Florida Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law Blog
C. Randolph Coleman
The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC
10161 Centurion Parkway, Suite 310
Jacksonville, FL  32256
Phone: (904) 448-1969
Fax: (904) 448-5244
Email:  RColeman@TheColemanLawFirm.net
Florida Asset Protection & Estate Planning and Probate Blog

Most Important Parts of Estate Planning Can't Get Legislated Away

There is always a media swarm around the death of a celebrity, especially when they’re young, active in their careers, beloved, and tragic. The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in early February is no exception. Hoffman was an incredibly talented actor who appeared to be in the prime of his career. But that career was cut short by a history of depression and substance abuse. His long-time partner found him dead in their Manhattan apartment after Hoffman apparently overdosed on heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and other drugs.

Most often, articles about the estate plans of dead celebrities focus on the legal challenges they raise or the amount of estate tax that could have otherwise been avoided. Many of the articles about Hoffman’s death — and Sopranos star James Gandolfini before him — bear this out. But recently an article surfaced about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate plan that caught my eye. Published in JD Supra’s Business Advisor, author Anne Bjerken noted that Hoffman’s estate plan specifically included instructions for the guardian of his minor son. The instructions ...

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Welcome D. Kent Sausaman, JD, MBA, LLM to The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC

We take great pride and pleasure in welcoming D. Kent Sausaman to The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC.
D. Kent Sausaman, Jacksonville tax attorney and business lawyer, estate planning attorney, and probate lawyer

Kent Sausaman is an attorney with The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC.  His practice focuses on estate planning, estate and trust administration, income tax planning, asset protection planning, and business planning. Mr. Sausaman has experience representing closely held corporations, partnerships, subchapter S corporations, and limited liability companies.Mr. Sausaman is also experienced in representing partnerships in the acquisition, financing, and operation of rental real estate.

In addition, Mr. Sausaman is well versed in navigating the passive activity loss rules and is the author of "The Passive Loss Rules and Rental Real Estate in a Simple Trust," published by Thompson Reuters in Real Estate Taxation (WG&L) in 2013. During law school, Mr. Sausaman was a legal extern at the Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief ...

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Durable Power of Attorneys for Medicaid Planning

Most elderly people who need skilled nursing care usually do not have legal capacity to sign appropriate documents to restructure their assets and qualify for Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care.  A properly drafted durable power of attorney that is signed by the elderly person before she loses legal capacity is a must have to preserve the elder's assets from nursing home spend down.

The durable power of attorney can also be the subject of abuse by the (typically) adult child who is named as the agent, or attorney in fact, for the elder person.  Florida has criminal penalties for the financial abuse of the elderly through the improper use of a durable power of attorney.  Texas also has similar statutes.  

Here's a report from ElderlawAnswers.com that shows what can happen when financial abuse of the elderly occurs through the improper use of a durable power of attorney.
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At The Coleman Law Firm, we take great pride in our service to clients with special needs family members.   To deepen our knowledge and steep our expertise, I recently attended a Special Needs Planning Immersion Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona.   Surrounded by dozens of the brightest attorneys dedicated to special needs planning in our country, we dissected the law, debated planning strategies, and poured over ideas to better provide our clients with security and certainty in planning for the future of their loved ones.

The number of people affected by disabling illness and injury is

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An Experienced Elder Law Attorney Won't Make This Mistake

As a law firm with our focus on elder law matters, estate planning, probate and trust administration, and related areas of the law, our lawyers participate in many forums to keep up to date with current developments in those areas of the law. One of those forums is a list serve sponsored by ElderCounsel, LLC that gives us access to input from several hundred elder law attorneys around the country.  Through the list serve we have the opportunity to contribute our experiences and learn from the experiences of the other elder law attorneys who participate.

This morning there was a post by an elder law attorney in another state that should be shared with those who find themselves needing Medicaid to help with the high cost of skilled nursing care.  The question raised by this attorney dealt with the use of a Qualified Income Trust ("QIT").  A QIT is a technique allowed by the Medicaid laws of many states that will allow the ...
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Estate Planning Needed For Any Estate

A couple of days ago I received an email from a realtor who I recently met who had a question about estate planning.  Her question was:  What level of assets do your clients need to own before your services benefit them?

After I responded to her question, she told me that the information was very helpful because she now understood why proper estate planning is so important for practically everyone.  Her response encouraged me to post my answer to her in this article.  As you will see from the following answer to her question, most everyone needs estate planning, or elder law planning, as some level - regardless of the value of your assets.

Here is my answer to her question:

Hi ——-,

Nice to hear from you.

Our clients span ...

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Ten Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

The following article is reprinted from the GiftLegacy eNewsletter published by the Arthritis Foundation, and written by Philip Walters, the Director of Planned Giving for the Foundation.

Personal Planner

Ten Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

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The Purpose of a Special Needs Trust

We recently met with new clients after they moved from another state.  The mother was concerned about her estate planning, especially concerning her disabled son, after another local attorney told her there was "no such thing" as special needs planning in Florida.  The special needs issue arose for this family after the son became a paraplegic as a result of an automobile accident.

