How Can I be Appointed as a Florida Personal Representative?

Florida Personal RepresentativePersonal representatives are required to hire an attorney in Florida.

A Florida personal representative may be appointed in the deceased’s will. If the deceased passed away without a will, then a beneficiary can petition to become the personal representative of the Estate. The Court will appoint a personal representative for the Estate in either instance.

The personal representative is in charge of the administration of the Estate and as such holds a fiduciary responsibility.

A Florida personal representative is required to hire an attorney to guide them through the process, but there are tasks required in the administration of many probates that the personal representative must perform. These may include the obtainment of a safe deposit box inventory, communication with other beneficiaries and heirs if the situation is amicable, and reviewing and signing documents to be submitted to the Court.

If you recently suffered the loss of a loved one and would like to be appointed as the personal representative of the Estate, then contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L.’s probate attorneys today.

Florida One of Top States for Low Tax Burden

According to a recent study by WalletHub, Florida is in the top 10 states for the lowest tax burden on “High Income” and “Middle Income” taxpayers.

It is also the only southeastern state in the top 10 states with a low tax burden, other than Alabama, which ranks lower on the results.

Miami Beach panorama

State “Low Income” Rank
(Tax Burden as a % of Income)
“Middle Income” Rank
(Tax Burden as a % of Income)
“High Income” Rank
(Tax Burden as a % of Income)
Alaska 1
Wyoming 6
Nevada 4
Tennessee 16
South Dakota 28
New Hampshire 8
Florida 17
North Dakota 10
Alabama 25
Delaware 2


In addition to the beach and sun, the tax benefits and low tax burden of living in Florida add to the list of reasons to live and do business in the Florida. If you are thinking about moving to Florida or if you are interested in starting a Florida business, then contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. today.

If you are a foreign individual who already lives or does business in Florida, or if you are thinking about moving to or starting a business in Florida, then you should contact an attorney to assist you with tax planning for yourself, your business, and your estate.

Tax planning may include restructuring your company, creating estate planning documents such as trusts and power of attorneys, and much more.


Chart provided by:

Federal Estate Tax Exemption for Non-U.S. Citizens

Federal estate tax exemptionOne of the major differences in probating an estate for a foreign individual and a U.S. Citizen is the difference in the estate tax exemption amount: the amount an individual can leave to heirs without having to pay federal estate taxes.

For foreign individuals, the Federal estate tax exemption is capped at $60,000.00, whereas the Federal estate tax exemption for U.S. Citizens in 2015 is capped at $5.43 million per individual, up from $5.34 million in 2014, according to Forbes. A husband and wife each get their own exemption. U.S. Citizens are also allotted a “gift exclusion” amount of $14,000.00.

The top federal estate tax rate is 40%!

If you are a foreign individual who owns real or personal property in Florida that amounts to over $60,000.00 in value, you should discuss your options of getting on a path to U.S. Citizenship with an experienced immigration attorney. The most common paths to U.S. Citizenship are through an EB5 investment visa, H1-B visa, or family petitions, but there may be other options in some cases.

If you are eligible for U.S. Citizenship through Naturalization, and the value of the assets of your estate exceeds $5.43 million, then there may be other options available to you to lessen or remove this estate tax. These may include trusts, college savings plans, life insurance, and more. It is important to talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is custom fit to your individual needs.

If you are NOT eligible for U.S. Citizenship, and your real estate value is over $60,000.00, then you should consult with us to prepare your estate plan.

No two people are alike, and no two estate plans should be alike either. Here at Boyer Law Firm, our Estate Planning Attorneys work with tax attorneys and other tax professionals to ensure that you and your family will be best protected when you pass away.

Should You Include Passwords in Your Florida Will?

login with username and password in internet browserAs technology increases and increasingly changes, there are many things one must do to adapt to these changes. Drafting a will and estate plan in Florida is no exception.

In many cases, bank accounts and other assets are no longer simply on paper; many are kept electronically and password-protected. If your loved ones do not know the passwords you use to these accounts, then it could become an issue and delay in the probate process when you pass away.

If you keep most of your records electronically, then it may be a good idea to include those passwords in your Florida will or Florida estate plan, or at least include a provision in the will that will allow your loved ones access to this information during the probate process. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you in the proper way to include this information so that your loved ones will have access to it after you pass away, but so that the information will still be kept secure while you are alive.

In addition, many individuals change their passwords often. If you currently have your passwords in your Florida will or included in your estate plan, but they have changed, then an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to direct you as to how to make this change properly.

Some states will allow for hand-written wills, referred to as holographic wills, but this is not the case in Florida. Although you may want to include something as a provision in your will, if it does not follow the requirements of the Court, then it may be deemed inadmissible and those wishes may not be adhered to during the probate process.

If you do not currently have a will, or if your current will needs to be updated, then contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today.

Are Your Family Members Aware of Your Florida Estate Planning Documents?

Florida estate planning documentsRegardless of your age, it is important to have a properly drafted will and Florida estate planning documents to ensure that your wishes are met after you pass away. When you begin to draft a will and other documents for your estate plan, it is equally important to ensure that your family and other loved ones are aware of the fact that you have drafted these documents.

Even if you do not want your loved ones to be aware of the contents of your will or Florida estate planning documents, then it is still important that they know these documents exist.

Often when a loved one passes away, their relatives are under the belief that the deceased did not have a will or estate plan because the deceased relative did not tell them about their plans. If you write a will and it is not found, then the estate could potentially be subject to intestate administration, which is probate without a written will, in which case your last wishes may not be met.

You should not only notify the person whom you wish to act as the personal representative for your estate, but you should tell at least one or two other close friends or family members. This will make the Florida probate process easier for all involved, which can be a great relief during the difficult time of not only having to grieve over the loss of a loved one, but also having to deal with gathering documents and other aspects of the Florida probate process.

Although we at Boyer Law Firm, P.L. make every attempt to assist you through this process in the smoothest and most stress-free way possible, there are still certain requirements enacted by the Court that must be adhered to. Drafting a proper estate plan and ensuring that your loved ones are aware of the estate plan can aide in making this process go smoother for everyone involved.

Do You Have an Estate Plan for Your Business?

Estate plan for your businessIf you own a business, then it is important to include this asset in your estate plan when you pass away. If there is more than one owner or member of the company, then the By-Laws or Operating Agreement of the company (depending on whether it is a corporation or LLC) will usually determine what occurs in the event of the death of a member or owner. This is one reason why it is important to have properly drafted company documents.

If you are the sole member or owner of the company, then it is even more important to have a properly drafted estate plan for your business to determine what will happen to the company when you pass away, as this will usually not be outlined in the company documents.

In many cases, the business itself may own assets, such as residential or commercial property, which are of value to the both the company and the estate in the probate process. There are certain tax implications that are relevant when passing these assets onto your heirs, which is why it is important to discuss what you want to happen to the business with an experienced business law and estate planning attorney.

It may be a good idea to add an heir as an owner or member of the business as a form of estate plan for your business, but only an experienced attorney can determine whether this is the best option for your specific circumstances.

If you are a business owner who would like to discuss the options you have for passing on your business and other assets after your death, then contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. today. If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, then Boyer Law Firm can assist you through the Florida probate process.

Florida Personal Representatives are Required to Hire an Attorney

Florida personal representativeWhen a loved on passes away and the decedent’s estate goes through the Florida formal probate administration, a Florida Personal Representative (PR) will be appointed.

This PR may be named in the Will of the deceased. If the deceased passed away without a will, known as intestate probate, or the decedent did not name a personal representative in his or her will, then the Florida Probate Judge will appoint a Florida personal representative.

If you are appointed as the Florida PR of an estate, then you are required to hire an attorney to represent you in the Florida probate process unless you are the sole interested person in the estate.

The Florida Probate Rules state, “Every guardian and every personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.”

If there was an attorney named in the decedent’s will, you are not required to use that attorney. The Florida personal representative has the right to choose his own attorney.

A Florida personal representative has fiduciary duty to the estate of the deceased. If the PR does not fulfill his duties as required by the Florida Probate Rules, then he or she could be held personally liable. You must fully understand the responsibilities you are taking on in order to avoid any liability. Hiring an experienced Florida probate attorney will give you proper guidance during this procedure.

If you have been named as the personal representative of a Florida estate, then contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. today.

Why is a Proper Florida Estate Plan so Important?

Florida estate planThe Florida probate process can be very difficult for your loved ones if you do not create a proper estate plan. Estate planning is not just a will. It can include trusts, powers of attorney, health-care surrogates, and more.

There are websites out there that claim they can assist you with estate planning, but they do not offer the same services that an Estate Planning Attorney can. First and foremost, they cannot offer you legal advice, when that is exactly what you need in order to create a proper estate plan!

When assisting you with a Florida estate plan, Boyer Law Firm, P.L. and its estate planning attorneys take the time to listen to your needs and wishes. From there they can determine the estate plan that is right for you instead of just placing you in front of an array of templates.

If you do not have a proper Florida estate plan, then you may be leaving your loved ones in a bad situation when you pass away. Remember the saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

This means that a poor estate plan can result in a headache for you loved ones and potentially a longer and more expensive probate process. It is never too early to begin planning. Our office has drafted estate plans for clients from their 20’s to Baby Boomers, and older.

Contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today and begin a proper Florida estate plan for proper performance.

Boyer Law Firm, P.L. Can Help You through the Florida Probate Process

Florida probate processWhen you suffer the loss of a loved one, you may be faced with many hard decisions at a very difficult time. If the decedent passed away in Florida or owned property or assets in Florida, then the estate must go through the Florida probate process.

Hiring an experienced Florida Probate Attorney is an important step in ensuring that the Florida probate process goes smoothly. Boyer Law Firm, P.L. helps families and individuals through the probate process by adding clarity, efficiency, and peace of mind to what can become a daunting process if not handled correctly.

If you are appointed as the fiduciary or personal representative of an estate, then you are legally obligated to settle the decedent’s estate in a timely manner. It is important to contact a Florida probate attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you will meet you legal obligations.

Francis M. Boyer is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in International Law. This makes him an expert on, among other international matters, probate for non-residents of Florida and probate in Florida for foreign individuals.

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one and need assistance through the Florida probate process, then contact Boyer Law Firm’s probate attorneys today.

Why You Need a Florida Estate Plan

Florida Estate PlanWho do you want to tend to your wishes when you pass away?

–          A child?
–          A friend?
–          A rival sibling who wants all of your money?

If you do not have a valid will, then you will not get to make this and many other important decisions.

When a person dies without a will in Florida, it is called “intestate.” This means that the estate of the decedent (the person who passes away) will go through the probate process, but this process will be enacted not by the decedent’s wishes.

In an intestate probate case, the inheritance for the distribution of the decedent’s assets and debts are determined but by a rigid legal formula, which is not at all personalized to yourself or your loved one and the decedent’s specific situation and needs.

If you die without a will, then the Court will choose a Personal Representative for your estate, and it could end up being rival sibling or an estranged family member who really has no idea in regards to your wishes.

There are many other factors to creating a Florida estate plan, such as trusts, tax implications on beneficiaries, and much more. For example, do you need a will in Florida if you own property but are not a U.S. Citizen?

Florida Estate planning includes much more than just drafting a will, but that is a good place to start. In the current financial situation we are in, it is easy for people to overlook the need for Florida estate planning tools until it is too late.

If you are interested in creating a Florida will or Florida estate plan, then contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today.

Florida Baby Boomers and Probate

As Florida Baby Boomers continue to age, there will inevitably be an increase in the amount of deaths in the United States, especially in Florida, where many baby boomers reside.

When a loved one dies, regardless of whether or not they have a will, the estate must go through a process called “probate,” with the exception of very rare cases.

Florida Baby Boomers and ProbateIf you have a family member who is a Florida baby boomer or older, then you need to start thinking about what you and your loved ones will do when they are gone, such as:

– Does your loved one have a will?
– Has your loved one appointed a personal representative for their estate?
–  Does your loved one own property in multiple states or countries? If so, each may have to be probated individually.
– Does your family have a trust that applies to the probate process

Many Florida baby boomers are “snowbirds” who are also residents of other countries or states, where they also own assets. In these cases, the decedent’s estate must be probated in more than one court.

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one who passed away in Florida, or possessed assets, such as a house, in Florida at the time of their death, then contact Boyer Law Firm today to see how our Florida probate attorneys can assist you.

Types of Trusts in Florida

Types of Trusts in FloridaA trust is an arrangement in which one person (the trustee) manages and holds the title to property, which can be both personal property and real property, to another (the settlor or with) in favor of a third party (the beneficiary).

There are many types of trusts in Florida. A testamentary trust is a trust created by the will of a person and takes effect after his death. One of the reasons why a person may want to create a testamentary trust is it allows him to control how the trust assets are given to the beneficiary.

There are other types of trusts in Florida that can be beneficial to your situation, such as Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Revocable Living Trusts, Contingent Minors Trusts, Special Needs and Medicaid Trusts,

It is important to talk to a Florida Estate Planning Attorney about these issues so the trust you create can be tailored to your specific situation.  If you are interested in writing your Last Will or creating a trust for your future needs, then contact Boyer Law Firm today.

Estate Planning: Positive and Negative Estate Assets

Positive and Negative Estate AssetsYour estate consists of all of the assets that belong to you; these estate assets may have a positive balance and add to the value to your estate, or they may have a negative balance amount and diminish the value of your estate.

Given that there are no loans or other negative balances, the following estate assets will add value to your estate:

–          Actual Money: Cash, checking and savings accounts
–          Certificates of deposit
–          Your investment portfolio: stocks, mutual funds, and bonds.
–          Your retirement funds: pension funds, 401(k), IRAs, and any other money reserved for retirement.
–          Profit-sharing funds with employer
–          Your possessions: your house, vehicles, boats, equipment, livestock, furniture, household appliances, jewelry, other valuables, etc.
–          Insurance products, especially life insurance
–          Your business: any funds or ownership interest of your business
–          Annuities that you have coming to you
–          Home equity
–          Anything else that you consider valuable, both sentimentally and monetarily.

Estate assets that carry a negative balance and will usually diminish the value of your estate are:

–          Mortgages
–          Unpaid Loans
–          Credit card debts
–          Outstanding judgments

When going through the estate planning process, it is important to asses all of your estate assets, both positive and negative in order to properly plan. If you need a will, trust, or assistance with other estate planning tools, contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today.

Foreign Probate and Probate Process in Florida

Foreign Probate and Florida Probate ProcessProbate is a process for settling the deceased’s estate; it includes assessing assets, paying off debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

If the decedent’s estate went through foreign probate in another country and the decedent had property or other assets in Florida, then the estate must also go through the probate process in Florida for those assets.

Similarly, if the decedent’s estate is goes through the probate process in Florida and the decedent had assets in another country, then the estate may be required to go through the foreign probate process in that country.

If you own property in Florida, then it is important to have a proper estate plan to make the probate process easier for your beneficiaries. These estate planning tools include wills, trusts, and more. If you have a will in another country or state, then you should still contact an estate planning attorney to ensure that your will is valid in Florida, as the requirements for validity may be different.

If you are currently acting as the executor of an estate, need to be named as the executor of an estate, or need assistance with estate planning, contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today.

Florida Revocable Living Trust

Florida revocable living trustA Florida revocable living trust is a trust created and operated during the grantor’s (person creating the trust) lifetime. By naming yourself as both the grantor and trustee, you can keep full control over all of the property and assets held in the trust during your lifetime. Most people who create living trusts choose this option.

What can I put in the trust?

Any property that is of value to you, including real estate, expensive jewelry, stocks and bonds, small business interests (such as company shares), intellectual property rights, and anything else that is of value.

Do I need a revocable living trust?

Only if you have assets of value that you want to protect. The greater the value of your assets, the greater your need for a living trust.

So what is the benefit?

The biggest advantage of a living trust is to minimize the likelihood that your beneficiaries will have to go through the painful probate process. Once the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable and all of the assets in the trust go to the named beneficiaries.

If you are considering a Florida revocable living trust or have questions about other estate planning tools, contact Boyer Law Firm today. We can help with everything from drafting simple wills, to trusts, to assisting you through the probate process, if need be.

Celebrity Wills

Celebrity Wills | Florida Estate Planning Jacksonville, Miami Orlando

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“I have made no provisions in this Will for my sister, Lee B. Radziwill, for whom I have great affection because I have already done so during my lifetime.”

Michael Jackson

“Except as otherwise provided in this Will or in the Trust referred to in Article III hereof, I have intentionally omitted to provide for my heirs. I have intentionally omitted to provide for my former wife, DEBORAH JEAN ROWE JACKSON.”

Jackson also left custody of his children to Diana Ross if they were minors at the time of his death and his mother, Katherine Jackson, was unable or unwilling to act as guardian to the children.

George Washington

President Washington stipulated that his slaves be emancipated upon the death of his wife, Martha Washington. He also stated that it was his desire that any slave who could not provide for himself due to old age, bodily injuries, or infancy be cared for by his heirs.

Martin Luther King, Jr. died without a will.

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens)

In leaving part of his inheritance to his two daughters, Clara and Jean, he stipulated that the inheritance be “free from and control or interference on the part of any husband she may have.”

Source: True Trust

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10 Facts About Florida Wills

Estate Planning Attorney, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami | Will Lawyer, Trust Attorney, Power of Attorney

Here are some Florida will facts you may not know…

  1. The Florida Supreme Court has a program in which lawyers are board-certified as specialists in the area of wills, trusts, and estate law.
  2. A person age 18 or older is of legal age to make a will.
  3. Florida law presumes a person to be of sound mind unless proved otherwise, and proof requires a fairly high standard.
  4. Florida does not recognize handwritten or joint wills.
  5. Mutual wills are an option in Florida but are best for couples who do not have children.
  6. Florida does not recognize nuncupative or deathbed wills.
  7. You can set up a trust for an animal’s care. Florida recognizes a vehicle for this known as the Florida pet trust.
  8. A prior will is only revoked by a new will to the extent the new will expressly states it revokes the prior will and is inconsistent with the prior will.
  9. A lost will is generally presumed to have been revoked by the testator.
  10. A will provision granting anything to a spouse is expressly revoked by statute once the parties are separated with intent to be permanently divorced, or their marriage is divorced, dissolved, or annulled.

If you need to create a will, trust, or have questions about estate planning, contact Boyer Law Firm today.

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How Can I Contest a Will?

Challenging a will is not an easy thing because the court views a will as the last wishes and voice of the decedent. Anyone who may have something to gain from the estate has a right to contest a will, but they must have the grounds to do so.

A person may challenge a will based on one or more of the following criteria:

contest a will-          Lack of testamentary capacity: When a will is challenged on this ground, it is usually on the basis that the decedent suffered from some kind of mental incapacity, such as senility, dementia, insanity, or was under the influence of a mind-altering substance. Minors are not considered to have testamentary capacity unless they are married or serve in the military. The witnesses who signed the will usually will testify as to whether or not the decedent had testamentary capacity at the time the will was written.
–          Fraud, forgery, or undue influence: You may contest a will on this ground if the decedent was manipulated into leaving all or much of the estate to the manipulator.
–          New Trumps Old: If there is a newer, valid will than the one going through the probate process, then the new will trumps the current will. This is why dates on wills are so important.
–          Validity: In Florida, the will must be signed by two witnesses. If the will is not considered valid according to Florida state law, then you have grounds to contest it.

If you think you have grounds to contest a will currently going through probate, then you should contact a probate attorney to discuss your rights.

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Weird Wills Part 2

Celebrity Fever

Audrey Jean Knauer, who died in 1997, left $300,000 to her favorite celebrity, Charles Bronson, whom she had never met in person. Her family contested the legality of the will, but in the end, Bronson ended up taking $150,000 from the stranger he had never met before, claiming that he planned to donate it to charity.

“Beam Me up, Scotty”

When Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original Star Trek series, died, his ashes were flown into space on a Spanish satellite and shot out as the satellite orbited earth, per his request.

(Wo)man’s best friend

Carlotta Liebstein, a German citizen who died in 1991, left 139 million Deutschmarks to her dog Gunther III and his heir, Gunther IV.

weird willsInanimate Heir

Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian Novelist who died in 1910, left all of his possessions to the stump of a tree in his will.


Frederic Baur, the creator of Pringles who died in 2008, requested through his will that his ashes be interred in an empty Pringle container. His children were wary of the request but followed their father’s wishes.

What weird things would YOU put in your will?

Leave a comment or email us. We’ll post the best answers next month.

Weird Wills Part 1

A Last Will and Testament is not only a list of the deceased’s assets to be distributed. It is also intended to fulfill the last wishes of the decedent, and some people have had some pretty weird wishes when they die:


Charles Vance Millar was a Canadian lawyer and investor who died in 1926. He was known for his great sense of humor, and this was carried over to his will. Among other things, Millar left his vacation house in the custody of three people he knew hated each other, and left the cash value of his estate to the woman who gave birth to the most number of children in a span of ten years. Four women, who birthed nine children each, split the cash prize, amounting to $125,000 each.

dining tableBowman

John Bowman, a Vermont tanner who died in 1891, provided a $50,000 trust for the maintenance of his mansion and mausoleum because he believed that he would be reunited with his deceased wife and two daughters. The will called for servants to serve dinner every night in case the family returned from the dead and decided they were hungry. This was carried out until 1950 when the trust ran dry.


