Latest Blog Posts

3 Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons

Posted on: December 27th, 2016
With extreme wealth accumulated, one would assume that celebrities would take steps to protect their estates. But think again...

Battle over Robin Williams' Tuxedo Highlights Importance of Estate Planning

Posted on: January 22nd, 2016
The recent battle over Robin Williams' tuxedo by his family members is a good example of why everyone needs an estate plan...

What the Recently Released 2016 IRS Inflation Adjustments Mean for You

Posted on: December 9th, 2015
​The Internal Revenue Service has released the official inflation adjustments that will affect 2016 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes. These changes will affect the way your accountant and your attorney help you plan as 2015 comes to an end....

Article From IRS Newswire: Make a Wise Choice when Selecting a Tax Preparer

Posted on: November 18th, 2015
An article from the IRS Newswire with important information everyone should know before choosing a tax preprarer and why it's best to start the search for a tax preparer now....

News About Son Who Murdered Parents Who Planned to Cut Them Out of Their Will--And the State Law He Didn't Know About

Posted on: November 18th, 2015
The attorneys came across a sad news article about a son charged with murdering his parents because they planned to cut him out of his will. Read on to find out why the son will never receive his inheritance....

Financial Smarts Peak at 50, Here's How to Protect Your Older Self

Posted on: November 4th, 2015
A recent study conducted by Texas Tech University concluded that the ability to make smart financial decisions peaks at age 50. This decline was observed in both men and women, making both sexes equally vulnerable to financial fraud as they age. Read on to learn how to protect your older self from financial fraud....

Article: Budget Deal Could Cost Couples Big Money in Social Security Benefits

Posted on: October 29th, 2015
Jim came across an important article today from Financial Advisor on important changes to social security benefits....

Even Vampires Need Estate Planning

Posted on: October 28th, 2015
Yes, even the undead need an estate plan. After you stop laughing you need to hear me out. As we've learned from the likes of The Vampire Chronicles, the Twilight saga, and HBO's True Blood, vampires aren't immortal. They do die, and it's usually unexpected and messy....

Get Ready: 2015 National Estate Planning Awareness Week Begins on October 19

Posted on: October 21st, 2015
In 2008 the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC), in conjunction with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and 49 of his colleagues, helped pass a law which declared the third week in October "National Estate Planning Awareness Week." This year National Estate Planning Awareness Week falls on October 19 through 25....

Important Changes to Tax Return Due Dates

Posted on: October 16th, 2015
Tax return due dates were recently changed as a result of the "2015 Highway Bill." Check out the chart we posted with the new tax return due dates....

What Documents Do You Need to Find After a Loved One Dies?

Posted on: October 14th, 2015
​After a loved one dies, you need to gather the important documents that are necessary to settle their final affairs. While the documents required will vary depending on what your loved one owned and owed, below is a list of common documents you will need to find:...

The Lifetime QTIP Trust: Or (How to Maintain Control of Your Estate and Keep Spouse No. 2 Happy)

Posted on: October 7th, 2015
Estate planning for couples in a second or later marriage who have disproportionate estates can be tricky. One solution for allowing the well-to-do spouse to maintain control of their assets but keep their other half happy is the Lifetime QTIP Trust. ...

Surprise! You Can’t Easily Disinherit Your Spouse in the U.S.

Posted on: September 30th, 2015
Believe it or not, in the U.S. it isn't easy to disinherit your spouse. But the same is not true for other family members - generally, you can use your estate plan to disinherit your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, or even your very own children and grandchildren. However, in the majority of states and the District of Columbia, you can't intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse actually agrees to receive nothing from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement....

Decanting: How to Fix a Trust That Isn’t Getting Better With Age

Posted on: September 16th, 2015
While many wines get better with age, the same cannot be said for some irrevocable trusts. Maybe you're the beneficiary of a trust created by your great grandfather seventy years ago that no longer makes sense. Or maybe you created an irrevocable trust twenty years ago that doesn't work as it should. Is there any way to fix an irrevocable trust that has turned from a fine wine into vinegar? You may be surprised to learn that under certain circumstances the answer is yes, by "decanting" the old broken trust into a brand new one....

Aging.gov: A New Resource for Older Americans and Their Families

Posted on: September 9th, 2015
More than 10,000 people turn 65 in the U.S. every day according to Aging.gov (http://www.hhs.gov/aging/), a new website recently launched by the Obama administration. The goal of this website is to act as gateway for older Americans and their families, friends and caregivers to locate information about leading a healthy lifestyle, options for health care, preventing elder abuse, and retirement planning....

