The FTC, in their Final Rule released online on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, determined that non-compete agreements are “an unfair method of competition”, and thus are in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (the “FTC Act”).

The ban, which will take effect in the latter half of 2024, carves out exceptions for non-competes given to senior executives, as senior executives are seemingly in a better position to negotiate the terms of any non-compete agreement and are less likely to be subject to the ongoing harm done by non-competes that the general workforce has to face.

Non-compete agreements for non-senior executives will no longer be enforceable after the Rule’s effective date.

One of the most common questions we receive is: “What is Better in Florida? A Will or a Trust?”

Many clients that we work with think that if they live in Florida and have signed a Florida Last Will and Testament, they no longer have to worry about a probate in Florida.

As Chris Rock can attest, Wills are often a big “slap in the face” to the assets you are trying to protect.  In Florida, assets that pass under the terms of a Last Will and Testament have to go through a process known as probate.

The Following limits  for Medicaid eligibility for Medicaid for Florida as of 1/1/2024 have been adjusted again. There were changed in the income criteria, maximum amount of assets, and maximum equity in your homestead property.

Florida Medicaid Income Limits as of 1/1/2024.

The Applicant’s income limits have increased  to $2,829/month if single and $2742 if you are married. If the applicant for Medicaid has income in excess of 2,7, they may use a Qualified Income Trust or Miller Trust to help the applicant qualify for Florida Medicaid Benefits under the Medicaid Asset Test.

Florida Estate planning and Florida elder law planning are two distinct areas of law that often overlap, as they both involve preparing for the future and ensuring the well-being of individuals and their families. However, they have different areas of focus.

Florida Estate planning lawyers primarily deal with the management and distribution of an individual’s assets upon their death. Key components of estate planning include:

    1. Wills: Legal documents that outline how an individual’s assets should be distributed after their death.
    2. Trusts: Legal arrangements that enable a third party (the trustee) to manage assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.
    3. Power of attorney: A document that allows someone (the agent) to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of another person (the principal).
    4. Healthcare directives: Documents that outline an individual’s medical care preferences and appoint someone to make healthcare decisions if they become incapacitated.
    5. Tax planning: Strategies to minimize estate and gift taxes.
    6. Probate: This is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed. Estate planning often aims to avoid or minimize probate, as it can be time-consuming and costly.

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Addiction is a serious illness that effects millions of families. Over 7,000 people died from overdose in Florida in 2020, the second most of any state (Statistics from Riverside Recovery, Tampa). Aside from illicit drug use, addictions to gambling, alcohol, or prescription medications can be just as dangerous and no less destructive in the lives of those who struggle with them and their families.

Our natural instinct is to care for our family and loved ones as best we can for as long as we can. For families facing struggles with addiction, Estate Planning can often be more complex than for those without. In many cases, families want to avoid the unsupervised transfer of large lump sums of cash or valuable assets, which can have the potential of doing more harm than good in the beneficiaries’ life. 

Families who struggle with a loved one’s addiction know the potential dangers of temptations that can come with having access to cash or transferable assets in that person’s life. Especially during an already very stressful time in their lives. Fortunately, in Florida, you are able to utilize Trust Agreements as part your estate plan which can protect your family’s cash and valuable assets while still providing for essential needs, ongoing care, and even treatment as needed, of loved ones facing addiction after you’re gone. 

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After a year of speculation, 2022 begins with no new federal estate and gift tax legislation. The significant changes to federal estate and gift tax laws were not implemented by new legislation. Those changes included a substantial reduction in the estate and gift tax exemption among altered tax treatment for grantor trusts and even a proposal to eliminate the different tax treatment of grantor trusts and elimination of step-up in basis for assets at death.

Keep in mind that the current estate tax exemption levels will expire after 2025, even without legislation. After 2025, the federal estate and gift tax exemption will be cut from more than $12,000,000 to $5,000,000 per individual (plus an inflation adjustment between 2018 and 2025).

Despite all of the lurking uncertainty, some positive developments for taxpayers beginning in 2022. They include:

There are many reasons you might consider giving your adult children a portion of their inheritance now while you’re alive and well. Maybe you’ve seen your nest egg grow thanks to a robust stock market, and you have more in savings than you thought you would at this stage of your life. Perhaps you and your spouse enjoy excellent health and have received nothing but good checkups for years, so you’re not overly concerned about medical expenses. Or maybe you just want to be there to experience how your financial assistance helps your children pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. Do you really want to set the stage for the family drama that could unfold by violating the “fairness principle?”

Of course, you could tell the recipient of your gift, along with your other adult children, that the gift will be deducted from the recipient’s inheritance when you pass away. This might solve the problem, but then again, it might not. As you’ve no doubt learned by now, your “kids” may be grown up, but that doesn’t mean sibling rivalries and other powerful emotions from childhood simply disappear.

While many parents would like to help their adult children financially as much as possible, before acting on your generous inclinations, you should consider a number of potential problems.

While many do not think all of the “For the 99.5% Act introduced by Bernie Sanders plan on March 25, 2021 will become law, there is certainly concern over the gifting and estate tax portions which would seem to affect more than just the upper 1/2 percent of the US population. This is the first attempt at legislation following Joe Biden’s election that could lower the federal estate tax exemption. There are many changes and various dates when the changes would take place:

For those who die or make gifts after December 31, 2021.

  • Reduce the U.S. federal estate tax exemption from over $23 Million to $3.5 million for U.S. citizens and U.S. domiciliaries;

How to Select a Senior Living Arrangement for Your Elderly Loved One

Moving an older loved one into a new living arrangement is an emotional process. However, feelings aside, there are many practical steps we must take before a decision is made. From how to pay for custodial services to the kinds of help they need now, and in the future, there are lots of details to sort out. This guide, presented by the Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog, can help you navigate this process.

Paying for long-term care

Even if your loved one is still perfectly capable of caring for themselves, there is never a wrong time to think about how money matters will play out. Medicare does not cover custodial services, only medically necessary and just for a short time. Although all states do have indigent Medicaid programs, your loved one likely does not qualify if they have any cash or liquid assets. For many seniors, the equity in their home is at least part of their nest egg. To find out how much you can expect, research local home prices (houses in Jacksonville sell for an average of $235,000). It’s also helpful to know the average cost of skilled nursing, assisted, and independent living. If you have obtained guardianship, you may need to look into selling their home if they are no longer in a position to care for it for themselves.

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The Miami Herold is reporting the there is a surge in people asking for wills to be written.

The article states:

Lawyers are being bombarded with requests to write wills, update estate plans and prepare health surrogate or “pull the plug” documents as people are confronted by the realization that they could be diagnosed with COVID-19 and dead within days.

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