ESTATE PLANNING Attorney, NONPROFIT, BROWARD, MIAMI Corporate, Business ATTORNEY,

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What are the Benefits of Owning a Life Estate?

When people think about estate planning, life insurance and wills are typically the first things that come to mind. However, there is another option that can be just as effective – a life estate. A life estate is a legal agreement in which a property owner transfers ownership of a property to another person for the duration of their lifetime. This can be a great option for those who want to avoid probate and ensure their heirs receive the property when they die. In addition, a life estate can also provide some tax benefits. What is a Life Estate? A...

Inheritance Theft: Avoid Being a Victim

Inheritance theft is when someone takes money or property that they are not supposed to inherit. This can be done through fraud or deception, and it is considered to be civil theft or larceny; both serious crimes.  Often, the person who commits inheritance theft will try to keep the inheritance from the rightful heir, or they will try to use the money or property for their own benefit. It can also happen when someone simply takes control of the inheritance before the rightful heir has a chance to claim it. Methods Used to Steal an Inheritance Methods used to steal...

Did You Just Move to Florida? Come See Us for an Estate Plan Review

If you have recently relocated to the Sunshine State, or are about to do so, you may be interested in consulting an estate planning attorney. A change of residence does not immediately nullify any estate planning paperwork you have in place in another state, however, each state has some unique laws and regulations that could affect your existing estate plans if not taken into account.  In the event that you have recently relocated to Florida, the estate planning experts at the SG Law Firm can examine your paperwork and advise you on the best course of action to maintain the...

Estate Planning for the Unmarried and Childless in Florida

Many individuals believe that an estate plan is necessary but only around 40% of them actually implement one. This may be for a number of reasons, including being unmarried, or having no kids. However, the concept that you don’t need an estate plan because you are unmarried or don’t have children should not be one of those grounds for not getting one. Why? We shall discuss that in this brief. Decide Who is in Charge of Making Decisions To ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your incapacity, it is important to create and include powers...

When Should You Revisit Your Estate Plan?

Estate planning paperwork is often completed, stored in a safe or drawer, and then forgotten about. However, estate planning, like your home, vehicle, and other significant assets, requires regular upkeep. But when is the best time to review and revise your will or trust document? Estate planning agreements should be reviewed annually, but it is more realistic to do so every three to five years (independent of life events). It should be made earlier if your circumstances have changed significantly.  A reexamination of your estate planning may be necessitated by the following events: 1. Changes in Family Status When there...

Preparing for Your Pet’s Future With a Florida Pet Trust

Elderly people and those with serious illnesses are often concerned about what will happen to their pets when they are no longer there to care for them. Leaving instructions and money for your pet’s care might help you rest easy knowing that they will be taken care of just how you want them. If you live in Florida, you should know that it is also possible to set up a pet trust. How Can You Create a Pet Trust in Florida? The process of creating a pet trust in Florida begins with the selection of an individual to serve as...

Contesting a Will: Why Does This Happen and How Can You Avoid This?

When a will is created, the person writing it has the opportunity to designate who will inherit their property after they die. This can be a relatively straightforward process, but it is not unheard of for family members to challenge a will if they feel that they have been unfairly left out. The will creator often must have assumed that the document will be followed to the letter after their death. Maybe they indeed left some people out of their will. However, as we just mentioned, in some cases, these family members may challenge the will, claiming that it is...

Does Florida Have a Gift Tax?

If you have an interest in making a significant gift to friends of loved ones, you may be wondering what the tax consequences of doing so may be. Giving should be easy, and it often is, it is just important to make sure that you understand the tax consequences, if any, so you can make an informed decision. When you understand how tax law works, and how financial gifts can be affected, it is even possible to develop a long-term giving strategy that maximizes the benefits and safeholds of state and federal tax laws and regulations.The good news is that...

What is the Difference Between Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax?

When it comes to estate planning, taxation is absolutely something that needs to be considered, particularly if you have a high-asset estate. Taxation can be complicated for an estate, since there are both state and federal taxation requirements to consider, and the state taxes vary widely across the country. It can be hard to get clear on what exactly it is that you need to anticipate. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced estate attorney. They will be familiar with the state and federal taxes and requirements and can ensure that you develop...

What Happens After Someone Dies With a Will?

If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be wondering what the next steps are. Estate administration is not always a straightforward process, and it is rarely quick, so it can be easy to feel like nothing is happening or like you do not know what is going on. The biggest determinant in how the estate administration process will unfold in the aftermath of a loved one’s death is whether they had a will and if it can be located. If your loved one has a will, the estate administration process can proceed in the ways specified below,...

