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Lakeland FL Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Inheritance tax basics for part-time Florida residents

With autumn here and winter hard on its heels, many retirees will be making their way back to Winter Haven, Lakeland, and other communities throughout Florida. These snow birds who spend the summer months in northern states and then fly south to Florida for the winter truly do enjoy the best of both worlds in many ways. However, it's important to give due consideration to which state is one's legal residence, as the laws of that state will affect one's estate and assets.

Take, for example, the issue of the inheritance tax. Federal law allows individuals to pass along anything under $5.49 million to their heirs without incurring taxes. Anyone planning to hand down an inheritance of less than that amount will not need to worry about federal taxes. And the additional good news for Floridians is that this state does not impose an inheritance tax or an estate tax either.

Follow Hugh Hefner on estate planning

A Florida attorney can provide beneficial advice on estate planning. Hugh Hefner, with the assistance of his lawyers, provides an example of sound planning. Its strengths are impressive given Hefner's divorces and the economic and readership decline of Playboy magazine.

Hefner divided half of his assets to his four children. The remaining wealth was intended for charities, such as the University of Southern California film school. This allowed his third wife to live in comfort from a prenuptial agreement, worth $10 million, without risking his children's inheritance.

Is your rental agreement enforceable?

At some point in your life, you may have ended up with residential property that you had no particular use for. This occurrence may have taken place because a relative died and left you a home or because you have a permanent residence and only use a second residence occasionally. As a result, you may have decided that you would like to turn that property into a source of income by renting it out.

Even if you have never acted as a landlord before, you certainly know that having a legal agreement in place could prove beneficial. Though you may think that coming to terms with a verbal agreement and a handshake should be enough, having a written document may work more in your favor.

The pros and cons of a joint will

Depending on their needs and assets, couples in Lakeland have a number of estate planning options open to them. Wills, trusts and health care directives are all possible options, and an estate planning attorney can work with a couple to set up a robust estate plan. This blog post will discuss one possible option: a joint will.

What is a joint will? A joint will is a will that is jointly executed by two parties. These two parties are usually two members of a married couple. The two parties' last will and testament are combined, and the surviving party inherits from the first party to die. A joint will is distinct from the more common joint and mutual wills, which make property divisions dependent on the other will through reciprocal provisions.

A will can be a tool to tailor the distribution of your assets

One of the most compelling reasons a Winter Haven resident might have for creating a will is the power to distribute one's assets as one sees fit. While the intestacy laws provide for distribution of assets after death, not all people will find these rules to be satisfactory. A will, on the other hand, can give people a great deal of discretion in distributing assets. One famous comedian seems to have taken advantage of this feature in planning his estate.

Jerry Lewis was a groundbreaking comic, actor and philanthropist. He died in August 2017. It was recently revealed that in his last will and testament written in 2012, Lewis explicitly excluded six of his children from inheriting any part of his estate. He had divorced the mother of the six children in 1980, and he reportedly had a strained relationship with them. Lewis's widow - his second wife - is set to inherit his estate.

How healthcare advance directives work in Florida

All competent adults have the right to make decisions regarding their health. But, a problem can arise if an adult loses the ability to make these decisions. When this happens, how can someone communicate their health wishes to loved ones and health care providers?

One can ensure their wishes are followed through an estate planning tool known as a healthcare advance directive. There are three kinds of healthcare advance directives: living wills, health care surrogate designations and anatomical donations.

What is a nuncupative will and is it valid in Florida?

Many people in Polk County are probably familiar with the usual process of creating a will. The testator, often with the help of an attorney, draws up a will and signs it in the presence of witnesses who also sign it. One question people may have is whether other forms of a last will and testament are valid in Florida. Specifically, is an oral will valid in the Sunshine State? The short answer is no.

Some kinds of oral wills are recognized as valid in some states. These wills are known as nuncupative wills. A person in imminent peril of death - such as by military service or terminal illness - may orally state their will before witnesses. If the will is written down within 30 days of the creation of the nuncupative will, the will may be recognized as valid in some states.

Take control of your Florida estate plan with a will

Everyone has an estate plan, whether they know it or not. For Winter Haven residents who die without a will, their estate plan is the state's intestacy laws. While these laws may work well for some, many others may find them to be unsatisfactory. In particular, people with large, complex assets and property may not necessarily be happy with the intestacy laws.

Not too long ago, we explained some of the problems that the estate of Prince had experienced with controlling the release of some of his unreleased music. There have been at least two separate instances where music was released without the permission of Prince's estate. Prince did not have a will or estate plan at the time of his death, and it is possible that there would have been fewer of these problems had he had one.

Taxes and beneficiary issues could draw out probate process

After a loved one's death, the surviving family may have many tasks to handle. In particular, you as the estate's executor will undoubtedly have numerous responsibilities to which you must attend. If your loved one created a will, you will need to attend to the necessary steps that involve validating that document and settling the estate through the probate process.

Though you may have taken on the role of executor out of a sense of duty, now that the time has come to carry out the needed tasks, you may feel apprehensive about the process. Probate does not necessarily have to take an exceedingly long amount of time, but certain aspects relating to the estate could make the process take longer.

Basic information about trusts in Lakeland

Lakeland residents have probably heard that trusts can be great estate planning tools. But, what exactly is a trust? This blog post will provide some basic information about trusts.

A trust is a right in property held by a trustee for the benefit of another. The trustee has a fiduciary relationship to the beneficiary, meaning that the trustee must manage the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiary. A person called the settlor gives assets to the trustee in trust for the beneficiary.