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.

June 20, 2011

From Younger Brother to Florida Legal Guardian

guardianship rehab hospital.jpgMore and more these days, Jacksonville family members must step in and take the reins needed to guide a loved one who is unable to take care of themselves. Whether it is a mental health condition or substance abuse issue, sometimes an individual needs help. To be able to assist your family member in choosing the right treatment and rehabilitative facility, to ensure that the person is being compliant with his/her medications, you must become the legal guardian over the person in need.

There are different types of Florida legal guardianship and the type of guardian you should become is dependent upon the specific problems and needs of the person you are about to help. An experienced Florida Guardianship Attorney can assist you in determining your best option.

A guardian is a person appointed by the court to act on behalf of a ward's person or property or both. A guardian may have limited authority or plenary (complete) authority.

A Florida guardian advocate under the Florida Mental Health Statute allows for a person to be appointed as guardian advocate when a psychiatrist determines that a patient is incompetent to consent to medical and psychiatric treatment.

June 13, 2011

New GRAT Rules for 2011

Senate passes the House proposed extension to the time requirement of 10 years for Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRAT's). This extension is to amend section 2702 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Along with that change, comes the mandate that a GRAT's fixed amount cannot "decrease relative to any prior year" during the first 10 years of the required annuity time period. The third mandate is a GRAT has to have a value greater than zero "at the time of transfer" in order to be valid.

Even though setting up this type of trust may be more risky and more difficult, it may still be a great option for your specific needs. A person wanting to pursue this avenue can still get the benefit of donating large sums of assets to the trust without paying a gift tax on those assets. You should discuss and compare the potential positives and negatives of setting up a GRAT with a Jacksonville, Florida Estate Planning attorney who knows the in's and out's of Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts.

June 9, 2011

Pet Trust for Can Save Your Dogs.

dogs in tog park.jpgJacksonville Florida loves its dogs, and this is no truer than at the Apple Law Firm where on Friday's, it's bring your dog to work day. At Apple Law, we always wag, we bark, and when necessary we bite. As Florida Estate Planning and Florida Probate Attorneys, we know the importance of creating legal documents to provide for your loved ones after you are gone. But what happens to your 4 legged best friends when you are gone? Who looks out for their best interest?

The Florida Statutes allow for the creation of a trust for the care of your pets. A Pet Trust will enable you to designate a certain amount of funds for the support and maintenance of your pets. You can also choose the person(s) who will be able to utilize the funds you have established for the continued care of your animals. You may also include a provision pertaining to the care and support of your pet(s) in your Last Will and Testament.

At Apple Law we not only help you provide for your future with estate planning, but we care about you and your family today. Whether you need to initiate a guardianship proceeding over an elderly loved one or disabled adult, or whether you need criminal law defense for someone who has barked upon the wrong tree, or perhaps you are contemplating Bankruptcy, the Jacksonville Lawyers at Apple Law will be happy to consult with you, will strongly (bark) advocate for you, and finally, will fight for your cause with all the bite that is needed.

June 8, 2011

Florida Gay, Straight, Homosexual, Heterosexual - It's All the Same!

gay marriage.jpgIf you think a Jacksonville same-sex couple is different from you, just ask them. You will find that the problems same-sex couples have with each other are the same complaints you have about your heterosexual wife or husband. Whether it's how the bed is made, how the vegetables are chopped, or whether the toothpaste is squeezed from the bottom or middle, there is no difference.

Unfortunately, there is a major difference on how same-sex couples are treated by Florida Law. If a married man and woman die without a Will, the Florida Intestacy Statutes will provide that the surviving spouse is able to remain in the home as well as to receive a certain share of the deceased's spouse estate.

Not so, for the same-sex couple who might have been together for more years than the heterosexual couple. If a same-sex partner dies without a Will (and the house and other assets are titled in that person's name alone), the surviving partner gets Nothing.

Big difference. The only way to ensure that you will be treated the same as a married husband and wife, is to prepare legal documents such as a Florida Will, a Florida Revocable Trust, or a new Deed to your home. At Apple Law, we can discuss with you about these and other legal documents that will benefit you and your partner.

