Estate Planning: These 4 Documents Should Accompany Your Will

Include these 4 items in your will: Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate & Pre-Need Guardian Designation.

1. Living Will: Florida Statutes now provide for a written declaration by an individual specifying directions as to use of life-prolonging procedures.

2. Durable Power of Attorney: This document can assist in handling the property of a person who has become incapacitated without having to open a guardianship proceeding in court. This is especially valuable for paying the bills and protecting the assets of an incapacitated person.

Health Care Surrogate: Florida law now allows individuals to designate a person to make health care decisions for them when the individual may not be able to do so.3. Health Care Surrogate: Florida law now allows individuals to designate a person to make health care decisions for them when the individual may not be able to do so. Included in this important appointment is the power to decide when to withdraw medical procedures.

4. Pre-Need Guardian Designation: Florida law allows you to designate a person who could be appointed guardian over you should you become incapacitated and/or over your children should you become incapacitated or upon your death. If you fail to designate a guardian, the Court will do so for you if and when it becomes necessary.

AARPAARP Bulletin: Contesting a will and what you should know when estate planning.

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

 

Some of the content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date.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.

When Must the Trustee Provide an Accounting?

Fundamental to trust law, a trustee is always under a duty to give information to a beneficiary. Most states have enacted statutes specifically dealing with this duty to account. The video below goes into more detail.

For the benefit of the hearing impaired, here is the transcript of the video:

In Florida Fla. Stat. 736.0813 provides that a trustee shall provide a trust accounting to the trust beneficiaries at least annually and on the termination of the trust.

The trustee has a whole year to operate as trustee without being required to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries. But, the trustee must provide an accounting annually.

This accounting is the primary method a beneficiary can hold a trustee accountable. Without an accounting, a beneficiary is virtually powerless and at the mercy of the trustee.

Many have asked the question — exactly when is the accounting due? While none of the trust statutes specify a specific time frame when the accounting is due once a year has elapsed, common sense would suggest that a trustee has a reasonable amount of time to provide the accounting.

What is a reasonable amount of time? In my opinion a reasonable amount of time would approximately 60 days from the close of the accounting period. This provides the trustee sufficient time to gather up the final month’s information and assemble the actual trust accounting.

What if the trustee does not provide the trust accounting?

I would suggest that you write to the trustee shortly after the accounting period is up to request an accounting. If the trustee fails or refuses to provide an accounting, you may be justified in arguing that the trustee has committed a breach of fiduciary duty and even a fraud and should at the very least, be removed for intentionally refusing to provide the accounting.

If the accounting is not forthcoming a beneficiary can compel the accounting by filing a law suit for an accounting.

I strongly urge trust beneficiaries to be vigilant in monitoring the trustee and making sure a timely accounting is provided.

Attorney Jay Fleece Is Featured in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III

              Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III

Baskin Fleece partner Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III, was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015 in the field of Trusts and Estates Litigation. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. Over 52,000 leading attorneys cast more than 5.5 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

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

BaskinFleece Handles All Aspects of Trust Administration

Attorneys are best to handle assets from a trust

 

Trust administration is that process whereby assets and cash which were funded into a revocable or irrevocable trust during the decedent’s lifetime or “poured into the trust after his or her passing”, are marshaled/gathered and made ready for distribution to the beneficiaries named in the trust. Trust administration also requires the filing of a notice of trust with the probate court and is the process whereby creditors are paid, and after all Probate and trust administration is handled by BaskinFleecestate and federal tax returns are filed and all creditors and other administrative expenses are paid, the trustee makes a final distribution of the trust assets and cash. The process is similar to Florida probate administration, but there is no circuit judge supervising the administration, nor is a fiduciary bond usually posted, and many times it can be accomplished more efficiently, and thereby cheaper and faster, than a full probate administration.

For more information about Probate and Trusts, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Probate, Estate and Trust Litigation: Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg

As Florida trust administration is not court supervised, it is up to the beneficiaries, rather than the probate judge, to make sure the trustee is discharging his duties in accordance with the trust terms and with the law.Probate litigation encompasses all forms of contested matters arising in a probate matter. Some of the contested issues in Florida probate law include the validity of the decedent’s last will and testament; construing the terms of an ambiguous will; spousal share election under the elective share statute; pretermitted spouse and child issues; excessive fiduciary or attorneys’ fees; creditor claims; breach of fiduciary duty by the personal representative; improper accountings; recovery of estate assets and a plethora of other potential issues involving wills and trusts.

