November 2008 Archives

November 26, 2008

Elder Law Mediation Resolves Family Conflicts

The National Care Planning Councel has an article on Elder Law Mediation as a non-adversarial approach to solving disputes. Mediation is a process of bringing two or more disputing parties together and having them mutually negotiate a solution to their disagreement. The mediator is not a judge and does not render a decision but is there to make sure that communication flows freely between the disputing parties. Elder Mediators are trained in the art of negotiating resolutions between elderly parents and family members.

Mediation can achieve results that the family by itself may not be capable of realizing or have the expertise of achieving. Here are some reasons that make Elder Mediation so valuable.

• A trained expert on communication gives the family a perspective it could not gain by meeting together on its own; • All family members involved meet and prevent problems from arising by anticipating situations that may cause disputes; • Allows for the mediator to invite experts such as care managers or other care providers into the meeting to educate the family and give them a new perspective; • Allows parents to focus on their abilities rather than their limitations; • Allows children to come up with and consider options not thought of previously; • Encourages uninvolved family members to become involved; • Allows parents to express wishes and desires that had previously gone unuttered; • Allows for a neutral third party to challenge family members and make them take responsibility for their actions; • Promotes consensus of all involved which in turn creates a much higher rate of compliance with the plan than with any other process; (the success rate for compliance with elder mediation is estimated to be about 80% to 85%) • Requires a written plan with specific responsibilities which makes compliance feasible.
November 25, 2008

FDIC Insurance $250,000 is only Temporary

money.jpgThe Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 temporarily raises the basic limit on federal deposit insurance coverage (FDIC) from $100,000 to $250,000 per depositor. WARNING the basic deposit insurance limit will return to $100,000 after December 31, 2009.

The rise in insurance coverage applies to most trust accounts with no more than five beneficiaries.

Some benefits of establishing a Florida Revocable Trust include of avoiding probate, transfer upon death of property,reduced taxes, and privacy.

A Florida elder law attorney or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer can help you determine whether your trust accounts are adequately insured or tell you whether your situation merits setting up a trust.

To discuss ways to reduce your estate taxes, avoid probate, and make the transfer of assets upon your death easy for your family and friends Contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney

November 24, 2008

FDIC Extends Full Coverage to all IOTA trust accounts

The FDIC has extended FULL insurance coverage to all Florida IOTA trust accounts, regardless of amount on deposit or number of clients. The unlimited FDIC insurance is available at all financial institutions that participate in the FDIC's Transaction Account Guarantee Program. Please make sure that you comply with the trust accounting rules by placing all short term or nominal funds of clients and third parties in your IOTA trust account. Those funds, which are incapable of generating income for individuals, in excess of the costs to secure that income, are pooled in IOTA accounts the interest from which provides legal services for the poor and other law-related public interest programs approved by the Florida Supreme Court. If you have any questions about your ethical responsibilities relating to your trust account, please call the Bar's Ethics and Advertising Department at (800) 235-8619. If you have any questions about the mechanics of setting up an IOTA trust account or how the IOTA funds are used, please call The Florida Bar Foundation at (800) 541-2195.

November 24, 2008

2009 Annual Gift Tax Exclusion $13000

gift.jpgThe 2009 IRS annual gift tax exclusion is increasing form $12,000 to $13,000 for 2009.

This increase means that more money can be given away for estate tax planning purposes. For example, a married couple with two married children will be able to give away up to $104,000 in 2009 with no gift tax implications.

To discuss other ways of moving funds to your family or friends in order to reduce the effects of estate taxes, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

November 6, 2008

Free Florida Probate Forms? Do they exist?

Often after someone dies in Florida, their families look to save money and open handle the probate without the use of a lawyer. In some states this is permitted, but in most cases Florida does not permit an individual to represent themselves in a Probate Proceeding. This is why probate forms are not available for Florida.

One reason individuals are not allowed to do their own probate deals with the complexity of the issues surrounding the Florida Constitutions protections of the homestead. If one does not take the right steps they could loose or jeopardize their homestead protection.

Florida Probate Rule 5.030 requries an attorney licenced in the state of Florida to be involved with probate proceedings, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person.

If you feel that a Florida homestead of assets of a Florida resident may be at risk because of an inadvertent error or mistake, Contact a Florida Probate Lawyer to discuss your situation.

Update:
Jacksonville Probate Lawyer, David Goldman has put together a Florida Probate Handbook that is being offered free to readers and visitors of his websites. If you would like a copy, visit the Free Florida Probate Handbook web page, fill out the form, and one will be sent to you within 24 hours by email.

November 5, 2008

Probate of Will admitted to another state.

will.jpgSometimes it is necessary to admit a will in Florida when the original is not available because it was admitted in another state. The most common occurrence of this involves a Florida ancillary administrations. This is when the decedent lived in another state and there was an initial probate in that state, but the decedent owned real property in Florida.

In some cases, we find that the original probate was incorrect and the original administration should have been filed in Florida to protect the homestead from claims of creditors. In the case where a person who dies is a resident of Florida and their original will is admitted to probate in another state or country because of inadvertence, error, or omission. And the will is admitted in that other state prior to the Florida Probate case being filed, the certified copy of the will can be admitted to the Florida Probate case if the original could have been admitted. When this happens an authenticated copy of the will, foreign proof of the will, the foreign order or probate, and any letters issued shall be filed instead of the original will and shall be evidence of its execution and admission to foreign probate.

