December 2008 Archives

December 29, 2008

Are Adopted Adults Considered "decendants"?

A common question with Florida Estate Planning is whether an adult who is adopted is considered a child. We often recomend that out clients places language in their Florida Wills or Florida Revocable Trusts that deal with these issues. The typical language deals with adopted children above or below a certain age. Most people want to consider children adopted at a young age the same as a child who is naturally born. Occasionally it is necessary for an adult to be adopted. This can happen to provide medical coverage or for other reasons. In these cases, individuals may not want to consider these adopted individuals the same as their naturally born or younger adopted children.

Gerry Beyer of the Wills, Trust & Estate professor Blog wrote an article on a Texas case where the court found that an adopted adult is not treated as a descendant. Gerry points out that this ase seems to be one where the court struggled with the facts and created bad case law to deal with the facts in the case.

Garry's moral is one that should be used in all estate planning documents. When making gifts to classes such as “children,” “grandchildren,” and “descendants,” settlors and testators should indicate whether adopted children are included and if adopted children are included, the age by which they need to be adopted to be included in the class.

December 28, 2008

NFA Gun Trust

As many of you have noticed the Firearms articles on this site have been transitioned to the NFA Gun Trust Lawyer website. If you are in Florida or any other state and are looking for a NFA Trust Lawyer or Gun Trust Lawyer or Contact us or visit NFA Gun Trust Lawyer website for more information. If you are looking or a gun trust in another state you can contact the NFA Gun Trust Lawyer ®website.

If you are looking for a form to create your own Gun Trust, check out http://www.GunTrust.com which allows individuals to create a real gun trust in only a few minutes by prompting them through a series of questions.

December 27, 2008

Jacksonville Florida Guardianship Process

Grandfather-grandaughter.jpgHaving a Florida Guardian appointed involves two separate court determinations. The first court proceeding is the Incapacity proceeding where the Florida court determines whether the person is incapacitated as defined by Florida law. The second Guardianship proceeding is where the Florida court actually determines who will serve a guardian. All Guardians are required to be represented by a Florida Lawyer (See Florida Probate Rule 5.030(a) ), submit to a criminal background check, and take an 8 hour course in Guardianship duties within 9 months of being appointed.

Step 1: (Determine Capacity). See Florida Statute

Florida's Guardianship Statutes have been written to protect our freedom and independence. Therefore, the courts presume a person has capacity and is able to make decisions on their own until adjudicated by the courts to not have capacity. (See Florida Probate Rules 5.550 and Florida Probate Rule 5.030(a)" target=new>Florida Statute 744.3201 for what must be contained in the Petition to Determine Capacity).

Petition filed: A Petition to Determine the Persons Capacity is filed with the County where the person resides. The petition can be filed by a family member, concerned third party, or the Counties Adult protective Services. The petitioner has the burden to prove that the person being alleged incapacitated is incapacitated in the court's eyes. Witnesses may very well be required to prove the incapacity.

Court Appoints Attorney: Within five days of filing the petition, the County court will appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the alleged incapacitated person (or the person can choose their own attorney to represent them) in the Incapacity proceeding and the Guardianship proceedings. Also within 5 days of filing the Petition to Determine Capacity, the courts will appoint a three (3) person panel to review the persons level of capacity and need for appointing a Guardian. This examining committee is typically includes a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a social worker. The committee members will individually meet with the person whose capacity is being determined, talk with family members, neighbors, and health care providers.

A Mental exam, physical exam, and functional assessment are included in this determination process.
The examining committee members will submit to the courts a recommendation. Under Florida Statute 744.3215, the reports of examining committee are due to the courts within 15 days of being appointed.

The Incapacity Hearing: is considered adversarial (meaning contested) and must be set within fourteen (14) days from filing the examining committee reports. (Florida Statute 744.331(5)(a)). Depending on the county in which the proceeding is filed, the incapacity hearing will be before the Judge or a General Master. The person is entitled to be at the hearing, the examining committee reports are reviewed by the Judge or General Master. Evidence and testimony is allowed to be presented at the proceeding. The Judge then decides on whether to adjudicate the person incapacitated or not. If a General Master presides over the hearing, his/her recommendation of capacity is sent to the Judge who then enters an order after review, as he/she deems appropriate given the General master's recommendation and findings.

