Elder Law Archives

Second Marriages: Estate Planning with Your IRA

If you own an IRA account, you will usually name a person as beneficiary to receive the IRA at the time of your death. In most instances, the beneficiary can roll the IRA over into an IRA in the beneficiary's name and also defer taxes by withdrawing the funds over time. When a beneficiary is a responsible adult and when you want that person to be able to access the full IRA account, this is a good plan. The IRA can be rolled over into an inherited IRA and the beneficiary can withdraw the funds over time, thereby reducing taxes. The person can also name a beneficiary for the IRA to go to upon his or her death. In a situation where spouses have been married for a long time and have responsible adult children together, this works well.

Do adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida?

In our estate planning practice, clients often ask whether their adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida. [this discussion is not addressing minor children--their rights can be different]. While the question is a simple one, the answer is somewhat of a "mixed bag." As with many legal questions, the answer is "it depends."

Summary Administration in Florida

In Florida, there are two types of probate administration: formal and summary. Both accomplish essentially the same objective of allowing the distribution of a decedent's assets. However, there are some significant differences between these two types of probate. This article is intended to discuss the summary probate administration.

Florida's Spousal Elective Share and Life Insurance

Under Florida law, a spouse has the right to receive 30% of certain of his or her deceased spouse's assets. This is true notwithstanding whether the deceased spouse has excluded his or her spouse under his or her Last Will and Testament or Trust. So if the deceased spouse died having a Will which left nothing to his or her spouse, then the surviving spouse could still receive 30% of the applicable assets. The surviving spouse would have to make an election under Section 732.201, Fla. Stat. in order to be entitled to receive this share.

The Do-it-Yourself Disaster!

In today's era of on-line forms, office supply stores, and software, it is becoming increasingly more common for people to try to prepare their own estate planning documents. Whether it is a simple Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, a Last Will and Testament, or a Trust, there are plenty of ways that people can try to create their own estate documents. In our practice, we often see this result in an outright DISASTER!

Medicaid Claim Against A Deceased Person's Estate

A common question which we encounter in our Florida estate and probate practice is whether a person's estate will owe any money to Medicaid upon the person's death. Usually the reason for their question is that the person has received Medicaid benefits prior to their death. Many times, those benefits were as a result of Medicaid paying for the deceased person's long term care in their final years.

What does it mean to get a "step-up" in basis on assets when a person dies?

In our estate and probate practice, beneficiaries often ask whether they will have to pay taxes on assets that they inherit. The answer to this often depends on what type of asset is involved and whether there is a gain or a loss on the asset. When a person owns property and they devise it to someone at death, in determining whether there's a gain or a loss for tax purposes, a determination must be made of the "basis" for the property. From the basis, it can be determined whether the value went up--a gain--or went down--a loss.

Contesting a Will: the Role of Undue Influence

More and more often these days, it seems that after a family member or loved one dies, those left behind are unhappy with the way the deceased's estate is to be distributed through their Last Will and Testament. Often, the persons feel that their loved one has been taken advantage of, perhaps due to their vulnerability or for other reasons. When a family member or loved one decides to challenge a Will (or a Trust), one of the most common grounds is based on what is known as "undue influence." Florida has a statute, Section 732.5165, Fla. Stat., which specifically provides that "[a] Will is void if the execution is procured by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence."

When an original Will is lost or destroyed...don't panic!

Your father has passed away and after the funeral, you try to locate his Last Will and Testament. You find a photocopy but not the original. You do a quick search on Google and find that in Florida, you need to establish the original Will in order to file a testate probate. Should you panic? In many instances, the answer is "no." In Florida, we have a process where you can "prove up" a lost or destroyed Will.

Establishing a "See-Through Trust" for Your IRA

A traditional IRA is what is considered a "qualified" account. In essence, this means that the account gets special tax treatment---in particular, allowing you to defer taxation until a later date. With these types of accounts, you do not have to withdraw the money all at once. Many advisors refer to this as allowing you to "stretch" the distributions over time. Ultimately, this allows you to reduce income taxes which you must pay.

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