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Family and Wealth Planning

Have you Done Your Spring Cleaning Yet?

The rain season is here, officially since Sunday! Miami has been showered (well needed). April is almost over. That means that a quarter of the year is almost up. Have you cleaned up that closet? Did you organize the pantry and remove all expired items? Have you had an estate plan checkup this year?

You may or may not have an estate plan at this moment, but it is seriously a good time for an Estate Plan Checkup!

Don’t Have an Estate Plan? 

If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your Spring Clean-Up. What are you cleaning up with a plan in place? You are cleaning up worries and bringing some peace of mind to your life.

Why?  Because without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in probate court after you die.

Worse yet, if you don’t take the time to put in writing who and what will receive your inheritance, then the state where you live at the time of your death will essentially decide it for you.  It is often very likely that the plan of that state will be different to what you had in mind.

A common misconception is that estate planning is only necessary for wealthy people or for when you die. But this simply isn’t true – anyone with a bank or a retirement account, a home, or a family needs to have a plan, so their family and their assets are managed and protected in the event of an incapacity and are properly transferred to who you want if you die.

Keep in mind that the complexity of a plan will vary depending on your circumstances, but even if you think you need a “simple” plan, at the least, inform yourself with an attorney experienced with the legal formalities of estate planning. It may sound simple, but there is a reason other attorneys hire an estate planning attorney to do their plans.

How Old is Your Estate Plan?

You already have a plan in place?

Great. Go ahead and pull your documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and look at the date you signed them.

Were your documents signed in the 80s or 90s, or, worse yet, before 1980?  Then please run, don’t walk, to an estate planning attorney, because your documents are terribly out of date and need to be brought into the new millennium as soon as possible.

Did you sign your documents in the 2000s? Well, they can be almost 20 years old and many things have changed in the law through these years. Aside from the federal estate tax exemption jumping from $675,000 to $11 million this year, state estate taxes have disappeared in many states. There have been changes to gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and “portability” of the federal estate tax exemption between married couples was introduced, and more.

Even if you did your plan in the last two years, it is safer to do a Clean-up. So, dust that package off and take it to an attorney to review.  You should not let your documents sit there for longer than three years without a review. Especially so if you have a new account, a new home, sold or bought a property, have a new child or grandchild or even a new dog, moved to a new state, got married or divorced, sell a business or bought one, retire or won the lottery!? Any major change in your life shall be a reason to review your estate plan.

It does not mean you will re-do the plan every three years. Many times and I speak from experience, clients coming to my office for a review do not need any changes.  However, some do. You should err on the side of caution and make sure your plan always works – that’s the main goal after all!  If you are our prior client, we review your documents every three years at no additional charge!  If you are not our prior client, give us a call and find out if you qualify for a free review.

Estate Planning is Not a One Shot Deal

Estate planning is not a time even that you do and then forget about it.  On the contrary, estate planning is a continuous process, because life is always changing, and so should your estate plan change with the rhythm of your life.

cropped-file-apr-05-10-25-23-pm

Yahima Suarez, J.D.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158

Family and Wealth Planning

Have you Done your Spring Cleaning Yet?

The rain season is here, officially since Sunday! Miami has been showered (well needed). April is almost over. That means that a quarter of the year is almost up. Have you cleaned up that closet? Did you organize the pantry and remove all expired items? Have you had an estate plan checkup this year?

You may or may not have an estate plan at this moment, but it is seriously a good time for an Estate Plan Checkup!

Don’t Have an Estate Plan? 

If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your Spring Clean-Up. What are you cleaning up with a plan in place? You are cleaning up worries and bringing some peace of mind to your life.

Why?  Because without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in probate court after you die.

Worse yet, if you don’t take the time to put in writing who and what will receive your inheritance, then the state where you live at the time of your death will essentially decide it for you.  It is often very likely that the plan of that state will be different to what you had in mind.

A common misconception is that estate planning is only necessary for wealthy people or for when you die. But this simply isn’t true – anyone with a bank or a retirement account, a home, or a family needs to have a plan, so their family and their assets are managed and protected in the event of an incapacity and are properly transferred to who you want if you die.

Keep in mind that the complexity of a plan will vary depending on your circumstances, but even if you think you need a “simple” plan, at the least, inform yourself with an attorney experienced with the legal formalities of estate planning. It may sound simple, but there is a reason other attorneys hire an estate planning attorney to do their plans.

How Old is Your Estate Plan?

You already have a plan in place?

Great. Go ahead and pull your documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and look at the date you signed them.

Were your documents signed in the 80s or 90s, or, worse yet, before 1980?  Then please run, don’t walk, to an estate planning attorney, because your documents are terribly out of date and need to be brought into the new millennium as soon as possible.

Did you sign your documents in the 2000s? Well, they can be almost 20 years old and many things have changed in the law through these years. Aside from the federal estate tax exemption jumping from $675,000 to $11 million this year, state estate taxes have disappeared in many states. There have been changes to gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and “portability” of the federal estate tax exemption between married couples was introduced, and more.