All Incapacity Hearing proceedings are closed to the public and considered confidential in order to preserve the dignity and privacy of the alleged incapacitated person.

STEP 2: THE GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDING

This portion of the proceedings only happens if the person has been adjudicated incapable of handling his/her own affairs.

Type/Extent of Guardianship:
The next step is for the court to determine whether to limit the Guardianship to defined responsibilities or make the Guardianship a full/Plenary Guardianship (Authority of Guardian over all decisions for the person).

Who can serve as Guardian: Florida resident eighteen (18) or older, a Non-Florida resident over age 18 can be appointed provided proposed Guardian is over eighteen (18) so long as he/she is a lineal descendant of the proposed incapacitated. No person who has been convicted of a felony, abuse, or is incapacitated may serve as a Guardian. See Florida Statute 744.309

Guardians Ability Reviewed: The courts also review the Guardians ability to serve in a fiduciary capacity. This means the Guardian should appear to be able to be trusted in a position of responsibility over another persons health care and financial management and decisions.

Competing Guardians Petition to be appointed: In some cases, two or more parties may want to be appointed as the Guardian. This is typical in family situations and also when the State files a petition. The immediate family can also file what is termed a "Competing Petition for Guardianship". The proceedings are then considered adversarial. The courts then will listen to evidence from both parties and based upon the testimony and evidence presented will enter an order appointing the Guardian it believes best suited to serve in such a trusted/Fiduciary capacity.

If there are competing Guardianship petitions filed, it is recommended an attorney well versed in Incapacity, Guardianship law, Florida Estate Planning law, and Florida Elder Law be retained to assist in the proceedings.

Guardian Appointed: If the courts feel the Guardian is trustworthy and qualifies to serve as a Guardian, the court will issue Letters of Administration and an Order Appointing the Guardian outlining what powers the Guardian will have over the incapacitated person's affairs.

Bond Required: The Court will then determine what amount of Bond will be required of the Guardian of the Property. A Bond is best described as a hybrid insurance policy protecting the incapacitated persons financial matters from misappropriation or misuse by the Guardian.

Costs of Guardianship: The cost of establishing a Guardianship can be between of $3,500 and $6,000 depending on the level that the guardianship is contested and if there are conflicting opinions on who should manage the ward's affairs. In addition, the court costs and examining committee fees are approximately $1,000.00.

When is a Guardian Appointed: a Guardian is ordered appointed by the courts where a person either does not have advanced directives in place or when those in place will not serve the interests of the incapacitated person. Generally these documents include a valid Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designation, HIPAA release, and Living Will. Often there is also a preneed guardian document which helps determine who will be appointed or not appointed as a guardian in the event one is needed.

Courts Discretion to Appoint Guardian Limited: Courts must order the least restrictive means to ensure a persons affairs are managed properly. Cost to draft the Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designation and Living Will is approximately $400-600 total. However in order to execute the documents a person must have mental capacity to do so, understand what he/she is signing and be able to make an informed decision at the time of signing as to who he/she wants to appoint.

This court appointed Guardian's actions and responsibilities are monitored by the court. The Florida Guardian's responsibilities are outlined in the Florida Statutes and the Florida Guardian must must file accountings and reports with the court periodically. The Guardian has a legal duty and responsibility to protect the a person he/she is appointed to help.

If you are involved in a Florida Guardianship or would like to find how a Florida Guardianship can protect your family please Contact a Florida Guardianship Lawyer

December 20, 2008

Electronic Service through Socail Networking site

Recently an Australia Judge allowed a defendant in a law suit to be served copies of court papers by their Facebook account. The Legal Blog Watch has an article posted by Carolyn Elefant - Court Papers Served By Facebook

After the judge was satisfied that the defendant was the same person who owned the Facebook account and the defendant was unable to be located, the judge allowed the defendant to be served through their Facebook account.

December 19, 2008

Confusion over 2008/2009 RMD Suspension by Congress

There seems to be articles misquoting the Suspension of RMDs by Congress. Congress has not suspended the 2008 RMDs. As of this time The Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 is awaiting the President's signature.

One of the provisions of the bill is the suspension of required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2009 ONLY.
This applies to all RMDs from IRAs and employer plans for account owners AND beneficiaries. This temporary suspension will not affect an individual’s required beginning date. An individual who turns 70 ½ in 2008 and chooses to defer their first distribution to April 1, 2009 must still take that distribution.

Non-spouse Beneficiary Rollovers from Employer Plans Made Mandatory
A non-spouse beneficiary direct rollover provision mandatory for employer plans. All employer plans will be required to allow these direct rollovers to properly titled inherited IRAs after December 31, 2009.

December 18, 2008

Mediations can save time and costs

When is a Jacksonville Mediator helpful in resolving a Florida lawsuit?

After your Jacksonville attorney has filed suit, or you have been served with one you may quickly find that thousands of dollars are spend in attorney's fees and costs. There are fees for pleadings and counter-pleadings, requests and responses to interrogatories and requests for admissions, depositions and motion hearings. Typically after all of these fees your attorney sets the case for trial only to then inform you that the court has ordered mediation by a Florida Mediator.

Florida Clients often ask, Why are they are now having to meet with the other party to discuss settlement after paying all this money and waiting all this time for a trial? They wonder if they could have met much earlier in process and saved thousands of dollars. If you are in a lawsuit you should ask your Florida Lawyer early if the court will be ordering a mediation and when the proper time to have the mediation would be. Often an early mediation can save both sides substantial fees and lead to a good resolution of the issues involved in the case.

Florida Mediators are regulated by the Dispute Resolution Center of the Office of the State Courts Administrator, which is part of the Supreme Court of Florida. There are a variety of mediator designations, as follows: civil circuit (not including family), family, county civil and dependency. The primary laws that apply to mediation include Florida Statutes Chapter 44 and Florida Rules for Certified & Court-Appointed Mediators.

Ask your Jacksonville Lawyer which Florida mediator he or she will recommend and why. Often the Jacksonville Lawyers appear for the hearing to set the case for trial, and have not thought about the benefits of a Florida mediator. When the court asks them who they want to mediate, the attorneys then shoot from the hip having not previously discussed it.

The choice of a Jacksonville Mediator is crucial, as the case may settle at mediation saving you, the litigant, the uncertainty of the outcome, thousands in attorney's fees and costs by avoiding trial preparation, expert witness fees, court reporter fees, the trial, and, if you lose, the cost of an appeal. Make sure the mediator has a working background in the subject matter of the lawsuit. For example, if the lawsuit is a real estate dispute, the mediator could better understand the issues if the mediator had experience in actually conducting real estate transactions.

For questions or comments on the use or selection of a Florida Mediator, contact Michael S. Price, Esq., Circuit Civil Mediator, 1616 Jork Rd., Suite 102, Jacksonville, FL 32207; telephone (904) 396-4445; E-mail mpriceatty@bellsouth.net who focuses on disputes related to real estate, contracts, construction, leasing, foreclosure, property defects, binder deposits, and disputes related to business, partnerships and shareholders.

For more information on Jacksonville or Florida Foreclosure Defense See the Florida Foreclosure Defense Lawyers Blog.

December 18, 2008

Guardianship of the Elderly in Florida and other States

Grandparents-on-beach.jpgGuardianship is a relationship created by state law in which a court gives one person or entity (the guardian) the duty and power to make personal and/or property decisions for another (the ward).

An article written by Brenda K. Uekert and Thomas Dibble. The article, "Guardianship of the Elderly" will appear in the next issue of Court Manager magazine where the author discusses the:

purpose of guardianships;
Abusive guardianships that often exploit the elderly;
Major issues with guardianships;
Capacity;
Financial Costs;
Training and Education;
Court Monitoring;
Recent Developments;
Technological innovations;
New Resources; and
and Recommendations.

For more information on Florida Guardianships Contact a Florida Guardianship Lawyer.

December 18, 2008

Florida Attorney General Warns Seniors of dangers with "Free Lunch" investment Scams

Senior citizens in Florida are being warned to think before going to financial planning seminars and estate-preservation workshops that offer a “free lunch” or "free dinner" to lure seniors to attend.

The Florida AG's Office has received more than a dozen complaints from seniors enticed to attend a free meal that actually turned out to be a high-pressure sales pitch for investments that may be entirely inappropriate based on age and financial circumstance.

In quoting Attorney General Bill McCollum, the Naples Daily News reported that “The last thing our seniors need during this economic climate when their retirement savings may be dwindling is an investment scam that further depletes that nest egg”. “Too many of our seniors are finding that these free meals can cost them dearly.” The invitations often arrive by phone or mail and promise tips on earning great financial returns with minimal risk, eliminating taxes or avoiding probate. After a high-pressure presentation, salespeople then try to schedule follow-up visits in the homes of those who attend so they can continue the pitch. In addition to losing money, consumers who complained to the Attorney General reported being badgered by many unsolicited phone calls and frustrated by misrepresentation of the seminar’s purpose.

December 17, 2008

Floirda Medicaid and New Caregiving website

Leanna Hamill, a Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, has an article on a new website Videocaregiving.org. She states that the videos are designed to be short, simple, and direct. They easily accessed by users 24 hours a day and cover the tasks and daily activities for caregivers.

If you need help with a Florida Medicaid Application Contact a Florida Elder Law Attorney

December 17, 2008

Uniform Probate Code Authorizes Notarized Wills

Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, PVB, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, Florida WillThe UPC or Uniform Probate Code has been modified to accept a Notarized Will as valid. Lawrence W Waggoner, wrote an article "The UPC Authorizes Notarized Wills", 34 ACTEC 83 (Fall 2008). (This article was brought to my attention by Gerry Beyer of the Wills, Trust & Estate professor Blog)

The article begins by reviewing the history of attested wills which were derived from the English Statute of Frauds Act of 1837. The requirements state that the will must be (1) in writing, (2) signed by the testator, and (3) witnessed by attesting witnesses. The UPC also popularized the concept used in Florida of self-proved wills. A self-proved will allows the testator to execute a will and attach an affidavit to the will, notarized and signed by the testator and the attesting witnesses.

In 1990- the UPC adopted another new concept, the harmless error rule. Under the harmless error rule, a will that does not strictly comply with the statutory requirements for an attested will is treated as if it had been properly executed if the will is proved by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the document to be his or her will. So far Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah, and Virgina have adopted statutes based upon the Harmless-Error Rule.

In 2008, the UPC added Notarized Wills so that a will that is in writing, signed by the testator, and notarized is valid. The rational behind this is that the notary provides the same protections and removes the danger of reliability that is present with wills that are not witnessed by two attesting witnesses and that a Notarized Will is a logical an extension of the harmless error rule.

The UPC and many Non-UPC states authorize holographic wills ( Florida does not recognize a holographic will unless it also complies with the Florida statute of wills)

The article goes on to state that often lawyers who prepare a package of estate planning documents often miss a signature on one or more documents and the ability to use a notary protects the clients and the attorney from the mistakes and consequences associated with the improper execution of the a will. In addition, the Notarized Will option would benefit individuals who attempt to execute wills on their own. Given the high likelihood of errors in these wills it is hard to determine if this is a benefit or not.

If you would like a will reviewed in Florida contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

December 15, 2008

Florida Probate: Am I entitled to an inventory and accounting.

In Florida if you are a beneficiary a potential heir, you are entitled to an inventory and accounting. As An Atlanta Georgia Estate Planning Lawyer wrote in their article AS A BENEFICIARY OR HEIR OF A GEORGIA PROBATE ESTATE, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO AN INVENTORY AND ACCOUNTING IN GEORGIA PROBATE COURT - REMEMBER, "POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE LAW", SO ACT QUICKLY AND WITH KNOWLEDGE, it is important to act fast.

It is often frustrating for beneficiaries that this doesn't happen quickly or automatically. Often beneficiaries only receive these documents after a Florida Probate Attorney makes a formal request for them.

If you have not received an inventory or accounting relating to a Florida Probate 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.

December 14, 2008

Problems with Trust Kits

A Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer Blog has written another article on Problems with Michigan Trust Kits. While we have reported on these issues many times in Florida, there appear to be similar problems in other states. Christopher Berry, a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney, points out that Michigan citizens have lost over $200,000 because of poorly drafted Revocable Trust .

In addition, many of these Estate Planning Kits do not take Elder law issues into account when filling out the generic forms for individuals and their families. Please contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your individual needs.