Trust Litigation: Many of the same contested issues in a probate estate also exist in trust matters. The main difference is that an independent civil action needs to be filed in order to invoke the jurisdiction of the court and have summonses issued to the Defendants. As Florida trust administration is not court supervised, it is up to the beneficiaries, rather than the probate judge, to make sure the trustee is discharging his duties in accordance with the trust terms and with the law. For the most part the only way a beneficiary can review what the trustee has done is through the annual accounting which the trustee must provide each qualified beneficiary every year. If the accounting is not provided, the trustee has breached his fiduciary duty to keep beneficiaries informed. There are many other fiduciary duties imposed upon a trustee which, if violated, subject the trustee to removal, surcharge or other remedies imposed by the courts. Our lawyers have handled a variety of wills and trust litigation in the courts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida.

Many of the same contested issues in a probate estate also exist in trust matters.

Trust Litigation: Many of the same contested issues in a probate estate also exist in trust matters. The main difference is that an independent civil action needs to be filed in order to invoke the jurisdiction of the court and have summonses issued to the Defendants. As Florida trust administration is not court supervised, it is up to the beneficiaries, rather than the probate judge, to make sure the trustee is discharging his duties in accordance with the trust terms and with the law. For the most part the only way a beneficiary can review what the trustee has done is through the annual accounting which the trustee must provide each qualified beneficiary every year. If the accounting is not provided, the trustee has breached his fiduciary duty to keep beneficiaries informed. There are many other fiduciary duties imposed upon a trustee which, if violated, subject the trustee to removal, surcharge or other remedies imposed by the courts. Our lawyers have handled a variety of wills and trust litigation in the courts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida.

For more information about Probate and Trusts, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Throughout Florida

 

BaskinFleece has the expertise to assist in estate planning for high-wealth individuals as well as for modest estates requiring only simple wills. - See more at: http://www.baskinfleece.com/practice-areas/estate-planning/#sthash.GP9ZMsOn.dpuf

The estate planning process should always include a thorough examination of not only the tax implications, but also the non-tax ramifications, which might include asset protection, and provisions for long-term healthcare needs.

BaskinFleece prides itself on its unique ability to handle all aspects of wills and trusts, includingestate planning. Estate planning and private wealth transfer may sometimes involve complex tax planning, requiring the assistance of skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel. Wills, trusts and estate planning for most individuals, Wills, trusts and estate planning for most individuals, however, involves making decisions about who is to receive their property after death. BaskinFleece has the expertise to assist in estate planning for high-wealth individuals as well as for modest estates requiring only simple wills - See more at: http://www.baskinfleece.com/practice-areas/estate-planning/#sthash.frBql2HN.dpufhowever, involves making decisions about who is to receive their property after death. BaskinFleece has the expertise to assist in estate planning for high-wealth individuals as well as for modest estates requiring only simple wills. The estate planning process should always include a thorough examination of not only the tax implications, but also the non-tax ramifications, which might include asset protection, and provisions for long-term healthcare needs. The typical “will conference” includes a discussion of Florida’s new power of attorney laws, which are now very comprehensive and complex, as well as the advance directives for living wills, selection of a pre need guardian, and very importantly, a healthcare surrogate.

Our lawyers have handled a variety of cases involving will and trust litigation in the courts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida. BaskinFleece handles all aspects of probate and trust administration. For more information click BaskinFleeceor call us at 727.572.4545.

Guardianships in Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Florida

 

BaskinFleece handles all aspects of guardianships, including uncontested guardianships and guardianship administration. 

Guardianship in general involves the appointment of a Court-supervised guardian, who is sometimes a professional guardian and sometimes a family guardian. In Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg and throughout Florida, a professional guardian must pass a rigorous testing process to become a registered guardian, and all guardians are bonded for 100% of the value of the ward’s liquid assets.

To become a registered guardian, you must pass a rigorous testing process because all guardians need to be bonded for the value of the ward’s liquid assets.A family guardian must pass an eight-hour course.

The guardian is a true fiduciary who is delegated the rights over an individual. This delegation may be subsequent to entry of the Order Determining Incapacity and issuance of Letters of Guardianship. A guardianship may be a plenary guardianship, where the court removes all of the enumerated statutory rights of an individual, or a limited guardianship, where only some of the rights are removed.

BaskinFleece handles all aspects of guardianships, including uncontested guardianships and guardianship administration. For more information click here, or call us at 727.572.4545.