unnecessary gift tax. If you would like to create an Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed or have your deed reviewed please Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 14, 2008

Pennsylvania National Firearms Gun Trust (NFA Class 3)

Pennsylvania has joined the growing list of states in which we have a relationship with a lawyer who is familiar with the National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include silencers, short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a Pennsylvania NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you live in Pennsylvania or another state and wish to create a NFA trust to protect your family and purchase NFA or regular firearms Contact a NFA Gun Trust Lawyer® in your state.

February 13, 2008

Texas NFA Trust : Gun Trust Lawyer®

We work with over 10 lawyers in Texas who help provide Gun Trusts to their clients. The Gun Trust lawyers® we work with are familiar with the National Firearms Act's requirements relating to the formation of trusts to purchase Title II Firearms (sold by Class 3 SOT dealers). These include suppressors (aka silencers), short barrel rifles, and machine guns.

If you are looking to create a Texas NFA Gun Trust, please Contact us and we can help make sure your NFA trust deals with the many unique issues surrounding owning these firearms in a Revocable Trust.

If you are a lawyer licensed in any state and would like to work with us to provide NFA trusts to clients in your state, please Contact David Goldman a Florida Gun Trust Lawyer®.

February 8, 2008

Would you put your mother here?

Fifty-four nursing homes Located 35 states including Florida are being told by the government that they’re among the worst in their states in an effort to get them to improve patient care.

The homes in question are among more than 120 designated as a “special focus facility.” CMS began using the designation about a decade ago to identify homes that merit more oversight. For these homes, states conduct inspections at six month intervals rather than annually.

For a list of the homes that performed poorly in your state continue reading

Continue reading "Would you put your mother here?" »

February 8, 2008

Britney Spears Not Competent Enough to Hire Lawyer

Britney's dad had was appointed as conservator of her person and co-conservator of her estate, which means her dad is now in control of what Britney can do, who she can see, and he's controlling all access to her bank accounts and credit cards.

Over the weekend, Britney attempted to hire her own lawyer to fight her dad's attempt to take over her personal and financial affairs.

But, the Court refused to recognize Andrew Streisand as Britney's lawyer because the court-appointed lawyer assigned to evaluate Britney said that Brit doesn't have capacity right now to hire her own lawyer.

You'd think that someone with her wealth would have a Will , a Revocable Trust. , Health Care Directives, Powers of Attorney, Guardian Nominations ... basically a comprehensive estate plan.

It's too late now for Britney, but it's not too late for you ... today having a personal lawyer is both accessible and affordable and if you own your home, care about your family, and want a trusted advisor to call when you are in crisis, you should have your own. To create of review your Florida Estate Planning Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

February 7, 2008

Florida Intestate Succession

When someone dies without a Florida Will Their property is distributed under the Florida Statutes. Chapter 732 defines the order of succession to a decedent's property.

732.103 Share of other heirs.--The part of the intestate estate not passing to the surviving spouse under s. 732.102, or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse, descends as follows:

(1) To the descendants of the decedent.

(2) If there is no descendant, to the decedent's father and mother equally, or to the survivor of them.

(3) If there is none of the foregoing, to the decedent's brothers and sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters.

(4) If there is none of the foregoing, the estate shall be divided, one-half of which shall go to the decedent's paternal, and the other half to the decedent's maternal, kindred in the following order:

(a) To the grandfather and grandmother equally, or to the survivor of them.

(b) If there is no grandfather or grandmother, to uncles and aunts and descendants of deceased uncles and aunts of the decedent.

(c) If there is either no paternal kindred or no maternal kindred, the estate shall go to the other kindred who survive, in the order stated above.

(5) If there is no kindred of either part, the whole of the property shall go to the kindred of the last deceased spouse of the decedent as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate entitled to the estate.

(6) If none of the foregoing, and if any of the descendants of the decedent's great-grandparents were Holocaust victims as defined in s. 626.9543(3)(a), including such victims in countries cooperating with the discriminatory policies of Nazi Germany, then to the descendants of the great-grandparents. The court shall allow any such descendant to meet a reasonable, not unduly restrictive, standard of proof to substantiate his or her lineage. This subsection only applies to escheated property and shall cease to be effective for proceedings filed after December 31, 2004.

If you think you may be entitled to a persons property, a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to help you determine if you could benefit from a Florida Probate in Jacksonville

February 6, 2008

Can a Power of Attorney modify a Trust?

Florida changed their statute regarding Power of Attorney several years ago. It seems that many banks and other financial institutions were not honoring existing powers of attorney documents. Florida changed Florida Statute 709 to allow for enforcement and recovery of expenses associated with the improper denial of a Power of Attorney.

Clients often ask if what limits there are on a Durable

Although a client can limit the powers in a Durable Power of Attorney the right to change a Florida Will under Florida Law. Recently we have begun adding specific provisions to allow for the modification of a Florida Revocable Trust with a Durable Power of Attorney. When this happens it is important to also include provisions in the Florida Revocable Trust. to allow for the modification by Durable Power of Attorney. Charles Rubin who writes the Rubin on Tax blog has an article where he discusses this. There was a recent Florida Case where a Florida Revocable Trust was in conflict with a Power of Attorney. The court ruled that the prohibition by the Florida Revocable Trust on modification by Power of Attorney trumped the Power of Attorney.

February 4, 2008

Florida Millionaires increase and Estate Planning

Millionaires%2BSurvey%2B2007.jpgAs the Percentage of Florida Millionaires continues to rise, the need for more complex Florida Estate Planning continues to increase.

When ones assets are significant the benefits of a Florida Revocable Trust in conjunction with a Florida Will are increased. Florida's probate fees can rapidly approach 30,000 dollars on some of these estates. These fees can be greatly reduced or eliminated with proper planning. Even Florida residents who have a Florida Revocable Trust may need some additional documents to avoid probate. One such document that Florida's millionaires might consider is the Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed .

To discuss what steps you family can take to reduce your estate taxes and probate fees, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your situation.

February 3, 2008

Sloppy Drafting of Florida Wills and Florida Trusts

Drafting and transfer of assets is an important aspect of a Florida Will or a Florida Revocable Trust. Real estate held by a company will not transfer to the trust unless the ownership of the company interest is transferred.

In a recent Florida case a testator never transferred the ownership of his business entity. When he died the trust directed that the property go to one beneficiary. His will transferred the residual to his wife.

The court in Vaughan v. Boerckel, 963 So. 2d 915 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2007), affirmed judgment for the widow, holding that the failure to transfer title to the realty to the trustee meant that title remained in the corporation all the shares of which passed to the widow.

If you have assets owned by a Florida Limited Liability Company or corporation and wish to have your trust dictate how the assets will be transferred upon your death, you should Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to help you with your Florida Estate Planning.

This article was also reported on by Professor Gerry Beyer who writes the Wills, Trusts & Estate Professor Blog and Michael Bonesara who writes The Ohio Trust & Estate Blog.

February 1, 2008

Florida Pet Trust: Unexpected Expences

Jacksonville Pet Trust Lawyer and AttorneyWith the recent rise in the popularity of the Florida Pet Trust many individuals are caught off guard with unexpected expenses associated with a Florida Pet Trust. These expenses are also associated with Florida Pet Trusts from other states as they are related to Federal issues.

The primary issue that a pet trust is subject to income tax reporting and required to pay taxes on the income the funds generate. Most Florida Pet Trusts have less than $50,000 in funds and the cost of maintianing them is relatively high. There are some Pet Trusts that pool the money and do master reporting. This can be a solution to smaller pet trusts. If you are interested in creating a Florida Pet Trust, Contact a Florida Pet Trust Lawyer for more information