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Probate & Trust Administration

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Part III of IV Parts: Five Keys CPA’s Should Know to Avoid Probate (and Trust) Problems & Litigation

Fees – Executor, Attorney, CPA and Investment Advisors

Nothing seems to quite focus the mind like a discussion of professional fees. From the client’s perspective administering an estate can be an exercise in drudgery for the fiduciary and the decedent’s family members or beneficiaries.  There are often long periods of time when nothing much seems to be happening, yet sometimes the clients and the family perceive that substantial fees are being incurred.  Often, significant taxes must be paid or set aside. Plus, there is real work to be done by the fiduciary.


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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Part II of IV Parts: Five Keys CPA’s Should Know to Avoid Probate (and Trust) Problems & Litigation

Careful Asset Review

CPAs are generally very good at identifying a client’s assets and categorizing them according to criteria that is important to the CPA, which typically means understanding the income tax issues with regard to the decedent’s assets.  In this instance, the review of the estate’s assets should focus on transfer issues that arise in estate administrations as well as identifying issues regarding income tax and capital gains and losses. Some examples of important questions in this regard: Are there securities in the estate; Were they titled in the name of the decedent?; Was there a designation of beneficiary or an “In Trust For” or “Pay on Death” on the account?; Were they titled jointly with rights of survivorship?;  If there are marketable securities, how were they titled at the date of death?; and  How will basis be determined (stepped-up at date of death or not)?; Will there be long term capital gains, or short-term losses or the counterpoint to each of those?; Before securities are sold or liquidated, the fiduciary should make a careful analysis as to who may bear a tax penalty and who may obtain a tax favorable treatment.  In some cases, depending on the assets, the titling, or the terms of a trust, one beneficiary may obtain a significantly more favorable treatment than another.  The really important point here is to simply consider this prior to making any changes in positions.  It is also important to consider all these factors before allowing too much time to pass.  How much time is too much time?  Generally, the test will be whether it was reasonable under the circumstances for the fiduciary to act or not. We’ll discuss in more detail below.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Part I of IV Parts: Five Keys CPA’s Should Know to Avoid Probate (and Trust) Problems & Litigation

Sooner or later every CPA will have clients or members of a client’s family that will require either a probate administration, or a trust administration or both. In many cases, the probate and trust administration process may be uneventful, and everything will go smoothly for the clients and the family.  When that is the case, that’s great!  However, there is a new reality emerging in probate and trust administrations in Florida and around the country, which is increased litigation.  In some cases, it may be fair to say that we are seeing some very aggressive instances of law suits and litigation.  The purpose of this article is to provide some suggestions to help identify issues before things become unmanageable, and hopefully to mitigate or protect our clients from the possibility of costly litigation.


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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nuts and Bolts of Florida Probate

Many Florida residents have heard or experienced horror stories regarding the probate administration process in Florida. Although having to open a probate is not necessarily the worst-case scenario, it can quickly become overwhelming for the beneficiaries and the Personal Representative of the estate. While each probate administration will vary based on the unique facts and circumstances, this article will attempt to demystify the probate process by providing an overview of the steps involved in a formal probate administration in Florida.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top Five Traps to Avoid When Acting as a Fiduciary

Let’s face it, not all family members see eye-to-eye on all issues, and any probate attorney will tell you that underlying issues between family members usually do not get better after the death of a loved one. In fact, issues among family members often get worse when there is real money at stake. Even families with amicable relationships can become adversarial due to issues which arise in a probate or trust administration. An experienced probate attorney will be able to provide guidance to a Personal Representative or Trustee by anticipating and mitigating potential and perhaps even some inevitable disagreements among beneficiaries.


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Top Five Traps to Avoid in Estate and Trust Litigation

Let’s face it, not all family members see eye-to-eye on all issues, and any probate attorney will tell you that underlying issues between family members usually do not get better after the death of a loved one. In fact, issues among family members often get worse when there is real money at stake.  Even families with amicable relationships can become adversarial due to issues which arise in a probate or trust administration. An experienced probate attorney will be able to provide guidance to a Personal Representative or Trustee by anticipating and mitigating potential and perhaps even some inevitable disagreements among beneficiaries.


Read more . . .


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