Do I Need a Lawyer to Buy a Home in Florida?

For many people, buying a home is one of the biggest decisions and investments that they will ever make. When you are investing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars into a piece of property, it is critical to ensure that your investment is sound. The home-buying process involves a number of steps, and while it is not required under Florida law to have an attorney represent you during the purchasing process, doing so ensures that each of these steps will be tailored to your advantage and that your interests will be protected throughout the entire process. Having a...

What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Conservatorship in Florida?

Many people use the words guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, as though they are synonyms. However, under Florida law, these terms have different meanings and applications. In fact, the way that guardianship and conservatorship are defined under Florida law even differs from the majority of other states, which can add to the confusion while also emphasizing the need to always check the laws of your state before pursuing any kind of legal remedy. If you have a vulnerable or incapacitated family member and are looking for a way to legally take over some of their decision-making or handling of financial or...

Are a Will and a Living Will the Same Thing?

Chances are that when you think about a will, it evokes mostly thoughts of death. So, what is a living will? And is that different from a regular will? We will answer those questions here.  Last Will and Testament A last will and testament is what most people think about when they hear the phrase “will.” A last will and testament is the legal document responsible for allocating someone’s assets to their beneficiaries after the testator passes away. After someone passes away, their estate goes to probate court. In probate court, it will be determined whether the person has a...

What is Estate Administration?

If you have started thinking about estate planning, you may have heard the term “estate administration.” Estate administration is the process by which a decedent’s estate is settled and distributed to any beneficiaries. The estate administration process is different depending on the circumstances of each individual estate, but there are general steps that must be followed regardless, which we will review here. Of course, the best way to get an idea of exactly how your estate will be administered and how to prepare for that is to speak to an experienced trusts and estates attorney, but it is always a...

Does it Matter What State I Hire an Estate Attorney in?

Estate planning can be a daunting process, so having an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process as seamlessly as possible can make all the difference. What if you hit a roadblock on your way to find an attorney? Well, we are here to help. If you are unsure which state to hire your estate attorney in, that is understandable. It can be especially complicated trying to decide where to hire an estate attorney if you have multiple residences, or if you own major assets in several states. However, you will be relieved to know that the answer is...

At What Age Do I Need a Will?

While we would love to be able to give you a clear answer, being able to predict the age at which you need a will would require being able to predict the exact course of your life. Because nothing is certain in life, the right time to create a will is the first opportunity that you have to do so, since you may not have another. If you have any assets, debts, personal effects, or businesses to your name, you will want to have a plan in place to disperse them in accordance with your wishes in the event that...

Estate Planning for People With Disabilities 

You may or may not be aware that there is a cap on monthly income for individuals who receive disability benefits through Social Security. This limit is different in every state, and is always low, but Florida has one of the lowest income caps for disabled people in the country. In fact, in order to qualify for disability benefits in Florida, an individual’s income cannot exceed $771 each month. Any additional financial income, including help from family, or an inheritance, can affect their eligibility for those benefits. Healthcare costs without disability can be prohibitive, and even a large inheritance may...

What is a Personal Representative and Do I Need One?

If you have started doing an internet deep-dive into how to create your estate plan, you may have come across the term “personal representative.” So, what is a personal representative and how do you know if you need one? We will cover that here.  The Role of a Personal Representative in Probate  After an individual has passed away, someone must take the lead on making funeral arrangements, reviewing the will to identify and notify the beneficiaries, and settle and allocate the estate in accordance with the will. This person tasked with these responsibilities is known as the decedent’s personal representative....

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Inheritance in Florida?

If you are planning to leave a large inheritance in Florida or are expecting to receive one, you may be concerned about the potential tax liability. Many states impose steep taxes on inheritance, including estate taxes, inheritance taxes, gift taxes, or even counting it as taxable income. Just thinking about it is enough to give most people a massive headache. Lucky for you though, Florida is one of the most tax-friendly states in the country. It should also be noted that taxes are paid out of the inheritance prior to it being distributed, so the burden of determining tax liability...

Can I Inherit From My Ex-Spouse in Florida?

There are few legal matters that divorce does not complicate, and that is also true of estate law. If your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse has recently passed away, you may be wondering whether you are still entitled to inherit from them if you are named in their will. Unfortunately, there is not a simple one-size-fits-all response. The answer can depend on a number of factors, which we will explore in more depth below. The best way to get an accurate understanding of what you are entitled to is to speak directly to a Florida trusts and estates attorney.  Determining Whether...

Why Your Estate Plan Needs More Than Just a Will

We get it. Making a will is a big deal, and it is a huge step toward establishing a comprehensive estate plan. However, it is not all that you need. Many people who spend years avoiding the task of creating a will feel they can lay down the gauntlet the second the ink is dry, but it is important to understand the limits of a will so that you can also plan for the gaps it leaves in your overall estate plan. Trying to accomplish or dictate too much in your will can actually result in certain provisions or even...

What are Your New Year’s Estate Planning Resolutions?

A new year is a great time to check in on your estate plan. While it is a huge milestone to create a thorough estate plan that meets all of your needs, it is important to remember that as your life unfolds, your needs evolve. When you have children, get married or divorce, start a business, buy a house, or sell an asset, these changes must be reflected in your will. If your will is out of date it may make certain terms hard to understand or impossible to enforce as written. In short, the potential to change your will...

Why Now is the Best Time to Estate Plan

Estate planning can seem daunting. It can be overwhelming trying to determine what documents or actions are actually required to have a comprehensive estate plan. Many people find estate planning to be an unwelcome reminder of death. However, while you may want to avoid thinking about what happens after you pass away for as long as possible, there are real benefits to facing this challenge head-on now. For one, you will be able to live indefinitely with the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, your loved ones will be cared for the way you want them...

Determining Alimony in Florida

There are many questions and considerations that come up when contemplating divorce. Dissolving a marriage often means also dissolving aspects of a life you have invested a lot of time and effort in building. It can be a big decision to make, and there are often a lot of moving parts. For many people, concern over how divorce would impact them financially is a barrier to moving forward. It is important to have a sense of how alimony works so that you can have a genuine sense of your options and feel comfortable moving forward or planning accordingly. Of course,...

What to Know About Reverting to Your Maiden Name After a Divorce

Divorce is a massive change. Not only does it dissolve a marriage, but it also changes much of the life, roles, and identities that accompanied it. For people who took their spouse’s name when they married, divorce may leave them wanting to revert back to their own family name or reclaim their identity independent of the marriage. Of course, not everyone chooses to change their name following a divorce. For some with minor children, keeping their married name may be easier. Others may have built a career on their married name and do not want to change it. However, what...

How to Prepare for a Divorce

Divorce can seem like a daunting and overwhelming endeavor. It can be hard to know how to start without just shattering your life. However, there are a number of steps that can be taken in anticipation of divorce that are far less significant and earth-shaking than filing for it. If you are still deciding if divorce is the right option for you, or you are trying to get organized and prepared for it, you can use this time to put yourself in the best place possible for the proceedings should you choose to move forward or whenever you are ready...

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Florida?

If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering how long it will take and how much of an impact it will have on your life. Certainly there are a lot of stories about long, drawn-out divorces that were costly and dragged on for years. However, the fact of the matter is that every divorce is different. There are dozens of factors that can affect the timeline for divorce. Whether the divorce is uncontested, the amount of assets involved, whether there are shared minor children, and how collaborative versus combative the proceedings are can all heavily affect the length of...

Can I Divorce My Spouse if They are Deployed?

There are no ideal circumstances for divorce. Even under objectively “good” conditions, divorce can be a complex and emotionally complicated process. However, if your spouse is in the military and stationed overseas, this may add a number of obstacles to navigating the divorce process. While a deployed spouse definitely complicated the process, it does not make it impossible. In this article, we will review the reality of filing for divorce while your spouse is overseas so that you can assess whether it is the right option for you. While the information in this article is intended to be general, you...

What is the Difference Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?

If you have started looking into estate planning options, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. Estate planning can seem complicated, as there are many possible mechanisms and trusts that can be employed. However, once you understand the basics, it is easier to determine which of these options will truly meet your needs. If you are wealthy and have a large amount of assets, a trust may be an excellent option for you. The choice between a revocable or irrevocable trust is a personal choice, based on what you are looking to get out...

Vendor Agreements

Vendor agreements are a part of nearly all aspects of a business, regardless of the size. Vendor agreements are a necessary component of any exchange of goods or services. If you are a small business, you may find yourself dealing with vendors for everything from software and office supplies to consulting, legal help, event planning, marketing, and more. Without proper vendor agreements to regulate and clarify these relationships, your small business could pay a big price. Understanding what vendor agreements and how to negotiate them allows you to clarify roles and expectations in business relationships and helps to avoid costly...

Understanding Guardianship

In Florida, guardianship is a legal proceeding by which a competent individual or qualified institution is appointed as the guardian of an incapacitated person. This guardian then has the authority to exercise the legal rights of the incapacitated person on their behalf. In some cases, a bank trust department may be appointed to care for the incapacitated person’s assets.  What Constitutes an Incapacitated Person? In order to be deemed incapacitated, a person does not actually have to be comatose or entirely unable to function. Rather, a person is deemed incapacitated by the court if they are found unable to manage...