Even if you did your plan in the last two years, it is safer to do a Clean-up. So, dust that package off and take it to an attorney to review.  You should not let your documents sit there for longer than three years without a review. Especially so if you have a new account, a new home, sold or bought a property, have a new child or grandchild or even a new dog, moved to a new state, got married or divorced, sell a business or bought one, retire or won the lottery!? Any major change in your life shall be a reason to review your estate plan.

It does not mean you will re-do the plan every three years. Many times and I speak from experience, clients coming to my office for a review do not need any changes.  However, some do. You should err on the side of caution and make sure your plan always works – that’s the main goal after all!  If you are our prior client, we review your documents every three years at no additional charge!  If you are not our prior client, give us a call and find out if you qualify for a free review.

Estate Planning is Not a One Shot Deal

Estate planning is not a time even that you do and then forget about it.  On the contrary, estate planning is a continuous process, because life is always changing, and so should your estate plan change with the rhythm of your life.

cropped-file-apr-05-10-25-23-pm

Yahima Suarez, J.D.
Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158

Family and Wealth Planning

Easter – Happy Bunny!

I meant, Happy Easter, Bunny! 🙂

This Sunday easter was quiet and the temperature was just right. It was warm but a cool breeze helped cope with it. It felt peaceful.

This morning we woke up to get ready for a birthday party. It was my littlest of my daughter’s friends. She is little but mighty. Daniela’s friend is very petite but she is the same age as Daniela, while Daniels is one of the tallest in her class. While they are mismatched in height, they have become great friends. Who said there are rules to friendship?

This reminds me of my oldest best friend and not because she is my oldest friend but we have been friends since we were both in first grade. Our families never knew each other before and we never shared family events, but we chose to be each other friend forever.

Are friendships now as disposable as smartphones? Probably for some. I, however, believe that friends are the brothers and sisters our parents did not give us, but the brothers and sisters we choose.  As the saying says, some come for a reason, a season or a lifetime and I have had friends on each of the three categories.  But, I truly treasure those life timers.

On this Easter Day, I want to say thank you to all of those who I call true friends for always been there!

Do you have friends you truly value? If you do, take a moment and give them a call (or just text them if you find it easier) and tell them how much you appreciate them!

Hope you enjoyed your day . . .

Yahima

 

Family and Wealth Planning

Cyber-Fraud / Email Fraud

Important! Please be very cautious when you are handling big money transactions with information transferred online!

This just happened:

Person was purchasing a property cash. As in prior transactions, he received wiring instructions from the title company to transfer almost $200,000.  He went to the bank and wired the money and then went and signed the closing documents. Done deal!  As soon as he left he got a call from the realtor to run to the bank to try to cancel the transaction because the title company’s email was hacked and the wiring instructions were wrong.

What happens now? I am trying to figure it out and I will get to you with more info. BUT, we want to make sure that you do not need to know what to do if it happens, we hope it can be avoided.

Make sure that before you transfer big amounts of money (or even small amounts) that you confirm instructions. If you are not confident, then get a cashier’s check.  Transactions with a cashier’s check take longer but better late than lost.

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM

Yahima Suarez, JD.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning & Beyond
305-456-7158

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

Paying back or paying forward?

I was in Court yesterday morning and I genuinely had the opportunity to introduce two professionals. I met my client’s daughter who is a psychologist involved with dependency cases. I also met my opposing counsel who is a Board Certified Juvenile attorney dealing with tons of dependency cases.  Perfect timing for an introduction that promises to be fruitful.

My intern noticed: “you are always connecting people.”

I replied: “Sometimes you do not have the opportunity to ‘payback’ so you “pay forward.” I have been helped so much, I always try to pass it on by ‘giving forward.'”

As I was driving to the office, I get a phone call. It was a colleague in another city who promised (voluntarily) to give me a heads up on his very unique and effective estate planning strategy.

I received an hour of a class that by its content is priceless! There is no book written on the subject (yet).

I certainly love giving forward. What goes around, comes around!

Have a wonderful day . . .

Yahima

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File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Is Valentine’s Day a day of Roses and Chocolate and expensive gifts? Is it a day of dining out (and making lines for that matter)? It is for many.

To me, Valentine’s day is a reminder of the power of Love in the whole extension of the word.  I celebrate Love Day Every Day! But, Valentine’s day is a reminder that love is much more than just a box of chocolates. It is appreciation and it is understanding.

I am so grateful for the love in my life — my family, my friends, my life  Thank you to all those who make my life full of love.

May you have a beautiful Love Day!

Yahima

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond

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Family and Wealth Planning

My dog is a piece of property!

I know it sounds horrible. My dog is like my child and she is treated as such. Besi, my seven-year-old chihuahua has never thought herself a dog. She feels human. She does not fetch or do doggy things. She sits and cuddles and loves sleeping in my bed. She loves the attention and the care.  Is she my property? Sure, she is (even though she thinks she owns me). Under the law, Besi is a piece of personal property.