December 11, 2008

What is a Florida Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

taxpapers.jpgLife insurance is counted as part of your taxable estate. Many people understand that life insurance is income tax free to the beneficiaries, but the do not know that the proceeds of a life insurance policy are usually counted as part of the decedent's estate for Federal Estate Tax purposes.

This increase in the taxable estate can often lead to estate tax or a death tax being due. 1,000,000 in life insurance can create as much as a $450,000 tax bill for the estate. To avoid this many individual create an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust or ILIT. An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is a type of Florida Revocable Trust that is designed to hold and own life insurance policies. Once the ILIT is created you transfer ownership of your life insurance policies or purchase new policies in the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. By giving up all "incidents of ownership" over the policies the benefits of the policies are not part of your taxable estate when you die.

To find out how an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust can benefit you Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your situation.

December 10, 2008

Asbestos Removal and Greener Alternatives

If you are a Trustee or Guardian over property in Florida There are many things to consider when remodeling or purchasing an older home, which is common in the real estate industry.

I recently became aware of problems with some homes built before 1980 because they have a strong likelihood of containing asbestos. Due to a steady progression of technology and green sustainable methods, there are many ways to ensure your home or property is asbestos free. If you are interested in saving money, remodeling and improving your carbon footprint, here is some information that I found to help you get on the right track.

Asbestos insulation was used in millions of homes throughout the last quarter of the 20th century and can become a real dilemma for homeowners due to a variety of health problems, including malignant mesothelioma and a variety of other lung ailments. Mesothelioma takes the lives of thousands of people each year and has lead to a variety of mesothelioma lawyers throughout the nation. Manufacturers of asbestos products knew about the harmful effects of asbestos and continued manufacturing the products anyways.

Non-regulated asbestos material can be legally performed by homeowners, regular contractors, or licensed asbestos abatement contractors as long as the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) are not violated. Asbestos removal in public facilities, homes and workplaces must be undertaken by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Once the removal is complete, green insulation options should be given serious consideration, such as: Cellulose, Cotton Fiber and Lcynene.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), in a study conducted in 2003, estimated a savings of $50-$65 per square foot for well-constructed green buildings in the U.S. (see table below) during that year. The numbers continue to improve as more eco-friendly options become available, and those kinds of figures have finally begun to attract those who thought eco-friendly construction was just a bunch of hogwash.

If you are involved with property in Florida as a fiduciary, you may want to check out these resources to protect the assets. To discuss your potential liability, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

December 10, 2008

What is the Difference betweeen a Revocable Living Trust and an Irrevocable Trust

a Florida Revocable Trust is a trust created during the life of an individual which can be modified, amended, or revoked at anytime during their life. Often they are used to:

1. avoid Florida Probate;
2. Keep your assets and decisions private;
3. Simplify after death distributions;
4. Increase the amount of the estate tax exemption for a couple;
5. Simplify the management of the beneficiary designations on property and other assets; and
6. Keep property separate in the case of a divorce.
The downside to a revocable trust is that assets are considered your personal assets in the case of creditors. There are techniques that can use a Florida Limited Liability Company (LLC) in conjunction with Florida Revocable Trust to protect assets. In most cases, these are not implemented and the trust by itself will offer no asset protection except in the case of a subsequent marriage and divorce.

A Florida Irrevocable Trust cannot be easily changed after the trust is created. It often takes consent of the creator, beneficiary, and trustee or judicial modification. A Florida Revocable Trust becomes irrevocable after the Settlor or Grantor dies. Florida Revocable Trusts are often used for:

1. Estate tax reduction;
2. Removing Life insurance proceeds from one's taxable estate;
3. Asset protection for the creator;
4. Asset protection for the beneficiaries;
5. Charitable Estate Planning; and

To determine what type of Florida Trusts would be best for you, you could Contact a Florida Trust Attorney or a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

December 4, 2008

Trust Litigation

Florida Trust Litigation involves disputes between beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of assets in ones estate or trusts (a Trust Contest). Trust litigation in Florida is most often centered around Mistakes in Execution, Undue Influence, or Lack of Capacity.

If you feel that there are problems with a Florida Trust and would like your options reviewed by a Florida Trust Litigation Lawyer, please Contact Florida Trust Attorney

December 3, 2008

Myth: A Revocable Trust Avoids Probate

While a Florida Revocable Trust can avoid the necessity for a Florida Probate to be filed, there are often circumstances that require a Probate. A Florida Revocable Trust only eliminates the need for a probate when it is funded and to the extent that your assets are inside the trust prior to death.