Do Unmarried Fathers Have a Right to Custody in Florida?

Families take all shapes and forms, and not all families are bound by marriage. While both married and unmarried parents are eligible for custody agreements, the process is different for unmarried parents. Unmarried fathers, in particular, are impacted by Florida’s laws. Under these laws, if parents are unmarried, only the mother is given legal rights to the child. This is true even if the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate. Many parents assume that they will automatically be given equal legal rights to the child, but unless they are married, this is not true. However, these rights can...

Why Hire a Lawyer to Handle a Sports Contract?

While sports contracts are contracts, they are truly in a league of their own. Sports contracts are complex, high stakes, and contain many specific and unique terms. In addition to being a far cry from typical contract agreements, no two sports contracts are alike. They also generally involve huge sums of money. The negotiation of these contracts is competitive, and the specific terms can have a huge impact on the career trajectory and earning potential of an athlete. Additionally, sports contracts are generally prepared and negotiated by high-powered, highly experienced lawyers. As much as sports teams have an interest in...

Can I Amend My Living Trust?

Estate planning can seem like a daunting endeavor. Many people mistakenly believe that it is something they can do once and then be done forever. In reality, a person’s estate is rarely static. Rather, they acquire and part with assets regularly and experience major life changes such as getting married or divorced, having children, starting businesses, and suffering the loss of loved ones, all of which affect their estate. Estates are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that estate plans would need to change over time to reflect the evolving needs of the estate and its benefactor. Luckily, that...

Can I Get a Legal Separation in Florida?

There are generally three primary means of dissolving or ending a marriage — divorce, annulment, and legal separation. Some people may prefer legal separation over divorce because it essentially allows a couple to dissolve their marriage without ending it. This means that they can divide assets and debts and determine custody and visitation issues without terminating or altering their marital status legally. This can be important for religious reasons or if there is a need to keep health insurance intact. There can also be tax benefits or personal reasons, such as working toward a reconciliation, that make a separation preferable...

The Pour-Over Will: A Critical Estate-Planning Safety Net

If you live in Florida, it is important to understand probate. Probate is the process of distributing a decedent’s assets and settling their debts after they die. Probate can take months or even years to complete and during this time the decedent’s heirs do not have access to the assets. If the heirs were financially dependent on the decedent while they were alive, this can create great financial hardship. Additionally, probate can be a costly process due to lawyers’ fees, which are all paid out of the assets prior to their distribution. If it is a complex estate or if...

Top Three Florida Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning can seem like an overwhelming and unpleasant endeavor. No one wants to think about death; it is much more pleasant to imagine we will live forever and hope the details will just sort themselves out. However, it can actually be a huge relief to get your affairs in order. With the help of an attorney, many people find it is not nearly as cumbersome a process as they thought.  Part of the problem is that for many people, “estate planning” can seem like a somewhat vague and daunting process reserved for the wealthy. However, estate planning is really...

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Florida?

Family structures can be complex to navigate and understand. While it may seem like common sense that allowing children to have a relationship with their grandparents would be beneficial to them in most cases, their parents do not always agree. Sometimes the parental reasons are valid, while other times they are genuinely not in the best interest of the child. For instance, abusive parents may isolate their children from other family members in order to hide the abuse and deny them an external support system. This can be scary and frustrating for grandparents who want to make sure that their...

The Importance of a Partnership Agreement

If you are creating a business with someone, a partnership agreement may not be the first thing on your mind. In fact, often when people are starting businesses they seem to be in agreement on everything, which is great. It is important to recognize, though, that the longer you work together, the stronger each of your opinions will become and the harder it will be to reconcile them. For this reason, making a partnership agreement as soon as possible when starting a business will give you the best chance of starting on and building from the same page. Creating a...

Benefits of Contract Drafting and Review for Small Businesses

If you are a new or small business owner, you may not be thinking much about contracts. Many new business owners believe that when they are just starting out, it is better to build informal relationships with suppliers and distributors. However, in reality, these informal agreements can cause a lot of ambiguity on both sides, which can result in major miscommunications and fallouts that threaten everything you have built. It is important to understand that contracts are like bricks when you are building your business. Having contracts properly drafted and reviewed helps you build a strong foundation with contractors, business...

Four Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements That Have Nothing to Do With Divorce

Many people struggle to separate the concept of a prenuptial agreement from the idea of divorce. This creates a barrier to even considering such an agreement for many individuals, who fear that a prenuptial agreement is heralding an early end to their marriage. However, this misconception really does a disservice to couples who could benefit in many ways from these kinds of agreements. In fact, in many ways, a prenuptial agreement can serve as a testament to the relationship you are building with your future spouse.  Strengthen and codify your values. A marriage is strongest when it is a true...