Harry Houdini. The famous magician, who died in 1926, left his wife a “secret code” – 10 words chosen at random – that he would use to contact her from the afterlife. His wife held séances on Halloween for 10 years, but he never appeared.


Jeremy Bentham, an influential philosopher who died in 1832, wanted his body to be dissected in public, as part of a lecture on anatomy, and then his skeleton and head to be preserved and stored in a display cabinet. His body currently sits on public display at the University College London, a school that he had a large part in creating.

What weird things would YOU put in your will?

Leave a comment or email us. We’ll post the best answers next month.

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Holographic Wills: A Bad Idea

Handwritten willA holographic will, or handwritten will, is valid in Florida only if it meets specific requirements set forth by law. These requirements include that the will meets specific execution standards, is properly witnessed, and names beneficiaries. If the document does not meet these standards, the will cannot be used in the probate process, giving the power of the estate to the courts and making the process all the more difficult.

A holographic will should only be used in extreme situations, such as if the person does not have a will and has to have immediate surgery.

The best thing to do is to draft and update your will far before anything happens to you. If you have any assets of value, you need to draft a will, regardless of your age. You want to make sure that if something happens to you, your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are not stuck with a lengthy, painful probate process.

Your will should include monetary assets, no matter how minute, physical assets, such as a boat or house, non-physical assets, such as intellectual property, and digital assets, such as an EBay or online gaming account.

If you do not have a will or estate plan, you should contact an estate-planning attorney. It is never too early or too late to draft a will, that is, until you are deceased.

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Estate Tax

Now that the American Taxpayer Relief Act has been passed, the federal estate tax exemption is set at $5 million per person, indexed for inflation. The index for 2013 is at $5.25 million. If a person dies and their estate is valued over this indexed amount, then the must pay a 40% tax to the federal government.Federal Estate Tax

Just because the federal government has increased the estate tax exemption does not mean the states have to. The exemption rates and tax percentages vary from state to state.

Fortunately, Florida does not have a state estate tax, but Forbes says that could change. The pre-2001 state estate tax credit allowed states to share in the federal estate tax revenue, but this is no longer the case. “For states that were hoping for a return to that revenue sharing, it’s possible that they will consider adding stand-alone taxes,” James Walschlager, a research analyst, told Forbes.

Figuring out the complicated mess of estate taxes is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to estate planning. Wills and trusts, or lack thereof, probate, power of attorney, estate executors, and the actual inheritance are all things to consider. If you have questions about estate planning for you or a loved one, contact Boyer Law Firm today.

Source: Forbes

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Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable Living TrustA revocable living trust is an artificial entity used as an estate-planning tool that manages your assets during your lifetime and distributes them upon your death. It is called a revocable trust because you may modify or terminate the trust during your lifetime, as long as you are not incapacitated.

A trust is setup by a property owner, called a “grantor,” who appoints a person to manage the trust, called a “trustee.” In the case of a revocable living trust (there are other kinds of trusts), grantors usually names themselves as the primary trustee and name a successor trustee to control the trust at the time of their death.  When the grantor dies, the trust is no longer revocable.

The main attraction of a revocable living trust is to avoid the probate process.  A trust may bypass the probate process because it is said to “live on” after the grantor’s death.  In order to avoid the probate process, all of the grantor’s assets must be transferred into the trust prior to death. If all of the deceased assets are not in the trust, the estate may be subject to probate.

A living trust will also keep the distribution of the estate a private matter because it is not public record like the probate process.

A living trust will not exempt you from taxes or debts to creditors.

Creditors may claim debts from a trust up to two years after the death of the grantor. Because of this long waiting process, some trustees will submit the estate to probate simply to take advantage of the fact that creditors will only have a three month window to collect debts owed.

There are many pros and cons of a revocable living trust. If you are trying to decide whether or not one is appropriate for you, contact an Estate Planning attorney.

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Times to Update your Estate Plan

When to update your Estate PlanIt is very important to keep your estate plan updated. There are many factors and life events that affect your estate plan which is why you should keep it updated.

Large estates (those over the applicable exclusion amount) should be reviewed every year.

All other estates should be reviewed every four years.

You should also review your estate plan when the following life events occur:

– Change in value: If the value of your estate has increased or decreased by 20% or more.

– Change in economic status: If the value of your assets, your income level, or your income requirement changes.


– Change in occupation or employment

Changes in family situations: If you, your children, or your grandchildren have married, divorced, been born or adopted, passed away, or become ill or incapacitated. Also, if other individuals have become dependent on you.

– Changes in business interests:

  • Formed, purchased or sold a closely held business
  • Reorganized or liquidated a closely held business
  • Instituted a pension plan
  • Executed a by-sell agreement
  • Deferred compensation
  • Changed employee benefits

– Major transactions:

  • Inheritance
  • Substantial gifts
  • Borrowed or lent a substantial amount of money
  • Purchased, leased or sold material assets or investments
  • Changed residences
  • Changed significant property ownership
  • Become involved in a law suit

– Change in insurance coverage: life, health, disability, medical, liability, etc.

Death of a trustee/executor/guardian

Other important changes: Any changes in your life that you feel affect your estate plan.

If you change part of you estate plan, you should review the entire plan to make sure it remains cohesive and effective. Due to the legal complexities of Estate Planning, we recommend that you contact an attorney to create or update your estate plan.

And remember… Estate Tax laws may change at the beginning of 2013.

Source: Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors

Florida Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which a person, the “principal” gives another person, the “agent,” the authority to act on the principal’s behalf in certain circumstances. These circumstances can be narrow or broad, depending on the way the document is written.Power of Attorney

The Power of Attorney is created to perform almost any legal act that the principal cannot do, such as sell a car or home, access bank accounts, or make health care decisions. There are three kinds of POAs in Florida:

  1. Limited Power of Attorney gives the agent authority to conduct only a specific act.
  2. General Power of Attorney gives the agent a much broader authority, but there must be a list of the acts the agent is entitled to perform in the document.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated. This is not the case with the other two forms. There must be specific language in the document stating that the power of attorney will continue if the principal becomes incapacitated. Most POAs in the state of Florida are Durable POAs.

A Springing Power of Attorney becomes effective once the principle becomes incapacitated, as deemed by a physician. Florida no longer allows for them to be created, but if the POA was written before September 30, 2011, it is still effective.

POAs should be drawn up by an attorney. Pre-printed forms are likely to fail in providing the desired protection because every principal’s needs are different.

If the agent is unsure of whether they are authorized to perform a specific act, they should check with an attorney to review the POA. If the agent performs an act they are not legally entitled to perform, they can be punished both civilly and criminally.

Under a Power of Attorney, an agent may only act on the principal’s behalf while the principal is still alive.

Source: Florida Bar

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What is a Living Will?

Competent adults have the right to make decisions regarding their own health, such as the right to choose or refuse medical treatment that may only prolong life. On the other hand, society has interests in the preservation of human life along with the preservation of ethical standards in the medical profession. To protect all of these rights, the Florida Legislature has established a procedure, called a Living Will.

A Living Will is a legal document that allows a person to plan for the case that they become incapacitated with a terminal illness. It also allows for the maker to designate a person, called a Health Care Surrogate, to act on their behalf to make medical decisions in such a situation.

A Living Will should be signed by the maker and two witnesses.

Once you have made a living will, you should notify your physician and local hospital to have it included in your medical records.

Both a Living Will and the Designation of a Health Care Surrogate can be revoked by the maker at any time. The maker can do this by a signed and dated letter of revocation, by physically canceling or destroying the original document, by an oral expression of one’s intent to revoke, or through a later executed document that would supersede the first.

If you have questions about Living Wills, Legal Wills, or other Estate Planning needs, contact Boyer Law Firm today.

Source: The Florida Bar

Digital Assets Are Part of Florida Estate Planning

Digital Assets are Part of Estate PlanningWhen most people think of Estate planning, they think of packing up a house and dividing assets such as jewelry, baseball cards, and family heirlooms. These are all important things to think about, but in today’s age of technology, there is a whole other area of assets to include in your estate plan: Digital Assets.

Digital Assets include:

–          Usernames and Passwords (Including cell phone passwords)

–          Online bank, investment, brokerage, credit card, loan and insurance accounts.