What’s Hot in Estate Planning Right Now May Surprise You

Posted on: September 2nd, 2015
Estate planning has truly evolved over the past 20 years. Gone is the uncertainty about federal estate taxes and the absolute requirement for married couples to use complex trusts to minimize these taxes. But also gone is planning for the "traditional" family. In fact, today's estate planning is more complicated than ever before....

Five Changes Proposed in President Obama’s 2016 Budget That Could Affect Your Estate Plan

Posted on: August 27th, 2015
The Obama administration recently released its budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year. As in past years, this budget proposes changes to the laws governing federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes. Several of these changes would raise revenue by limiting the tax benefits achieved by using certain estate planning techniques, while others would decrease exemptions and increase rates. In addition, the fifth proposal discussed below is a brand new one that has raised some eyebrows:...

Skyrocketing Probate Fees – Another Reason to Avoid Probate Court

Posted on: August 21st, 2015
As of July 1, 2015, Connecticut probate courts earned the dubious distinction of charging the highest probate fees in the U.S. Amazingly, the Connecticut legislature voted to completely cut general fund support for the state's probate courts for the next two fiscal years, thereby creating a $32 million deficit. In order to cover the shortfall, the fees charged for settling a deceased person's estate in Connecticut were significantly increased and the $12,500 cap on probate fees was eliminated. To make matters worse, these changes apply retroactively to all deaths dating back to January 1, 2015. As a result, it is estimated that a handful of Connecticut estates will owe in excess of $1 million in probate fees and at least a dozen will owe in excess of $100,000....

What You Need to Know About the Final Estate Tax Portability Rules

Posted on: August 13th, 2015
Recently the IRS issued the final rules governing the "portability election" as it relates to the federal estate tax exemption. Married couples need to understand how these final rules may affect their existing estate plans, while recent widows and widowers need to understand how these finals rules may affect their deceased spouse's estate....

5 Reasons Why Uncle Bill May Not Make a Good Trustee

Posted on: August 5th, 2015
If you have created a dynasty trust that you intend to last for decades into the future, choosing the right trustee is critical to the trust's longevity and ultimate success. Initially you may think that a family member, like your children's fiscally responsible Uncle Bill, will be the best choice as trustee, however there are five reasons why Uncle Bill may not be the best choice....

How Will the 2015 Supreme Court Decisions Affect You and Your Family?

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015
While approximately 10,000 cases are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court each year, only 75 to 80 make it to oral argument. Of those cases, only a handful grab the media's attention. Here is a summary of three landmark decisions handed down in 2015 that could affect how you are taxed, pay for healthcare, and plan your estate....

IRS Announcement: Estate Tax Closing Letters Will Now Only Be Issued Upon Request

Posted on: July 16th, 2015
​Due to the increased volume of federal estate tax return filings in order to make the "portability election," the IRS has announced that estate tax closing letters will only be issued upon request by the taxpayer. This change in IRS policy started on June 1, 2015....

5 Most Expensive States for Retirees in 2015

Posted on: July 9th, 2015
While there are many factors to consider when choosing the place where you will retire, the ones that will impact your wallet may be the most important. Why? Because having a low crime rate and beautiful weather will be irrelevant if high costs deplete your retirement nest egg faster than anticipated. ...

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

Posted on: June 30th, 2015
Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions. Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it's needed....

Caution: Your Traditional Asset Protection Plan is Set Up to Fail

Posted on: June 19th, 2015
You may be surprised to learn that not only has asset protection planning been around for a long time, but you have already engaged in it at some point during your life. In fact, you probably have one or more types of traditional asset protection planning in place at this very moment. The problem is in many cases the type of planning you have right now won't be enough to protect you and your family....

Major Change in Estate Tax Closing Letters

Posted on: June 19th, 2015
The IRS recently announced a major change in its procedure for issuing estate closing letters....

Business Owners Who Take Time to Plan Exits Increase Chances of Success

Posted on: August 14th, 2014
“To will is to select a goal, determine a course of action that will bring one to that goal, and then hold to that action till the goal is reached. The key is action.” — Michael Hanson If the thought, “Why exit plan when I can’t sell my business now or anytime soon?” has crossed your mind, consider the case of fictional owner Rudolfo LeMonde....

Jim's Chapter in Florida Bar Book Quoted in Miami Firm's Blog

Posted on: August 1st, 2014
We are excited to share that our senior attorney and firm owner Jim Flick co-wrote the chapter "Offshore Asset Protection Trusts" of the Florida Bar's book Asset Protection in Florida, 3rd Edition published last year for attorneys....

Can You Afford To Ignore Your Business Exit?

Posted on: July 30th, 2014
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower (As quoted in Six Crises by Nixon, Richard (1962). “Krushchev. ” Doubleday.)...