Special needs planning is indeed "special,"  and often overlooked by attorneys who have not obtained special training to ensure they provide proper planning for those with special needs.

A special needs trust allows the funds in the trust to be used for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary, without causing the beneficiary to lose access to any public benefits programs the beneficiary may otherwise entitled to receive.  Such trusts have special requirements for properly drafting the trust document, restrictions on the types of funds that can be contributed to the trusts, and special rules for administering the special needs trust.

Our firm, and our attorneys, have been involved with special needs planning for decades, and have engaged in many plans specifically ...
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How to Make Sure Your Revocable Living Trust Avoids Probate

Earlier this week we began working with some new clients whose father recently passed away.  The father (whose wife passed last year) had established a revocable living trust several years ago.  The clients, the father's sons, did not understand why it was necessary to probate most of their father's assets even though he had a revocable living trust. The answer is fairly simple:  The father never "funded" his revocable living trust.

One of the reasons, if not the most significant, for establishing a revocable living trust is to avoid probate.  A revocable living trust accomplishes probate avoidance only if the trustmaker's assets have been re-titled to the revocable trust.  Re-titling the trustmaker's assets to the trust is the process of "funding" a trust.

Probate law essentially provides that everything I own outright when I die must go through probate to ensure (1) that all of my legitimate creditors ...
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Keep It Legal When Planning for Medicaid Eligibility

I received an email late last night from a client with whom I recently met in my office.  The client's elderly parents, both mother and father (80s an 90s), have had some serious medical problems over past few months.  It now appears that both of them will be needing skilled nursing home care in the near future, if not immediately.

In our office conference we discussed the process involved in planning for Medicaid benefits to pay for the nursing home care for both parents.  The client retained us to engage in Medicaid planning for the parents.  We provided the client with our Medicaid planning questionnaire and asked that it be completed as soon as possible, and we would prepare the Medicaid plan as quickly as possible (probably within two weeks).  I assured the client, based on the information already provided that we could work to have the client's parents eligible for Medicaid nursing home benefits by the end of next ...
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James Gandolfini's Six Estate Planning Mistakes

There has been a lot of discussion about James Gandolfini's will and his estate planning - or perhaps lack of estate planning might be more accurate.  A Forbes article a couple of days ago outlines the biggest shortcomings of Gandolfini's estate planning.

While we don't know the total picture of Mr. Gandolfini's estate planning, we do know he had a last will and testament.  All wills must go through the probate process.  That's how we know so much about Gandolfini's lack of (or incompetent) estate planning.

The first thing we know from the will that was filed in probate is that Gandolfini's estate will pay tens of millions of dollars in estate taxes to the IRS - most of which could have been avoided by proper estate tax planning.  We also know that much of his estate will be distributed outright and free of trust, which suggests that Mr. Gandolfini's family members must be more adroit with financial ...
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Life Expectancy and Health Care Planning

The aging, healthcare and special needs conversation is vitally important to you and your family.
Except for government employees and Social Security, retirement plans that pay benefits until death are pretty much a thing of the past. Plus, people today are living longer. Yet retirees’ need for income that is sustainable and that they will not outlive is unchanged. Adding to the problem, the cost of health care continues to rise more rapidly than inflation and is now one of retirement’s biggest expenses.
Increases in longevity and starting families later means that many people who are nearing retirement age today also have responsibilities to their parents and their children. In addition, two major bear markets and historically low interest rates have taken a toll on many people’s retirement savings.
For all these reasons, many people today are understandably concerned about how they will make it through their retirement years.
In this issue of The Wealth Advisor, we will look ...

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Welcome Aboard Christopher Keever

Please join us in welcoming Christopher D. Keever to our firm.  Chris received his LLM in Taxation from the University of Florida College of Law graduate tax program,and his JD from Florida Coastal School of Law where he graduated with very high honors and was an editor of the Law Review. Chris received his Bachelors degree, with a major in Political Science and Economics, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
probate lawyer, trust administration attorney, small business law
Chris will be working with our clients on probate and trust administration matters, estate planning, and small business law.  Welcome aboard Chris!
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The Accidental Long Term Caregiver

You've heard people say it and maybe you have even said it yourself.  "Don’t worry Mom or Dad, I’ll take care of you in your old age."

This always seems to be a simple loving gesture on your part as you see them beginning to age and settle into retirement. The thought of their actually failing in health or mental capabilities seems absurd or at most, years down the road. Thus it catches most children and spouses unprepared and sometimes surprised when their loved one needs care and help with daily living activities.
A stroke, injury or sudden illness may result in the immediate need for a significant caregiving commitment. On the other hand a slowly progressing infirmity of old age or the slow onset of dementia may require intermittent caregiving. Either way, if you have not made provisions for this, you will accidentally become a "caregiver."

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter made this statement,

 "There are only four kinds of ...