So, for many years, a piece of personal property could not inherit property, only humans could. Eventually, Florida allowed for pet owners to leave in place protections for their pet through the creation of a pet’s trust. These trusts can provide for a dog or any other pet during the life of the trust creator or pet owner, which comes very handy in events of incapacity) or after the pet owner (or trust creator) dies.

Everyone’s reaction is usually “I am not going to die yet.” You are probably not, but what if there is an accident and you need to be in the hospital or rehabilitation for several months? You are alive and you will be well, but what happens to your pets during that period of time? Who will provide their basic needs for them, buy food, do their shots, buy shampoo and bath them? As with a child, a pet is your responsibility and proper planning is essential for their well-being and protection.  Would you like to see your furred family member in a shelter?

Just as with any other aspect of your life, proper planning can take care of all your needs and the needs of your family, including your pets.  So when you put your estate plan in place, do not forget to mention that “member of the family” that will not ask for anything but will be needy without you.

Want to know more? Send me an email to yslawyers@gmail.com or call my office at 305-456-7158 and we can schedule a Life Planning and Beyond Session with me so we can review all your needs and options.

My loving pets:

Left to Right: Besi (a/k/a Tuti), Dana, and Corazoncito Azul (a/k/a Pitita)

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM

Yahima Suarez, JD

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Family and Wealth Planning

Hurricane Irma, the Aftermath!

Dear friends,

How was your experience with Hurricane Irma. I hope for you to share with us. As we all know Irma hit the Keys very hard, and although Miami-Dade and Broward only got a small part of Irma, almost a million were without electricity and many are still without electricity.  Thet West Coast may take another 10 days to get all power back.

I have to say, I am thankful because we did not get the category 5 hurricane that threatened us and we just did not have power, lost a few trees, and minor property damage to most.  (I cannot leave out long gas lines before and after the storm).

I just got power back at home last night (and none yet at the office) it was seriously an experience.  My four-year-old could not understand why the cell phone did not have “battery,” why didn’t I just plug in the “white cable”? Kids have the perfect solution. So, this was a week of learnings and teachings. I had not been in this heat since 2013 that I visited Cuba in July and I was concerned for my little one that is used to the very cold temperatures of the AC.

My concerns were not very well founded because my daughter did not complain about the heat, not once.  She was sweaty as can be but she was happy to have mom and dad home all day and all night. She was happy to sleep with mattresses on the floor by the back door with a fan . . . (thankfully we had a generator), and she drank cold water by the ton.

So, what’s there to learn? Lots.  Neighbors got closer and helped each other, supported and cheered each other. We were reminded of how spoiled we are with technology and electricity and all the comfort we enjoy on a daily basis.  These events remind us that we have to appreciate more and complain less 🙂

Please share your experiences! We all want to know . . .

From every experience, we learn . . . hope you are all safe by now. Danger is still out there with power lines down and traffic lights off, so be careful!  See you soon!

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM

Yahima Suarez, Esq.

Life Planning & Beyond

305-456-7158

Family and Wealth Planning

Hurricane Irma and Legal Documents

We are under imminent threat of being under the damaging forces of Hurrican Irma.  What do you do with important legal documents during these circumstances? Some tips to follow:

  1. If you are going to a shelter, make sure to take the most important legal documents with you.  You could use a small plastic box with a lid that locks or simply wrap them in plastic. It does not have to be fancy, a trash bag works perfectly.
  2. If you are staying home, use the same method to protect your important legal documents, especially, original documents like passports and Last Wills and Testaments.  Find the place in the house least likely to get flooded or affected by high winds in the worst event that the roof is damaged.  Think of a closet and store the documents in the middle shelf, drawers (not the bottom ones), or even the kitchen cabinets. Again, avoid the top cabinets or the lower ones —
  3. It is not possible to make sure that you have the safest spot, but if you wrap well the documents to avoid water, it is more likely they will survive.

Legal documents are important, but remember that they can always be replaced.  The priority for everyone shall be to be safe in their persons.

Please do NOT forget your pets.  Make arrangments to keep them inside and secured!

Be safe above all and do not wander outside during the storm. Everything can be replaced, life cannot!

See you all well next week!

Warmest Regards,

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond
Family and Wealth Planning

Question: What happens if I leave real estate property or money to an underage child?

Answer:  As a minor, the child will need a guardian of the property if he or she receives any property to his or her name. In Florida, if the child is under 18, then the parent or guardian of the child will need court involvement to be able to be the guardian of the child’s money and property.  A guardianship of the property will be costly and it will have to be renewed (or at least, inventories will have to be filed every year with the Court).  It can be avoided by the use of proper estate planning, such as Trust Planning.

If you want more information, feel free to give us a call at 305-456-7158 or click here to request a Life Planning & Beyond Session so we can answer this question further and any other question you may have.

Please Submit your questions here.
We will try our best to answer them in our next weekly newsletters.

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond