Jun 182014
 
The Supreme Court Proclaims Inherited IRAs Are Not Protected From Creditors

On Friday June 13, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Clark v. Rameker, proclaimed that an inherited IRA is not an exempt asset for bankruptcy. The broader reading of this opinion is that children who receive an inherited IRA from Mom or Dad may end up losing the IRA funds to a creditor as the IRA is not creditor protected in the hands of the children. In addition, should the children need to go through bankruptcy to get a fresh start on their financial situation, the IRA will be a reachable asset for creditors. Certainly, the easiest and More…

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…

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 132012
 
Florida Law Removes Divorced Spouse As A Beneficiary From Non-Probate Assets

A recently enacted Florida law would nullify the designation of a spouse as the beneficiary of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies, qualified annuities, individual retirement accounts (IRA), employee benefit plans, and payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) accounts, upon the dissolution or annulment of a marriage. Florida Statute 732.703, effective July 1, 2012, states that “a designation made by or on behalf of the decedent providing for the payment or transfer at death of an interest in an asset to or for the benefit of the decedent’s former spouse is void as of the time 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 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…

Aug 022012
 
Recent Estate Dispute Highlights The Importance Of Getting Planning Reviewed Frequently

A recent high dollar estate battle in California provides a lesson for all, especially anyone with enough assets to incur estate tax, which, absent corrective legislation, means anyone with more than $1 million (or $2 million per couple) as of January 1, 2013.  That lesson is that it pays to have your estate planning reviewed periodically, the more often the better. Magnolia Audio Video founder Leonard Tweten and his wife, Eileen, had amassed a $100 million fortune over their 58 years of marriage.  In an effort to avoid estate taxes, they set up a trust which contained a “formula clause.”  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…