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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Reasons people flee to Florida

There are many reasons people move to Florida, including abundant sunshine, beaches and our lack of a state income tax. There are often news articles about high-net-worth people moving from states with relatively high state income taxes (New York, California, New Jersey, Minnesota) to places with low or no state income taxes, such as Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, Tennessee and Florida.

A move from California (and its 13 percent state income tax) to Florida can mean substantial savings, which can in turn mean greater wealth and a larger estate to pass on to loved ones. Another motivation to move can be found in the recent limits placed on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes. The deductions used to be unlimited, but are now capped at $10,000.

How are assets and expenses handled during probate?

The executor of an estate has many duties to complete during the probate process. One is making sure that the estate's bills are paid properly. To do this, you have to know what assets are handled in the probate case and which bypass probate. You also need to understand what bills are the estate's responsibility.

Before anything is done with the estate's bills, the executor must locate the assets and determine how the decedent intended them to be handled. Some of these assets are exempt from creditors, so they can be distributed prior to the ones that must be kept until the probate case is closed out. Typically, the probate process can take one to two years to complete.

Survey: Rise of ‘gray divorce’ impacting estate planning

The term “gray divorce” has become media shorthand for divorces among people who are age 50 and above. While divorce is declining across most age groups, it is rising among those in this older demographic.

Along with greater life expectancy and rising healthcare costs, “gray divorce” is changing estate planning.

Three Rules to Avoid Litigation

I can only think of a few clients who seek out litigation. Most clients try to avoid filing suit, on being sued by another party. The dislike for litigation is certainly understandable. There is a monetary expense, plus an expenditure of your personal and business time in trial preparation and attending depositions, hearings, and trial.

Special needs trusts help to protect your loved ones

People who have a loved one with special needs might want to do something to help that family member out. While it might sound easy to give them money or to name them as a beneficiary in an estate plan, there are times that this isn't appropriate.

Some individuals who have special needs are dependent upon asset-based programs. Receiving an inheritance or a monetary gift can mean that they don't qualify for the programs they need. Unfortunately, the inheritance or gift they receive might not be enough to give them the support they need. The answer to this conundrum is to use a special needs trust that will help support them without impacting the assistance they receive.

Estate-planning questions for you to ask

When you walk into a Brevard County estate planning attorney’s office for the first time, there are a number of questions you can expect to be asked. For instance, you will be asked about your heirs, assets you have and expect to have and how you would like to have your estate distributed, among other questions.

But there questions you should have for the lawyer, too. A recent article listed some of the questions estate planning pros hope you will ask.

SECURE Act could push IRA beneficiaries into higher tax bracket

Many regular readers of our Brevard County legal blog will undoubtedly recall that we wrote late last year about the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement), the bipartisan legislation signed into law in December.

While both Democrats and Republicans supported the measure designed to make it easier for workers to save for retirement – and provide incentives for employers to provide retirement plans – one Florida newspaper notes that “the new law has drastically disrupted traditional IRA strategies as it pertains to one’s estate planning.”

Survey of estate planning pros shows election year concerns

With so much at stake in this year’s election, including the White House, control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as seats in Florida’s Senate and House, it promises to be a boisterous, bruising electoral season.

According to a recent survey of tax and estate planning pros, a majority of their ultra-high-net-worth clients say uncertainty about taxes is a top election concern. The trust and estate planning professionals say that 80 percent of their clients are at least somewhat worried about how to safeguard their estates during and after the election year.

How trusts can be customized to suit your needs

The vast majority of people write a will during their lifetime. This will, when done right, is a legally recognized document that enables a person's estate to be distributed according to their wishes. However, assets that are distributed according to the instructions set out in a will are subject to probate. This means that it will take a significant amount of time to process the assets, and the will may be subject to contest. The probate process is also a costly one, which means that a part of the estate will need to pay for probate rather than be distributed directly to beneficiaries.

This is why so many people have started to consider the use of trusts as part of their estate plan. Since trusts require the transferring of assets during the estate planner's lifetime, the process of distributing assets is much more efficient. Trusts are also extremely customizable and can help you set the terms for an inheritance that suit the beneficiary's individual circumstances. The following are some of the ways that it is possible to customize trusts to suit specific needs.

Advice columnist: Estate planning is important part of fighting cancer

When people are feeling good, it can be difficult to think about not feeling good. When people are healthy, it can also be difficult to think about illness. Those are pretty common and understandable human traits that help people avoid discussions of serious illness and end-of-life plans.

The reality is that when families address those concerns, they reduce worries about the future and the burdens that can fall onto the next generation.

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