August 8, 2011

Estate Planning Thoughts

tree house.jpgDoes the term " Florida Estate Planning" evoke thoughts of the very rich standing by their Bentleys in front of their massive estates? Maybe the term should simply be Planning, because no matter who you are or how much you own, Everyone needs "Estate" Planning

Everyone has a Florida Estate, no matter how large or small. One's estate is simply the possessions or property you have acquired, inherited, and worked for during your life. There are generally three types of property that comprise one's estate, these are:

Real Property - Your home, land, houses or other structures on land;

Tangible Personal Property - Property other than real estate that has a value due to its physical existence, such as motor vehicles, boats, furniture, antiques . . . and;

Intangible Personal Property - Property that you cannot touch, but that has a value due to the legal rights you hold. Examples include stock certificates, promissory notes, copyrights, patents and other "intellectual" property.

Everyone has an estate, but most people have not planned what happens to their estate in the future. Estate planning is the process where you decide and put in writing what you want to happen to your estate in the future, and to whom you want your estate to pass once you have passed. Estate planning is easy, contact a Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorney to schedule a consult and discuss the ways you can "Estate Plan". Whether you prepare a Will, establish a Trust, or have other legal documents prepared, estate planning puts in writing how you want your real, tangible and intangible property distributed upon your death.

August 7, 2011

Same-Sex Couples interested in ERISA Profit-Sharing Benefits Case

DOMA.jpgA federal judge in Pennsylvania has been asked to determine whether the same-sex wife or parents of an attorney at the law firm of Cozen O'Connor should be the beneficiaries of the attorney's profit-sharing plan. The parents of the deceased partner argue that an ERISA qualified plan falls under federal law and the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) limiting marriage to only a man and a woman controls whether same-sex couples can receive federal benefits

The wife of the deceased attorney argues that Pennsylvania law does not preclude her from being recognized as the surviving spouse for the purpose of receiving benefits under the plan. The wife states that the law firm profit-sharing plan is not governed by DOMA, and claims the profit-sharing plan is private and is controlled by the language in the plan.

To read more about this interesting case: Same-Sex Marriage Fight at Heart of Cozen O'Connor Benefits Case.

St. Augustine Gay and Lesbian same-sex couples, whether you are married or not, if you have a profit-sharing plan through your employer, it is critical to discuss with them your rights as far as designating the beneficiary you want on the plan. It is also important to consult with a St. Augustine Estate Planning Attorney who can advise you about various other documents that will protect your assets and distribute them to your same-sex partner or beneficiary of your choice.

As an Estate Planning Attorney for those in the LGBT community, I have worked with St. Augustine Financial Planners who have the experience in advising same-sex couples as far as retirement, tax, and other financial matters of concern. Contact a St. Augustine Attorney able to direct you to these LGBT focused financial planners.

July 30, 2011

Florida Gay and Lesbian Service Members Rejoice!

repeal DADT index.jpgDon't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), was adopted by Congress in 1996. On December 20, 2011 the the federal law banning openly gay people from serving in the military is repealed.

The President, Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman signed and submitted a one-page certification to Congress that the military is ready to implement the repeal of DADT.

Nearly two million troops have received training in preparation for the repeal of DADT. The Department of Defense stated that sexual orientation is a personal and private matter and that all service members should be treated with dignity and respect. The Defense Undersecretary reported that there will be "zero tolerance for harassment, violence or discrimination of any kind."

Eligibility benefits remain the same as far as service-members being able to choose their beneficiary for benefits, however the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still prohibits the extension of many military benefits to same-sex couples, including health care and allowances for housing and transportation.

As a Mayport Estate Planning Attorney, I recommend that Mayport gay and lesbian service members consult with an attorney to learn the various ways that legal documents will protect them and their families. Same-sex couples currently lack many federal government protections afforded to heterosexual couples. The best way to provide for your same-sex partner is to draft Florida estate planning and other documents, such as your Florida Will, a trust, health care surrogate, power of attorney, and other similar documents.

Florida law does not provide for your same-sex partner, no matter how long you have been together. As a Florida gay and lesbian member of the armed forces who serves our county, serve yourself as well. Continue to protect the U.S.A and begin to protect yourself and your same-sex partner.

