Estate Planning

Our attorneys offer expertise in estate planning and wealth transfer, which requires consideration of the client's assets and debts, family dynamics, and the client's goals and objectives.  Careful attention must be paid to taxation issues, including potential estate, gift, income and generation-skipping transfer tax consequences.  As part of the estate planning process, we provide comprehensive, tax-sensitive estate planning documents tailored to the individual needs of each client, including: 

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Health care powers of attorney
  • Living wills
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Trust reformation
  • Wealth transfer and protection of assets

Dramatic Changes to Estate Taxes for Florida Residents

On December 17, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (TRA), which makes dramatic changes to the estate, gift, and generation skipping taxes. The TRA:

  • Implements an estate tax for decedents whose death occurs after December 21, 2009 but still allows estates for decedents who die between December 31, 2009, and Jan. 1, 2011 to elect to apply the rules under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) which should only be considered for estates under $5,000,000.
  • Establishes a top rate of 35% with an exclusion amount of $5,000,000, for years 2011 and 2012 for estate, gift, and generation skipping taxes.
  • Allows for portability of the exclusion amount between spouses of the maximum exclusion after Dec. 31, 2010.
  • Provides that the gift tax for 2010 is calculated using a rate schedule with a top tax rate of 35% and a maximum exclusion of $1,000,000; after 2010, the top gift tax rate will also be 35%, but with a maximum exclusion of $5,000,00 for years 2011 and 2012.
  • Provides a generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption of $5,000,000 for transfers made during 2011 and 2012. The GST tax rate will be 35%.
  • The rates and exclusions amounts are only good for 2 years 2011 and 2012.

Inherited Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
Safe from Creditors in the State of Florida

There had been a recent case decided in the State of Florida in the Year 2009, which held that an inherited individual retirement account was not exempt from the beneficiary's creditors. That decision was followed in a Bankruptcy Court decision which followed the State Appellate Court decision.

Based on those cases, the Florida Legislature has passed the following law which takes effect as of May 31, 2011, to overrule those two cases. The new law is found in Florida Statute 222.21(2)(c). It specifically provides that any money or other assets in any fund or account that is exempt from claims of creditors of the owner, beneficiary, or participant does not cease to be exempt after the owner's death by reason of a direct transfer or eligible rollover, including but not limited to, a direct transfer or eligible rollover to an inherited individual retirement account. This law has a retroactive application to all inherited individual retirement accounts without regard to the date that the account was created. The effect of this is that where an individual dies leaving an IRA account to a beneficiary who has creditors and the account is subsequently rolled over or transferred to an inherited individual retirement account of the beneficiary, that such account is exempt from any claims of the beneficiary's creditor.