Feb 062014
 
Don't Forget Your Pets!

Pet ownership throughout the nation is on the rise and so are the number of pet trusts created each year. Although some pet owners leave tens of thousands of dollars in trusts to care for their pets, pet trusts are no longer just for the wealthy. Many pet owners leave just enough funds to provide for the basic necessities of their pets, such as food and veterinary care making pet trusts more popular among all pet owners. As many pet owners view their pets as a part of their family, pet owners want to be sure that their pets are More…

Jan 042013
 
Does a living trust make sense for me?

Many people think that a trust is only for wealthy people, but it can be a great tool to manage your assets while you are alive, regardless of whether you are wealthy or not. A trust is a private instrument that does not become public record, like a will. That means only the beneficiaries and trustee will know the details of the trust, such as the value, the actual beneficiaries’ names and what the beneficiaries will receive. A trustee has the responsibility of managing the trust, keeping records, filing tax returns and making distributions. You can be your own trustee More…

Oct 032012
 
Obtaining The Florida Homestead Tax Exemption Following Transfer To A Trust

Article VII, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution currently allows for homestead protection from ad valorem real property taxes.  The effect of this provision is to exempt the first $25,000 of property value for all purposes and also to exempt another $25,000 of value for homes worth up to $75,000 for all purposes but the property taxes calculated for schools.  This exemption may be further expanded following the 2012 election. Many people wonder how they can preserve their homestead protection from taxes if the property is transferred to a revocable or irrevocable trust.  Florida Statute § 196.031(1)(a) says that every More…

Sep 192012
 
Funding A Revocable Living Trust

One of the most common estate planning instruments used in the State of Florida is the revocable living trust.  These trusts are popular due to their ability to help avoid the arduous Florida probate process as well as their usefulness in planning for incapacity.  The first step to forming a Florida revocable living trust, is usually the drafting of a trust agreement which is then signed by the trust creator (known as the “settlor” under Florida law) who may also serve as initial trustee.  These agreements are often crafted under the guidance of a Florida estate planning attorney, as they More…

Sep 112012
 

Sherman Hemsley, who delighted American television audiences as the cantankerous George Jefferson, sadly lost a battle with cancer on July 24, 2012.  In a development that surely makes a bad situation even worse, a legal battle over his estate has caused his embalmed body to remain in refrigeration at an El Paso, Texas, funeral home until a local court rules on the validity of his will. It seems that a dispute has arisen between Hemsley’s manager and “beloved partner” Flora Enchinton, and Richard Thornton, a man who claims to be the actor’s brother.  According to the funeral home, the Philadelphia More…

Sep 052012
 

When it comes to families with special needs children, the act of engaging in effective estate planning takes on an even greater importance.  If something should happen to the parents of the child, it is essential that a proper plan is in place to avoid any unnecessary disruption during what will already be a devastating time in that child’s life. One important step in this kind of estate plan is the establishment of a supplemental needs trust (also known as a “special needs trust”).  These kinds of trusts are utilized as a method of protecting the child’s assets from harmful More…

Aug 302012
 

As a follow-up to the previous post regarding 4 life changing events that require an estate planning review we now turn to three property transactions that should also lead to a review of an estate plan. Going through probate: It is no secret that longer life spans, ballooning medical costs, and two recessions have been negative factors on the average inheritance these days.  That said, whatever the amount is, there will be even less of it if creditors come calling or if it passes through another probate.  Any time a person receives a large sum of money or property, they More…

Aug 222012
 
Avoiding The Stress And Strife That Comes With Estate Planning

One lesson that too many families seem to learn the hard way is that dying without any estate planning can lead to problems.  In fact, if you ask any experienced Florida estate planning attorney about the easiest initial conference they can imagine, chances are high that they will cite those where the perspective client has recently lost a loved one and been forced to go through Florida probate without the guidance of a will or trust agreement.  A person who has gone through this experience often has a burning desire to ensure that their loved ones do not suffer through More…

Jul 172012
 

The representatives for Michael Jackson’s estate have filed legal documents which show that the estate has generated gross earnings exceeding $475 million as of the end of May and is well on its way to settling the $500 million of debt the King of Pop left behind when he died.  The lawyers estimate that the remaining debt will be paid off by the end of the year.  Jackson was found dead in his Los Angeles, California home three years ago after he overdosed on prescription drugs. While it is certainly easier to settle the debts of the decedent from estate More…

Jun 272012
 
Removal Of A Trustee May Be The Best Way To Settle A Trust Issue

Generally, the settlor of a Florida Revocable Trust selects the successor trustee who will be responsible for making sure that the settlor’s beneficiaries are cared for in accordance with their wishes when they have passed.  If the beneficiaries of a trust become dissatisfied with the performance of the trustee, the best solution may be the resignation or removal of that trustee.  If an agreement may be reached between the parties, the trustee may consent to resign in return for releases by the beneficiaries.  If not, removal may be possible under the terms of the trust instrument or in accordance with More…