Attorney Jay Fleece Is Featured in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©

Baskin Fleece partner Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III, was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017 in the field of Trusts and Estates Litigation. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. This year, 7.3 million votes were analyzed, resulting inBaskinFleece lawyer Jay Fleece the inclusion of almost 55,000 lawyers in the 23rd edition. Lawyers are not required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

To schedule an appointment with a Baskin Fleece attorney, call (727) 572-4545. For more information about Baskin Fleece, visit www.BaskinFleece.com.

Wills, Probate and Trusts: How Property Passes on Death

BaskinFleece lawyer Jay Fleece

By Attorney Jay Fleece

When a person dies, their assets, be it real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, automobiles or whatever else they may own must pass to someone legally entitled to those assets. There are three basic ways property passes on death. Each way depends on how the particular asset is owned or titled at the time of death.

Probate

If someone owns an asset in their individual name at the time of death, that asset should pass to the beneficiaries specified in the decedent’s will. If the decedent did not have a will, then the Assetsdecedent’s property will pass under the laws of intestacy. In other words, the state of Florida decides how your assets will be distributed. This does not mean all of the decedent’s property passes to the state, but rather to individuals based on their relationship to the decedent.

Florida statutes 732.102 and 732.103 set forth the statutory scheme for intestate succession. For example, if an individual dies without a will and is survived by a spouse and children of that marriage, then the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $60,000.00 of assets and anything over that amount is equally divided between the surviving spouse and the children.

When property passes under the terms of a last will and testament or by intestate succession, the process by which this transfer is accomplished is called probate. Probate is a court supervised process whereby a decedent’s property is transferred in an orderly fashion to those legally entitled to the assets.

Living wills and trustsTrusts

Some people elect to create a revocable “living” trust during their lifetime. In such a case, certain assets are transferred to the trust and retitled  in the name of the trust. The individual creating the trust, called the “Grantor,” has full power to change, modify and revoke the trust during his or her lifetime. After the death of the grantor, these trusts become irrevocable and the trust property is disposed of in accordance with the terms of the trust. This type of trust, called a “Grantor Trust,” often contains language very similar to language used in a last will and testament, which specifies how and to whom the decedent’s property will pass. A trustee named in the trust document would then have the responsibility of distributing the trust assets in accordance with the terms of the trust. Administration of a trust is similar to the probate process but is not subject to court supervision.

contractual provisionsContractual Provisions

Assets governed by contractual provisions pass outside the probate and trust administration process. Instead, these assets pass directly to the recipients designated in the contract governing the asset. The most prevalent type of asset that passes by contract is joint bank accounts. Typically a bank account titled in two or more names will pass to the surviving owners of the account. Other assets governed by contractual provisions include payable on death accounts, and accounts “held in trust for.”  Payable on death accounts are frequently referred to as “Totten Trusts.” Other forms of contractual arrangements that pass property directly to a named beneficiary include life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.36.32 AMWhy you should engage in estate planning

While each of these areas are discussed in greater detail in other articles, this basic outline should illustrate how important it is to make sure that you understand how your assets are titled and how they will pass on death. The unintended consequences of improperly titling your assets could have a devastating effect on your estate plan. For those with substantial wealth, estate planning from a tax perspective can save on income and estate taxes.

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

What Happens To Your Facebook Account When You Die?

Colleen Carson

By Attorney Colleen Carson

In today’s fast paced, technology driven age this is a question whose answer will affect many individuals. So, what exactly will happen to your Facebook account when you pass away and who will make that decision? Facebook offers users the ability to make this decision during life by providing two options. You can either choose to have your account memorialized, which transforms your profile into a place where your friends and family can gather to reminisce and share memories about you, or you can choose to have your account permanently deleted. In order to exercise one of these options and ensure your wishes are carried out, you must assign a legacy contact to your Facebook account during your lifetime. A legacy contact is the person you designate to manage your Facebook account upon your passing.

Facebook Memorialized Page

An example of a Memorialized Facebook page

At your death, any friend or family member can notify Facebook of your passing by filling out a Memorialization Request formFollowing this request, Facebook will solely grant your designated legacy contact the ability to manage your account, and if you choose to have your account memorialized, the word “Remembering” will appear next to your name on your profile. Assigning a Facebook legacy contact is important for the process of memorialization because your legacy contact is given permission to add additional posts to your timeline on your behalf, respond to new friend requests, and update your profile picture and cover photo. If you have chosen permanent deletion, your Facebook Deceased Person's Accountlegacy contact must fill out the Special Request for a Deceased Person’s Account form to have your account deleted. Having an assigned legacy contact ensures that your wish for your Facebook account, whether it be memorialization or permanent deletion, will be carried out.

In the event that you do not assign a legacy contact to your Facebook account, the process of carrying out your last wish becomes far more unpredictable.  Without a legacy contact you have no say as to whether your account is memorialized or permanently deleted. The option chosen will depend on the wishes of the first individual to contact Facebook regarding your account. Any person may request to have your account memorialized, but only a verified family member may request permanent deletion of your Facebookaccount. Facebook will either memorialize or permanently delete your account based on the instruction provided by the first person to contact them. Without deciding what to do with your Facebook account, one of your digital assets, during life and without assigning a Facebook legacy contact to carry out your decision, the fate of your Facebook account when you pass is both unpredictable and out of your control; as is the fate of all of your assets, without proper estate planning. If you want to learn more about protecting your assets when you pass and how proper estate planning acts as a fundamental element of that protection give BaskinFleece a call at (727) 572-4545.

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.