Recently in Enhanced Life Estate Deeds Category

September 5, 2012

Life Estate Deeds May Put Child's Interest In Home At Risk to Creditors

asset-protection-cash.jpgIn Florida many parents create Life Estate Deeds with their children in an attempt to avoid Probate on their homes. A Florida Life Estate Deed is a document which changes the ownership of a home or other piece of real estate. Essentially it creates a present interest and a future interest. A traditional life estate would say something like this, " I give my self and my spouse the right to live in the home as long as either of us shall live and the remainder to my child or children."

This example would create a future interest that vests now in the child or children and a present interest or right to use the home for the parents or grantor. While there are many potential problems like loss of tax basis, penalties and interest for failure to do gift tax returns, loss of eligibility for nursing home coverage because of the gift, the issue we are concerned about here is the risk that the home could be lost to the creditor of the child or one of the children.

Here is how it works. If the child or children do no live in the parents home, it is not their homestead, even if they do live in the home, it cannot be their homestead because they do not have a present interest in the home. Remember the child or children only have a future interest in the home. A creditor can levy against that asset just like any other. There are tables that determine the value of a future interest based on the age of the parents, their life expectancy, and the current interest rates.

So besides all the other risks associated with transferring a portion of your home to a child, you may in fact transfer nothing to your child if they end up having a creditor take the child's portion of the home.

There are ways of avoiding probate, reducing risks of loss to creditors, and receiving favorable tax status that may work in your situation but you should discuss these with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to see which options offer the best combination of benefits for your situation.

May 10, 2012

Adding Kids To Deeds Can Place Florida Homestead in Jeopardy to Creditors

Joseph Percope has written an article The Impact of Co-ownership on Florida Homestead in the Florida Bar Journal that discusses the tree kinds of homesteads defined in a 1997 Florida Supreme Court case: The tax exemption; The Protection from Creditors; and The restrictions on alienation of homestead property in Florida.

While most are primarily concerned with their tax breaks, as a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer we often deal with the second two more often in our planning. We see families attempting to avoid probate by adding kids on to deeds all the time. We also see parents who own part of their children's homes. The problem begins when in either of these situations one or more of the owners does not live in the home. The home or at the ownership of the person not living in the home is subject to the claims of their creditors.

When no ownership percentage is specified, Florida will apply equal percentages of ownership to each person named on the deed. If a single person adds their child onto their deed as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, 50 percent of the equity in the home will be exposed to the creditors of the child who is not living in the home.

Once a creditor takes an ownership in the home, it is possible to force the sale of the home.

While these types of deeds are rarely a good idea because of the tax and basis considerations, many have not considered the additional risk due to the creditors of co-owners who do not live in the home or qualify for the second type of homestead (the constitutional protection from creditors)

The same scenario applies to those who try to use a traditional life estate deed to avoid probate. ( a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed does not have many of the problems that a traditional life estate does.

If you are trying to avoid probate in Florida and would like to also have protection for your homestead from creditors, not have adverse tax consequences, not lose stepped up basis, and/or not create a disqualifying transfer of assets for Medicaid purposes, you should contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss how to protect your homestead and the options available that deal with your circumstances and goals.
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May 4, 2012

Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed 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 and avoid a Probate in Florida. Upon the death of the homeowner's the property will pass to the people designated without the need for a costly probate process in much the same way as a bank account with a beneficiary designation.

Jacksonville Duval Clay Orange ParkWhy Use an Enhanced Life Estate Deed?
The Florida 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?
A Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida 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 Florida 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.

May 1, 2012

What are Probate Assets in Florida?

Florida statutes define probate assets as those assets subject to a probate administration. There are several types of Probate in Florida which are discussed in our Free Florida Probate Handbook that you can request.

Often it is easier to define which assets are not subject to probate.
In Florida any asset with a surviving joint owner, valid payable on death designation, or contract clause which defines what happens to the asset upon death are not subject to probate. Often these include life insurance policies, annuities contract or retirement account with a transfer on death clause, jointly owned bank accounts, real estate with and valid beneficiary designation clause. One of the most common items that is not subject to probate is a Florida homestead. While a homestead is not devised through probate typically, title companies will often require it to be dealt with in a Florida probate to issue title insurance. The good news is unless you messed up your will or other documents, a Florida Homestead will not be subject to the claims of your creditors or the creditors of your beneficiaries if it is their homestead.

a Florida Probate can be expensive so it is wise to review your estate plan with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer to see if any of your assets will be subject to a Florida Probate and if a probate in Florida can be avoided.