–          Online retirement plans and stock options

–          Online bill payments

–          Social Media accounts (Facebook, Twitter)

–          Online retail accounts (E-bay, Netflix, iTunes)

–          Blogs, websites, domain names

–          Photo-hosting accounts (PhotoBucket, Flickr)

–          Emails

–          Online Payment accounts (PayPal)

–          Airline or other sites that offer rewards such as frequent flyer miles

–          Online gaming accounts (People build up characters, and many items accumulated during the process, such as a sword, can sell on E-bay for large amounts of money.)

–          Finished or unfinished intellectual property (such a book)

–          “Digital Wallet” products (Starbucks app that allows you to pre-pay for your coffee)

The list goes on if you own a small business.

Digital assets are a fairly new aspect of estate planning, and, as a result, many of the laws can be confusing and vary by state. For example, Yahoo references in their terms of service “no right of survivorship and non-transferability,” meaning Yahoo will not give out the account holder’s password or other information in the case of their death. This can make accessing other digital assets difficult because email accounts often allow access to other online services. (Ex: Forgot your password? We’ll send you an email.)

When planning your estate, be sure to speak with your lawyer about your digital assets. As technology increases, digital assets are becoming increasingly valuable and important.

*Photo courtesy of

Technology of a Large Florida Firm, Personality of a Small Florida Firm

Clarity Photo Courtesy of

Whether you’re going to buy groceries or hiring an attorney, costs and fees are always a concern. That is why we at Boyer Law Firm insist on a written fee agreement with you, the client. We have hourly, contingency and flat fee rates, and we offer convenient online payments with Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal.

We take time to explain any questions that our clients may haven order to provide comfort for you and confidence in our firm.


We maintain all of our files in electronic format using the latest technology available to large firms, which we have chosen to acquire. Every document is scanned within 24 hours, read,Photo Courtesy of analyzed, and processed. We will often email you the document as well in order to keep you updated on your case. We want to make sure that we are providing for you, our client.

We have subscriptions to online, specialized legal software to access the most up-to-date legal information, case laws, and statutes that may be relevant to your case.

Our central server allows our staff to access information and documents relevant to your case from anywhere, anytime, including while in court, while traveling, and even overseas!

Our case management software allows us to schedule with greater precision. This allows us to not only stay on top of your case, but also to plan well ahead of deadlines imposed by law.


Because we are a small firm, we are able to build a lasting relationship with our clients. We understand that legal matters usually take an emotional toll on all parties involved, and we strive to show compassion in every case.

If you need legal representation regarding business law, international law, immigration, real estate or estate planning, please contact us today.

Will Executors

The death of a loved one is always a traumatic event, and as the will executor, making decisions regarding their will and estate can make the process that much more difficult.Will Executor

If you have been appointed as the fiduciary of a will, or a will executor, then you have a legal obligation to settle the deceased’s estate in a timely manner.  By hiring a Florida Probate Attorney, you can make this process easier for yourself and your loved ones.

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It protects the rights of creditors and entitled beneficiaries.

During the probate process, it is the responsibility of the executor to prove in court the will is valid, inventory and appraise the deceased’s property, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries. This can take a few months or a few years, depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate.

If the fiduciary fails to execute this process, then litigation will usually occur and the fiduciary will be held personally liable.

The right Probate Attorney will give you clarity, efficiency and peace of mind as you go through this difficult process. It is important to find an attorney that will not only aggressively represent you, but will also show compassion.

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Estate Tax Set to Increase in 2013

The current Estate tax – commonly referred to as the death tax – is set to increase on            January 1, 2013.

Currently, the Estate Tax is 35 percent with an exclusion rate of $5,000,000 per individual. In January, the tax is set to climb to 55 percent, and the exclusion rate is set to drop to $1,000,000 per individual.

This significant difference can greatly affect plans in terms of gifting estates, businesses, or assets. Individuals and businesses should take advantage of the current tax rate before it increases.

Small business owners need to be especially aware of this change. Many people believe the Estate tax is only for the extremely wealthy; however, if you have a business that is worth a few million dollars, you will suddenly be in the bracket that is affected by this tax.

Now is the time to plan!

There are options to save you money, but they must be done by the end of the year. It is best to start as early as possible because assessing the value of gifts can take time, and it is expected that appraisers will be increasingly busy as the year quickly comes to a close.

If you need help with retirement or estate planning, contact Boyer Law Firm today!

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