One of the most common problems is that people create trusts but never fund them or do not fund them completely. One of the most common assets, the Florida Homestead, must be dealt with or a probate will be required to transfer marketable title to the beneficiaries. Even though, the home, in most cases, will transfer automatically upon death under the Florida Constitution, it is necessary to open a Florida Probate to transfer the home with Marketable title. The title companies require the probate court to establish the home as a homestead, notify potential creditors, and have the title transferred in the probate to insure the home against future claims from creditors who claim they were not notified. For more information on this and other issues with avoiding probate, Julie Garger wrote an article why a Florida Revocable Trust may not avoid probate.

To discuss how you can reduce your risk of a probate in Florida Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

December 2, 2008

Elective Share Litigation

In Florida, a surviving spouse is usually entitled to take an elective share of their spouse's estate. This is to prevent one spouse from disinheriting the other. Unless there is a valid Prenuptial or Post Nuptial agreement in place, the surviving spouse is entitled to take 30% of the spouses entire elective estate.

Florida Statute § 732.2035 describes what property is included in the elective share of the decedent's estate.

There are time requirements on filing for an elective share and failure to timely file may result in waiver of this option. To evaluate the effects of electing a Florida Elective Share, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Florida Elective Share Litigation.

December 2, 2008

Are Fees Charged on the Value of a Home in a Florida Probate?

In Florida, the question of whether an attorney should charge fees based on the value of the home or land is a common one. The answer to this question depends on whether the Home is considered a homestead. A Florida Homestead is a constitutionally protected piece of property which is exempt from being counted as an asset of the decedent in a Florida Probate. If the home is a Florida Homestead, the fees for transferring the property to the decedents must be reasonable and unless the home a very small value it would be unreasonable to charge 3% of the homes value to transfer the property. In all Florida probate cases a lawyers fees must be reasonable. When a home is considered a homestead, the lawyer must file a petition to determine homestead, publish notice to the creditors, and if there are no objections, file a PR deed to transfer the property.

If you are a creditor or a beneficiary of a Florida Probate and think that the fees in the Probate are unreasonable Contact us and we can review the fees and the court file to determine if you are being treated reasonably. When fees are higher than necessary, we can often resolve the dispute with a letter and a few conversations. Sometimes the issues are more complex and it becomes necessary to attend a hearing in the probate court to present evidence or dispute the fees. When this happens a Judge will make the determination of whether the PR fees and the Legal fees are reasonable.

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.

December 2, 2008

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)

A GRAT or Grantor Retained Annuity Trust is an estate planning technique that minimizes the tax liability existing when transfers of estate assets occur. Under a GRAT, an irrevocable trust is created for a certain term or period of time. The individual establishing the trust pays the taxes associated with income and the transfers. As long as the individual outlives the term of the GRAT then the assets that are transferred go to the beneficiary free of Estate taxes.

GRAT's are typically used with high net worth individual who want to reduce the amount of estate taxes their estate will be subject to.

If you have questions on Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your objectives.

December 1, 2008

Florida Will Contest

Florida Will Litigation involves disputes between beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of assets in ones estate or trusts (a Will Contest). Trust litigation in Florida is most often centered around Mistakes in Execution, Undue Influence, or Lack of Capacity.

If you feel that there are problems with a Florida Will and would like your options reviewed by a Florida Will Contest Lawyer, please Contact Florida Will Litigation Attorney

December 1, 2008

What is a Personal Representative in Florida?

In Florida the personal representative is the person named in a will collect and distributed the assets of a person after death. In a Florida Probate this typically involves taking care of and real or personal property, paying legitimate outstanding bills and filing and paying taxes. Once the debts are paid, the remaining assets are transferred to their new rightful owners. The Personal Representative or Executor can request payment from the estate for the job that they are doing. Florida state law and what is contained in the decedent’s will regulate the exact amount a PR is paid. Often in simple estates and where the PR is a close family relative the PR will not charge a fee for administering a Florida Estate.

If you have questions about a Florida Probate or your job as a Personal Representative in Florida, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer