Recently in Living Trust / Revocable Trust Category

July 16, 2012

Should I receive regular payments from a Trust as a Beneficiary?

untitled.bmpBeneficiaries or people who think they are beneficiaries of trusts often ask up if they should receive regular payments or distributions from a trust. As with most legal issues the answers "depends on the circumstances and what the documents state".

Without reviewing your trust to determine if it is a revocable trust, revocable trust that has become irrevocable, or an irrevocable trust as well who the beneficiaries it is difficult to tell whether you are entitled to anything.

Sometimes people think they are beneficiaries when they are contingent beneficiaries and have no rights until a triggering event occurs. Often that is the death of the person who created the trust or their spouse.

There are so many possibilities as to the rights you have that it would be impossible to go over each of them without a place to start. The place to start is by having a Florida estate planning lawyer or Florida trust lawyer review your trust. If you would like your trust reviewed and was written in Florida or created by a Florida resident, contact us and we can discuss review your trust and help you determine your rights under the trust document.

September 9, 2011

Protecting the Family Vacation Home

Florida asset protection for homestead- House.jpgOften families have vacation property that has been owned for may years or generations. It would be virtually impossible for most children to acquire or maintain these types of properties in today's market.

We often use business entities or trusts to hold title to the property and other assets to help provide for the management and expense of owning and operating a vacation home. When the property is going to be inherited by more than one child or family. An operating agreement or trust agreement can provide rules for handling allocation of time, and expenses among the children and their families.

If you have a family beech or lake home or a ski lodge you may want to talk with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer about how to protect the property from your creditors, the creditors of your children, and disputes between your children regarding the use and expense sharing of the home in the future.

June 24, 2011

Reforming a Trust in Florida

In order for a person to attempt to reform a trust, that person must "have standing." This designation refers to a person who has an interest in the trust. This person can be a trustee, beneficiary, or a trustee and beneficiary. A settlor, the creator of the trust, gets to pick who will be designated in the other positions. While the settlor is still alive, he or she generally serves as trustee for that trust, and names a successor trustee to step in when he or she dies or becomes incapacitated.

The "interested parties" all have the power individually to petition a court to reform the trust. There are multiple reasons for trying to reform a trust, but which ever reason the interested party chooses as a basis for the reformation, the result must comply with both the current law and the original settlor's intent.

The settlor's intent is usually the trickiest to prove in court. If you have found yourself in a position where you believe a trust that you are involved in needs to be reformed, you should contact either a Florida Trust attorney to correctly set up your trust, or a Florida Trust Contests attorney who specializes in the aspects of litigation.

June 23, 2011

Florida Intestate Law Changes: You may now need or want a Florida Will.

If you are a married person in the State of Florida and have not created a Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust you should fully understand what will happen to your assets when you die.

Previously in Florida, if a husband or wife passed away with only children belonging to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse would receive the first $60,000 of the decedents probate estate, while the rest was split equally between the surviving spouse and the children or their heirs.

Governor Scott signed the Florida Law on June 21st. The new Florida Law gives everything to the surveying spouse (where one has passed away without a will and is survived only by a spouse and children of that marriage).

The reasoning for this rests behind the thought that the surviving spouse will "take care" of his or her own natural children and so there is no need to split anything beyond $60,000.

The new law does not change what happens when the decedent had children from outside the marriage. If someone with a mixed family dies without a Florida Will, 50% of the estate goes to the surviving spouse with the other 50% automatically divided among the decedent's children or a deceased child's descendants.

On a positive note, married couples typically want their surviving spouse to receive 100% of the deceased's estate. However, if you would like to have a say in how your estate is divested, some action is necessary on your part.

One major concern with this is that as we age, the old law provided a mechanism to give assets to the kids without subjecting them to claims of nursing homes and medicaid eligibility of the surviving spouse. Now if you die without a will and your surviving spouse needs nursing home coverage, it may be more difficult to qualify given that there is a $2000 cap on the amount of assets a single person can have in Florida.

To Discuss your situation or speak with someone about your options Contact A Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney by email or call anEstate Planning Lawyer in Jacksonville at 904-685-1200 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options in dividing your estate the way you see fit.

June 21, 2011

Parents Trust Creates Ineligibility for Child on Florida Medicaid

Suppose your parents set up a tax planning Florida Revocable Trust with the assets being held for the kids in trust. Under the terms of the trust, the trustee is to distribute net income and principle as the trustee determines is necessary for education and support in reasonable comfort. If one of the kids is on Medicaid, many states will determine that they are ineligible for Medicaid because of the availability of funds, even if the trustee does not distribute them. It is important to create trusts with the proper language to deal with special needs and not make them ineligible for Medicaid. If you would like to review your situation or have a child with special needs you should contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your situation and goals.

April 7, 2011

Do You Trust the Florida Trustee?

Trust.jpgAs a Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorney I have heard countless stories of trustees who have been entrusted to administer, distribute, and account for trust funds to family members and beneficiaries . . . who DON'T!

Sad but true, the death of a grantor, trustor, or settlor of a trust fund may reign in the terror and unabashed greed of many trustees.

The Florida Trust Code provides that a Trustee of an irrevocable trust is required to keep beneficiaries of the trust fund informed about the trust and its administration. <a href="" target=new>Florida Revocable Trusts</a> become irrevocable upon the death of one or all of the grantors.  Florida Statutes also dictate that the trustee make available to all beneficiaries certain accountings which will among other things:

• Show all cash and property transactions and all significant transactions affecting administration during the accounting period, including compensation paid to the Trustee; and

• Reflect the allocation of receipts, disbursements, accruals, or allowances between income and principal when the allocation affects the interest of any beneficiary of the trust.

If you are a Qualified Beneficiary of a Florida Trust and believe you are not receiving the information you are entitled to from a Trustee, contact a Jacksonville Beach Trust Attorney who can discuss with you several options on how you can remedy your situation.

January 31, 2011

No Florida WIll Contest Can Fix This Problem.

When you have a blended family or children from different marriages it is very important to have estate planning that deals with the various possibilities. All to often the standard will or generic documents can produce undesired results.

Take for example a Husband and Wife who each have children from a prior marriage. Husband and wife each want to support each other in the even they pre-decease each other. The problem is created when the Husband dies first, and leaves everything to the wife. Now the wife dies and leave everything to her children, essentially disinheriting the husband's children.

There are several ways a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer can address these issues and achieve the desired results of the husband and wife.

January 4, 2011

Florida Anti-lapse statute and gifts to in-laws

Recently the 3rd DCA in the Florida case of Lorenzo v. Medina ruled that the anti-lapse statute must be strictly construed and that gifts to in-laws are not saved and lapse unlike a gift to a close family member.

This means a gift to a sister-in-law who predeceases the testator is not honored while a gift to a predeceased sister would go to her children. If you are involved with trying to save assets for the families of non-relatives you should talk with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer how simple changes to your Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust can ensure that your intentions are carried out.

November 29, 2010

Estate Planning and Beneficiary Designations

When creating Florida Estate Planning Lawyer it is important to remember that once you create the documents your job is not done.

If you create a Florida Revocable Trust it is important to fund the trust or it will not provide one of the typical benefits of avoiding a Florida Probate. There are several ways of funding the trust and you should discuss these with your Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to see what makes the most sense for you and your family.

In addition, another common mistake is forgetting to make proper beneficiary designations on life insurance or retirement accounts. This is also something that needs to be carefully considered and implemented with the advise of your CPA and Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

Forgetting to make proper beneficiary designations on assets can subject your estate and beneficiaries to unnecessary taxes, expenses, and delays in the transfer of the assets. If you have a 401(k) you may consider moving the asset to an IRA for additional flexibility. This is something you should discuss with your financial planner as IRA distributions to a non-spouse can usually be spread over the lifetime of the oldest beneficiary instead of having to be taken within a year of your death.

If you have recently moved to Jacksonville or Florida and would like a complimentary review of your estate plan and your circumstances contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your options.

August 10, 2010

Asset Protection: IRA's and other Retirement Accounts

ira.jpgIn a recent article by Kelly Greene of the Wall Street Journal, she explains methods in which individuals can protect their retirement accounts. Over an individual's lifetime an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) can accrue hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars. There is a high possibility that these retirement accounts will have significant assets left in them when you pass away. One of the main goals of Florida Estate Planning is to make certain your hard earned money is spent according to your final wishes. In order to control how quickly your children or heirs can spend their inheritance, most individuals are led to trust documents.

In a ruling last year, a Florida State Court found that inherited IRAs are not protected from creditors in civil court cases, with the exception of bankruptcy proceedings. Consequently, it is advisable to create an IRA trust where the account holder can name one or more trusts as the retirement account beneficiary instead of leaving the IRA outright to an heir where it could be subject to the claims of their creditors. Not only do you control how your retirement account is spent, but also with this type of Florida Estate Planning you can receive tax-free growth on the funds. Forming an IRA Trust is a complicated process therefore if you require any assistance contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

August 6, 2010

Updating Life Insurance Beneficiaries Can Be Easy for Florida Families

Whether you want to completely alter the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy or simply add contingent beneficiaries, the process is not all that difficult. However, there are some common mistakes that occur which can result in unpredictable situations. An amendment to a will or trust document cannot change the beneficiaries under the policy. Since an amendment to a Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust usually requires the assistance of a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer, while you are there ask about the life insurance policy. The attorney can also offer advice and recommend who would be a good beneficiary to fit your particular situation.

Once you are ready to get started, you will need all required information, such as the beneficiary's name, mailing address, date of birth, Social Security Number, contact number and relationship to you. Naming a trust as a beneficiary entails knowing the complete name of the trust and the current trustee's name and address. Before contacting a life insurance company representative, look up the company's website because many companies allow you to make changes to your beneficiaries over the Internet. Most will at least have forms that you can print and fill out. Be sure to comply with all rules on the forms for witnessing and notarizing.

Finally, once you have completed all necessary forms, make copies of the documents and then mail them to the address provided by the insurance company. To avoid disputes, notify all original beneficiaries to let them know they are no longer part of the policy. If you would like further assistance modifying your life insurance beneficiaries or creating a new policy, seek help from a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

July 19, 2010

Contesting a Will in Florida

will.jpgFlorida Will Contests:

Occasionally a family member or friend passes away with a Florida Will that gives less than expected to an heir of the decedent. This situation usually gives rise to an inquiry about a will contest. A will contest happens when the disgruntled heir challenges the will by suing the estate under some legal theory claiming the will is invalid. Will contests commonly happen when the testator attempts to leave a small amount to an estranged child or a large amount to someone who would not be expected to inherit under a Florida Will.

To guard against the potential of challenges to the will, you may see a No-Contest clause added by the testator. A no-contest clause is a provision of a will that penalizes the beneficiary who challenges the will, or the contestant. While these clauses may be valid in other states, Florida law specifically makes them unenforceable. According to the Florida Probate Code, "a provision in a will purporting to penalize any interested person for contesting the will or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate is unenforceable." Furthermore, the Florida Trust Code, as amended in 2007, addresses no-contest provisions by making them unenforceable in any trust instrument. This does not mean that they should not be considered as they may be enforceable if one changes which laws the documents will be interpreted under.

The possibility that an estate could be tied up in Probate court for a long period of time is almost certain when there is a contestant of the will. Your beneficiaries will be prevented from receiving their money and assets for prolonged periods while at the same time the estate funds are being depleted by attorney's fees. If you would like information on ways in which Florida residents can protect their assets from these will contests contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer today for guidance.

July 8, 2010

Has Your Florida Trustee Provided an Accounting of the Florida Trust?

With Florida Trust Litigation on the rise, it is important that trustees preform their duties properly.

One of the primary duties of a Florida Trust trustee is to keep accurate records of all acts performed by him in regards to the trust estate. In Florida, trustees have this duty, known as an accounting, which requires providing these records to the trust beneficiaries. The trustee's accounting should be a reasonably understandable report from the date of the last accounting, or from the date on which the trustee became accountable, that adequately discloses the information required.

Fla. Stat. § 736.08135(2) states the requirements of an accounting:

a) The accounting must begin with a statement identifying the trust, the trustee furnishing the accounting, and the time period covered by the accounting.

b) The accounting must show all cash and property transactions and all significant transactions affecting administration during the accounting period, including compensation paid to the trustee and the trustee's agents. Gains and losses realized during the accounting period and all receipts and disbursements must be shown.

c) If feasible, the accounting must identify and value trust assets on hand at the close of the accounting period. For each asset or class of assets reasonably capable of valuation, the accounting shall contain two values, the asset acquisition value and the estimated current value.

Not everyone is entitled to an accounting and while if the grantor is the trustee, the accounting can be waived. There are many other provisions of the Florida Statutes that deal with accountings. If you are a trustee of a Florida trust or a qualified beneficiary of a Florida Trust and want to find out about your rights, you should contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer or Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss you options.

July 6, 2010

Naming Alternate Beneficiaries in Florida Estate Planning Documents

will.jpgAn alternate beneficiary is a person or entity that you name in your Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust to receive a gift or devise in the event that the direct beneficiary does not outlive you or is not fit to receive the gift because of a legal reason, disclaimer, or other provision in the document that would disqualify them. Many times when an elderly individual makes a Florida Will they assume their demise will be sooner than all of their beneficiaries. It is important to name at least one other person to take in the event a direct beneficiary dies before you. The following is an example what a gift might look like: "I leave to my son Aaron the house but in the event he predeceases me, the house should pass my brother Bob."
Florida does provide some default language in most cases for close relatives. In Florida close relatives who predecease the person who leaves them something will have the item left to their children in many cases. Since this is not always what is desired or always the case, you should have any documents that are depending on this to be reviewed by an Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with the provisions.

Although it is rare to think someone is not fit to take a gift, a child who stands to inherit a large sum of money may not be prepared to receive such a gift. Under this scenario, it would be wise to then name one or more alternate beneficiaries and place a condition on the child's gift such as: "I give to my son Aaron $1,000 if he has reached the age of 25. In the event he is not yet 15, I leave the $1,000 to my cousin Barbara in trust for my son until he reaches the age of 25."

Alternate plans can be very complex but should be discussed with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer. They are not required but are wise in estate planning because in the event the beneficiary predeceases you the gift will pass under a statutory scheme. Naming alternative beneficiaries is essential if you truly desire to have your gifts carried out faithfully.

June 28, 2010

Funding Your Florida Trust

Creating a Florida Revocable Trust is a job that most Florida Estate Planning Lawyers are capable of but the process of avoiding

Florida Probate

does not end there. Once the

Florida Revocable Trust

has been created it must then be funded with the client's assets. Without proper funding all of the assets that should have been in the trust will pass through

Florida Probate

costing heirs extra money in taxes and fees.

In order to fund your

Florida Revocable Trust

properly, you need to transfer ownership of your assets into the name of the trust. Personal property can be transferred using a document called a General Assignment or Assignment of Personal Effects. Real property is a little more complex because it requires executing a new deed transferring the property from your name as an individual to the name of the trust. Institutions with which you have bank and brokerage accounts usually require a showing that your trust exists and that it is your wish to have these accounts transferred. A Certificate of Trust is a document that provides proof of the existence of your trust and is usually given to the client in the living trust package he receives from his Florida Estate Planning Attorney.

Forgetting or neglecting to fund your trust is something you wouldn't want to do after going to all the trouble to create a trust in the first place. Even if you initially funded the trust with assets there are many cases where people have acquired a significant amount of assets later and never transferred them to the trust. If you would like assistance in creating a revocable living trust or an assessment of your existing trust contact a

Florida Revocable Trust Lawyer


Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer