A trust can be amended it a number of ways depending on whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. Usually, an irrevocable trust cannot be modified unless there is a judicial modification or the trust terms allow for a modification. A recent court ruling in Florida now provides that a “trust protector” may amend a trust.

What is a trust protector? A trust protector is a person that is appointed to watch over the trust and to ensure the trust is not adversely affected by a change of law or other circumstance. A trust protector can be appointed when the terms of the trust specifically confer on a trustee or other person the power to direct the modification or termination of the trust. The law concerning trust protectors in Florida stems from section 808 of the Uniform Trust Code, or UTC, and the case, Minassian v. Rachins, was the first major court decision to interpret this provision of the Florida Trust Code. Continue reading

The first version of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, or UFADDA, emerged from major Internet and tech companies. They objected largely on the basis that the law violated the decedent’s privacy interests and would override many company’s current terms of service agreements.

In early 2015, the state-by-state legislative agenda for UFADAA appeared to be moving forward and on track and was introduced to 27 different state legislatures. Yet by the summer none of the states had enacted UFADAA, except for a modified 2014 edition adopted by Delaware. Continue reading

If you have a family member or friend you believe can no longer care for their own health and/or finances due to an incapacity AND there is not a Power of Attorney or other similar document already in place, it may be time to look into guardianship. A guardian will be able to make the healthcare and financial decisions they are unable to make. Once deemed to be incapacitated, a person becomes known as a ward. Continue reading

There is a myth that trusts and estate planning are for the rich only, but this is actually a common misconception. Estate planning for high net worth individuals usually centers on reducing tax bills, but estate planning has a number of benefits and objectives depending on a client’s needs. An estate plan can provide expert guidance on other aspects of wealth transfer through, wills, guardianships, executorships, powers of attorney, and long term health care.  Today one of the most important aspects of estate planning is to provide asset protection.  Asset protection has historically only been available to the ultra wealthy.

Of all the asset protection and estate planning tools we use here at the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC, trusts are the most likely to be associated as having the stigma of being only for the rich. An  asset protection or estate planning trust is a great device that can ensure a client’s wishes are followed and further offer asset protection. A trust is a legal entity, much like a corporation, that has a manager called a trustee. The person who creates the trust, the settlor or grantor, will put assets into the trust for the trustee to administer as the trust dictates.  (Often the creator and the manage are the same person or people) Continue reading

Many parents who have children with physical and/or mental developmental disabilities need to know what to do when their child comes of age. On a child’s 18th Birthday, regardless of any physical or mental disability, their parents automatically lose the ability to make decisions for their child. This is a huge issue upon their 18th Birthday, because parents cannot even take their child to the doctor or enroll them in the programs that they may need. This is where a Guardian Advocacy is extremely helpful. By becoming the Guardian Advocate over your child with a disability, you can continue to make decisions for your child as their natural guardian since their birth.

Guardian Advocacy is controlled by Florida Statute 393.12. Florida Statute 393.063(9) defines a developmental disability as “a disorder or syndrome that is attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, or Prader-Willi syndrome; that manifests before the age of 18; and that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.” Continue reading

Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals recently decided the case of what to do with a will that left the murder’s children the victim’s estate. The trial court held the “slayer statute” did not affect the will, and did not find enough evidence of undue influence to invalidate the will, however, the appellate court did not agree.

The husband Ben was murdered in 2009 and the case became famous when his wife Narcy was arrested and convicted of the murder, and the murder of Ben’s mother, shortly after. The court opinion stated she murdered Ben to assure that she and her family would obtain his considerable wealth. Narcy had a daughter by another marriage, and this daughter had two sons. Narcy’s daughter and the two sons were to inherit Ben’s estate if Ben’s mother and Narcy passed away before Ben. Continue reading

A trust is one of the most important estate planning tools available and can be used to achieve almost any estate plan’s purpose. A trust can even be drafted with provisions to allow the settlor, or the person who creates the trust, to set conditions for the beneficiaries to meet in order to receive distributions from the trust after the settlor passes.

Recently a trust with “some strings attached” made news due to some of its stranger and oddly specific requirements of the beneficiaries. Maurice Laboz was the owner of a large real estate management firm Regal Real Estate, and when he died, he left both of his daughters $10 million each through a trust. What is interesting about this trust is that each girl can receive their full inheritance when they reach the age of 35, or sooner if the daughters meet certain conditions Continue reading

While this does not directly deal with Florida estate planning, I thought it may be of interest to many of my readers including attorneys.

Florida’s Fourth District recently ruled last week that Florida Legislature’s has the ability to cap attorney’s fees and costs for bills that awards a plaintiff damages over the usual $200,000 cap when the state is a defendant in a tort action. This is a significant ruling because the legislature ruled to give the original plaintiff family more than the capped damages, but would not give their attorneys the contracted for contingent fees the family wished to pay them for the work done. Continue reading

Here at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, we come across many estate-planning problems that can be avoided by careful planning and forethought. With higher estate tax exemptions most individuals don’t have to consider avoiding estate taxes, so we often recommend a person’s estate planning goal be to leave behind a legacy that will preserve and protect your family.

A common mistake clients often make is to not name a contingent beneficiary of a retirement account or bank account. Generally, every retirement account requires a person to name a beneficiary, but a problem can arise if this named person passes before the retirement account holder.   Always specify at least one contingent beneficiary to inherit the account if the primary beneficiary dies before you. It is also important to learn the difference between “per stirpes” and “pro rata” designations. Per stirpes means that if the named beneficiary dies, that person’s family inherits what the dead person would have inherited. Pro rata means the inheritance goes to the other surviving named beneficiaries. With the recent Supreme court decision, we often recommend that your trust be named as the primary beneficiary of your retirement accounts to avoid loss to the creditors of the beneficiaries. Continue reading

Congress will soon vote on passing the Special Needs Trust, Fairness Act of 2015, a bill designed to make it easier for people with special needs to create their own Special Needs Trust. A Special Needs Trust is used to enable a disabled individual to hold assets in a trust for his or her benefit by supplementing daily living expenses without making the disabled person ineligible for government benefits.

Under the current law, a Special Needs Trust must be created by the beneficiary’s guardian, parent, grandparent, or by the court even when the beneficiary is mentally competent. This forces someone that needs to fund a special needs trust to rely on family members for assistance, or to spend thousands of dollars to petition a court to establish the trust. Continue reading

Contact Information