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Estate Planning and Asset Protection FAQs

Below you will find answers to the most common questions our clients have about the complex world of estate planning, asset protection, and wealth preservation. The federal and state laws are intricate and always changing, so check back regularly and be sure to speak to your Boca Raton estate planning attorney to develop a generational wealth management and asset protection plan. 

Estate Planning

Right now!

An estate plan is like an insurance policy: It only works if it’s in place before you need it. The only time you can implement an estate plan is while you are alive and have the capacity to direct your own affairs. Dying without a plan in place could spark a bitter fight over your assets. And plans put in place after you’ve, for example, suffered a debilitating stroke could be challenged in court. In either case, the litigation could drag on for years and drain your estate.

Moreover, estates plans are not exclusively “death focused.” Many aspects of your estate plan will impact you during your lifetime, including tax mitigation strategies, asset protection options, and business succession arrangements. Finally, estate plans are also not exclusively “for old people.” An unforeseen event can strike at any moment—that’s why they’re called un-foreseen. A healthy person in their 40s, 50s, or 60s is not exempt from a sudden illness (e.g. Covid-19), incapacitating accident, or an untimely death that would leave their loved ones and valuable assets vulnerable.

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An estate plan is a set of interconnected documents, contracts, and instruments that provide for the protection of your assets in the present and the efficient transfer of those assets to your family and heirs after you’ve passed away. Critically, these various documents work in concert to ensure that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes. In short, an estate plan preserves your financial legacy.

Many people think that only ultra-wealthy people need estate plans. However, even small and mid-size estates will have valuable assets that require protection. An estate plan can help anyone that wants to direct the distribution of their assets to the right people, in the right way, at the right time.

Of course, as the size or complexity of the estate increases, so does the need for proactive estate planning to ensure that your assets are fully protected.

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Your estate is the sum total of your assets. One should interpret “asset” and “own” here very broadly. To oversimplify a bit, if you could say “X is mine,” you probably have some ownership stake in it. Likewise, “asset” means anything that has commercial value or emotional value. Some items that you should include in your estate are:

  • Life insurance, pension benefits, annuity contracts, and retirement accounts,
  • All real property and things attached to it (e.g. houses, buildings, barns),
  • All personal property (e.g. cars, homes, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, jewelry, art, collectibles),
  • Digital assets and data (e.g. social media accounts, cloud-stored data, websites and URLs, login credentials),
  • All businesses, business interests, and the goodwill, inventory, equipment, accounts receivable, and other property of those entities,
  • Powers of appointment (i.e. the right to direct who gets someone else’s property), and,
  • Claims you have against others.

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Yes!

We believe that the majority of Florida families would benefit greatly from having an estate plan in place. Regardless of how big or small your estate is, you should want to maintain control over your assets and provide a blueprint for distributing those assets to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. In short, estate planning is about preserving your financial legacy.

The exact details of your estate plan will depend on your specific family and financial circumstances (this is why online forms are usually bad ideas). But individuals often fail to appreciate the full size or value of their estates and what could happen to their assets if there is no plan in place. Even making minimal arrangements is better than no planning at all, but you can go further and:

  • Provide instructions for your care and that of your loved ones in the case of your disability,
  • Avoid the hassle and costs of the probate process,
  • Keep your family affairs private and confidential,
  • Create protective trusts for your children, grandchildren, special needs family members, and pets, and,
  • Adopt tax planning strategies that could significantly mitigate estate and gift taxes.

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An estate plan is a set of documents that work in concert to ensure that your property and assets are distributed when, how, and to whom you choose. Your estate planning attorney will direct the nuanced discussion, but you should consider a couple of basic issues to prepare for the creation of your estate plan:

  • Beneficiaries: Beyond your direct nuclear family or close extended family members, consider other people and organizations such as caretakers, pets, schools, charities, or religious institutions that are important to you.
  • Deciders: You will want to appoint trustworthy individuals to administer your estate and to make choices regarding your end-of-life care and financial wellbeing.
  • Assets and Wealth: Review all of your assets including those with high emotional value such as personal items and family heirlooms. Also consider the nature of your wealth and ownership. How are your assets titled? If you are a business owner, do you have partners or investors? How assets are titled affects how they will transfer and to whom.
  • Timing: Think about how you would like your assets to be distributed and when. Do you prefer an outright distribution? Would you prefer assets be placed in a trust? Should the distribution wait until after your death or do you want to put assets aside right now?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the topics to consider before or during the estate planning process. But if you have taken the time to think about these issues above, you will be well on your way.

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Maybe.

Estate plans are not one-and-done matters. Rather, they are iterative and must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they continue to match your financial goals and life circumstances. Three broad types of events provide opportunities to revisit your estate plan:

  1. Personal milestones or major family events such as marriages and divorces, the birth of a new child or grandchild, or changes to intra-family dynamics,
  2. Considerable reorganizations or additions to your asset portfolio, and
  3. Changes to external economic, environmental, or legal factors such as global pandemics or new state or federal laws.

It is always advisable to make any and all changes to your estate plan in consultation with a Florida estate planning attorney. Often such documents are required to be notarized to be enforceable, and any tampering without following the proper procedures may result in the documents losing efficacy. In other words, changes written in the margin are not legitimate.

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An estate plan is an intertwined nexus of documents and instruments that provide for the safe transfer of your assets and wealth to your family and heirs. But properly drafting and executing all these documents requires specialized knowledge in a number of areas: tax law, estate planning statutes, business law, finance, and more.

Non-specialists will not recognize when they make a critical misstep or overlook an option that would be obvious to a professional. Mistakes in this area can be very costly and potentially drain your estate’s value before your heirs ever get to enjoy it.

Estate planning attorneys understand the complex federal and state tax codes, trust administration issues, and estate planning laws. They also have the experience to guide you through a nuanced conversation about your estate and wishes. They will make sure the plan is geared toward your actual goals and that it doesn’t leave out any vital protections.

Hiring an estate planning attorney gives you the confidence and peace of mind that your assets are safe and that your estate will transfer to your family and heirs in the most efficient way possible.

