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Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The Florida Enhanced Life Estate 
Florida is one of only a few states that recognize an "Enhanced Life Estate Deed" which is commonly known in other states as a "Lady Bird Deed." With the ability to have a life estate deed to pass property automatically upon death to a named recipient, Florida residents can bypass the need for probate of the family home to pass it to their heirs. Thus, if a person has a relatively small estate not otherwise needing probate (except for the required filing of the Last and Testament), then the use of an Enhanced Life Estate Deed can simplify their estate planning needs and allow them to focus more on the naming of agents for their other documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate or HIPAA information recipient.
One of the primary reasons for using the Enhanced Life Estate Deed is to avoid probate; however, the benefit for the current owner is that they retain the full right to sell, use or otherwise deal with their property without the need of obtaining the consent of the future recipient, known as the "remainderman." Since the remainderman will receive the property only if the current owner still owns it at death, their possible interest in it is considered contingent, and they will have no control over what the current owner does with the property. This ability of the current owner to do as they please with the property without involvement of the remainderman is what makes this deed preferable to many individuals over the customary life estate deed which gives the remainderman a current right in the property.
Another feature of the Enhanced Life Estate Deed is that it is not determinative of the warranty of title to the property. Therefore, it can be used regardless of whether the property is being transferred by quitclaim deed, special warranty deed or warranty deed.  This tool is becoming more popular with un-remarried widows and widowers in Florida to allow for the passage of their home without probate should they still own it at death. 
If you would like to know more about this type of deed for use in estate planning, please contact us and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The 2014 tax year has arrived! 
As January arrived, the Internal Revenue Service was busy releasing new tax rates for income as well as deductions. While the standard mileage rate for business miles decreased from $0.565 to $0.56, many taxpayers are much more concerned with how they will plan their investments in light of the Net Investment Income tax which is to be levied in addition to other taxes already assessed. The Final regulations for NII can be found under IRC §1411. For tax preparers the "NII" tax regulations have added another set of computations which will need to be made and maintained on a year to year basis. The Internal Revenue Service has published its anticapted date for the beginning of the filing of tax year 2013 electronic income tax returns as January 31, 2014. Fortunately for tax preparers, Congress adjourned timely and we did not have a delay in setting the tax laws to be set forth on the forms for filing 2013 tax returns!

Monday, November 19, 2012

2013 - A Year of Uncertainty Looms ahead in Estate and Tax Planning 
With the 2012 election now behind us, the future of the economy and legal environment remains more uncertain than ever before. If you are planning on making use of the current tax rates, you have only 6 weeks to take advantage of the 2012 available deductions, credits and exclusions. It may never be more important than ever to discuss your estate and gift planning tax issues with your legal and tax advisor than it is right now! The Estate and Gift tax rules will change dramatically with the arrival of January 1, 2013. The capital gains taxes have an uncertain future. And the national economy has a dim outlook. Taxes will be necessarily raised dramatically in the future to pay for today's expenditures and yesterday's national debt load. Take time now to look at your tax plan and your estate planning documents. And take action now to protect your assets and your future!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Proper Planning reduces taxes and feesA Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Living Trust are the cornerstones of estate and tax planning for individuals living in Florida. With assets of cash, real estate, investments and business interests, the use of a revocable living trust agreement can help coordinate an estate plan to take care of the individual during their life even if they become disabled or incompetent to handle their own affairs. A revocable living trust provides the ability to plan for needs and desires using the individual's assets, and it allows them to appoint whomever they wish to assist and handle legal and financial matters for them. One of the best advantages of using the revocable living trust in Florida is that assets which are "titled" in the trust name are not subject to probate fees upon the death of the individual. That can be a tremendous savings of fees, and thus provide more assets for the beneficiaries, whether they are family, friends, or charities. However, even with the use of a trust, it is essential to have a Last Will and Testament. This provides a mechanism to appoint the executor (personal representative) of one's estate and a way to make bequests and to "roll-over" the assets to the trust to complete the distribution of one's assets in the manner they had planned. If minor children are involved, the Last Will and Testatment is crucial to appoint the guardian's of these minor children. If you are wanting to find out how you can reduce or even eliminate gift and or estate taxes, then you should consider having a tax attorney review your documents, and if necessary, draft a Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Living Trust for you. And consider... no one knows when they will be called home, but until then we go by the grace of God!

Notice: Any discussion of particular circumstances in the weblog above are specific to those circumstances and should not be taken as applicable to your circumstances even if similar. Consultation with an attorney on a particular set of facts will need to done to determine if your situation would have the same results or require the same application of laws and rules.