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March 2013 Archives

Florida family falls prey to elder financial abuse

It's common for aging parents or family members to sign a power of attorney agreement. These legal documents allow a trusted person (the "agent"), usually a close family member such as a child, grandchild, or sibling, to act upon the principal's behalf when the owner of the estate becomes incapacitated, most often due to age or illness. Unfortunately, there is great potential for powers of attorney to be abused. When an older person is facing incapacity, it's important to understand the risks and how to prevent financial abuse.

Florida law allows for some changing of trusts

"Decanting" a trust is a legal option that's becoming more popular; some states have adopted decanting statutes, including Florida. To decant a trust means to rewrite or redo the old trust to account for changes or unforeseen circumstances that the original wording in the trust may not cover. At first glance, it might seem like the beneficiaries are attempting to reword trusts to suit their own financial whims, but many estate planning attorneys say this is rarely the case.

Changes to federal estate tax are beneficial for most

Federal tax laws have finally stabilized into a clear deal that benefits most estate owners across the country. Under the new rules, each individual can exclude $5.25 million, including gifts, from their estate taxes this year. In addition, the new top estate tax rate is 40 percent. Financial advisors say that under these new rules, very few estate owners will be affected by estate taxes - news that undoubtedly has many Floridians relieved.

Litigation over James Brown's will finally at an end

When James Brown left behind a detailed will and trust before his death in 2006, he couldn't have expected the battle that ensued between his children, a former wife, and the South Carolina Attorney General. After years locked in a will contest, the Supreme Court finally ruled that the Attorney General's actions, which effectively ignored the wishes of the soul superstar, were unjust.

Healthcare proxies can make end-of-life decisions easier

For many people in Florida, thinking about estate planning can cause mixed emotions. While planning for the disposition of one's estate after death is necessary, it can be uncomfortable to think about one's mortality. However, not all estate planning decisions will have an impact only after you should die.

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