July 28, 2011

DAP Trust: Dealing with your Digital / Online Rights and Propert Correctly.

Today there is a big hole in most estate plans. Most estate plans do not deal with the property and licence rights that almost all Americans have accumulated with their online lives.

What online assets should be concerned with?

  • Email Accounts - Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Comcast, AOL ...
  • Social Networking Sites - Facebook, Linked In, Google +, Twitter, MySpace ...
  • Online Storage Accounts, iCloud, Carbonite, Drop Box, mac.com ...
  • Financial Accounts - Bank accounts, Stock Accounts, Home Loans, Student Loans ...
  • Photo Storage Accounts - Kodak, Flicker
  • Personal or Company Websites and Blogs
  • Online Businesses Accounts - Amazon, Walmart.com, Go Daddy.com, other online merchants.
  • Auction Sites - Ebay
  • Music and Application Accounts - iTunes, Amazon, Android ...
  • Virtual Property - Second life, World of Warcraft, other role-playing identities
  • Payment services - PayPal

Some of the major issues in dealing with Digital Assets we must first determine if we are dealing with a license or a property right. By definition, most licenses expire upon death so the right to asset does not exist when you die. Next you must determine how you will deal with these assets upon your death or prior to your death to preserve access, right of use, limit risks to users for damaging the estate for improper use, and transfer the assets. There are attempts to deal with these issues with software alone, a will, a trust, software and a will, and software with a trust.

One of the problems in dealing with these issues with software alone is that their may be no legal right for the person to access the items and the software may be in conflict with other legal documents like a will or trust.

The next major problem occurs with a legal document only. These can be broken down into two areas. First, the legal document may have no effect on an asset. IE a Will cannot generally transfer a license as it does not exist upon death. Next, the individual is unlikely to keep the legal documents up to date with instructions on how to access the account. In addition, the individuals are unlikely to update passwords as they change. The trend is to require monthly updates to the more secure sites.

What seems to be the best solution: A DAP Trust with integrated software that allows you to update and create beneficiary designations within the trust on the Fly.

If you have a Florida Estate Plan that does not address your digital life or would like to create a DAP Trust for your Digital Assets, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Digital Asset Protection.


July 28, 2011

Reason 7 to Make a Florida Estate Plan

Everyone seemed to like our last one (Reason 10)so much we decided to post another of our Reasons to Make a Florida Estate Plan. Please let us know what you think of this one, and if you are the new wife, we apologize

ep7_s.jpg

July 28, 2011

Estate Planning Documents Benefits to LGBT Community

Treasure Chest..jpgIt is crucial to make your heirs and family are aware of the
fact that there are documents in place and where these documents can be
found. Having your Florida estate planning documents prepared is the first step, and once you have made the call and scheduled a consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney, you are sure to feel good about it. 

Keep your Florida will, and other documents in a secure place and let someone close to you know where these documents are kept.  Some Florida Estate Planning Lawyer will store the documents for you

There are more than 10 states investigating whether insurance companies are failing to pay out unclaimed life insurance policies to beneficiaries. Insurers are claiming that under policy contracts, they aren't required to determine whether a policyholder is still alive, but rather they pay a claim when beneficiaries come forward.

If you don't keep your estate planning and other important documents organized, and if you fail to disclose the location of these papers to a trusted family member or friend, the financial consequences can be considerable.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers currently hold approximately 32 billion in unclaimed bank accounts. Don't let your hard earned assets be given to the state, inform your heirs and beneficiaries that your estate planning documents exist, and where they can be found.

To see if you have unclaimed treasure in Florida, go to the Florida Treasure Hunt website.

Take the time this summer to consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney who will give you advice as to the estate planning documents that are best suited for you and your family, as well as recommended ideas as to where to store these documents.

July 27, 2011

Don't Die Without Securing Your Estate Planning Documents

File Cabinet.jpgFlorida residents be advised, not only is it important to consult with a Neptune Beach Estate Planning Attorney about having your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney and other legal documents prepared, but you must make your beneficiaries and heirs aware that they exist.

Keeping your important legal, real estate, motor vehicle, insurance and financial papers in an organized fashion and storing them where they can be found is crucial. Keeping your original Will secure and accessible is the first step. A Will allows you to decide which of your family members or friends will inherit your assets. If you have minor children, you designate a guardian for your kids, in case of your demise.

Wills are subject to the Probate process, which is a court supervised proceeding in which a personal representative is appointed, an inventory of your property is prepared, your debts and taxes are paid, and finally your assets are distributed to those beneficiaries named in your Will.

As a Neptune Beach Probate Attorney, I have seen first hand what happens after you die, if your relatives cannot find your original Will. It becomes a more complicated, more timely, and more expensive undertaking than had your heirs known where to look for the original will, which you have "hidden" in the back closet, under a pile of clothes, in a box, with hundreds and hundreds of receipts and sheets of papers . . .

A Revocable Living Trust is another Estate Planning tool that not only benefits you and your beneficiaries, but also avoids the probate process. As you can amend your Living Trust at any time during your lifetime, it becomes imperative that you not only keep the original trust agreement but the amendments to the original trust where your trustee and beneficiaries can find it. Failure to find your trust documents may set your estate up for litigation.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a most powerful document as it allows someone you have named, to act on your behalf in financial, banking and business matters if you ever become incapacitated due to illness or injury. If the person you have designated is unable to locate this document, he or she will be unable to conduct banking transactions or deal with business associates on your behalf.

Another important Estate Planning Document is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. This health care document allows you to name the person you want to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make health care treatment decisions for yourself. Again, remember, it is not only important to have these legal Estate Planning Documents prepared, but to share the existence and location of these documents to your beneficiaries, loved ones, and trusted friends.

July 25, 2011

Other Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer Blogs and related Sites

Over the past several years the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC has expanded into several additional practice areas. As these practice areas grown we have been adding staff and creating more informational blogs to help consumers and our clients understand some of the common legal issues. May of our current readers do not realize that we cover these additional practice areas so I wanted to take a moment to update you with them:

For those of you who use an iPhone, we are trying to make some of the information and resources available through our new Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC iPhone Application.

Our main Website is for the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC

The Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog covers a variety of topics focusing on Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Guardianship, and Probate

The NFA Gun Trust Lawyers Blog covers unique issues involved with estate planning, the purchase, possession, use, and transfer of firearms including those regulated by the National Firearms Act. Helps provide guidance on a National level through a network of over 150 lawyers in 43 states.

The Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers Blog covers issues related to criminal defense, case-law updates, and legislative changes as they relate to protecting your rights from restrictions by the State of Florida dealing with your freedom.

The Florida Foreclosure Defense Lawyers Blog covers issues in Florida and around the country that help homeowners protect their home which is often their single biggest purchase. While we write on topics that have relevance to the entire state, our practice area focuses on the counties surrounding Duval or the City of Jacksonville and its surrounding area.

The Jacksonville DIvorce Attorney Blog covers topics relating to your family life, marriage, divorce, child custody, support and guardianship. Many of the articles help our clients to understand what can happen in these very emotional times and how slight differences in the circumstances can make a significant difference.

The Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer Blog covers issues relating to injury and compensation for the negligence of others. This is our newest blog and will be launching in the next few weeks.

The Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyers Blog covers topics related to bankruptcy and specific circumstances that may allow one to qualify for certain exemptions and benefits afforded under the Federal bankruptcy Code.

We hope you enjoy our postings and take the time to visit some of out other blogs that cover different Florida legal issues as over 50,000 people a month do. If you have a question regarding one of these area or something involving a legal issues in Florida, please Contact us and one of the lawyers in that practice area will respond.

July 23, 2011

Using an ILIT For Your Life Insurance Policy in Florida

To hedge our bet against dying and to financially protect our families in the event death happens, we generally have a life insurance policy. This policy becomes part of our estate and can help our family with after death expenses such as funeral costs. You may already have a life insurance policy or need to get one. In either case, switching your current life insurance policy to a Florida Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT), or setting the life insurance policy up in the name of the ILIT, can be done by hiring the services of a Florida Trust lawyer to prepare a Florida Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.

When you pass away and have a Florida life insurance policy, the insurance payment is deemed to be included in the insurer's (the person who is now deceased) estate. By passing to your heirs under your estate, the insurance payment can be subject to federal and state estate tax, which can be about 40% for the portion which is in excess of the Federal Estate Tax figures. The following example assumes that the entire amount of the policy was subject to the Federal Estate Taxes. So if you have a $5,000,000 life insurance policy, your heirs receive the payment after taxes, which, in this case, would be $3,000,000 ($2,000,000 in estate taxes).

However, this does not have to be the case. If you were to set up a Florida Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust the amount of the policy would not be included in your estate, and you would not have Federal Estate Taxes which could save you more than $2,000,000 based on a $5,000,0000 insurance policy. Talking to a Florida Trust lawyer or Jacksonville Estate Planning attorney will allow you to see if your estate or life insurance is subject to estate taxes or might be subject to them in 2012 after the current exemptions expire.

July 22, 2011

Gay Rights In Florida

Gay colors on american flag.jpgWe the People of the United States, and of Jacksonville Florida in order to . . . promote the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty . . .sound familiar. The Constitution of the United States provides the core principals of American freedom for We the People.

The Right to Privacy, Freedom of Association, and the Right to Equal Protection under the Law. Unfortunately, many in the LGBT community do not have these same seemingly inherent protections. As a result proper planning and consultation with a Jacksonville Beach Attorney is a recommended plan of action. If the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes do not provide for equal protection for gay and lesbian individuals, then protecting oneself is crucial.

Some of the planning you need to consider are:

Estate Planning, preparing your Will or Trust;
Advance Directives, choosing your health care surrogate and making known your feelings on life-prolonging techniques;
→ Funeral Directives, ensuring that your after death wishes are respected.

Talking with a Jacksonville Beach Attorney who is sensitive to the various issues faced by gay and lesbian persons, makes these decisions easier to make.

July 20, 2011

Importance of Estate Planning for Florida LGBT Community

gay flag at Jacksonville beach.jpgThe lazy days of Jacksonville Beaches summer is a time to relax, enjoy the beach, and have a great time. Summer time is also the time to reflect. . . about your life, your partner, your children, and your future.

Don't put off until tomorrow, the preparation of important documents dealing with important Florida Estate Planning Documents or those dealing with Gay and Lesbian Legal Issues that will protect both yourself, your partner, and your family.

Your Florida Will, a Florida Revocable Trust, a Florida Durable Power of Attorney, your Florida Living Will, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. . . take the time this summer to think about your future and how important it is to have these documents prepared, because before you blink, Jacksonville summers turn into Florida Fall.

A Jacksonville Beaches Estate Planning Attorney can discuss with you what estate planning and other documents are best suited for your situation.

July 18, 2011

Taking Advantage of the Florida Housing Market with a LLC

By now, it is impossible to not know of the terrible housing market within the state of Florida with all the news of foreclosure and the like. There are many people that are in a are underwater in terms of home values. However, there are also some people taking advantage of the current housing market. These people are entrepreneurs looking to buy properties on short sale or at foreclosure auctions.

These entrepreneurs are working out of their own homes and likely seeing some profits through renting the newly acquired properties. Only some of these entrepreneurs are fully taking advantage of the asset protection options available to them. One of the main advantages is forming a multiple member limited liability company or LLC in Florida. It is reasonable that one entrepreneur would own about three properties. The entrepreneur could have each property owned by a separate LLC so as to minimize his risk of liability if an accident were to happen to a tenant in one of the properties. In that case, that tenant would likely be able to access the assets of that one LLC instead of all of them.

In order to provide yourself with this advantage and to realize other benefits that may apply to your situation, you should contact a Jacksonville Business Formation lawyer to assist you in setting up a Florida LLC. Take advantage of the Florida housing market today by setting up a LLC by calling 904-685-1200 to talk to an Florida Asset Protection Lawyer . Also, you can find more information on LLC's and other asset protection vehicles online by clicking on the areas under the "Business Formation Practice Area" section of the webpage hyperlinked to in this sentence.

July 17, 2011

Gay and Lesbian Individuals Need Florida Wills and Estate Planning

Gay baloons.jpgREASONS TO HAVE YOUR FLORIDA WILL PREPARED:

IT'S YOUR WAY: You decide who inherits from you. If you die without a Florida Will the Florida's intestacy statute directs how your property and assets are divided and distributed.

Florida intestacy laws DO NOT provide for non-family members. Unless you draft a Florida Will, your partner will not inherit from you.

YOUR CHILDREN: If you have minor children, you nominate who is to become their legal guardian (the guardian you choose will still have to be approved by the judge). However, your nomination will by duly noted by the court and receive priority if qualified.

YOUR NON-BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN: In order for your child to inherit from a non-legal or non-biological parent, that parent must prepare a will in Florida.

LEAVING TO CHARITY: You can give money or personal property to the charities of your choice; the state will not distribute your property to charity.

BELOVED PETS: You can provide for the continued care of your pet after you are gone.

FAMILY SQUABBLES: Reduce the risk of dissension by providing clear directions as to how you want your property distributed. (Ask us how a Florida Trust may reduce the risk further)

PARTNER BURDEN: If you pass away without a will, you leave a burdensome job to your Partner, Spouse or other Close Personal Friend. They are already mourning your death, don't make this time more difficult as they settle your personal affairs.

FAMILY DISSENT: If your family has been non-supportive and disapproving of your same-sex relationship, preparing a valid will is important in the event of a will contest. A penalty clause for a will contest is unenforceable in Florida.

To learn about having your will prepared, or how a Florida revocable trust might benefit you, as well as how other legal documents will protect you, your partner and family contact me, a Jacksonville Beaches Estate Planning Attorney and let's sit down and talk.

July 15, 2011

Foreigners Using U.S. Gift Tax Exemption to Their Benefit

In a recent online edition of Private Wealth, Beth Tractenberg and Kathryn Von Matthiessen discuss the nexus between people from a foreign nation living in the U.S. and the current Gift Tax exemption. The authors first break down the difference between foreigners Domiciled in the U.S. versus those that are not domiciled here (Non-Doms). U.S. courts have a factoring system when it comes to determining whether a person is domiciled in the U.S. If it is determined that a foreigner is domiciled in the U.S., U.S. gift taxes generally apply to that person. Previously, there was a $1 million cap on the amount a person could gift during his or her lifetime. This new reform ups that amount to a $5 million exemption for each person, therefore giving a couple a $10 million exemption. Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT to note that this exemption will only be in effect until the end of 2012. There is also a real possibility that Congress could end this extra exemption early so it is important not to wait to long if a significant give is something you are considering as part of your Florida Estate Planning

There are three types of people this blog is meant to inform: U.S. citizens, Domiciled foreigners, and Non-Domiciled foreigners. U.S. citizens can take advantage of the laws of their nation. However, it is the non-resident Domiciled and Non-Domiciled person who may not know their wealth can be protected from U.S. taxes in that the new exemption applies to them. If you do not know whether you are a Domiciled or Non-Domiciled foreigner, you should contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning attorney so they he or she can guide you to make a sound decision on keeping the money you have worked hard to earn before the exemption end at the end of 2012.

July 11, 2011

Child Custody and Summer Vacation

Temp. Custody of minor child.jpgAs Floridians we know that Jacksonville summers seem to blend into the Florida Fall. Before you know it, school registration will be upon us, sports physical exams, and signing up for health insurance. As the non-legal parent of a minor child, don't wait until the school year begins to obtain Florida legal custody over your grandchild, niece, nephew or other minor relative.

Florida Statutes, Chapter 751 recognizes that many minor children live with and are cared for by members of their extended family and not by their natural or legal parents. An "extended family member" is any relative within the 3rd degree by blood or marriage to the parent, or the stepparent of a child if currently married to the parent and not in a pending civil or criminal proceeding involving one or both of the child's parent as an adverse party.

If you are a Jacksonville individual eligible to bring a proceeding in the circuit court to obtain legal temporary custody of a minor child under your care, contact a Jacksonville Custody Attorney to discuss the importance of obtaining court ordered legal custody. For more information on Child Custody in Florida please review our Jacksonville Divorce Attorney Blog