Category Archives: Estate Planning

How Will My Heirs Inherit From Me?

A topic that comes up often in estate planning is how to divide up estate assets among beneficiaries. “Should I divide up my inheritance?” “Should one child get more than the other?” As estate planning attorneys, our role is not just to prepare documents and make sure things are in place for our client’s wishes and intentions to be carried out, but to also counsel and advise our clients on the best strategies given their unique situations.

Why The Need to Plan?

Estate planning attorneys often times run into situations where clients undermine the importance of having an estate plan. After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts (“TCJA”) was passed, the estate tax exemption nearly doubled to $11.18 million for single individuals and $22.36 million for those that are married. Due to the immense increase in the exemption, the market for secession planning has encountered a short decline. However, planning is necessary so that your best interests are adhered to in the event you’re unable to adhere to them yourself.

Why Everyone Should Have a Trust?

A trust is a legal agreement between the person who created the trust “settlor” and the trustee (the settlor as well), which is designed to hold assets for the beneficiary/ies of the trust. A trust can be a useful legal and financial mechanism to hold and distribute one’s assets after the death of the settlor, regardless of the amount of assets the settlor has. Below are a few of the reasons why trusts are a good idea for everyone.

What is Intestacy in Florida?

Having a written Last Will and Testament is an essential part of an estate plan. It reflects all of your wishes upon your death, including who the beneficiaries of your estate are and how they are to inherit from you upon your death. Without one, you can potentially face the risk of your assets being distributed contrary to your intentions under the default laws of the state of Florida.

Basic Medicaid Eligibility in Florida

In order to be eligible for Medicaid in Florida, the applicant must meet the basic eligibility requirements, the medical requirements, the asset requirements as well as income requirements.

What Are the 5 Things You Need in Your Estate Plan in Florida?

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to decide how to distribute your assets after your passing. A Will contains the definition of assets, the names of beneficiaries, and sometimes includes guardianship designations and burial instructions. A Will also appoints an executor, or personal representative, of the will. A personal representative is someone who will pay remaining taxes after your passing and make sure the Will is being executed correctly and in accordance with your wishes.  

What is a Holographic Will?

A holographic will is a will that has been written by hand by the person that is establishing the will, legally known as a testator. A holographic will is different from a standard will because it is typically neither notarized nor signed by two witnesses and handwritten.  

HBO®’s “Succession” The Importance of Succession Planning as Part of Your Estate Plan

While the show is fictional, the reality is that succession planning is an important aspect of estate planning that should be fully integrated into your plan, especially for business owners.  A solid estate plan not only provides for the disposition of your assets upon your passing but also plans for someone to take your place (a successor) when you are no longer able to perform your responsibilities due to incapacity or death. 

What is a Miller Trust?

Miller Trust is a special kind of trust that adjusts the income of a person downward, usually in an effort to maintain the individual’s eligibility for some forms of government benefit programs. This type of trust is often used to establish eligibility for the Medicaid program.

Can I Hold a Funeral During COVID-19?

If you or a loved one have been affected by COVID-19 and would like to learn more information about holding a funeral during this pandemic, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced attorneys at EPGD Business Law. EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

How Can I Cancel a Power of Attorney?

Powers of attorney vary in the extent of powers granted. A special power of attorney may specify certain powers that would be granted to the agent.

Can you Revoke or Amend a Trust?

Trusts allow a third party, or trustee, of your choosing, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.  One of the great factors of a trust, is that trusts tend to avoid probate. Probate is the process after a person passes or becomes disabled; their assets are put on hold until the will is validated, any remaining debt is paid off, and the beneficiaries of the will are identified.  Probate can be a long and stressful process for your loved ones. 

What is a Trust Amendment?

A trust amendment is a legal document that revises specific provisions of a revocable living trust or an “inter vivos” trust. It is only intended for making changes to specific provisions, while leaving the rest of the document in its original form and other provisions unchanged.

The Florida Spousal “Elective Share” Explained

The Florida Spousal Elective Share is a statutory right created by the legislature that is available to the surviving spouses of persons who were domiciled in Florida at the time of their death.

Signing Your Will Under Seal

Generally speaking, signing under seal makes the contract more formal. “The formality of a promise under seal is an efficient, trustworthy method of channeling a person’s deliberate intent to be legally obligated”

What is Ancillary Probate?

The primary probate proceeding is usually held in the decedent’s state of residence or home state. However, a state probate court only has authority over property in its own jurisdiction; it does not have the power to issue orders for property that is located in another state. Therefore, an additional probate proceeding becomes necessary.

Kobe Bryant and The Importance of Estate Planning

Unfortunately, the passing of a young and healthy individual like Bryant occurs more often than one would like to acknowledge and does not make headline news.  When these ill-fated events take place, families are often left to mourn the death of a loved one while also navigating the complexities of administering an estate that was not properly planned.

Preserving a Tenancy by the Entirety in your Florida Estate Plan

Traditionally, estate planners have split tenancies by the entirety in order to fund separate trusts for both spouses, with the aim of maximizing estate tax exemptions.

How to form a Trust Company in Florida

Simply put, trust companies are businesses that have the legal authority to hold and manage other people’s money for compensation.

What is a GRAT?

GRAT, short for Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, is a type of irrevocable trust that alleviates the tax cost of passing assets to your beneficiaries.

How Should you Handle Car Ownership in Estate Planning?

Car ownership should always be considered when thinking of estate planning.  There are different options to how a person should approach dealing with their vehicle and an estate plan.

How to Remove Public Online Information

The list of digital assets you may have online are endless, thus it is important that you either (1) set up a password manager kit, (2) include your digital assets in your estate plan, or (3) check if the website you are using allows you to add a recipient to your account once you pass away. 

What Happens to a Car Lease After the Car Lessee’s Death?

Often times, payments still need to be made and the payments become the responsibility of the deceased car lessee’s estate. Sometimes car dealerships will negotiate with the personal representative of the deceased’s estate and may be able to transfer the remaining lease to another person.

Is an Executor the same as a Personal Representative?

The personal representative you appoint will be the person in charge of handling your estate once you pass. This individual has vast responsibilities and powers; therefore, your personal representative should be someone that you trust.

What are the Requirements for a Valid Will & what is a Self-Proving Will?

In Florida, for a will to be valid it must be in writing, signed by the party seeking to create the will (the testator), the testator must have the mental competence to sign the will, and it must be signed by two witnesses to the execution of the will.

What are the Consequences of not Having a Will?

What happens if you do not have a will or your will is not valid? In these cases, the state declares the individual to have died “intestate,” and your property follows a chain of succession to determine the owner.

Probate Assets vs. Non-Probate Assets

Probate is the process after a person passes or becomes disabled; their assets are put on hold until the will is validated, any remaining debt is paid off, and the beneficiaries of the will are identified.  Probate can be a long and stressful process, especially after such a difficult time.  Non-probate assets avoid this long, costly process and pass directly to a decedent’s heirs.

Creating a Trust for your IRA

IRAs allow you to save for retirement with tax-free growth on a tax-free basis.  You can also establish different sub-trusts within the IRA trust for the benefit of your beneficiaries, including your spouse. You can design each sub-trust to fit the unique needs of each beneficiary.

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

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.

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…

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. 

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 that the money in your account could be garnished to pay for the co-owner’s debt, a debt that you never owed.

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!

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets or income for the benefit of beneficiaries. Similar to a life insurance there are three parties to a trust. The settlor, the person or entity who creates the trust and usually transfer the property into the trust; the trustee, the person who holds and manages that property for the benefit of the beneficiary; and the beneficiary, the person who receives the benefit of such property.