If you feel that a Florida homestead of assets of a Florida resident may be at risk because of an inadvertent error or mistake, Contact a Florida Probate Lawyer to discuss your situation.

Update:
Jacksonville Probate Lawyer, David Goldman has put together a Florida Probate Handbook that is being offered free to readers and visitors of his websites. If you would like a copy, visit the Free Florida Probate Handbook web page, fill out the form, and one will be sent to you within 24 hours by email.

November 4, 2008

When is an attorney required to represent the Personal Representative

In Jacksonville and around Florida an attorney is required under Florida Probate Rule 5.030 unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person. The attorney must be licensed to practice law in Florida. If you need a Jacksonville Probate lawyer or a Florida probate Attorney Contact us to see if we can help you.

Update:
Jacksonville Probate Lawyer, David Goldman has put together a Florida Probate Handbook that is being offered free to readers and visitors of his websites. If you would like a copy, visit the Free Florida Probate Handbook web page, fill out the form, and one will be sent to you within 24 hours by email.

November 4, 2008

How long does it take for a Summary Administration in Florida?

Short Answer: A Summary Administration probate usually takes just over 3 months but can take 6 or more depending on the circumstances.

Long Answer: It depends on the facts and circumstances of each situation. In some areas of Florida the Judges require or allow for differing procedures this causes some probate administrations to take longer than others.

In Florida, the personal representative may need to sell real estate prior to settling the estate. As you can imagine the market conditions can determine how long it will take to sell property. I have been involved in some Jacksonville Probate Litigation where the creditors dispute every claim and as a result lawsuits are filed to resolve those claims. This procedure or settling a disputed claim in a Florida probate can extend the time to compete the probate.

Other Jacksonville cases have involved a disputed prenuptial agreement or Florida WIll. Again when there is extended litigation the process will take longer to resolve., or to resolve a disputed claim filed by a creditor, or a lawsuit filed to challenge the validity of the will.

Even the simplest of estates must be open for at least the three-month creditor claim period. If there are no assets that are subject to claims of creditors in some counties the Judges like to give notice to creditors and an opportunity to dispute homestead status to preserve the creditor's due process rights. With these issues in mind, it is reasonable to expect that a simple estate will take at least three months and typically five or six months to properly handle.

If the estate does not have to file a federal estate tax return, the final accounting and other documents necessary to close the estate are first due within 12 months after the Court issues Letters of Administration to the personal representative. This period can be extended if necessary and is often extended in cases involving Florida personal Injury Claims.

If the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return, the return is initially due nine months after the date of the decedent's death, however, the time for filing the return can be extended for another six months. Remember that the Personal Representative is personally responsible for the estate taxes if they are unpaid. If a federal estate tax return is required, the final accounting and other documents to close the probate administration are due within 12 months from the date the estate tax return, as extended, is due. This date can also be extended if necessary.

If you need help from a Florida probate lawyer or are looking to file a claim a Florida Probate case and would like a Jacksonville Probate Attorney to review your claim or the probate administration Contact a Florida Probate Lawyer.

Update:
Jacksonville Probate Lawyer, David Goldman has put together a Florida Probate Handbook that is being offered free to readers and visitors of his websites. If you would like a copy, visit the Free Florida Probate Handbook web page, fill out the form, and one will be sent to you within 24 hours by email.

November 3, 2008

Florida Trust mills and Michigan trust mills

Florida has the same problems that have been identified by Christopher Berry, An Estate Planning Attorney in Michigan who writes the Estate Planning in Michigan Blog. Christopher recently wrote an article on The Problem with Michigan Trust Mills where he describes an occurrence that happens all over the country. I have previously written about this topic on several occasions in an updated piece entitled Living Trust Mills Winding Up In Some States UPDATED. In that article, I started a list of other articles dealing with Living Trust Mills:

1. Texarkana Arkansas Living Trust Seminar Class Action suit
2. California Living Trust Mill Judgment
3.Texas Bar story reported by Professor Beyer of Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog- Living trust Scams and Senior Consumer
4. Michael Bonasera wrote an article titledLiving Trust Scams/Trust Mills/Elderlaw Planning Seminars - STAY AWAY! where he Ohio's history with Trust Mills and cites a case Ohio Trust Mill Case of Cleveland Bar v Sharp Estate Services, Inc. which seems to have ended Trust Mills in Ohio.
5. Minnesota Sues "Trust Mills" on Consumeraffairs.com
6. Beware of Trust Mills when Estate Planning - by Randall Armour, CA Lawyer- reported on by Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog
7. Don’t Trust the “Trust Mills”, Traci D. Ellis Esquire
8. The Problem With Michigan Trust Mills, Christopher J. Berry, Esquire

For a while there articles on Trust Mills have been quite and I was beginning to think we had seen the last of them for a while. Hopefully this is a trend that is not starting again. If you need help with evaluation of your Florida Estate Planning Contact our Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer

November 3, 2008

River Garden Foundation Gala In Jacksonville

The 16th annual River Garden Gala will be held on Saturday November 8th, 2008 at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort.

The Sawgrass Marriott Resort is at 1000, PGA Tour Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

This event is to benefit River Garden Wolfson Health & Aging Center and is a Black Tie event for more information on the fund raiser call (904) 262-1818, ext. 222.