Category Archives: Probate

Professional Fees, Costs, & Reimbursement of Expenses

A common and very reasonable question to ask in any estate and/or trust administration is “How much will this cost?” There will likely be a number of professionals involved in the estate/trust administration, including attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors. It is not uncommon to have a real property appraiser required to determine the value of […]

Challenges to a Will or Trust

From time to time, the personal representative, trustee, or one of the beneficiaries expresses concern that the will or revocable trust will be challenged. This is not a common occurrence, as it happens infrequently, but can be serious when a challenge does arise. Since a will or trust cannot be challenged until the person who […]

IRAs, 401(k)s, Pensions, and Profit Sharing Plans

On its face, you would think that “Retirement Accounts” such as IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, and profit sharing plans would be the easiest part of a loved one’s estate to administer. The beneficiary should just make a claim, a withdrawal, or roll over the account, right? Actually, a lot of thought should go into the choices […]

Life Insurance and Annuities

Life insurance and annuities are examples of assets that may fall outside of the estate and trust administration. This is due to the fact that these assets are generally distributed pursuant to a designation of beneficiary document. Life insurance is typically owned by the decedent, but may be owned by the decedent’s spouse, children, or […]

Working with the CPA/Tax Return Preparer

When I take on a new estate-planning client, I have them complete a client organizer that, among other things, asks him or her to rate concerns from high to low. Estate taxes commonly rate high, even when the client’s assets are nowhere near the federal estate tax threshold. Why is that? Do people assume that […]

Bank Accounts

When opening a probate estate or trust administration, the personal representative/trustee needs to open an estate checking account or a trust checking account, respectively. This account will receive the income earned and pay all the expenses incurred during the administration. Running all of the income and expenses through one checking account will make it simpler […]

Automobiles and Tangible Personal Property

In Florida, up to two motor vehicles that are held in the decedent’s name and are regularly used as the decedent’s (or his immediate family’s) vehicle are generally exempt from the claims of creditors and can therefore be re-titled to immediate family members outside of a probate process. A surviving spouse can, for example inherit […]

Florida Homestead Issues

What happens to the residence is one of the most anxiety-inducing questions that most surviving spouses endure. When there is no surviving spouse, the home is nevertheless one of the major assets of the estate, and may have a great deal of emotion wrapped up in it. To make matters even more interesting, Florida’s homestead […]

Acting as the Personal Representative

In Florida, we call the administrator of the will the personal representative. Other states refer to this office as the executor. It’s much the same thing. Just because you are named as the personal representative in your loved one’s will does not necessarily mean that you must serve. Before acting in this capacity, understand that […]