Pandemic Estate Planning: Why Make a Living Will?

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered and affected nearly all aspects of our lives, and we have worked hard to adapt by social distancing, home-schooling, and working remotely. One thing that some people may have overlooked in focusing on trying to stay healthy and survive the day-to-day challenges is thinking about what would happen if they actually got sick. It is understandable; it is far easier to survive each day when you are not also holding space for your own mortality and worst-case scenarios. Unfortunately, in our current climate, and with the virus spreading internationally, contracting COVID-19 is no longer a...

Black-Owned Businesses are Thriving in South Florida

You may be shocked to learn that only 2.2% of businesses in the United States have Black owners. While racial disparities exist nationwide, South Florida has been proving itself ripe for boosting Black-owned businesses. In fact, two of the nation’s top five best cities for Black business owners are located in South Florida — Pembroke Pines and Miramar. Both of these cities have a 3.11% Black-ownership rate, above the national average, and higher than the vast majority of the 129 cities assessed for the study.  Obstacles for Black-Owned Businesses  Studies have consistently shown that it is harder for Black business...

How You Can Avoid Florida Probate and Why You Should

Unless you are a wills and estates attorney, you may not be intimately familiar with the concept of probate, but understanding what probate is and how to avoid it can make all of the difference when it comes to effectively distributing your assets after death.  What is Florida Probate?  So, what is probate? Probate is the process by which a person’s assets are distributed after their death. This process may involve settling debts, paying estate taxes, and distributing assets. Depending on the specific circumstances, probate can look different. For instance, probate will unfold differently depending on whether you have a...

Why to Say “I Don’t” to a DIY Divorce

It is no secret that the word “divorce” can instantly conjure fears of long, drawn-out court battles, drained bank accounts, and ruined relationships. So it is also no surprise that many couples hope to avoid these outcomes by taking care of it themselves. However, even though it may look simple enough to fill in the blanks on a flat-rate website, there is a lot that can go wrong with this overly simplified approach. DIY divorces should only be considered in cases where you and your spouse are both honest, transparent, have no shared dependent children, have few assets, are in...

Appointing a Florida Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney gives another individual the power to act as an agent on your behalf, for either a general purpose or a specific reason. The scope of the power of attorney can be tailored to your needs for the agent. For instance, you can execute a power of attorney that allows another individual to close on the sale of your home, sell your car, sign a contract on your behalf, or access your bank account. A power of attorney can be executed for just about any legal task, including forming wills, trusts, and giving gifts. Essentially, a power...

Florida S-Corp vs. LLC: Making the Right Choice for Your Business

An important step in any successful business is making it an official, legally recognized entity. There are a number of types of Florida businesses, including S-Corporations, which are technically not legal business entities, but rather, an elected tax status that essentially lets the IRS know to tax your business as a partnership. The best kind of business for you depends on a number of factors, such as the organization and nature of your business, the amount of liability you are comfortable with, and possible tax benefits and drawbacks.  Two of the most popular kinds of Florida businesses are S-Corporations (S-Corps)...

How Healthy is Your Attorney-Client Relationship?

Studies show that from doctors to massage therapists, trust in a person’s provider can have a massive impact on the overall experience and success of an endeavor. Patients who trust their doctors have a 30% higher success rate on average, compared to patients who are apathetic or distrustful of their medical care providers. It is no surprise then, that the healthiest relationship between an attorney and client will be one based in trust. So that begs the question, what exactly defines a healthy attorney-client relationship?  Feeling Seen and Supported in Your Legal Goals  Feeling seen means that you feel supported...

Why Form a Florida Partnership?

If you are considering forming a partnership in Florida, or transitioning an existing business into a partnership, you may have a lot of concerns about how that will affect your overall business structure and bottom line, and whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Whether a partnership is right for you and your business depends entirely on the goals you have and on your specific situation. There can be huge benefits associated with partnerships, as well as increased liability and other drawbacks.  Ultimately, only you can decide whether a partnership is the structure that...

Do You Qualify for an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?

If you are considering divorce, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the prospect and unsure of where to start. It is easy to understand why. We all know couples who have spent years and fortunes on seemingly endless divorce battles only to both end up completely emotionally and financially depleted. However, this is not the only way. Under Florida law, there are options available that would allow you to have a very different experience of divorce. That is not to say that divorce is ever easy, but if you and your spouse are committed to making this a collaborative process,...
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