FISHER'S LAW OFFICE NEWSLETTERS
Welcome to the NEWSLETTER of Fisher’s Law Office, providing you with legal information you can use in your everyday life. If you have questions about what you read in this newsletter, please call us today.
1. FLORIDA LAW NOW RESTRICTS YOUR RIGHT TO GIVE AWAY YOUR PROPERTY IN YOUR WILL
Generally, under Florida law, your Last Will and Testament dictates who receives your property when you die. However, there are certain rules all clients should know:
Practice Note: If you are divorced and your children are over age 18, you may will your home to anyone you choose.
2. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T WRITE A WILL?
Under Florida law, if you don’t have a valid Will at death, you die “intestate” in which case the state of Florida has a list of individuals who inherit your property. This list is contained in Florida Statutes, Chapter 732.
If you want control over who gets your property when you die, write a Will.
3. WHO INHERITS YOUR PROPERTY WHEN YOU DIE INTESTATE (WITHOUT A WILL)?
Under Florida’s intestate statute, the first $60,000.00 of your estate goes to the surviving spouse and the balance of your estate is split equally between your surviving spouse and your children.
* Practice tip: If your children are not the children of your surviving spouse, then the entire estate is split equally between your wife and your children by a prior marriage.
4. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU INHERIT AN IRA FROM A LOVED ONE?
Suppose your rich aunt is taking distribution from her IRA (Individual Retirement Account) based on her life expectancy and she dies. You are the beneficiary. Under new IRS rules, you should plan to take a distribution of the IRA either by taking a total distribution over the next five years or an annual minimum distribution over your life expectancy. If you fail to elect one of these options, you could be subject to a tax of up to 100% of the amount of the IRA!
The rules for retirement accounts are very complicated. If you inherit an IRA from a loved one who has died, see a competent tax adviser right away.
5. SECRETS TO PROBATE (WHAT LAWYERS AND FINANCIAL ADVISERS AND BANKERS FORGET TO TELL YOU ABOUT WHO GETS YOUR PROPERTY WHEN YOU DIE)
Most people assume that joint bank accounts, 401Ks, IRAs and other jointly held accounts pass to their loved ones according to the terms of their Will. This is not the case! Any accounts you have in joint names generally go to the joint tenant in Florida upon your death. Likewise, the beneficiary you named when you set up your 401K Plan or your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) will inherit the balance in these accounts when you die.
It is important to note that these types of assets do not pass through your Will.
The assets you have in your name only at death are distributed according to the terms of your Last Will and Testament. This process is called probate. Probate assets include items such as a car, a brokerage account in your name only or real estate in your name only.
A home held in joint names with a spouse (called “tenancy by the entireties”) passes immediately to your spouse upon your death.
It is very important that all of our clients investigate how all of their accounts and property are titled to make sure it is consistent with their estate plan.
For example, many clients have perfectly written Wills that carry out their intent but have set up joint bank accounts and retirement plans with the wrong beneficiaries.
If you have any questions about any of these things, see us today. It’s never too late to set up your estate plan but once you die, it’s generally too late to do anything.
6. HOW TO SURVIVE A DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
Below is a list of practical suggestions on how to survive a divorce:
7. IDENTITY THEFT UPDATE: DON’T BE A VICTIM OF “PHISHING”
If you receive an e-mail from your bank, the IRS or your stock broker, watch out!
The latest identity theft fraud starts when a criminal “phishes” for account information by sending you an e-mail that claims to originate from a financial institution or a government authority.
The e-mail looks like an official request for an account update but it’s actually a criminal’s attempt to “phish” for personal information such as account numbers and PIN codes.
Do not answer such e-mails and never click on a link contained in such an e-mail.
Incredibly, such e-mails have a 5% response rate. This is because they look so real. Don’t be fooled. Never respond to a “phishing” e-mail.