Spiro J. Verras Blog

Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrity Estate Planning Fails

How can I make a foolproof estate plan?

Many of us would assume that most celebrities have comprehensive estate plans.  After all, wealthy celebrities have access to professional managers and experienced attorneys.  Despite their wealth, at least three mega-celebrities passed away in recent years without an adequate estate plan in place, leaving their loved ones broken hearted and grappling with substantial estate taxes.
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Make Your Estate Plan Before You Retire

Why is estate planning an important part of planning for my retirement?

As you approach your retirement years, you will likely be inundated by financial planning.  Retirement planning involves putting in place the investments and health insurance you will need to maintain your financialwellbeing during retirement.  Estate planning, on the other hand, involves having a plan in place that will help your heirs to retain as much as your assets as possible upon your death. While the two concepts are different, they are also interrelated.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Estate Planning and Your Retirement Account

Do retirement accounts need to go through probate?

When it comes to estate planning, retirement accounts are often overlooked.  Usually, a retirement account will pass directly to the named beneficiary without passing through probate.  However, it is still critical to include your retirement accounts in your estate plan so that you can reduce the often burdensome federal and state estate tax.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

The Advantages of a Trust vs. a Will

How can I avoid probate in Florida?

Wills and trusts both allow you to name beneficiaries who will receive your assets in the event of your death.  While wills and trusts share some of the same functions, there are several advantages of a trust as opposed to a will.  If you are setting out creating your estate plan, it is important that you carefully consider the potential estate planning tools available to you.
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Advanced Class: Navigating Florida's Intestacy Laws

Intestate means having died without a will. If there is no will, each state has laws that specify who will inherit the property of the deceased (referred to as the "decedent" in probate proceedings), which are usually based on the closeness of familial relationships. In complex situations, intestacy can lead to unwieldy results, and even in the simplest cases can unnecessarily complicate the probate of the estate while the family relationships are proven to the probate court.

An example of the chaos intestacy can cause is the $300 million estate of the rock performer known as Prince (real name: Prince Rogers Nelson), who died intestate in 2016. Prince had never been married, had no children, and was predeceased by his parents, whose marriage produced only two children. Under Minnesota's intestacy laws, his sole heir and next of kin should have been his sister. However, within weeks of his death, over 700 people claimed to be Prince's half-siblings (out-of-wedlock children of Prince's late father) while others claimed to be Prince's own out-of-wedlock children.

Intestacy statutes usually come into play when the deceased leaves no will. However, intestacy statutes also apply to property not properly disposed of in a valid will or to the extent that the law prohibits a disposition of property by will, such as under Florida's restrictions on descent of homestead.

Here's how intestacy works in Florida:

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Estate Planning and Second Marriages

How might my second marriage affect my estate plan?

American families today are increasingly blended.  It is estimated that about four out of every ten new marriages include at least one person who has been married before, according to data released by the United States Census Bureau.  Estate planning can take on heightened importance when second marriages and children from previous relationships are involved.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

What Successor Trustees Need to Know

What is the role of a successor trustee?

The successor trustee is the person who will take control of the trust after the grantor dies or becomes unable to complete his or her role.  Often, those named as successor trustee never seek out legal advice about their role and may informally assume the task of trustee, without going through the proper legal channels.  Handling a trust in this manner can have disastrous results.  Our

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Child in Florida

What happens if I die before naming a guardian for my child?

Our children are our most valued assets.  While none of us want to consider the possibility of dying and leaving our children behind, it is imperative that Florida parents take action now to protect their children in the event of an untimely death or incapacity. More than 60 percent of parents do not have a named guardian for their children.  Absent a named guardian, the Florida courts will be forced to select a qualified guardian for your child.  Your

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Does My Estate Need to Go Through Probate?

We have all likely heard probate horror stories.  Probate actions that took years to complete, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on taxes, and family members that received nothing from their loved one’s estate.  It is critical that Floridians understand what assets must go through probate, and which do not, so that you can prepare your estate plan accordingly.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Talk to Your Parents About Their Estate Plan Today

How should I broach the topic of estate planning with my parents?

Bringing up the topic of finances and the future with your aging parents is never easy, but putting off these hard subjects can prove devastating.  Discussions about finances can lead to thorough estate planning, which will positively impact you and your family in the long run.  It is crucial, however, that you approach the subject of estate planning in a respectful manner so as not to lead to ill feelings.  Our

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Electronic Wills in Florida

Are electronic wills the estate planning tool of the future?

Today, it seems like everything that was once on paper has moved to the internet.  Estate planning is no different, with electronic wills rapidly becoming a topic of interest in the estate planning realm.  An electronic will is one that is signed on the computer and stored electronically.  Rather than printing a hard copy and having it signed by the testator, witnesses, and notary, the electronic will is prepared entirely on the computer.  While electronic wills appear to be the way of the future,

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