June 3, 2011

Florida Asset Protection:New LLC Law becomes effective

rick_scott.jpgOn May 31, 2011, Governor Rick Scott approved House Bill 253. The Bill was crafted in response to the Florida Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. FTC last year. It clarifies that a charging order is the sole remedy available to a creditor who holds a judgment against a member of a multiple member LLC. However, single member LLC's remain vulnerable to creditors forcing a debtor to surrender all right, title and interest in his LLC to satisfy an outstanding debt.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect your Florida assets, contact a Jacksonville Asset Protection Lawyer to talk about your circumstances and the different options available in Florida.

June 2, 2011

Creating a Florida Dynasty Trust

asset-protection-cash.jpgFlorida Dynasty Trusts are generally used to keep assets within your family members or descendants. The person who creates this type of trust usually has significant assets which are far in excess of $1,000,000 which they want to protect from the misuse or dissipation of family members. A Florida Dynasty Trust can also protect the assets within the trust from the reach of future creditors of your born and unborn family members.

Florida is a great state in which to create a Dynasty Trust. This type of trust is regulated by state law, so where a person decides to create the trust will govern which state's law will regulate the trust. Florida's state law allows for a person to create a Trust for the benefit of another (usually children or grandchildren) plus 360 years after that benefited person has died. This is a longer than many states that have a limit of 21 years after the death of the beneficiary who was alive at the time the trust was created.

There are many options that need to be considered when creating a Florida Dynasty Trust such as who the trust's assets (income and/or principal) should vest in and which state law the trust should be interpreted under. A Florida Dynasty Trust may be able to protect your assets from creditors even though you live in another state. To contact a Florida Irrevocable Trust Attorney. For more information on Florida Trusts please contact us to discuss your specific goals and circumstances or visit the Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog for general information.

June 1, 2011

Recent Changes for Retirement Accounts in Florida

retirement.pngIf you have a Retirement Account in the State of Florida, a recently enacted law will provide your heirs stronger asset protection in Florida.

An individual Retirement Account is a form of retirement savings that provides tax benefits to the owner of the account. The account is primarily used as a means of saving for retirement. When the owner of an Individual Retirement Account dies, the account may be transferred to a named beneficiary. When transferred, it is known as an inherited Individual Retirement Account.

Generally, Florida law provides for protection of various assets from creditors, which protection extends to bankruptcy proceedings. Under the old Florida law, a regular Individual Retirement Account was exempt from creditor claims, but an inherited Individual Retirement Account was not.

However, House Bill 469 proposed to provide inherited Individual Retirement Accounts the same protection from creditors that the original Individual Retirement Account enjoyed. On May 31, 2001, Governor Rick Scott, signed HB 469, effectively making it the new law.

For more information about securing Florida Retirement Accounts and other Florida Estate Planning issues, contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer today.

May 28, 2011

Adopted Children Inherit from Whom?

When a parent has died in Florida without a will, they have died intestate. Under the Florida intestate succession statutes, an adopted person is considered to be the descendant of the adopting parent and is considered the natural family of all members of the adopting parent's family. The adopted person is not a descendant of his or her natural parents, nor is he or she "kindred" of any member of the natural parent's family or any prior adoptive parent's family.

The confusion as to whom an adopted person can inherit from stems from the several scenarios in which that person may be adopted. A child may be put up for adoption after their natural parents have terminated their parental rights. A child may be adopted by his or her natural parent's spouse (who married the natural parent after the death of the other natural parent). A child may be adopted by a close relative after the death of both natural parents.

Each scenario has different implications as to how an adopted child is treated as far as his or her inheritance rights. It is best to consult with a Probate Attorney who can assist you in understanding your legal rights when your adopted or natural parent has passed away.

May 27, 2011

Florida Probate Process!

St. johns judicial center.jpgProbate comes from the root word "to prove". When someone in Florida has passed away leaving assets in his or her name only, a probate proceeding must be initiated. The first step is "proving" to the St. Johns Probate Judge that the Will you are presenting to him or her is the valid Will of the person who has died.

The goals of the Florida Probate process is:

1. To gather and inventory all the estate assets;
2 Pay the legitimate claims of creditors and pay taxes; and
3. Distribute the estate assets and property according to the provisions of the Will.

A probate proceeding may be an abbreviated procedure or a formal, more drawn out probate administration. The circumstances will dictate what type of proceeding you will be required to file. One must have a Ponte Vedra Probate Attorney to file a probate action in court.

May 25, 2011

Are Florida Residents Suffering from Gender Identity Disorder.

Gay Flag Pole.jpgGender Identity Disorder in Florida is a real, serious and often untreated disease. A recent federal case ruling validates the existence of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) which may affect many Florida Gay, Lesbian and Trans-gender persons.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit has upheld an order requiring the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to give hormone therapy to an inmate diagnosed with gender identity disorder. The court ruled that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to the inmate's medical needs, in violation of the Eighth The lawyer representing the inmate reported the importance of the 1st Circuit in recognizing that if left untreated, gender identity disorder could be extremely important. See Inmate with Gender Identity Disorder.

If you are a gay, lesbian, or transgender individual who would like to learn about how the law either protects or does not protect certain rights, consult with a Florida Attorney about the legal documents that you can have prepared to protect yourself.

May 16, 2011

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Deed to Deed

For Sale Sign.jpgIf your last parent in Florida has passed away leaving their Jacksonville home, how do you proceed if you want to sell the house? A Florida deed transfers title to real property from one person(s) to another. Generally before anyone will purchase a property, they will require clear title to the real property.

Whether your surviving parent died with a Florida Will or without a Will (intestate), if you want to sell the home, title to the property will need to be transferred to your parents to the named beneficiary or heir. A Florida probate proceeding is necessary to transfer title to the real property in such a way as to establish clear title. Florida statutes require that a Jacksonville Probate Lawyer or a Florida Probate Lawyer is used to represent the Personal Representative or Estate when there is more than one heir in an estate.

May 12, 2011

Beneficiaries of Inherited IRAs May Soon Have Asset Protected IRAs

Florida House bill 469, which was recently passed by the house and senate, states that an inherited IRA is asset protected for the Florida domiciled beneficiary. This is a recent change to court decisions which did not protect the beneficiary of an IRA from creditor's claims. This new law should even apply in Bankruptcy because in Florida the Bankruptcy court uses and analyses state law to determine certain exemptions.


The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Scott soon.

May 4, 2011

Florida Legislature Fixes Charging Order Protection for LLC's

Florida's Governor is expected to sign a bill that was passed by the Florida Senate on April 29th, 2011 which will apparently retroactively make a charging order the sole and exclusive remedy by which a judgment creditor of a member or a member's assignee may satisfy a judgment from a the interest in an LLC and that foreclosure is not an available remedy in a multi member LLC.

Single member LLC do not have as strong of a protection and a creditor can apply for a foreclosure when it is shown that distributions will not satisfy the judgment within a reasonable amount of time.

Here is the house bill text on the subject which was passed on May 2nd 2011

CS/HB 253 - Limited Liability Companies
GENERAL BILL by Civil Justice Subcommittee and Stargel and McBurney (CO-SPONSORS) Passidomo; Schwartz; Steube

Limited Liability Companies: Provides that charging order against member's limited liability interest is sole & exclusive remedy available to enforce judgment creditor's unsatisfied judgment against member or member's assignee with respect to limited liability company; provides exception for enforcing judgment creditor's unsatisfied judgment against judgment debtor or assignee of judgment debtor of single-member limited liability company under certain circumstances; provides that, in case of multimember limited liability company, certain remedies are unavailable to judgment creditor attempting to satisfy judgment; prohibits court from ordering such remedies; provides construction relating to secured creditor rights, specified principles of law and equity, and continuing enforcement jurisdiction of court; provides legislative intent; provides for retroactive application.

April 30, 2011

Estate Planning and Firearms

antiquefirearm250x186-495.jpgWhile a Gun Trust can provide guidance to your family and friends on how to transfer the legal ownership of Title I and Title II firearms, some individuals do not have anyone to leave their firearms to or want them to provide other benefits. The NRA has a program where one can exchange unused firearms collections for an income for life. The process involves selling the firearms and exchanging the revenue for a lifetime annuity for you or your spouse. They accomplish this though an action. The first of these auctions has already taken place and sold over 600 firearms. The next auction is expected to have a similar amount of firearms. I have spoken to several individuals who participated in the process and they felt that many of the firearms were sold for far more than they expected. (Some were in line and some were less than expected, but overall they were happy with the results).

If you are interested in finding out more about this to donate to the NRA or create an income stream for life, contact the NRA at http://www.nrafff.com