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Estates that are not required to file a federal estate tax return and are not involved in litigation can usually be closed between six and nine months. If a federal estate tax return is required, the estate must remain open for two years. However, certain distributions can be made to the heirs and beneficiaries soon after the estate is opened.

That being said, the length of the probate process for specific estates depends on two things:

  1. The overall size and makeup of the estate, and
  2. The level of preparation done by the decedent prior to passing.

Even if an estate does not require a probate administration, all estates must be settled. Estate settlement is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. This includes filing documents, paying outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing assets.

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Wills and Trusts

Yes. On January 1, 2020, the Electronic Will Law went into effect in Florida. Florida is just the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Unfortunately, the name of the law alone does not fully capture what it accomplishes.

What’s at issue are not digital copies of original, physical Florida wills. What the law does is expand the process for creating a legally binding last will and testament by allowing execution, witnessing, and notarization to take place entirely online via video conferencing software such as Zoom or Skype.

The testator can be in Miami, the witnesses on vacation in New York, and the notary at home in Naples, it doesn’t matter. This provides increased flexibility to Florida residents, snowbirds, older individuals, or people with restricted mobility to create (or update) legally binding wills.

However, partially because electronic wills are a relatively new phenomenon and very few states allow them, many aspects are still uncertain. Primarily, it remains to be seen what, if any, jurisdictions outside of Florida will accept electronic wills.

A potential situation could arise in which a Florida resident executed an electronic will, but then died some years later after relocating to a different state. Because estate planning is a complex process, it may be unwise to inject unpredictability into the process or risk possible probate litigation over a contested will.  

Kickstart Your Estate Planning

If you need help drafting and executing a Florida will, we can help. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Irrevocable Trusts are one of the two basic categories of trusts. Unlike Revocable Trusts, once a granton transfers ownership of assets to an Irrevocable Trust, its terms cannot be modified, amended, or terminated without the permission of the trust’s beneficiary or beneficiaries.

This rigidity sounds scary to many people, but Irrevocable Trusts provide tremendous benefits when implemented properly, which the more flexible Revocable Trusts do not offer:

  1. Minimization of Estate Taxes: Wealthier families can fund an Irrevocable Trust with life insurance proceeds, create charitable trusts, or gift substantial property to avoid estate taxes.
  2. Eligibility for Government Programs: Disabled beneficiaries have stringent income and asset limitations and overstepping those limits can cause their government benefits to be revoked.
  3. Protection of Assets: Protecting your assets from your creditors usually requires a trust to be irrevocable. Generally, the more restrictive the trust, the more protection it provides from creditors.

Get Help Today

Because the stakes are so high and the complexity so deep, trust planning is an area where you should get assistance from a qualified attorney. We want to try to make the estate and trust planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

A Revocable Trust is one of the two basic categories of trusts into which every other type of trust can be classified.

The most basic difference between these two categories is that, as the name suggests, a Revocable Trust can be altered, adapted, changed, or terminated, i.e. revoked, whereas an Irrevocable Trust cannot.

This flexibility is what makes Revocable Trusts appealing. Grantors can still benefit from the assets in the trust while they are living, and the provisions of the trust can be altered at the grantor’s discretion.

Assets transferred into a Revocable Trust can also avoid probate. However, properly setting up and maintaining a Revocable Trust takes time and money. Funding a trust during a grantor’s lifetime requires reregistering securities, real property, and other assets in the name of the trust. Any property or assets not titled in the trust’s name, will still be subject to probate.

Finally, to clarify a point of undue confusion: “Revocable Trust” and “Revocable Living Trust” are used interchangeably and mean the same thing.

Trusts are used to accomplish a wide variety of specific estate planning goals, but most trust planning objectives tend to fall into four broad categories:

  1. Estate tax minimization,
  2. Asset protection,
  3. Setting terms for accessing assets (e.g. age or amount requirements), and
  4. Directing assets and property where you want.

Trusts greatly expand your estate planning options. They work in tandem with (not as alternatives to) wills to direct how and when beneficiaries receive your assets. In addition, assets and property distributed through a trust can avoid the public, expensive, and protracted Probate process.

There are hundreds of different types and subtypes of trusts to choose from. Depending on your exact goals, you and your estate planning attorney can decide on the type of trust that is right for you.

Get Help Today

Due to the complexity of trust planning, consulting with an attorney is always your best option. We want to try to make the estate and trust planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

A trust is a legal creation that allows a trustee to hold and direct the assets that are transferred into it on behalf of a beneficiary. More specifically, a trust is a financial arrangement between three parties: The first party, the Grantor (the one who makes the trust), grants another party, the Trustee, the power to hold assets and distribute them to a third party, the beneficiary, at a designated time.

There are literally hundreds of types of trusts, each with different names and acronyms. But, in short, trusts work in tandem with (not as alternatives to) wills to direct how and when beneficiaries receive your assets. Trusts greatly expand your estate planning options, whether your primary concern is tax mitigation, asset protection, or wealth transfer.

When an estate begins the probate process, the probate court will appoint a personal representative to manage and oversee the decedent’s estate. Often, personal representatives are named by the decedent in the will, but if no will exists then the probate court will appoint one.

The personal representative’s responsibilities are many, including:

  • Gathering, valuing, and protecting the decedent’s probate assets,
  • Publishing a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file claims,
  • Conducting a reasonably diligent search to locate creditors and notifying these creditors of the deadline to file a claim,
  • Paying valid creditor claims, but objecting to and defending against improper claims,
  • Filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed by the estate,
  • Distributing probate assets and property to the beneficiaries and heirs, and
  • Closing the probate estate.

Moreover, the probate court oversees the activities of the personal representative, and requires that they obtain prior permission of the court before certain actions may be taken, such as selling real estate or business interests owned by the estate. Mismanagement or impropriety by the personal representative could make them liable to the beneficiaries for any harm they may suffer.