EZ Legal Forms: A Cautionary Tale

Posted on: April 4th, 2014
Here is a legal case that highlights the danger behind using cheap legal forms online....

New Ruling on Accounting Firm Succession Plans

Posted on: November 11th, 2013
Carol Cantrell on Cantrell v. Briggs: Impact of the Fifth Circuit's Ruling on Accounting Firm Succcession Plans ...

Federal Law Update: Your Ex-Spouse Could Get Your Cash!

Posted on: June 10th, 2013
The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Act (“FEGLIA”) established a life insurance program that left a new spouse wondering: “Baby, baby, where did our love go?” as the money from the policy took a midnight train to Georgia to the ex-wife whether she was deserving of the money or not. ...

Free Webinar: The Family Estate Plan

Posted on: April 11th, 2013
It’s a common myth that estate planning is only for wealthy families. But the fact remains that estate planning is not about the value of what you own, but the way you value what you have....

Conard: Buffett Is Wrong About Taxes

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013
The U.S. is holding a debate that is critical to its future: whether to tax, redistribute and consume income that would otherwise be invested. Warren Buffett has weighed in, supporting higher taxes on wealthy taxpayers. Unfortunately, the evidence he uses to make his case is superficial and flawed. One can’t help but wonder: If he had stronger evidence, why wouldn’t he use it?...

Warren Buffett and George Soros Want a Higher Estate Tax

Posted on: December 12th, 2012
Warren Buffett and George Soros--as well as other prominent billionaires, millionaires and public figures, such as Bill Gates, Sr. and President Jimmy Carter--are calling on Congress and President Obama to establish a stronger estate tax--which many of these individuals would pay on their own estates. ...

Post-Election Tax Planning for 2012

Posted on: November 7th, 2012
It is a stressful time for individuals who have a net worth of well over $1,000,000 and may find themselves wondering whether living until after December 31, 2012 will cause significant additional estate tax. The situation that we have been fearing since December 2010 is now almost upon us. So what are people to do between now and December 31, 2012?...

Why Medallion Guarantees Can Be Nearly Impossible to Obtain

Posted on: November 7th, 2012
“As securities transactions increasingly involve principals who have no employee agents on the ground who know the securities holder, how do you avoid fraudulent requests for the sale of securities? How can you assure that the request to sell is coming from the owner and not his black sheep nephew or an identity thief? The medallion stamp program was put into place to provide transfer agents and others with assurance that the transaction request is coming from someone who has the authority and capacity to make the request. If this proves to not be the case, the medallion guarantor is obligated to immediately make up any loss and pursue any ultimate remedy on its own. For providing this essential service to safeguard the efficient transfer of securities, the medallion guarantor receives basically nothing. This may be great for transfer agents, issuing companies, and mutual funds, but an increasing number of banks have reached the conclusion that it is no longer feasible to provide a service that generates no revenue, is costly to properly run, and exposes the bank to large financial risk. Many banks have concluded it is safer to say no than to incur the inevitable angry response to a quoted fee that is commensurate with the costs and risks involved. I strongly suspect that transfer agents for publicly held companies, mutual funds, insurance companies, and others who routinely demand medallion signatures have no clue how difficult it has become for many to obtain a medallion guarantee.” We close the week with Michel Nelson’s commentary on medallion signature guarantees. LISI Commentator Michel Nelson, JD, is Senior Vice President and heads trust services and investment management for Iowa Savings Bank, and is a frequent lecturer for charitable groups, bar association seminars, and estate planning councils. ...

The 2013 Investment Income Surtax

Posted on: October 15th, 2012
A provision for a new 3.8% investment income surtax also known as the health care surtax or the Medicare tax is coming into effect in 2013. In this blog entry we provide some useful links and information for those looking for more insights into the surtax....

Wendy Goffe on Adam Yauch's Will: Handwritten Changes to Will Could Prompt Years of Beastie Litigation

Posted on: August 24th, 2012
Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch’s will demonstrates one of the greatest fears of estate planners, the client who modifies our best drafting – after it leaves our office. It isn’t clear yet whether Yauch edited his will outside the presence of his attorneys or in his attorney’s office. But it is clear that not as much time was put into his quick hand-written edit as the rest of his very well-thought-out will. It is a good reminder to us all to have clients sign wills in our presence whenever possible, so we can monitor any last minute self-lawyering. It is also a reminder that clients have a variety of motives behind their will provisions, not all of them necessarily in their family’s best interest. If you decide to be a part of drafting an estate plan that makes a statement, keep in mind that you may later be called as a witness in the litigation that may ensue. Yauch’s situation also highlights the messy intersection of estate planning and intellectual property....

Legal Battle for the Twetens of California

Posted on: August 20th, 2012
An interesting look into the ever changing world of estate tax law....