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Long Term Care Planning Becomes More Difficult

An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal reminds us of how difficult a task it has become to plan for our long term care.  With the baby boomer generation turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, the issue of long term care planning is becoming more urgent, more complicated, and more important for the financial security of all families.

The WSJ article, "Long Term Care Insurance Gap Hits Seniors," accurately reflects the current market of long term care insurance - dismal for most. Not only is long term care insurance difficult to meet the underwriting requirements for most people to qualify, but it is becoming increasingly costly to purchase, from a small and declining number of insurance companies.

As the  WSJ article states:

"Currently, Medicare pays for only short stays ...
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Income Tax Planning - Now of More Concern Than The Estate Tax

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (which became law on January 2, 2013) made permanent the temporary estate/gift/generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions established in December 2010, increased the rate on non-exempt estates/gifts/generation-skipping transfers to 40% and introduced substantial new income tax burdens on high income taxpayers and trusts. In addition, 2013 is the year in which both of the Medicare surtaxes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (sometimes referred to as “Obamacare”) kick in. As a result, many people will want to consult their wealth planning professionals for doing more income tax planning, and estate tax planning will become less of a driving force.
In this post, we will examine some of the new income tax provisions you will face in 2013 and beyond and potential planning opportunities that remain in light of these provisions, as well as some different ideas to consider. ...

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Why Estate Planning Is Still Important

Did you know that April is National Financial Literacy Month?

This is the perfect time to sit down with your loved ones to discuss your financial and estate planning objectives. To help you move the discussion forward, we would like to suggest three action items: 
(1) Gather around the computer monitor with your family and view this
webinar recording “The Family Estate Plan: Why You Should Have One and What Happens If You Don’t”
(2) Register for the June 21 webinar “
Life Expectancy and Health Care Planning
(3) Download this

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Famous Probate Case - Atypically Typical

Today's New York Times contains an article about the death of "Barbara Piasecka Johnson, Maid Who Married Multimillionaire, Dies at 76."

Barbara Piasecka Johnson, a Polish immigrant who came to America to work as a maid, first worked for J. Seward Johnson, Sr., the heir to the Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid and baby powder fortune - and then married him.

At his death his six children challenged the will that gave her practically all of Johnson' $500 million net worth. One writer has referred to the probate case as "the largest, costliest, ugliest, most spectacular and most conspicuous" probate battle in American History.

The three year probate litigation generated $24 million in attorney's fees. At the end of the probate litigation, Mrs. Johnson, who came to the United States in 1968 with $200 in her pocket, inherited more than $300 million from her husband's estate at the conclusion of the ...
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Using Trusts to Protect Inherited IRAs

Many people have large IRAs and retirement plan accounts and need special estate planning for these assets. A 2009 study by the Investment Company Institute found that retirement plans account for 34% of all household financial assets, up from 14% in 1978; IRAs alone account for more than 10% of all household financial assets; and 47 million U.S. households have IRAs.
Compare these numbers to the approximately 4,000 estate tax returns that will be required to be filed annually under the new “permanent” estate tax exemption of $5 million adjusted for inflation, and it is easy to see that planning for retirement accounts presents a more significant opportunity for the estate planning advisory team than does estate tax planning.
Most people want to protect their IRA and retirement plan assets for their families, but most do ...

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Helping You Avoid A Tangled Web Left By Loved Ones

For the last two months, we have been singularly focused on helping people get their end of the year planning in place and moving our office to a new location. The year end for 2012 was more busy than usual because of all of the uncertainty surrounding the tax environment, and especially the prospect of estate and gift tax changes that could have created significant increases in those two taxes beginning January 1 of this year. So December was quite hectic.

Then, we packed up our office (after more than 15 years), and moved to a new location. One of the most disruptive activities any small business can experience.

We now have concluded all of the end of the year transactions, Congress has gotten past the fiscal cliff (at least the first part), and we have gotten settled into our new office. Time to focus on the needs of our clients for estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid long term care planning and providing support for them ...
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The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC

10161 Centurion Pkwy, N., Suite 310
Jacksonville, FL  32256
Phone: (904) 448-1969
Fax: (904) 448-5244

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K. Mac Bracewell, Jr.

Jacksonville estate planning, probate and trust administration attorney Mac Bracewell
Mac Bracewell joined The Coleman Law Firm in June of 2012. Mr. Bracewell practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, and guardianship. He represents clients with diverse needs, from those with small estates to those that demand sophisticated estate planning techniques such as drafting and funding irrevocable life insurance trusts,estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning, and forming family limited partnerships. He advises clients concerning planned charitable giving, asset protection, and choice of entity for business creation and succession planning. Mr. Bracewell looks forward to helping clients design and implement practical and innovative estate plans as well as guiding personal representatives through the probate process.

Christopher D. Keever

Christopher D. Keever received his LLM in Taxation from the University of Florida College of Law in 2010. He is a graduate of the Florida Coastal School of Law with very high honors. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelors degree in Economics. Mr. Keever's practice is focused on estate planning, probate and trust administration. Mr. Keever is active in local civic and charitable organizations.


April 2014

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