Nov 102011
 
The Benefit Of Converting A Florida Corporation Into An LLC

Previously, we published a blog detailing the 2011 Florida legislation which established that a charging order is the sole remedy available to a creditor who holds a judgment against a member of a multiple member LLC.  Following this development, the use of a Florida multiple member LLC to obtain asset protection now appears to be a well-established facet of Florida law.  Conversely, stock ownership in a Florida corporation is freely attachable by an individual’s creditors.  These asset protection benefits, along with the flexibility of the Florida LLC statutes and the lower general cost to operate a Florida LLC when compared with More…

Nov 072011
 
LegalZoom Reaches Settlement In Class Action Lawsuit

The online company LegalZoom has reached a settlement with plaintiffs regarding a class action lawsuit filed in Missouri.  LegalZoom.com is one of the largest online legal document preparation services and frequently provides estate planning, business formation, and intellectual property documents to customers across the United States.  The plaintiffs, all Missouri residents, argued that the company violated Missouri’s unauthorized practice of law statute when it sold them legal documents generated on its website.  They also claim that the company violated Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act by enticing customers to buy its services with false representations about their legality and validity. Although LegalZoom More…

Oct 182011
 
Estate Planning Lessons From The McCourt Saga

Many sports fans are familiar with the recent developments in the case between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  For those who have not followed the story, Frank McCourt is the current owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which he purchased for $430 million in 2004.  Jamie McCourt is his (soon to be former) spouse.  The McCourts have gone through a lengthy and, at times, messy divorce proceeding that has threatened Frank’s ownership interest in the Dodgers.  It has recently been announced that the McCourts have reached a settlement in their divorce case which involves Jamie relinquishing her claim to More…

Sep 282011
 
Jointly Owned Property Is No Substitute For A Proper Estate Plan

These days, it is very common to hear someone remark that, in lieu of meeting with an estate planning attorney, they intend to simply title all of their assets jointly between themselves and a child or other trusted individual.  Usually, the person was talking with a friend, coworker, or golfing buddy who suggested that joint ownership of their assets was a much cheaper and just as effective method of insuring that their loved ones received their property when they have passed.  Unfortunately, joint ownership of your assets is not as secure or effective as a professionally developed estate plan for More…

Sep 212011
 
Am I Responsible For The Debts Of A Deceased Family Member?

After the loss of a loved one, many people want to know if they are responsible for the debts incurred by a deceased family member.  For example, it is a very common occurrence for one spouse to manage the financial affairs of the family unit and incur debts that the other spouse is not fully aware of, even where the individuals have been married for decades.  Whatever the reason for incurring the obligation, the idea of leaving a grieving spouse with a mountain of debt is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind. In order to answer this question we More…

Sep 202011
 
Understanding “Inside” And “Outside” Asset Protection

Oftentimes, when proposing an asset protection strategy to a potential client, the concept of “inside” and “outside” liability protection comes up.  The purpose of this blog is to explain the difference between the two and why both are important to any good asset protection plan.  In Florida, one of the most common ways to obtain both inside and outside liability protection is through the formation or a multiple member LLC.  Thus, we will use the LLC as our example in this case. In regards to “inside” protection, a Florida multiple member LLC protects the assets of the LLC owners (commonly More…

Sep 082011
 
Protection Of Annuities In Florida

Under Florida Statute § 222.14, the proceeds of an annuity contract issued to a Florida resident are not subject to attachment, garnishment or other legal process in favor of any creditor of the annuity beneficiary unless the annuity contract was established for the benefit of such creditor.  This means that Florida offers broad creditor protection for the beneficiary of an annuity. Traditionally, an annuity is an financial product issued by a financial institution that entitles the purchasers of the annuity to a series of periodic payments.  However, an annuity should not have to follow this exact format in order to More…

Aug 122011
 
Another Use For The Revocable Living Trust - Avoid “Living Probate”

Many of us are familiar with the high price of going through the probate process after the loss of a loved one.  Court costs, attorney’s fees, and other expenses can serve as a constant strain on the financial well-being of a decedent’s estate and the probate process is both time consuming and complicated.  Oftentimes, a qualified estate planning attorney will recommend the use of a revocable living trust as an easier and less-costly alternative to probate for accomplishing the transfer assets after death. But what about probate that takes place while an individual is still alive?  Often termed “living probate,” More…

Jul 232011
 
I Just Need To Take A Closer Look...

What do you think of when you look at this picture?  Here we have a 40 year old man taking a close look at the blades underneath his tractor.  It looks like he is a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey fan.  If you look closer, the black discharge shute has a warning not to put your hands anywhere near the shute.  This gentleman has his head stuffed underneath the shute.  So much for warning labels. When this guy decided to cut the grass this morning, he figured it would be the routine lawn care project that he does each weekend.  What More…

Jun 012011
 
Florida Law Update: Governor Scott Approves Extension of Creditor Protection to Inherited IRAs

On May 31 2011, House Bill 469 was approved by Governor Rick Scott. House Bill 469 codifies the Florida Legislature’s efforts to statutorily protect inherited IRAs from the claims of creditors of a debtor beneficiary under Florida state law. The statute makes clear that “any interest in any fund or account that is exempt from claims of creditors of the owner, beneficiary or participant . . . does not cease to be exempt after the owner’s death by reason of a direct transfer or eligible rollover.” Furthermore, the statute states that it is “intended to clarify existing law, is remedial More…