Estate Planning Definitions

Important Estate Planning Definitions by Coral Springs Estate Planning Attorney

What is a Will?

A will is a written document, signed and witnessed, which sets out instructions for the disposition of your estate only at the time of or after the event of your death.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a set of instructions which come into effect as soon as the trust is created which means that it provides property management during your life and/or after your death. My best comparison is a trust is almost like a company, one you manage while your alive, and if your become incapacitated or die, it can be managed by your successors according to your instructions.

What is Probate?

The probate process takes place after someone passes away. Its primary purpose is to ensure your loved one’s assets transfer to the proper beneficiaries.

Differences between a Will and a Trust

Apart from the main difference that a will comes into effect only after death whereas a trust is in effect during lifetime and after death, there are many more things to think about when deciding between the two estate planning tools. Here is a list of some of the more significant differences which a trust attorney can explain in further detail:

•A will and the property in the will is subject to the probate process; a trust and assets in the trust are not subject to the probate process. However, assets in both plans may be subject to federal estate tax.

•Because a trust does not go through the probate process it may remain a private affair; a will goes through probate and therefore it becomes accessible to the public.

•A will allows you to assign a guardian for your minor children; a trust allows you to control when and how your minor children, grandchildren and other dependents access your trust assets.

•Often, the costs to set up and manage a trust can be much higher than setting up a will.

•The assets in a will do not need to be managed; a trust can only plan for assets which have actively been transferred into the trust, therefore the assets in a trust need to be actively managed.

•The actions of a trustee are not usually overseen by a court; the actions of an executor of a will are court supervised through the probate process.

•Because a will is only effective after death, it does not allow for instances where the person becomes incapacitated through injury or illness or old age; a trust provides a plan for the possibility of incapacity.

So, which is better for your family?

Obviously both have their pros and their cons and if this breakdown of wills and trusts cannot help you decide which plan you should use, a qualified and knowledgeable Trust attorney in Coral Springs will be able to point you in the right direction and help you put together a comprehensive estate plan.

Call our Coral Springs Probate attorney today! 954-334-1520.

The Basics of Estate Planning in Florida

Estate Planning Attorneys in Coral Springs: The Basics of Estate Planning in Florida

Estate-Planning-Attorneys-in-Coral-SpringsIf you have recently moved to or have always lived in Florida our trusted estate planning attorneys in Coral Springs at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. are here to tell you more about the basics of estate planning in Florida. The last thing you generally think of when deciding to retire in Florida is estate planning and sourcing estate planning attorneys. In Coral Springs you could easily spend your golden years playing golf, sunbathing on the beach, having the grandchildren visit, and quite simply enjoying your retirement. However an important consideration that is all too often overlooked is what will happen to your property without proper estate planning? Attorneys in Coral Springs all agree that proper estate planning is crucial, but where do you begin? As experienced estate planning attorneys in Coral Springs, we have listed the 5 basic documents that you will need to help look after your future.

#1. A Will:
The basic principle of a will is that it gives you the ability to leave your property to whoever you choose when you die. Without a will, your property will be distributed according to Florida law or the law of whatever state your estate may be opened in. This document is also able to simplify the probate process through you being able to appoint a personal representative or executor of your will.

#2. A Living Will:
A living will is the document that lays out instructions specifies what should happen while you are dying. It details things such as artificially provided food and water, intensive care, artificial respiration, and whether you would like to receive pain reliving medication. Most importantly a living will also states whether you want to be resuscitated or not.

#3. Health Care Surrogacy:
This document gives someone else the ability to make medical decisions for you should you be incapable of making those medical decisions yourself. It is broader than a living will, as it covers you during periods where you may not be dying but are still unable to make medical decisions.

#4. Durable Power of Attorney:
A durable power of attorney gives a representative the power to manage your business affairs if you are unable to. A common misconception is that because a spouse is named as co-owner of bank accounts and is named on the deed to your house, you don’t need a durable power of attorney. However it is important to remember that your spouse cannot sign contracts, deeds, tax returns etc even though they are named as co-owner on an account thus it is prudent to have a durable power of attorney.

#5. Pre-Need Guardianship Designation:
This document gives you the ability to name a guardian to take care of you and your needs should you find yourself in the position of not being able to take care of yourself and a court case is brought against you.

To begin your estate planning process make sure to give the estate planning attorneys at Reinfeld and Cabrera, P.A. a call today!

5 Probate Myths

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As experienced probate attorneys in Coral Springs we at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. have often come across 5 probate myths that people are convinced are true. As all good probate attorneys in Coral Springs will tell you estate planning is a serious business and essential if you are concerned about what will happen should you become incapacitated or pass away. However it seems that thanks to these 5 probate myths, proper estate planning is often overlooked as costly and unnecessary. That is why we at Reinfeld & Cabrera feel compelled, as trusted probate attorneys in Coral Springs, to make sure you are not falling victim to these top 5 probate myths.

#5. I already have an estate plan and don’t need to think about it again.
This is a constant source of frustration for probate attorneys in Coral Springs. Your estate plan needs to be monitored and updated every time you have a major life change such as divorce, marriage, birth etc. Ideally you should consult with your attorney every four or five years to discuss changes in your circumstances that could affect your estate plan.

#4. There is no need to make my spouse a beneficiary.
Couples tend to assume that if one spouse dies, the other will simply continue living with all the assets in their estate, and that all the assets of the deceased spouse will automatically go to the living spouse. There are so many factors that influence how this works, such as how your assets are titled; and whom you have named as the beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement accounts. Furthermore if you die without a will, what is left of your estate will be divided between your spouse and your children. This could create issues especially for spouses who are financially dependent on each other or have children from other marriages.

#3. Death Taxes.
As probate attorneys in Coral Springs we have often heard estate tax referred to as unfair “death tax”. When it comes to federal estate tax did you know that there is a $5 million+ federal estate tax exemption? Thanks to this exemption it is estimated that less than 0.10% of estates will be subject to federal estate taxes. When it comes to state estate taxes most states actually impose their own estate tax, which is significantly less then the Federal Government exemption. However, in the state of Florida, the estate tax is not assessed and no portion of what is bequeathed in a will or a trust to an individual will go to the state.

#2. Probate – no problem!
If you live in Florida, this is simply not true! Without the help of a probate attorney your family and loved ones will be left to navigate a gauntlet of complicated probate procedures and be at the mercy of a probate judge who does not know you or your family.

#1. Estate planning is for the rich.
Unless you live in a cave with not a penny or asset to your name you will need an estate plan. An estate plan does not have to be expensive. By speaking with a knowledgeable probate attorney, such as Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. you will be able to structure an estate plan that will best suit you and you family’s needs.

Losing Control With Joint Ownership

estate-planning-joint-ownershipWhen it comes to estate planning, one should always be aware of the possibility of losing control with joint ownership. At Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. we want you to understand that while joint ownership may have some important benefits, there are some aspects that can cause a lot of problems later on.

Joint ownership, also known as joint tenancy, with right of survivorship is the most common form of joint ownership. For example, in most marriages most assets are owned jointly. Joint ownership with the right of survivorship is different to other types of joint ownership with one important defining feature – if one partner in the joint ownership dies, ownership is automatically transferred to the other partner(s). This can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because property shared through joint ownership does not undergo the probate process, thus eliminating some major expenses. The only exception is if there is no other partner for the property to go to (if, for example, both die at the same time or if the last owner does not declare another joint owner before their death) in which case the property will be subject to the probate process.

The real problem comes in with the fact that property transferred through joint ownership to any remaining partners is not controlled by any wills because transfer of property takes place immediately upon death. The asset is now completely under the control of the surviving owner/s and they can do whatever they please with it. This could result in you unintentionally disinheriting your own family. This happens most often when siblings are in joint ownership. If one dies the property will not be inherited by his family regardless of what his will may say, exceptions may apply. But when the second/last owner dies the property will then be inherited by her family. Scenarios like this can happen to any family (even blended families with children from separate marriages for example) and are becoming an ever-increasing problem.