Get Help Today

If you have questions about naming a personal representative, drafting a will, or the probate process more generally, let us know. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

No. Generally, as the Personal Representative (also known as the “Executor”), you are not personally liable for claims creditors might have against the decedent.

However, this might not be the case if you have received money from the decedent’s estate or trust preferentially to the claims of the creditors (not including certain personal representative and trustee fees and reimbursement for certain expenses such as funeral expenses). 

Get Help Today

We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Yes. When a person dies and a will exists, that will goes to a probate court for approval. However, beneficiaries and heirs do not always agree as to the validity of a will and wish to contest it.

Some of the most common objections to the validity of a will are:

  • The person lacked mental capacity at the time the will was executed,
  • The will was forged or executed by force or under undue influence, or
  • The will was not properly drafted, signed, or witnessed according to the state’s formal requirements.

There are procedures one must follow to contest a will. Objections to a decedent’s will must be filed in probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death or petition to admit the will to probate.

Get Help Today

The emotional and logistical stress of losing a loved one can be intense. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If a person dies without a will, they will be considered to have died intestate, from the Latin in + testamentum (lit. “not having a will”).

When a person dies intestate, the person’s estate is administered according to the default Florida Probate Code, Ch. 732, Fl. Stat. (or whatever their state of residence was). The first step is for the probate court to appoint a personal representative to oversee the administration of the estate.

Eventually, after any creditors have been paid, the remaining property will be distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this distribution is also done according to the order of priority in the Probate Code, not the wishes the deceased.

Because the probate process is such a hassle, expensive, and cumbersome, it’s critical to draft a legal valid will in advance that addresses these issues.

Get Help Today

If you concerned about drafting a will or are in a situation someone has died intestate, we can help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If you die without leaving a will, you risk your property and assets being distributed in ways you did not want. The reason for this is that when you die without a will, you are deemed “intestate” (from Latin in + testamentum “not having a will”) and the intestacy laws of Florida govern how, when, and to whom your assets and property will be distributed.

Florida’s intestacy statute lists which members of your family receive what and in what order. Unfortunately, everything rests upon blood relations, so longtime friends or caretakers will not receive any of your estate.

Even if you would leave your entire estate to your legal heirs or next of kin, there is no advantage to dying without a will. For example, you lose the opportunity to designate a personal representative, trustee, guardian for minor children, and to do valuable tax planning. Without taking such steps, you could force your family to undergo a protracted, expensive, and public probate process before receiving your assets.

With a well-drafted will you can avoid legal pitfalls, name a personal representative of your estate, name a guardian for your children, establish trusts, and minimize probate-related costs by providing for independent administration. Dying without a will may cause unexpected costs and delays and undesired results for the decedent’s family.

Get Help Today

The emotional stress of losing a loved one can be intense. The last thing you should want to do to your family is increase that burden by making them go through additional legal hurdles after your passing. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If you have relocated to Florida or changed your state of residence to Florida, it’s important to determine whether your current will is still valid and legally binding.

Like other contracts, wills are governed by state law. If you have an existing will that was drafted while you were residing in another state, you should have your out-of-state will reviewed by a Florida estate planning attorney to be sure it will operate effectively in Florida. 

In most instances, it’s best to have your attorney update your estate planning documents to reflect your new state of residence and to keep all of the documents functioning as a cohesive estate plan. 

Get Help Today

Did you recently move to Florida and need to update a will? We want to try to make the estate planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

A Florida pour over will is used in conjunction with a Revocable Living Trust to transfer any assets or property titled in the decedent’s name to the trust when the person passes away. The trust assets are then distributed according to terms outlined in the trust.

Pour over wills serve a pragmatic purpose. When one creates a living trust, one of the first tasks is to transfer ownership of assets and property to the trust. However, as new assets are acquired over time, people often forget to add them to the trust in the proper name. Without any other documentation in place, those assets or properties will be titled in the decedent’s name at the time of their death.

A pour over will is the solution to this problem. The pour over will states that all assets that have not already been titled in the name of the trust should be transferred to it. These assets and property “pour over” from your estate into the trust.

Get Help Today

We want to try to make the estate planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

A will is the document you create that outlines how, when, and to whom you want your assets and property to be distributed upon your death. Importantly, it also designates a personal representative who will be responsible for distributing your assets and administering your estate.

For young parents and couples, a will can also be used to appoint a guardian for their minor children and a trustee to manage the children’s money until they are old enough to handle it themselves.

A will cannot do everything, though—there are certain limitations. A will works in concert with your other basic estate planning documents to create a fully functioning estate plan. A will only becomes effective upon your death, and after it is admitted to probate.

Get Help Today

The emotional and logistical stress of losing a loved one can be intense. The last thing you want to do is put an additional burden on your family by improperly planning for the administration of your estate. We want to try to make the estate planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

 

Asset Protection

Fundamentally, asset protection planning involves taking potentially “exposed assets” (i.e. assets subject to creditor claims) and reallocating them such that they are exempt from creditors. Fortunately, Florida’s asset protection laws are quite fulsome and provide several options for asset protection, including:

  • Florida Homestead,
  • Head of Household exemption,
  • Tenancy by the Entirety and Joint Tenancy,
  • Irrevocable Trusts,
  • Family Limited Partnerships,
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC),
  • Offshore corporations and trusts,
  • 401(k)s and IRAs,
  • Annuities,
  • Life insurance,
  • Federal retirement plans.

As you can see from this list, in order for your asset protection plan to be fully functional you need an asset protection attorney with expertise in a breadth of subjects.

We help our clients establish asset protection strategies to shield their assets and minimize risk to potential creditors. We are well-versed in an array of asset protection strategies:

  • Domestic and offshore trust planning,
  • Domestic and offshore business entity formation,
  • State laws regarding asset exemptions.

Protect Your Financial Legacy

Don’t let your assets and wealth be an easy target for creditors and lawsuits. Take advantage of Florida’s asset protection options. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Asset classes that are shielded from creditors by Florida law are generally called “protected assets.” Examples of protected assets include:

  • Annuities,
  • Life insurance,
  • Retirement accounts,
  • Unemployment or disability benefits,
  • Social Security benefits,
  • Custodial accounts held for minor beneficiaries,
  • Florida pre-paid college tuition plans,
  • Owned as Tenants by the Entirety.

Other assets are known as “exposed assets” because without special planning they are at risk to creditors and lawsuits. Exposed assets include the following:

  • Individual or joint accounts,
  • Personal property,
  • Individually or jointly owned (non-married) real property.

For individuals with large amounts of assets or those in professions with a high degree of liability such as medicine, finance, law, and real estate development, the safest course of action is to reduce the number of exposed assets. Fortunately, Florida’s asset protection laws are quite fulsome and provide several options for asset protection, including:

  • Homestead protections,
  • Head of Household exemption,
  • Tenancy by the Entirety and Joint Tenancy,
  • Irrevocable Trusts,
  • Family Limited Partnerships,
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC).

Due to these nuances, asset protection plans are truly bespoke. A comprehensive analysis of your asset portfolio is critical so we can develop the most effective asset protection strategy for your situation.

Protect Your Financial Legacy

Don’t let your assets and wealth be an easy target for creditors and lawsuits. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

All assets have inherent risks to creditors and lawsuits. However, these risks and vulnerabilities can be affected by the actions of individuals as well. Assets can be put at risk by multiple vulnerabilities, including:

  • Professional malpractice liability,
  • Personal liability of corporate officers and directors,
  • Lawsuits by former business partners,
  • Personal injury suffered on your premises or in a vehicle accident,
  • Liability as guarantor for the debts of another,
  • Liability arising from misconduct.

The odds are very good that you will face costly litigation at some point in your life. Even a seemingly minor lawsuit can potentially place your valuable assets at risk. In particular, business owners, professional practitioners such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants, and property owners are frequent targets for lawsuits. However, everyone should be aware of their unique risk of getting ensnared in litigation.

The best way to avoid this situation is to incorporate an asset protection plan into your estate plan to keep your assets cordoned off from potential bad actors.

Protect Your Financial Legacy

Don’t let your assets and wealth be an easy target for creditors and lawsuit judgments. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

As its core, asset protection planning is about mitigating and reducing risk, and it involves shielding your assets from creditors, predators, lawsuits, and disaffected family members. You can think of an asset protection plan as a kind of insurance policy that not only protects your wealth, but your financial legacy too by denying creditors access to your money, property, or business.

A primary aspect of your asset protection plan will be classifying your assets and turning “exposed assets” into “protected assets.” This process decreases the number of assets that are subject to creditor claims by reallocating them to various protected asset classes.

Asset Protection is one of the most critical components of estate planning. While your estate plan writ large aims to ensure a transfer of wealth to future generations, an asset protection plan shields those hard-earned and valuable assets from creditors, predators, and lawsuits.

Protect Your Financial Legacy

Don’t let your assets be an easy target for creditors and lawsuits. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

A comprehensive review of your asset portfolio is needed to determine your need for comprehensive asset protection planning. However, anyone who has worked hard enough to amass significant assets and wealth should have some form of an asset protection plan in place to ensure those assets and wealth don’t get stripped away by a disaffected creditor.

In the meantime, if you are wondering whether you could benefit from asset protection planning, consider the following statements. If any these apply to you, we strongly advise you to call us now to develop and implement an asset protection plan:

  • I have equity in real estate or own multiple properties.
  • I own a privately held business.
  • I am a professional services provider, such as doctor, lawyer, or accountant.
  • I do not have insurance policies on my home, businesses, rental properties, or vehicles.
  • I have jointly owned assets, accounts, or properties.
  • I have significant liquid (cash) assets, trusts, or stocks.
  • I have assets in foreign bank accounts.
  • I hay inherit retirement, disability, Social Security, or trust benefits.

Undertaking proactive planning to shield yourself and your assets from risk is a critical component of your estate planning process.

Protect Your Financial Legacy

Don’t wait until it’s too late to build a fortress around your valuable assets. We make protecting your estate and assets as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

In the most basic terms, an asset is anything you own that has economic value. Some assets actively generate cash flow, such as rental properties, bonds, or dividend-yielding stocks. Other assets could provide cash flow or economic benefit in the future: e.g. homes and real estate, collectibles, jewelry.

There are many different ways to classify assets depending on the goal of classification. As such, some assets may fall under more than one category.

  • Depreciating vs. Appreciating: Certain assets depreciate or lose value over time (e.g. cars, machinery). Others appreciate or gain value (e.g. artwork, stocks).
  • Cash and Cash Equivalents: Cash is an asset, and it comes in more forms than paper money in your pockets. Examples of these assets are hard currency, funds in checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), or investment securities that mature in under three months.
  • Tangible vs. Intangible Assets: Physical objects that you can touch are tangible assets. Examples of tangible assets include your home, car, boat, art, or jewelry. Intangible assets, such as stocks, bonds, and pensions, are the opposite: non-physical. Asset value is not inherently connected to tangibility.
  • Liquid vs. Illiquid Assets: Liquid assets are cash, bank accounts, or assets that can be converted to cash quickly without losing substantial value such as gold or a company’s accounts receivable. Illiquid assets (also known as “fixed assets”) take longer to convert into cash and could lose value in the process. Examples of illiquid assets include cars, houses, real estate, and ownership interests in private companies.
  • Fixed-Income Assets: Fixed-income assets produce a stable, often predetermined return on investment usually in the form of interest. Fixed-income assets include bonds (government, Treasury, corporate), CDs, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and preferred stock/securities.
  • Protected vs. Exposed Assets: Certain asset types, known as “protected assets,” are inherently shielded from creditors. Assets not in this class are called “exposed assets,” and special planning is needed to shield them from lawsuits.

When thinking about your assets for estate planning purposes, you should also consider the “type” of value. Many assets have an easily identifiable market value—meaning, they are valuable in an arm’s-length transaction. Other assets, though, primarily have emotional value to a person or a family, which may not map onto an equivalent market value.

Assessing your asset portfolio is important when preparing an estate plan so you can classify all of your assets and take proper precautions to protect your assets from lawsuits, creditors, and predators.

Secure Your Valuable Assets

Don’t wait until it’s too late to build a fortress around your valuable assets. We make the asset protection planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If a single person gives more than $15,000 in cash or assets (e.g. stocks, real estate, a car) in a year to any one person without expecting to receive something of equal value in return, they will need to file a gift tax return. However, breaching the $15,000 maximum doesn’t mean they have to pay a gift tax. It simply means they need to file IRS Form 709 to disclose the gift.

Also keep in mind two additional points. First, the $15,000 gift tax annual exclusion is per recipient. So, a person could gift $15,000 to several individuals without having to file a gift tax return.

Second, the exclusion also per giver. This only works for spouses, but for married couples, each spouse could give $15,000 to the same person, for a combined total of $30,000. Again this does not trigger the need to file a gift tax return.

 

Under present law the Unified Credit is $5,490,000. 

No. Although these two legal concepts sound the same, they are in fact different.

Only spouses can own property as Tenants by the Entirety (TBE). Additionally, upon the death of one of the owners in each of a Tenancy by the Entirety and Tenancy with Right of Survivorship, the property passes to the remaining owner.

In a Tenancy in Common situation, on the other hand, the deceased owner’s share generally passes as designated in the deed or by such tenant’s estate planning documents.

Yes. Florida law has generous provisions to keep certain assets safe from creditors. In general, there are six assets that are statutorily protected:

  1. Your homestead (up ½ acre in a city or municipality and 160 outside),
  2. Qualified retirement plans and IRA’s,
  3. Life insurance,
  4. Annuities,
  5. Wages,
  6. Property owned as Tenants by the Entirety.

All of these protections come with numerous caveats, and, of course, the assets in question cannot have been acquired through fraud. 

Depending on the number of members, an LLC can opt for one of four taxation regimes:

  • Sole Proprietorship (i.e. disregarded tax entity),
  • Partnership,
  • S corporation,
  • C corporation.

This flexible tax structure is one of the most appealing aspects of the LLC as it allows owners to optimize their business entity to suit their particular needs and circumstances.

Default Tax Structures

If no choice is made, a single-member LLC will by default be taxed as a sole proprietorship. Multi-member LLCs (i.e. with more than one member) will be taxed as partnerships by default.

You don’t need to file anything with the IRS as a sole proprietor, but to be taxed as a disregarded tax entity (i.e. sole proprietorship), it must be a single-member LLC.

Multi-member LLC owners would report personal income on Schedule C of Form 1040, but the LLC would also file a Form 1065 with the IRS and issue K-1 statements to all LLC members.

S Corp or C Corp Taxation

LLC members can elect for corporate taxation as well, either as a C corporation or an S corporation.

By electing S corporation tax status, LLC owners may be able to avoid other taxes that a Sole Proprietor must pay, such as self-employment taxes (i.e. Social Security and Medicare). S corporations are still pass through entities, however, and aren’t subject to double taxation like C corporations. To be taxed as an S corporation, an LLC must file Form 2553 with the IRS. 

An LLC could also opt for C corporation tax status by filing Form 8832 with the IRS. Doing so, however, subjects them to one of the biggest downsides of forming a C corporation, double taxation. A C corporation’s profits, however, are taxed at the corporate level and at the personal level.

Asset protection strategies are complex, nuaced, and ultimately situation-specific. Depending on the distribution and allocation of your and your family’s assets and wealth, different mechanisms will be more beneficial and effective at providing maximum tax mitigation, creditor protections, and wealth preservation.

We specialize in crafting such financial blueprints for wealth preservation and asset protection that take into account your present and future goals to ensure your estate plan fits your circumstances like a bespoke suit.

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Elder Mediation

Elder Mediators can address a wide range of issues surrounding elder care, wills and estate, healthcare, and more. Some of the most common areas where families come to loggerheads and may need the services of a Certified Elder Mediator include:

  • Independence of an Aging Parent
  • Caregiving Responsibilities
  • Financial Issues
  • Guardianship Issues
  • Housing and Living Arrangements
  • Intergenerational Relationship Issues
  • New Marriages and Step-Relative Issues
  • Family Business Continuity
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect
  • Legal and Estate Planning Issues
  • Medical Care
  • End-of-life Planning

While addressing these delicate and sensitive topics is never easy, working through these challenges with a Certified Elder Mediator can be a real opportunity to preserve the financial and structural wellbeing of the family.

Elder mediation is a form of family mediation that provides a forum for family decision-making around those issues most often encountered when dealing with aging parents or grandparents. The elder mediation process has two fundamental goals:

  • To allow families to create workable and mutually acceptable solutions to their current disputes, and
  • To develop communication strategies that enable them to work together to make important decisions in the future.

Because family members develop their own solutions that reflect their family’s unique situation, satisfaction with the outcome is quite high and the resolutions tend to be workable and long lasting.

Elderly Floridians face an array of unique concerns and challenges ranging from Medicare and Social Security, to assisted living arrangements and financial independence.

When communication stalls and critical decisions are halted, families may need the help of a skilled mediator to move the balls forward again.

Certified Elder Mediators are specifically trained to handle and negotiate interfamily conflicts that involve aging parents or elderly grandparents in a way that leaves all parties feeling satisfied in the outcomes.

 

Probate Process

Estates that are not required to file a federal estate tax return and are not involved in litigation can usually be closed between six and nine months. If a federal estate tax return is required, the estate must remain open for two years. However, certain distributions can be made to the heirs and beneficiaries soon after the estate is opened.

That being said, the length of the probate process for specific estates depends on two things:

  1. The overall size and makeup of the estate, and
  2. The level of preparation done by the decedent prior to passing.

Even if an estate does not require a probate administration, all estates must be settled. Estate settlement is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. This includes filing documents, paying outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing assets.

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When an estate begins the probate process, the probate court will appoint a personal representative to manage and oversee the decedent’s estate. Often, personal representatives are named by the decedent in the will, but if no will exists then the probate court will appoint one.

The personal representative’s responsibilities are many, including:

  • Gathering, valuing, and protecting the decedent’s probate assets,
  • Publishing a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file claims,
  • Conducting a reasonably diligent search to locate creditors and notifying these creditors of the deadline to file a claim,
  • Paying valid creditor claims, but objecting to and defending against improper claims,
  • Filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed by the estate,
  • Distributing probate assets and property to the beneficiaries and heirs, and
  • Closing the probate estate.

Moreover, the probate court oversees the activities of the personal representative, and requires that they obtain prior permission of the court before certain actions may be taken, such as selling real estate or business interests owned by the estate. Mismanagement or impropriety by the personal representative could make them liable to the beneficiaries for any harm they may suffer.

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If you have questions about naming a personal representative, drafting a will, or the probate process more generally, let us know. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Probably. Whether you need a probate attorney in Florida will depend largely on the type of probate process required in your circumstance. The probate process in Florida is not a singular thing. Instead, Florida generally has three probate processes that you must consider.

In turn, which type of probate will apply in your situation will depend to a large extent on the size of the estate in question and the probate avoidance strategies implemented by the decedent.

Formal Probate Administration

This is the full-blown probate process. There are a litany of particulars and smaller steps, but in broad strokes the formal probate process follows this basic course of action:

  • A court appoints the personal representative,
  • Creditors are given a required 90-day notice,
  • Any creditor’s claims are paid from the estate, and
  • The remaining assets and property are distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries
  • The estate is closed.

Any estate over $75,000, any estate with debts, and estates with unknown assets are required to go through the formal probate process. If your situation meets the criteria for the formal probate process, you will absolutely need to hire a probate attorney to assist with the administration of the probate estate.

Disposition without Administration

This process is often compared with “small estate provisions” that some other states have, but the analogy is not quite right. While it does not technically involve the probate process, it does involve the Florida court system.

Disposition with Administration is only available in specific situations and to some very small estates. Typically, such cases involve petitions to the probate court for access to assets (e.g. bank account) to pay outstanding funeral bills or medical expenses or to reimburse someone for paying for such expenses out of pocket. The petitions must be made within 60 days of the person’s death.

You probably will not need to hire a probate attorney for the disposition without administration process.

Summary Administration

The third probate process is a simplified version of the formal process, but it is only available in very limited situations where all four of the following criteria are met:

  1. Less than $75,000 in total assets,
  2. All the beneficiaries and heirs consent to the petition,
  3. The decedent has no outstanding debts, and
  4. All of the decedent’s assets are known (if an asset is discovered in the future, you have to go back to court again!)

You may not need a probate attorney to help with summary probate administration, but I would recommend you have one. Over the years I have seen many families try to do it on their own, only to have the court reject the summary paperwork they filed due to deficiencies.

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If you have probate administration questions or need help navigating the process, we can help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

The point at which you need to contact an estate planning attorney after someone dies will depend on many things, including how well the deceased person planned for their end-of-life.

Some issues to consider before contacting an estate planning or wills and trusts attorney are:

  • Have you received the death certificate yet (note: can take up to 14 days)?
  • Did the deceased person have a will or did they die “intestate”?
  • What is the size of the deceased’s estate?
  • What is your relationship to the deceased?
  • Will the deceased person’s estate need to go through probate?

Generally, if a deceased person had a will, you should wait until you have obtained the death certificate to contact your attorney regarding next steps.

However, if you or the deceased does not have an estate planning attorney or the relationship isn’t good, you can begin vetting qualified estate planning attorneys earlier than that to help you navigate the probate process .

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The emotional and logistical stress of losing a loved one can be intense. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

No. Generally, as the Personal Representative (also known as the “Executor”), you are not personally liable for claims creditors might have against the decedent.

However, this might not be the case if you have received money from the decedent’s estate or trust preferentially to the claims of the creditors (not including certain personal representative and trustee fees and reimbursement for certain expenses such as funeral expenses). 

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Probably. You will most likely want to avoid probate, if possible. The probate process has numerous downsides.

First, it takes time, and many assets will be tied up while the process in ongoing. Depending on the size of the estate, the probate process could take six months to two years.

Second, the probate process potentially gives creditors access to your property and assets. There may also be considerable fees imposed on your family to complete the process.

Finally, the probate process involves public hearings and will result in a loss of privacy to your family during a time of less and emotional pain.

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If you have questions about the probate process, probate avoidance, or other questions, we are here to help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Yes and No. Working with a qualified estate planning attorney, you can craft an estate plan that will allow you to avoid the probate process. The legal nuances are complex and in order to develop an estate plan that accomplishes your goals you will require the help of an attorney—this is definitely not a time to try to do it yourself.

If you don’t get everything correct, your assets may still be required to go through one of the three potential probate processes in Florida.

Formal Probate Administration

This is the full-blown probate process wherein a court appoints the personal representative, creditors are given notice, and creditor’s claims are paid. Most large estates, estates with debts, and estates with unknown assets will require the formal probate process.

Disposition without Administration

This process is often compared with “small estate provisions” that some other states have. While it does not technically involve the probate process, it does involve the Florida court system. Disposition with Administration is only available in specific situations and to some very small estates. Typically, such cases involve petitions to the probate court for access to assets to pay outstanding funeral bills or medical expenses.

Summary Administration

The third probate process is a simplified version of the formal process, but it is only available in very limited situations where all four of the following criteria are met:

  1. Less than $75,000 in total assets,
  2. All the beneficiaries and heirs consent to the petition,
  3. The decedent has no outstanding debts, and
  4. All of the decedent’s assets are known (if an asset is discovered in the future, you have to go back to court again!).

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Navigating the probate process can be difficult. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Generally, no. By and large, beneficiaries should not have any liability to the deceased’s creditors simply because they are beneficiaries, unless:

  • the deceased gifted away their assets to someone shortly before dying, or
  • the deceased acted in concert with the beneficiary to defraud their creditors.

Even if the decedent’s estate lacks the funds to fully pay all outstanding creditor claims, heirs and beneficiaries are not personally obligated to pay the general debts of the deceased.

Of course, if the children or beneficiaries took any property or benefits from the deceased or the estate, or had assumed liability for care given the deceased, or guaranteed payment, they could be held liable for some or all of the deceased’s debts separately. This obligation to pay, however, is not based on their status as beneficiaries.

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If you need assistance dealing with a probate administration problem, we can help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Yes. When a person dies and a will exists, that will goes to a probate court for approval. However, beneficiaries and heirs do not always agree as to the validity of a will and wish to contest it.

Some of the most common objections to the validity of a will are:

  • The person lacked mental capacity at the time the will was executed,
  • The will was forged or executed by force or under undue influence, or
  • The will was not properly drafted, signed, or witnessed according to the state’s formal requirements.

There are procedures one must follow to contest a will. Objections to a decedent’s will must be filed in probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death or petition to admit the will to probate.

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The emotional and logistical stress of losing a loved one can be intense. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If a person dies without a will, they will be considered to have died intestate, from the Latin in + testamentum (lit. “not having a will”).

When a person dies intestate, the person’s estate is administered according to the default Florida Probate Code, Ch. 732, Fl. Stat. (or whatever their state of residence was). The first step is for the probate court to appoint a personal representative to oversee the administration of the estate.

Eventually, after any creditors have been paid, the remaining property will be distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this distribution is also done according to the order of priority in the Probate Code, not the wishes the deceased.

Because the probate process is such a hassle, expensive, and cumbersome, it’s critical to draft a legal valid will in advance that addresses these issues.

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If you concerned about drafting a will or are in a situation someone has died intestate, we can help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Probate is usually required in each state where the real property is owned in the decedent’s name, in addition to the home state.

After a personal representative is appointed in Florida, a certified copy of the will, if any, at initial probate pleadings as letters of administration appointing the personal representatives, must be submitted to probate in each other jurisdiction in which the deceased owned real property. That separate probate procedure is formally referred to as “ancillary probate.” Some states insist upon the appointment of a personal representative who is a local resident to administer the in-state property.

Where the deceased did not have a will, each state will have its own law for distributing the deceased’s real property. The real estate in State A, all might go to the spouse; in State B, it might go 1/3rd to the spouse, 1/3rd to the son and 1/3rd to the daughter; and in State C, it might go 1/2 to the spouse and 1/4 each child. The laws of the state in which the deceased was a permanent resident or “domiciliary” govern who would receive all the deceased’s personal property, wherever it was located, and all the deceased’s real property located within the state.

Thus, probate almost always is undertaken in the home state.

In Florida, estates have both probate and non-probate assets. When thinking about your will and other estate planning documents, it’s important to understand this difference.

Non-probate assets fall into a few basic categories.

  • Beneficiary Designations: First, assets with beneficiary designations with payable on death provisions such as insurance policies, 401(k)s, employee benefit plans, and IRAs are not subject to probate. The will does not control how, when, or to whom these non-probate assets are distributed. Instead, they pass by the operation of law to the persons named in the appropriate beneficiary designations.
  • Joint Ownership: Assets held by the decedent and another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship also pass outside the will directly to the survivor. Survivorship assets typically include assets owned by spouses, jointly titled real property, certain types of bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, and certain government savings bonds (e.g. Series EE savings bonds).
  • Trusts: All property held in a trust for the benefit of the decedent passes outside of probate also. The trust may have been created by the decedent during their lifetime for property management purposes or by someone else, such as a parent of the decedent. Trust assets pass under the terms of the trust rather than under the terms of the decedent’s will.

It is important to determine the extent of one’s non-probate assets when planning the disposition of one’s property at death. If a substantial portion of the assets are non-probate assets that do not pass under the will, even the best will may be insufficient to carry out the deceased’s intended disposition of their property and assets.

Furthermore, periodically reviewing the beneficiary designations and asset titling is critical to ensuring that your assets and propert pass to the proper heirs and beneficiaries. 

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In Florida, an estate’s assets fall into two different fundamental categories: probate and non-probate assets.

All assets owned by the decedent in the decedents’ name alone are subject to probate administration upon decedent’s death.

Other assets and property not titled exclusively in the deceased’s name or that include beneficiary designations are not subject to probate. Such non-probate assets include:

  • Jointly Owned Assets: Real and personal property can be owned by spouses as tenants by the entirety or owned by two individuals jointly with rights of survivorship. Assets titled in such a way will pass directly to the survivors without going through probate.
  • Beneficiary Accounts: Other types of assets have beneficiary designations which supercede wills and are likewise not subject to probate. Assets such as a life insurance policy, IRA, 401(k), employee benefit account, or a bank account with a payable-on-death provision will transfer automatically, outside probate, to the persons named as beneficiaries.
  • Living Trust: If a living trust holds legal title to some of your property, then the assets held by the living trust also passes to the beneficiaries without probate. (The trust is a legal entity which survives you after your death.)

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This is by no means an exhaustive list. Ensuring assets transfer how, when, and to whom you want requires the proper planning. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

When an estate enters the probate process, the probate court will appoint a “personal representative” to manage and oversee the estate of the decedent. (You may also see the terms “executor/-trix” or “administrator/-trix” in other states).

An individual or a bank or trust (subject to certain restrictions) can be appointed as personal representative. If the decedent had a valid will, the probate court will appoint the person named by the decedent in the will as personal representative, provided that the named person is qualified to serve as the personal representative.

If the decedent died intestate (i.e. without a will), the right to serve as personal representative first passes to the surviving spouse, then to the person or entity chosen by a majority of the deceased’s heirs, and finally, if no decision is reached, to a court-appointed representative.

The personal representative is responsible for valuing and protecting the assets, giving notice to creditors, paying outstanding debts, and distrubiting the property and assets of the estate.

