Category Archives: Estate Planning

How to Avoid Probate

Preparing for what happens after one’s passing can be difficult.  Most people do not like thinking of the reality that they are not going to be around one day.  However, proper preparation allows you to have a say even after you pass. 



What Happens to a Car When the Owner Dies?

There are two ways that the ownership can be transferred, and the court can ultimately determine the legal owner of the vehicle.



Do you have a pet that you consider as a family member?

Providing for all members of your family is of the utmost importance– including your furry, four-legged friends.



What is “The Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration Act”?

Beneficiary designations on your financial accounts can provide a quick alternative to traditional estate planning strategies by making sure your accounts are not subject to probate, thus preserving your wealth and preventing unnecessary court expenses and proceedings.



Do I Need a Trust Amendment or a Trust Restatement?

We recommend you review your estate planning documents, including your revocable trust at least once a year, especially if you have had a significant life change, such as: Marriage Divorce Birth or adoption of a child Death of a beneficiary Acquiring new property that you want to add to the trust Moving to another state…   + Read More…



How do I claim the Florida Homestead Exemption?

Florida law allows homeowners who use their Florida home as their residence to claim a homestead exemption. The Florida Constitution provides a tax-saving exemption by reducing the taxable value of real property by up to $25,000, and $50,000 for a married couple. Florida homeowners are entitled to a Homestead Exemption if, as of January 1st,…   + Read More…



What are the most common types of foreclosure?

A foreclosure is the legal process in which the lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan by forcing the sale of the property used as collateral for the loan. Foreclosure occurs when the homeowner is unable to make mortgage payments to the lender. A homeowner has a few options to avoid foreclosure. The…   + Read More…



How Long Does Probate Take?

The short answer is: “It depends.” This is the first question we are asked whenever we are dealing with a probate administration matter, and it is usually the most difficult to answer because there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration: 1. Does the estate have to pay taxes? If the estate…   + Read More…



What are the ancillary probate proceedings?

In Florida, it is very common for individuals to own second homes in other counties, or to have nonresidents own investment properties or vacation homes. Unfortunately, we often see situations where these nonresidents pass away without a proper estate plan that takes into consideration these properties, so when that nonresident dies, an ancillary probate proceeding…   + Read More…



What are the social security survivor benefits?

Losing a loved one can be devastating for any family, but even more so when you lose a spouse. Even more difficult is how the loss of your spouse can affect you financially. By applying for survivor benefits through the Social Security Administration, you can receive benefits based on the credits your deceased spouse earned…   + Read More…



How does the FL Elective Share work?

Under Florida law, you cannot intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse agrees to receive nothing from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. In Florida, a surviving spouse, whether or not they were mentioned in their deceased spouse’s will, has the option to receive a portion of their deceased spouse’s estate called the…   + Read More…



What is a Totten Trust?

A Totten Trust is a type of estate planning mechanism more commonly known as a “Payable-on-Death” (POD) account or an “In Trust For” account. The name “Totten” comes from a 1904 New York case, which was the first court ruling that allowed setting up a bank account in trust for a beneficiary. With a Totten…   + Read More…



What is an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust?

What is an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust? An “Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust” (IDGT) is a tool used for strategic estate planning and income tax purposes. Generally, the grantor funds the trust with appreciated or highly liquid property. Often times, the IDGT beneficiaries are the grantor’s spouse, children, or grandchildren. An IDGT is considered a grantor…   + Read More…



Estate Planning with Property Outside the United States

How Do You Plan Your Estate If You Have Property Located Outside the U.S.? A common concern for U.S. citizens who own real property in a country outside the U.S. is, “How do I plan my estate when I have real property located outside the U.S.?” If this concern is not well planned, there may…   + Read More…



How to Appeal Property’s Market or Assessed Value with Value Adjustment Board (VAB)

Every year, property owners receive a Notice of Proposed Property Taxes from the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, listing the total of Ad Valorem and non-Ad Valorem property taxes to be paid. These property taxes are based on the assessed value of the property, as determined by the Property Appraiser every January 1st. Sometimes, however, the value…   + Read More…



Medicaid; What you should know!

Granted there is a lot of turmoil around health care at the moment, we thought it insightful to let our audience know a little bit more about Medicaid. Let’s start with the basics and break it down from there. 1. What is Medicaid?  Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides health coverage…   + Read More…



What is Florida Homestead Portability?

In Florida, the first year a home receives a homestead exemption, the property appraiser assesses it at just value. Now, with that in mind, for each of the following years, the Save Our Homes Amendment (SOH) of the FL Constitution, prevents the assessed value of said homestead property from increasing more than 3% per year…   + Read More…



If you have a loved one with special needs, you may want to read this.

What is a special needs trust? A special needs trust is established to provide for the care and needs of a disabled individual without jeopardizing the disabled person’s eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental Social Income (SSI) and Medicaid. A first-party or self-settled special needs trust is established with the asset’s owned by the…   + Read More…



Will You? … Will you be my special one?

No, we’re not talking about a marriage proposal. We’re talking about taking the role as a personal representative in your estate planning matters. What is a personal representative, you ask? A personal representative is an individual appointed to be in charge of the decedent’s probate estate. The most important duties a personal representative has under…   + Read More…



Receiving Social Security from an Ex-Spouse

If your ex-spouse was the primary earner, you might be eligible for a higher social security benefit based on his or her work history instead of your own. However, there are limitations, and you must fall within all these categories to qualify for a “divorced spouse” benefit: Your marriage lasted for at least 10 years;…   + Read More…



Buyers of Real Property May Be Held Liable for the Tax of a Foreign Seller!

A non-foreign certification is a document that protects buyers of real property interests from liability for the IRS withholding tax, which applies if the seller is a foreign person. If a seller is a non U.S. citizen or resident, then FIRPTA (The Foreign Investment in Property Tax Act) applies and the buyer must withhold 15%…   + Read More…



A tweet, a tweet! A Lady Bird Deed!

A lady bird deed (called an enhanced life estate deed in Florida) is a relatively new form of deed that—like a traditional life estate deed—allows property to pass automatically to one or more designated recipients at death, without the need for probate.  Florida is one of only a handful of states (including Texas) that recognize lady…   + Read More…



First Comes Love. Then Comes Joint Accounts…

When you own an account jointly with another individual, the law usually presumes that you each have equal rights to funds held in that account. So, when a creditor attempts to garnish that account, it typically doesn’t have to investigate whether you contributed more money to the account than the co-owner. Unfortunately, this could mean…   + Read More…



How To Decant an Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust was once known to be untouchable. This may no longer be true. “Decanting” an irrevocable trust is an estate planning technique that involves pouring the assets from the first trust to a new one with better terms to meet the needs of the client. Common law provides authority for trust decanting, but…   + Read More…



Life Insurance Trust… in layman’s terms!

What is a life insurance trust? One must understand the definition and the main purpose of life insurances and trusts to understand a life insurance trust. What is a life insurance? There are three parties to a life insurance, the owner, the beneficiary, and the insured. The owner is the person or entity who pays…   + Read More…