Some other problems that may occur with joint ownership include gift and income tax, the increased risk of being named in a lawsuit and of losing the asset to a creditor, limiting your tax planning options, the difficulty of removing unwanted co-owners, the court becoming a “new” co-owner if your partner becomes incapacitated etc.

While the benefit of avoiding probate may be a big draw card to many people, an experienced attorney will always make your aware of any potential dangers and how you can avoid them with proper estate planning. Call Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. today for a free estate planning consultation to see how you can avoid losing control of your assets.

Estate Planning and Incapacity

estate-planning-incapacityAt Reinfeld & Cabrera P.A. we understand that many of our clients may have concerns when it comes to estate planning and incapacity. There are many things one needs to take into consideration when drawing up a will – the effects of incapacity should definitely be one of those considerations.

Incapacity is when a person reaches the point where they can no longer take care of themselves or handle their financial affairs. This can happen at any time to any person and causes may include things such as heart attacks, strokes, dementia or injuries from an accident. Incapacity becomes a big problem especially when your signature is needed – like to sell/refinance assets to pay for expenses or to withdraw savings. In some cases you may still be able to sign your name but other people might think that you are unable to make sound decisions.

While going through the estate planning process, many people may think that a will is all they need, but a will does not deal with incapacity. A will only goes into effect after a person has died. It is a common mistake to think that the executor of your will can automatically step in to take care of your affairs in the case of incapacity. This means that many people will lose control of their assets and end up under the court’s supervision even before they die because they have no legal document that covers them in case of incapacity. Family, friends or your executor cannot sign for anything for you and, regardless of you having a will or not, they will have to petition the court to declare incompetence and to appoint someone to act on your behalf.

So what actually happens when the court gets involved? Firstly, there will be a public hearing to determine your competency. This will mean that any records used in court and all proceedings will be open to the public. The proceeding can become very expensive as court costs, lawyers fees, examinations and testimonies from qualified physicians, bonds and auditor fees can add up quickly. Then if the court declares you incompetent you will lose most of your rights as a citizen and you and your family will lose control of your assets and finances. The court will appoint someone to handle your affairs for you – this person is not necessarily someone you know or even like and will most likely be a professional guardian who is a complete stranger. This process can be very time consuming because the court appointee has to keep detailed records, report all expenses to the court (who oversees all your financial affairs) and post bond.

It is important to keep all of this in mind when seeing a lawyer regarding estate planning. At Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. we do our best to make sure that our clients are covered for every possibility and that you always remain in control of your affairs.

Planning Ahead for Minors During Your Estate Planning Process

estate-planning-processWe at Reinfeld & Cabrera P.A. believe that planning ahead for minors during your estate planning process should be one of your top priorities. When it comes to estate planning there is a misconception that by simply naming a guardian for your minor children/grandchildren in your will, the named guardian will automatically be able to use the inheritance to look after your minor children/grandchildren. However, owing to poor estate planning, often this is not actually the case. Proper estate planning is crucial when it comes to planning ahead for minor children and grandchildren.

In order to ensure that you have properly planned ahead for your minor children and grandchildren during your estate planning process, you need to understand what happens after your death when your will is probated. When a will is probated the court will set up a guardianship for minors and appoint a guardian to care for and raise them. While a court will generally appoint the person named in your will as guardian, it could appoint someone else. In the case of divorced or separated parents courts tend to prefer to appoint a natural parent as guardian despite someone else being named in the will. This becomes incredibly important when you take into account the fact that many courts often do not have the resources to monitor all guardianships, leaving it up to a potentially unsupervised guardian to access your child or grandchild’s inheritance.

In order to avoid this there is the option of setting up a children’s trust however you must remember that your assets will only fund this type of trust after your will has been through the probate process. This could become an issue should the assets be depleted after the probate process and once expenses have been paid as there may be too little left to provide for your minors as you had planned. Furthermore, if you become incapacitated owing to illness or injury, your children’s trust cannot go into effect while you are still alive. Because you will still be alive your will cannot be probated and instead your children will probably be placed under the control of the courts.

Something else to bear in mind is that if you out rightly leave titled assets to a minor, make a minor joint owner, or give a titled asset to a minor you could be unintentionally be creating a court guardianship. This is owing to the fact that cannot conduct business in their names even though they can be on a title. Another way of unintentionally creating a court guardianship is by listing a minor as a beneficiary on something like a life insurance policy, retirement benefits or IRA. Institutions that pay beneficiary proceeds will not knowingly pay large sums to a minor, as they do not want the legal responsibility attached to this.

Please keep in mind this article does not address homestead concepts which might involve parents with minor children. This is discussed on a case by case basis.

As you can see there are a number of things that you need to take into account when planning ahead for minors during your estate planning process. For these reasons, we recommend contacting an experienced estate planning attorney – such as Reinfeld & Cabrera P.A.

How a Living Trust Saves Estate Taxes

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When it comes to estate planning, we at Reinfeld & Cabrera P.A. are here to tell you how, together with proper estate planning, a living trust saves estate taxes. As the old saying goes, “nothing is certain but death and taxes”, however did you know that with a living trust and proper estate planning you could reduce or even eliminate estate taxes? If you are still not convinced that you should invest your time in a living trust with an attorney who is well versed in estate planning we suggest you keep reading!

So what is a living trust (also called a revocable living trust)? Basically it is a document that contains instructions about what should happen to your assets when you die. It differs from a will in the fact that it gives you the opportunity to avoid probate at death. A living trust gives YOU control over the assets you leave to minor children and/or grandchildren, and if you become incapacitated it prevents the court from controlling your assets.

Now that you know what a living trust is, the next question you are probably asking is how does a living trust save estate taxes. The first important thing to do when it comes to creating a living trust is to ensure that both you and your spouse utilize your estate tax exemptions. When working with your attorney on your estate planning chat about inserting a tax-planning provision into your living trust which will split the total amount of each spouses estate into two equal trusts. Simply by planning ahead both spouses are able to use their tax exemptions and pay no estate tax.

If, for example, you and your spouse have a combined estate value of $10,680,000 by creating a living trust and utilizing your tax exemption through a tax-planning provision you could split your combined estate into two trusts of $5,340,000.00 , each and save on estate taxes when you and/or your spouse passes away. When you die your trust will use your 5,340,000.00 exemption and then when your spouse dies their trust will use their 5,340,000.00 exemption thus reducing your taxable estate to $0. This way the value of your estate will go to your beneficiaries.

The other benefit of estate planning making use of a living trust is that you can maintain control over how your part of the estate is managed and distributed. Furthermore the assets in your estate will be valued and taxed only at your death and any appreciation after you pass away will not be included in your spouse’s estate. The assets in your trust will, however, be available to your spouse if they need.

While this estate planning feature is only available to married couples, there are other options to help save you taxes if you are single. Simply give one of our experienced estate planning attorney’s at Reinfeld & Cabrera P.A. a call to discuss what options are available to you.

Voted Favorite Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys in Coral Springs by Readers Choice

attorney-in-coral-springsIt’s that time of year again where you get to vote for your favorite businesses in Coral Springs! The Coral Springs City News Reader’s Choice Awards honours outstanding local businesses by allowing the readers to choose their favorite businesses in a number of categories. This year we are happy to announce that we have been voted by you, the readers of City News, as the favorite estate planning and probate attorneys in Coral Springs for the second consecutive year.

There is nothing more important when preparing for your future than having a carefully developed estate plan. If you are looking for a real estate attorney in Coral Springs to help you with your estate planning or any possible probate issues you may have, you will be thoroughly satisfied with attorney Alan J. Reinfeld. With his seasoned knowledge of elder law, estate planning, probate and trust administration he has the ability to council you through the entire legal process and litigate matters on your behalf should the need ever arise. We serve a diverse client base and can help you whether you are starting a family, looking to retire or if you are a business owner yourself. We can help you by writing your will, trust, health care proxy, or by protecting you and your loved ones by avoiding probate.

