Jacksonville Probate Lawyer IRS Form 706 for Estate Tax ReturnWhile many of you may be thinking that fewer Florida Probate cases will involve federal estate tax returns in 2011, the opposite is actually true. It seems with the new $5 Million estate tax exemption that most estates will not need to file a tax return. What most people do not realize is that by failing to file an estate tax return in 2010 (Form 706) the spouse of a decedent will lose the portability of the unused portion of the estate tax exemption that is available to the surviving spouse. Form 706 was just released by the IRS and if you know someone who passed away in 2011, you should have them ask their CPA or Tax Attorney about the benefits of filing a Form 706 and the risks and potential tax liabilities if one is not filed.

probate.jpgWho gets make the funeral arrangements for our parents? Why was Dad or Mom Cremated? How can I stop my mom, step-parent, parents significant other, or sibling from the improper disposition of my relatives remains?

These are all questions dealing with the same issue: Who gets to make the decision about the disposition of a person who has recently died? As a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer we always talk to our clients about the importance of discussing your desires with those who will make the decisions, but what if someone takes over and does something that was not wanted? Can it be stopped? In most cases, the damage may be done before you have knowledge of what is happening, but in some cases there is time to stop arrangements. Florida statutes define the legally authorized person who can make the decisions regarding disposition of a body. In doing so there is a priority list that starts with the decedent, as it should.

That means if you make arrangements regarding your disposition, your decisions should be followed – as long as they are known, and able to be learned of prior to alternative arrangements being carried out.

Next a person listed on your Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data (DD Form 93) for those who die while serving in military service.

If there are no documents, the surviving spouse, even if not living as husband and wife, an adult child, a parent, an adult sibling, an adult grandchild, a grandparent, and if you exhaust that list it can be any person in the next degree of kinship. The Florida Statutes even provide that if there is no family member, the guardian, the personal representative, the attorney in fact, health surrogate, a public health officer, medical examiner, county commission, or basically any one willing to assume the responsibility as the legally authorized person.

If the decision is made my someone in a class of people (one of several adult children) to cremate a body, the funeral establishment can rely on that one person as long as the person represents that she or he is not aware of any objection to the cremation by others in the same class or any person in a higher priority class.

A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer can help educate you on how to property draft documents to make sure you understand how to address these issues properly, while you can and before it causes problems between your family members. Does your Florida Estate Planning address the following?

How do I make sure my wishes are carried out? and
How to I educate those whom will make the decision as to how to make sure that my wished are carried out?

Jacksonville gay and lesbian issues lawyer.jpgJacksonville Estate Planning Attorneys working in Jacksonville Beach watch for Florida issues about gay and same-sex partner benefits.

More and more Florida counties are making positive steps by providing health care and other benefits for same-sex couples. Central Florida’s publicly owned Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) now offers Florida Domestic Partnership health care benefits for the domestic partners of their employees. Some nationwide companies that do business in Florida likewise provide same-sex partner benefits.

Despite the fact that Florida does not recognize gay marriage, newly-released U.S. Census figures, show nearly 6,800 same sex couples call the Sunshine State home. That’s based on how many gay couples checked the “husband” or “wife” options. The Census bureau also reported an estimate of the number of same sex couples in Florida, both married and unmarried, at 48,456.

Gay couples who reside in Jacksonville Beach are wise to make their own benefits. A Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer can provide many options so you can provide benefits for your partner. Estate Planning can consist of having a will drawn up, a revocable living trust prepared,and other legal documents which will give your loved-ones the protection and security they need.

A Jacksonville Florida Living Trust is used to avoid the probate process and possible will contests from disapproving family members. A trust is set up and managed during your lifetime and avoids the need for a guardianship over your property in the event you become incapacitated. A trust must be funded and titled in specific ways to be effective, but the benefits are many.

Meet with a Jacksonville Beach lawyer sensitive to the unique issues that same-sex couples and unmarried partners face.

Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPT) have become the latest rage in estate planning and asset protection. We have generally found that there are better ways of protecting assets from creditors by using traditional estate planning that has case-law history.

In a recent US bankruptcy case, a DAPT was invalidated and the 10-year bankruptcy statute of limitations in regards to trusts was upheld. This was an Alaskan case using an Alaskan DAPT but similar results should be expected in other jurisdictions.

If you are interested in Florida Asset Protection or Asset Protection in Jacksonville, contact a Florida Asset Protection Lawyer to discuss your circumstances and options that are available to help protect your assets from creditors or increase the ability to negotiate with creditors.

DCF will reject Medicaid planning involving trusts and personal service contracts where a power of attorney is executed after 10/1/11 and the DPOA does not specifically authorize the ability to execute trusts or personal services contracts.

If you are using forms for a POA or DPOA, you should have them reviewed by an attorney as the may not be valid with the recent law change. In addition, the forms may not let you accomplish what needs to be done in regards to planning for a nursing home or Medicaid eligibility.

I recently had a client inquiry with us regarding the transfer of real property which was upside down or had negative equity. Typically when one transfers property of value to another to avoid a creditor’s reach, the creditor can seek to have the transaction reversed under the theory of a fraudulent transfer.

Florida statute 726.102 seems to define assets which are subject to this to only include those which have a value on the date of transfer. If the property had a negative equity, it would appear that a future increase in value would not subject the property to the fraudulent transfer statutes. Given this a property transferred when there was no equity in the property should be protected if the property’s value later increased. There does not appear to be any case-law that is directly on topic and of course there is no guarantee that this would protect the asset. If you are trying to structure your assets for protection from creditors you should talk with a Jacksonville Asset Protection Lawyer to review your circumstances and what options you have.

steve jobs.jpgToday there is much speculation about what Steve Jobs’ will reading will reveal about his life. Steve Jobs has always been very quiet and protective about his personal life and we all know that he has been very good at protecting business secrets.

I was interviewed today about what Steve Jobs’s will and the potential huge estate tax that will be paid. I think if you look at how he managed his life and businesses, it is likely that if Steve had a will, it will not be read and there will be no probate. I believe that none or almost none of his assets will pass under a traditional probate and that there will be no boom to the economy from his huge estate. Steve was married at the time he died and as such jointly held assets or those in a joint trust will probably not be subject to any estate taxes.

It is unlikely that we will hear anything in the next few months and may never know about Steve’s estate.

Forbes is reporting that Steve Jobs’s estate will probably not owe taxes also

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