Asset Protection

A Will or Trust? It’s Not About the Size of Your Estate

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When I use the word “trust” in a consultation, people often quickly tell me that they don’t have enough money or assets to require a trust. This is a common misconception, that a trust requires a vast estate. Perhaps we owe that to the word “trust” conjuring up visions of large philanthropic organizations that operate exclusively out of a trust, or “trust fund babies.”

In fact, a trust can often cost much less in administrative fees, on the back end, to ...

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Financial Education Resources for National Financial Awareness Day

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One of my passions is financial education. As a CPA and estate planning attorney, I believe financial education is one of the most important parts of education. It literally can change your life.

A Chinese proverb pertains to financial planning. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” No matter where you are in your journey, taking a little time to further your financial knowledge will pay dividends.

Today is National Financial Awareness ...

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If You Own Out of State Property, Establish a Trust

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If you own out of state property, it’s almost a certainty that you and your family will be better served by a trust instead of a will.

Why is that?

First, consider that probate is unavoidable with a will. Many of my clients arrive at my office assuming that probate is only for those that are intestate, or without a will. The decedent’s loved ones are often confused and frustrated with the hassles and paperwork involved in probate when they are already ...

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What’s in Your Mailbox?

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Every month, you probably receive dozens of solicitations. Some of them can look very official and urgent.

For example, one of our clients received this piece of mail and was left wondering if obtaining a Certificate of Status from the State of Florida was a step he’d overlooked in registering his LLC.

Not at all!

This notice from Florida Certificate Services reads, “Congratulations on registering your business with the State of Florida. Your articles have been filed with the secretary of state and ...

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Can an RV or boat qualify as homestead under Florida law?

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The answer is an unequivocal, “maybe.”

It is completely fact-based, depending on the circumstances of that particular RV or boat. The relevant terms in the Florida Constitution include “dwelling house” used as a “residence.”

How can I prove that my RV is my homestead?

The process for getting an RV deemed to be taxed as real property instead of tangible personal property is very well-structured. The owner has to apply for homestead in the county in which the owner lives in the RV ...

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If an Estate Plan Were a Car: Understanding Will-Based vs. Trust-Based Planning

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If you are confused about the differences between a will-based estate plan and a trust-based estate plan, you’re not alone.

According to a recent informal survey we conducted of a group of Central Florida seniors over the age of fifty, 65 percent of those completing the survey indicated they were confused about the topic and would like to learn more about how a will differs from a living trust.

Our clients (and future clients!) enjoy the use of analogies to help them ...

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Avoiding Probate Problems

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“Will my estate need to go through probate?” This is a question that we often hear in our office. Many people have had a bad experience with probate and worry about how their own heirs will be treated when their own estate is eventually probated. While probate administration typically takes a little longer and can be a bit more expensive than trust administration, it is not a terrible thing. Creditors get paid, heirs still receive their gifts, and property passes ...

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Protecting Your Florida Homestead

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Florida homestead is a wonderful thing. When you invest in your home, you’re investing in what is most likely the largest purchase of your life. You’ll want to protect this asset from creditors. Guess what? Florida homestead offers great creditor protection.

As with anything, there are of course problems that can arise. If your estate plan does not properly address certain issues, you may run into quite an array of problems. A prime example of a very typical Florida homestead issue ...

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Seek an Attorney for Probate Planning

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Every attorney knows that he/she isn’t the most popular of professionals. Do you know of anyone who goes to see their attorney to say hello? No, attorneys are usually consulted in a moment of need and often only after all options have been exhausted.

By the same token, most people don’t relish the idea of going to court. Court processes are exhausting and slow (including probate court). Therefore, many people seek to avoid probate, especially in regard to their homestead.

I recently ...

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Fighting Over an Estate After a Death

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You probably own some items of real or sentimental value (jewelry, antiques, art, heirlooms, furniture, clothing, etc.) that you want a certain child, grandchild, special friend, relative, or organization to have after you die.

Or perhaps you simply want to provide an orderly way for your belongings to be divided among your heirs after you’re gone. We’ve all heard stories about fighting over Grandma’s piano or fine china. The damage is sometimes so deep that siblings don’t speak to each other ...

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