At the Law Office of Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. we pride ourselves for offering some of the finest attorneys in Coral Springs. There are many reasons why choosing an estate planning and probate attorney in Coral Springs from Reinfeld & Cabrera would be a good option. However, the best reason to choose us is that our hard work and professionalism in representing other residents of Coral Springs is rewarded with you having voted us as the favorite estate planning and probate attorneys in Coral Springs by Readers Choice 2014. So make sure that when you are planning for your future you have a Readers Choice recommended estate planning and probate attorney in Coral Springs to give you the peace of mind you deserve.

Violation of Parenting Plan

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You may already know how your divorce can be very difficult for your children and that it can affect them quite severely. This is why having a good parenting plan in place is of the utmost importance for both you and your kids. But what happens when there is a violation of your parenting plan? Or what things constitute as a violation of a parenting plan? To ease your worries and help you make the transition to using a parenting plan the divorce attorneys of Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. are here to answer your questions.

When you consult your divorce attorney with regards to drawing up your parenting plan, it is important that both you and your ex-spouse are on the same page. You want it to be as fair as possible while still maintaining the relationship with your kids that you want. Compromises will have to be made from both parties to ensure that a reasonable parenting plan is put into place. This is important because it will mean that a violation of the parenting plan will be less likely.

More importantly, you should know when your parenting plan is being violated and what to do in the case of a violation. Your divorce attorney would have a parenting plan which is unique to your situation; however there are a few common violations which can apply to almost any parenting plan. These include but are not limited to: avoiding payment of child support, travelling with the children without notice, moving away with your children without notice, not letting the other parent provide or help decide on childcare when you are unable to do so, withholding visitation or not following the time sharing schedule. While these are all possible areas of violation, you must remember that each parenting plan is unique to your family. So you should always consult your divorce attorney when it comes to the specifics of your parenting plan.

Now that we have established some possible violations which may arise, what do you do when a violation of your parenting plan occurs? The first thing you should do is to contact your divorce attorney. They will be able to guide you with dealing with the situation. They will know whether the violation is serious enough to pursue in court or if it should just be recorded in case of another incident. It is not always a good idea to take every violation to court as this may become a costly affair and cause resentment between parties. However, it is good to have a record of all violations, major or minor, to build up a solid background for when or if you need to take another violation of parenting plan to court.

At the end of the day, your divorce attorney will be your best asset when it comes to dealing with any issues with the parenting plan that may transpire. They can save you a lot of time, money and heartache while keeping your and your child’s best interests as a priority.

Preplanning Arrangements – Funeral and Estate Planning

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Elder law attorney Alan J. Reinfeld from Reinfeld & Cabrera, PA. is experienced when it comes to helping you with your preplanning arrangements. While preplanning is a highly recommended practice when it comes to your funeral arrangements and estate planning it also comes with its pitfalls. The knowledgeable elder law attorneys at Reinfeld & Cabrera will be able to help you with all considerations to ease you and your family through this difficult process.

Preplanning arrangements are fantastic when it comes to making sure that your family does not have to worry about your funeral or estate after you are gone. It also ensures that your wishes are carried out and that there are sufficient funds left to finance your funeral and cover any other costs that may occur. However, you will need to consult a good elder law attorney to make sure that all of your bases are properly covered and that your preplanning arrangements are legally and financially sound. It is an unfortunate reality that many people try to take advantage of the elderly and the emotional stresses of preplanning by offering unsound legal advice or general preplanning documents which are not tailored to suit your specific needs. It would be a shame for all your preplanning arrangements to go to waste for an issue which could have easily been avoided by referring to a qualified elder law attorney.

A massive pitfall of the preplanning process is the prepaying of services. Recently, some services offering preplanning and prepaying programs have been found to misuse and misspend the money entrusted to them. To prevent this potentially devastating event from occurring, it is prudent that you seek advice from a trusted elder law attorney concerning finding a preplanning and prepaying option which will save you and your family unnecessary costs.

Whatever your decision or wishes are when it comes to preplanning arrangements for your funeral and estate, the attorneys at Reinfeld & Cabrera always have your best interests at heart and will help you through this immensely emotional process.