Finally, the probate court oversees the activities of the personal representative, and requires that they obtain prior permission of the court before certain actions may be taken. Mismanagement could make the personal representative liable to the beneficiaries for any harm they may suffer.

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If you need assistance drafting a will, naming a personal representative, or navigating the probate process, we can help. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

Obviously, from the family’s perspective, the main function of probate is to transfer title and ownership of the decedent’s property to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries.

However, there are other stakeholders in play as well, including the estate’s creditors. Probate also provides a mechanism for payment and settlement of outstanding debts and taxes of the estate.

The probate process has the following broad goals:

  1. Give the decedent’s creditors the opportunity to be paid,
  2. Pay the decedent’s taxes,
  3. Correctly distribute the property and assets to beneficiaries, and
  4. Properly settle the decedent’s affairs.

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Probate is the court-supervised process of verifying a will and of distributing property as directed in a will or in accordance with Florida law if no will exists. More specifically, the probate process ensures the decedent’s debts and obligations are paid and that the decedent’s property and assets are distributed to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries.

Generally, a probate estate includes only those assets titled in the decedent’s own, individual name. Assets that are held as tenants by the entirety, jointly held with rights of survivorship, and other assets such as life insurance policies, IRAs, and 401Ks do not fall into probate estate. These assets distributed to the survivors or to the designated beneficiaries by the operation of law.

For example, if Michael Bluth dies with stocks certificates titled in his name, a bank account jointly owned with his son, and a 401(k) with his son as the designated beneficiary, only the stock certificates would be required to go through the probate process. His son would own the bank account as the survivor and the 401(k) would distribute to his son as the beneficiary.

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The probate process can be tricky. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If you die without leaving a will, you risk your property and assets being distributed in ways you did not want. The reason for this is that when you die without a will, you are deemed “intestate” (from Latin in + testamentum “not having a will”) and the intestacy laws of Florida govern how, when, and to whom your assets and property will be distributed.

Florida’s intestacy statute lists which members of your family receive what and in what order. Unfortunately, everything rests upon blood relations, so longtime friends or caretakers will not receive any of your estate.

Even if you would leave your entire estate to your legal heirs or next of kin, there is no advantage to dying without a will. For example, you lose the opportunity to designate a personal representative, trustee, guardian for minor children, and to do valuable tax planning. Without taking such steps, you could force your family to undergo a protracted, expensive, and public probate process before receiving your assets.

With a well-drafted will you can avoid legal pitfalls, name a personal representative of your estate, name a guardian for your children, establish trusts, and minimize probate-related costs by providing for independent administration. Dying without a will may cause unexpected costs and delays and undesired results for the decedent’s family.

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The emotional stress of losing a loved one can be intense. The last thing you should want to do to your family is increase that burden by making them go through additional legal hurdles after your passing. We want to try to make the estate planning and probate process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

 

State of Residence

Many Americans choose to move to the great state of Florida to enjoy our sun, sand, and surf. Still others choose to make Florida their primary state of residence to take advantage of Florida’s beneficial tax codes.

Given the subjective nature of a person’s decision to change residency to Florida, courts and taxing authorities generally look to objective criteria to illustrate one’s intent to become a Florida resident. The following is a suggested list of dos and don’ts to formalize your residency in Florida and help demonstrate you are no longer a resident of the former state:

  • File a “Declaration of Domicile” in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the county of your new residence.
  • Obtain a Florida driver’s license as soon a possible and change your automobile tags and registration.
  • Register to vote in Florida and then vote in the first election.
  • Notify the Internal Revenue Service that your new mailing address is in Florida. This can be accomplished by filing Form 8822 (“Change of Address”).
  • In the year you make Florida your domicile, file any state tax returns in your previous state as a “non resident.”
  • Consider buying a home. If you own the home, then you can apply for the Homestead Exemption.
  • If you rent a home in Florida, consider a longer-term lease.
  • Update your estate planning documents to reflect that you are a “resident of Florida.”
  • Consider transferring financial and tax relationships to Florida advisors.
  • If you are involved in any business transactions as an individual, include that you are a resident of Florida in any legal documents.
  • If you receive Social Security or any other federal benefits, notify those federal agencies of your move to Florida.
  • When possible, spend as much time in Florida. Generally when making significant trips, you should consider departing from Florida (versus departing from the former state).
  • During overnight stays outside of Florida, use your Florida address as your “home” address.
  • When having casual conversation, get in the habit of calling Florida “home.”
  • Move away from involvement in civic, religious, or charitable organizations in your former state and consider changing your affiliations to Florida organizations.

These tips will help you transition to your new state of residency and ensure you can properly take advantage of the tax laws of Florida.

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Many people choose to make Florida their state of residency because of our beneficial tax code. Unless you have fully relocated to the state permanently, it’s important to take steps to prove that you truly are a resident of Florida.

Generally, a state can only tax its non-residents on income from or assets located in that state. When you are no longer a resident of a state, and if you will no longer have income from or assets in that former state, it loses its ability to tax you. Thus, to prevent the loss of revenue from your departure, the former state may attempt to treat you as a resident, unless you prove otherwise.

Unless you take the appropriate steps to establish yourself as a Florida resident, your former state may still claim you on their tax rolls. In effect, you would counteract any benefits you saw in making Florida your state of residence. 

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After moving to Florida, you will want to have an estate planning attorney update or draft an appropriate estate plan that reflects your new residency status. We want to try to make the estate planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

If you have relocated to Florida or changed your state of residence to Florida, it’s important to determine whether your current will is still valid and legally binding.

Like other contracts, wills are governed by state law. If you have an existing will that was drafted while you were residing in another state, you should have your out-of-state will reviewed by a Florida estate planning attorney to be sure it will operate effectively in Florida. 

In most instances, it’s best to have your attorney update your estate planning documents to reflect your new state of residence and to keep all of the documents functioning as a cohesive estate plan. 

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Did you recently move to Florida and need to update a will? We want to try to make the estate planning process as simple and stress-free as we can. Call (561)998-2362 or click the button to schedule a free Financial Legacy Review online now.

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