July 21, 2009

Recording Florida Deeds after death

Can a Florida Quit Claim deed be recorded after death? Generally any deed can be recorded at any time even after the death of the grantor. However there can be problems created by the delay in filing. First, we often see that the deeds were never delivered and as such are ineffective and not a valid conveyance of the property. In addition, the deeds can be wrong or incomplete and create problems that the grantor is not alive to fix. Third, there is now a requirement in Florida to update the property appraiser with any change in beneficial ownership. Generally the reason why deeds were not recorded in the past was to avoid loss of homestead and keep property taxes lower. Florida's new requirement places penalties on this type of fraud, whether done intentionally or not.

You should have your deeds reviewed by a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to make sure you are using the right type of deed, are protected from creditors, are not creating additional liability, are not creating unreported gifts and are accomplishing your goals.

July 12, 2009

Is a lawyer required for a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed?

While in Florida a lawyer is not required to create a valid deed like a ladybird deed or Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed it may be a good idea to have a lawyer or attorney review these specific document because of their propensity for errors and the bad or unexpected outcome that would occur with an invalid or incorrect Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed.
1. A lawyer can check to make sure that the deeds are executed with the formality required under Florida Statutes.

2. That an Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed is the best method of accomplishing your goals. With property with larger mortgages, a deed of this type may not be the best or most affordable method for transferring the property upon the death of the owners because of the mortgage taxes in Florida.

3. In addition, some of the forms and Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deeds that I have seen do not properly deal with the property upon death and title companies have been known to require a probate before they will issue a new title policy. This can cost the family thousands of dollars on a homestead and up to 3 percent of the value of the home on non-homestead properties.

4. Prevent a portion of the property from lapsing, Florida's anti-lapse statute deals with devises by will and in trusts but would not protect an interest in a property that was given to an individual who predeceased the grantor of the deed. Because a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed is a contingent gift, it is possible that the remainder interest would be directed back to the estate of the grantor in a case were the contingent remainder beneficiary of the deed was to predecease the grantor.

5. The most important reason to use a lawyer with a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed deals with the circumstances surrounding the use of this type of deed. Often when a lawyer prepares these deeds they the process will cause them to evaluate the other financial, estate planning, elder law, and Medicaid planning that are found when these deeds are used. Paying a lawyer who is familiar with these issues to prepare your deed is a good way to have your personal circumstances and issues evaluated at the same time.

If you would like more information on a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed you should Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with these issues.

May 26, 2009

Lady Bird Deeds and stepped up basis (Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deeds)

One of the most common questions people ask about Florida Lady Bird Deeds (Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deeds) is whether upon the death of the grantor, the contingent beneficiaries receive a stepped up basis like they would receive if the property was to transfer under a will.

Under Section 2036 of the IRS code, the life estate portion of the Lady Bird Deed causes inclusion in the estate of the decedent. Because of the taxable inclusion in the state there is stepped up basis under the Internal Revenue Code. It is possible that this section of the code might be changed at some time in the future and you should verify this with your tax professional.

September 18, 2008

Notice of ownership or control change now required in Florida transactions involving real property

Florida Statute 193.1556 requires that any changes regarding a person or entity owning real property under Florida Statute 193.1554 or Florida Statute 193.1555 are reported to the property appraiser.

This may affect some Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deeds. Under Florida Statute 193.1554(5), If the property is nonhomestead residential property, there is an exemption for the transfer between husband and wife, including transfer to a surviving spouse or a transfer due to a dissolution of marriage. The transfer to a revocable trust will not trigger a new assessment at fair market value.

On the other hand for all residential and non-residential property which is not protected by homestead there doesn't appear to be the same exemption under Florida Statute 193.1555(5).

In either case the transfer to a Florida Revocable Trust where there is simply a change between legal and equitable title, will not trigger a new assessment at fair market value.

One new issue is that it is now required to report a change in ownership or control when a business entity owns property. In the past, many were able to sell an entity and no notice to re-evaluate the taxable base would be generated. Now if you convert real property to personal property by selling the ownership in an LLC instead of the real estate holdings of the LLC, you still have to report the change in ownership.

To read more on Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deeds or Florida Revocable Living Trusts read some of the articles on this site or Contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer

June 27, 2008

Florida DR-219 Form is Repealed as of 06/1/2008

Florida DR-219 Form is Repealed as of 06/1/2008

Beginning June 1, 2008:

•The requirement to complete and file Form DR-219 is repealed. •The Department of Revenue will not process DR-219 forms received. •Destroy all blank DR-219 forms in your inventory.
The repeal of the requirement to complete and file Form DR-219 does not impact documentary stamp tax payment and filing requirements. Documentary stamp tax continues to be due on all documents that convey an interest in Florida real property. The tax must be paid at the time of recording with the Clerks of Court or County Recorders if the document is recorded prior to the 20th day of the month following the month the document is delivered. The tax must be paid directly to the Department of Revenue by the 20th day of the month following the month the document is delivered if the document is not recorded before. Delinquent payment of tax will continue to be subject to penalty and interest charges.
June 27, 2008

Deeds Designating Grantee as a Trustee Sufficient to Pass Title to Trust

The Florida Supreme court has ruled affirmatively on the question presented to it.

Whether, under Florida Statutes section 689.07(1) as it existed before
its 2004 amendment, this Deed––which is a recorded real estate
conveyance deed to a named trustee of a private express trust
identified in the deed by name and date, and contains other language
referring to the unrecorded trust agreement, the settlors, and the
beneficiaries––conveys only legal title to the property in trust to the
grantee as trustee.

In Raborn v. Menotte, 974 So. 2d 328 (Fla. 2008), the court held that a deed which identifies the grantor as the creator of and the grantee as trustee of a named trust shows sufficient “contrary intention” and grants legal title as trustee to the grantee.

This case was brought to my attention by an article by Gerry Beyer on the WIlls, Trust, & Estates professors Blog.

June 7, 2008

Florida Lady Bird Deed Forms

Where can I get a Form for Florida Lady Bird Deed is a question that I am often asked. Florida Lady Bird Deeds are generally not available on the Internet because not many Florida Lawyers even know what they are. They are also far more complex than a regular deed.

I have seen several cases where clients used Ladybird deed that were not acceptable to Title insurance companies and the families had to open probate cases to clear the title on the property after the death of the grantor.

Because of this when we created our deeds we went to many title companies to get their feedback and modified our deed and they way they are filed to be in compliance with the title companies requirements.

In addition the language that is used on the remainder interest is very important because it is possible that the person named might not survive the original owner. If the wrong language is used, the property will revert back to the original owners estate and could potentially be subject to the claims of the creditors and Medicaid liens. They are often used in Florida Medicaid Planning.

If you need a Ladybird deed in Florida, you should Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Ladybird deeds.

May 16, 2008

Enhanced Life Estate Deed Question. What happens when the owner of the Remainder Interest predeceases the life tenant?

A *Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed is designed to pass the property if any to a person upon the death of the life tenant while allowing the life tenant to do anything during their life.

What happens if the person named in the remainder interest predeceases the life tenant?
This is
From A to B for life (with enhanced powers) remainder to C.
If C dies before B, and then B dies the property will revert to A or A's Estate upon B's Death.

This can be problematic when claims are potential claims against A's estate.

Solutions:
1) When C dies, B should change the Enhanced Life Estate Deed
2) create the deed in such a way that the language of the deed specifies that the property does not go back to A or A's heirs

If you need a Florida Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Florida LadyBird Deed Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to create a deed that serves your needs and minimizes your risks.

April 16, 2008

Medicaid and improvements paid for by Life Tenant of Property

In Florida, the Life tenant is generally responsible for the costs of repairs, but the remaindermen are responsible for the payments for improvements to the property.

If the life tenant paid for the costs of improvements on a property, this would constitute an uncompensated transfer or gift which could result in a period of ineligibility for Medicaid.

If repairs are being done on the property, it is important to have he contractor and suppliers specify that everything is begin done as a repair to avoid the possibility of the DCF worker classifying it as an improvement and creating a gift.

Before making repairs on a life estate, you should make sure that the act will not disqualify your family member from coverage. Please Contact a Florida Elder Law Lawyer to discuss your situation and Florida Medicaid Planning.

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 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.