Jul 102012
 
Protecting Your Assets From Your Teenage Drivers

Many people are unaware that, under Florida law, a motor vehicle is considered a dangerous instrumentality and an owner of a vehicle who allows someone else to use it has a legal obligation to insure that the vehicle is safely operated.  If the person borrowing the vehicle damages property or causes personal injury, the owner is as considered as liable as the operator. This legal doctrine can cause serious issues for parents who have teenage drivers that are using their cars.  If the child operate the car negligently and causes an accident, the parent can be held liable as the More…

Jun 292012
 

A person who is asked to serve as trustee of a Florida trust should know and understand what their potential liability may be for actions they take while serving.  The Florida Trust Code outlines the issue of breach of trust and provides some relief to limit trustee liability. Under the Florida Statues, a violation by a trustee of a duty the trustee owes to a beneficiary is a breach of trust.  In order to remedy a breach of trust that has occurred or may occur, a court may: Compel the trustee to perform or enjoin the trustee from acting; Compel 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…

Jun 202012
 
Revocable Living Trusts Can Reduce Personal Representative Fees As Well

So much is made over the attorney’s fees that may be saved through the use of a Florida revocable living trust that it is easy to forget the other fees that may be saved as well.  This can include personal representative’s fees since, in Florida, a personal representative is entitled to a commission payable from the estate assets without court order as compensation for ordinary services.  This commission is based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during administration. Personal representative fees are More…

Jun 142012
 
The Pitfalls Of Placing A Florida Residence Into A Revocable Trust

One of the essential tools in the Florida estate planning attorney’s toolbox is the revocable living trust.  These trusts are an effective method for avoiding the arduous Florida probate process while also protecting family privacy and helping to plan for the possibility of incompetency.  So what is the problem with using these marvelous instruments to hold the family residence? Many people are under the impression that holding a personal residence in a revocable trust is an innately bad thing, especially when it comes to protection from creditors.  Back in 2001, Florida estate planners became alarmed at a bankruptcy case which More…

Jun 072012
 
Why Using A Trust To Take Care Pets Is Better Than A Will

Americans love their pets, so it is perfectly natural that they want to ensure that they are taken care of in the event that something happens to the owner.  Although it may seem like a good idea to simply leave the family pet to another in a will through the use of a bequest, this is usually not the best way to handle the situation. This is primarily because the purpose of a will is to distribute property, and wishes or instructions in the will are often unenforceable (this is commonly known as “precatory language”).  In other words, a will More…

May 302012
 
U.S. Trust To Expand Eldercare Planning Services As Need Increases

Much has been made in the past few months over the increasing importance of eldercare planning as an aspect of the comprehensive estate plan.  Previously, we wrote on the report released by the BMO Retirement Institute, Estate planning in the 21st century, which listed the growing need for eldercare as one of the “new realities” facing modern day estate planning. Now, U.S. Trust, the oldest trust company in the U.S., has announced that it is expanding its eldercare planning services.  “Aging baby boomers are reporting moderate to high levels of stress as they assume the responsibilities of caring for elderly More…

Feb 242012
 
Pet Estate Planning Should Be A Priority For Any Pet Owner

According to the Humane Society of the United States, every year 400,000 dogs and cats need to find new homes after their owners die.  Undoubtedly, this can cause much unnecessary stress on the pets themselves, as well as the family members left to find a home for the pet once their owner has passed.  Interestingly, Channel 4 News in Jacksonville recently ran a report on the peace of mind that pet owners feel once they have made arrangements to care for their pets in the event of their incapacity or death. Overall, I thought that the piece was informative and More…

Dec 162011
 
End Of The Year Estate Planning - Taxes

As the end of 2011 draws near, we find it helpful to take one last opportunity to mention some important estate planning measures that should be reviewed at least annually. There are numerous tax planning opportunities that should be considered before the year ends.  For example, everyone is generally entitled to make an annual gift of up to $13,000 per individual (or $26,000 per couple) without incurring any gift tax.  Making annual exclusion gifts is a great way to thin out an estate while ensuring that the proper beneficiaries receive assets during the lifetime of the grantor.  The simplest way More…

Oct 122011
 
Formalities Required When Forming Or Amending A Florida Revocable Living Trust

Often, the question arises as to what is necessary to form or amend a revocable living trust.  In Florida, there are generally two sets of rules that must be followed to establish a revocable living trust: (1) general rules related to the establishment of all trusts, and (2) special rules for revocable trusts with “testamentary aspects.” In Florida, the following requirements are generally necessary for all trusts: (1) a “settlor” (also known as a“grantor”) who possesses the legal capacity to create a trust; (2) intent on the part of the settlor to create the trust; (3) a definite beneficiary (unless More…