Estate Planning and Joint Accounts: Pros and Cons.

Important Estate Planning Tip: Upon the passing of one of the joint owners of an account, the account automatically passes to the other person. However that can have many unintended consequences – find how in this 2 minute video:

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Attorney Colleen Carson Achieves the AV Preeminent Rating

Attorney Colleen Carson

Congratulations to BaskinFleece attorney Colleen Carson for achieving the highest level of Professional Excellence rating from her peers, the AV Preeminent from Martindale-Hubbell. The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings™ have been the gold standard in attorney ratings for more than a century. Attorneys looking to refer a client, as well as individuals researching lawyers for their own legal needs, use these ratings to identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for their legal issue. A Peer Review Rating contributes to the comprehensive view of a lawyer and benefits the entire legal community.


AV Preeminent Peer AwardAV Preeminent®:
The highest peer rating standard. This rating signifies that the lawyer’s reviewed peers rank attorney Colleen Carson at the highest level of professional excellence for her legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.

5 Reasons to Review Your Estate Planning Today:

  1. Pay-on-death beneficiaries sometimes fail. Due to a change in computer software or a merger, it is possible for a financial institution to lose your pay-on-death beneficiary designations. As such, it is good practice to confirm designations with your financial institution at least once per year.
    estate planning
  2. There may be out-of-date contact information for the individuals named on your advance directives. Further, those individuals, due to a change of circumstance in their own life, may no longer be able to act on your behalf. In such a case, it is important to choose new fiduciaries with the ability to serve.
  3. Your intent may have changed. For example, as your children get older, they may become more viable candidates to act as fiduciaries during your lifetime or upon your passing.
  4. You are forced to locate your documents. It is important that you know where estate planningyour original estate planning documents are held, as well as any copies that have been produced. In an emergency situation, being unable to locate your advance directives could cause a delay in making important health care decisions. Additionally, upon your passing, the inability to locate your estate planning documents could cause a delay in probating your estate.
  5. Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    A change in life situation, such as a change in wealth, relocation, divorce, birth or death, could drastically alter your estate planning. It is important to review your estate planning documents to ensure that they still reflect your wishes in light of any life changes. As your life evolves, so should your estate plan.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

 

 

What Does a Personal Representative Do?

Personal Representative

A personal representative is a fiduciary appointed by the judge to be in charge of the administration of a decedent’s estate. In Florida, the term “personal representative” is used instead of such terms as executor, executrix, administrator and administratrix. A personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will, if any, and the Florida Probate Code, as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate.

More specifically, a personal representative must:

  • Identify, gather, value and safeguard the decedent’s probate assets;
  • Publish a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file any claims against the estate in the manner required by law;
  • Serve a “Notice of Administration” to provide information about the probate estate administration and notice of the procedures required to be followed by those having any objection to the administration of the decedent’s probate estate;
  • Conduct a diligent search to locate “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, and notify these creditors of the time by which their claims must be filed;
  • Object to improper claims, and defend suits brought on such claims;
  • Pay valid claims;
  • File tax returns and pay any taxes properly due;
  • Employ professionals to assist in the administration of the probate estate, for example, attorneys, certified public accountants, appraisers and investment advisers;
  • Pay expenses of administering the probate estate;
  • Pay statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family;
  • Distribute probate assets to beneficiaries;
  • Close the probate estate.
Randall D. Baskin

Attorney Randall D. Baskin

A personal representative is authorized to hire an attorney to assist with the administration of the estate and is not required to use their own funds for any costs associated the administration of the decedent’s estate.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece 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.

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.

How Property Passes on Death

Probate, estate planning

When someone dies, their property, be it real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, automobiles or whatever that person owns 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.

1. Probate. If someone owns an asset in his or her own name at the time of death, that asset should pass to the deceased beneficiaries that are specified in his or her will. If the decedent did not have a will, then the property owned by the decedent will pass under the laws of intestacy. In other words, the state of Florida makes a will for the decedent. This doesn’t mean all of the decedent’s property passes to the state but rather to individuals depending on their relationship to the decedent.

InheritanceFlorida statutes 732.102 and 732.103 set forth the statutory scheme for intestate succession. For example if a man dies without a will but 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 by 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 essentially a court supervised process whereby a decedent’s property is transferred in an orderly fashion to the ones legally entitled to those assets.

Living trusts2. Trusts. Some people elect to create a revocable “living” trust during their lifetime. Here, the trust assets are typically titled in the name of the trust. The grantor, the one creating the trust, has full power to change, modify and revoke the trust during his or her lifetime. After the death of the grantor, these trusts usually terminate and the disposition of the property held in the trust will be governed by the terms of the trust. These type of trusts typically contain 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 successor trustee named in the trust document would then have the responsibility of effectuating the terms of the trust and to make sure the intended beneficiaries receive what the decedent intended. The administration of the trust is also similar to the probate process but is not subject to court supervision.

Attorneys are best to handle assets from a trust3. By contractual provisions. Assets subject to contractual provisions pass outside the probate process and the trust process. These assets pass directly to the recipients designated in the contract that governs that asset. The most prevalent type of asset that passes by contract would be a joint bank account. Typically a bank account titled in two or more names will pass to the survivor. Other type of contractual bank accounts include the payable on death account, or the “held in trust for …” account, a Totten trust as these types of accounts are sometimes called. Other forms of contractual arrangements which pass property directly to a named beneficiary include life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities.

BaskinFleece lawyer Jay Fleece

Attorney Jay Fleece

Why someone 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.

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

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.