Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning

Is your Child a Graduate? Then you must read this!

It was just a year ago that I was graduating! Well, that’s not really a true statement even though I feel very young. It was 18 years ago that I graduated from High School. Wow! Yes! I said it! 1999 was the year when I finished High School and we had beepers instead of smart phones.

This coming Monday my step-daughter is graduating from High School and I can relate and re-live the moment.   She is now a young adult, not the 7 year old I met so many years ago. She has grown to be an smart young woman.

If you relate with the truth about time moving speedily, then you might relate to the fact that we must plan ahead for when the time comes. We worried about our children when they were little and we put every plan and protection in place for them when they are very young. Now we worry about our children because they are bigger. Being prepared for what time can bring is not just for over-cautious people, it is for smart people like you.

So let me share something you may not know about your high school graduate: If your child is graduating from high school your “child” is already or soon to be eighteen years of age. This is the age of majority in Florida. At this time, your child may feel grown up and ready to take on the world, while you feel he or she continues to be your baby. The truth is that you, as a parent, can no longer make legal or medical decisions for your child. It is and will always be your child, but unfortunately, the law says that your child is now an adult and can make his or her own legal and medical decisions.  What if he or she cannot make such decisions on his/her own?

If you are in this situation, do not despair.  We have you covered. We want to offer to you today a free Health Care Power of Attorney for your child (between 18-24 and enrolled in school).  This will ensure you continue to have authority to make medical decisions for him/her.  To take advantage of this Free Gift, you must attend a Life Planning & Beyond Session with me.  The Life Planning & Beyond Session in itself is worth $750, but you can have it for free as my Graduation Gift to your family.

But this is not going to be available forever.  These special Gifts are only available for the first five persons who schedule a Life Planning & Beyond Session with me during the month of June, 2017 so do not wait, click here to request your appointment or give us a call at 305-456-7158.

In the Life Planning & Beyond Session you will be able to:

  • Choose the right guardians for your kids without making any of the common mistakes most parents (and even lawyers) make.
  • Discover how to legally avoid all estate taxes and keep your family out of court!
  • Ensure your kids inherit your values, not a sense of entitlement.
  • Get your financial house in order and keep it that way.

Again, just click here and fill out your information and we will contact you within 24 hours to schedule a Life Planning & Beyond Session with me or just give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule a session for you.

Good job in getting your child in the right path and working towards bigger dreams.

Congratulations Grads!

See you soon!

Yahima_Suarez_ss020101vnew (1)
Phone #: 305-456-7158

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

Estate Planning? For what?

Estate planning? I am not rich!  Estate planning? I am not going to die!

Have you said that yourself many times? Yes, I know. I have said it too. It was not until my daughter was born that I really understood the importance and the need of having an Estate Plan. Here are some of the reasons to plan:

  1. An Estate Plan is not just to transfer wealth at death. In fact, many Estates are not very wealthy.
  2. The most important part of planning is protecting yourself. Yes! Who makes legal and medical decisions for you in the event of temporary or long-term incapacity?  We do not want the court appointing a stranger to make sensitive decisions regarding our health and our money.
  3. Then we protect your family, especially if you have young children. Who is going to be the guardian of your children if you are not able to care for them yourself? If you do not nominate specific people, the court will do so for you. They may choose who they believe is best, but will their choice be the right choice according to you? Maybe not.
  4. It is then that we plan to protect your assets and we plan to make sure that if you are not around, yours will be able to continue to run your business or have enough to live decently. How? That is going to be an article in our next issue.
  5. We recommend, in most cases, a trust-based plan. Why? Because it allows to cover most of the situations above. What’s the difference between a trust and a will? Read our post from July 11 or click on Will v. Revocable Living Trust and we will forward you the article.

If you are interested in knowing more of how we can help you protect your family, your business, your valuables and yourself with an Estate Plan that will meet the needs of your families, feel free to click Estate Planning Session or give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule a Legacy and Estate Planning Session for you.Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, PA

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family


Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Will v. Trust. Who wins?

So what does a Trust do that a Will does not? Below are some of the main differences:

  1.  Planning for incapacity – Wills have nothing to do with incapacity.  Will based plans must rely on a durable power of attorney or a guardianship proceeding in case of a long-term incapacity.  Durable powers of attorney are not readily accepted in cases of long-term incapacity and lack distribution guidelines.  Guardianship proceedings are public, expensive and not timely.  With a living trust plan, the client picks who they want in control and can specify specific guidelines and desires.
  2. Privacy– In today’s environment public information on individuals is a commodity.  Wills become a public document upon the death of the testator/testatrix including the names of the beneficiaries. A decedent’s living trust is not a public document and the grantor’s planning remains private.
  3.  Clients tend to have a better understanding of how property should be titled– While joint tenancy with right of survivorship can sabotage both will-based planning and living trust planning, clients with a living trust centered plan seem to have a better understanding of why how assets are titled is an important part of the estate plan.  Will based planning attorneys and clients mistakenly tend to believe that funding is not necessary when in actuality proper funding is just as important for will based planning.
  4. Insurance beneficiary designations are simpler with trust centered planning– With a living trust centered estate plan you can just name the trust as beneficiary of estate plans and get the advantage of running the proceeds of the insurance through the formula clause without exposing the proceeds to probate and potential creditors.  Insurance companies and HR departments understand naming living trusts as beneficiaries.  They become confused when asked to name testamentary trusts as beneficiaries.
  5.  No need for an ancillary probate– Even though a state’s probate process may be simplified, the state of the decedent’s residence has no jurisdiction over out of state property.  With a living trust, there is no death of the owner, so no need for an ancillary probate.
  6. Clients want to avoid probate– Even if you tell clients that probate avoidance is not necessary, the clients still want to avoid probate.  No matter how much I might tell a client that probate avoidance is not the reason I recommend a living trust centered estate plan, the clients still want assurance that their planning will avoid probate.

The above are just some of the reasons to have a Trust-Based plan. If you would like to schedule your planning session to see how I can help you plan for you and yours and have peace of mind, click Estate Planning Session  or call 305-456-7158. I will be happy to help you achieve peace of mind.

Yahima Suarez, PA

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family
Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Another Super Star Dies Intestate: What happens now?

This is not the first time it happens and, sadly, it continues to happen. Prince, as did Elvis Presley, died intestate – without an Estate Plan. There was no Will or Trust drafted. The consequences? Well, the answer would be court battles, family disunity, lots of money spent on attorneys, administrators and on taxes.

At this time, a Judge in Minnesota has appointed Bremer Trust, a company, to continue to manage Prince’s affairs while there is a Determination of Heirs. Prince left no Will so the Court must determine who will inherit from him and the Court will decide what each person will inherit. If the beneficiaries do not agree on the distribution of Prince’s specific assets, assets will have to be sold and moneys distributed to the beneficiaries ONLY after paying any taxes due to the government.

If Prince had a Will, an administrator or personal representative would have been appointed and there would have been no need for a company to be involved and all his assets would have been transferred to the person or persons that he really wanted to receive.  The process would have been public anyways but most of the battle over who will inherit what would not exist. On the other hand, if Prince had died leaving his assets in trust, we would not even be hearing about the details of what he left and how it was distributed and to whom unless the beneficiaries were willing to put that information out there in the public domain.

You have a choice of deciding if you want your beneficiaries (unknown at this time) to fight over what you leave behind or to make sure that what you have ends in the hands of those you really care to have it. You have the control of deciding if your affairs will be public upon your incapacity or death or if they will be handled in the privacy of your attorney’s office without the media involvement.

The right time to put your time in place is Right Now! Do not wait until it may be too late. Feel free to schedule your Legacy Planning Session here or give us a call at 305-456-7158 and I will be happy to review your family needs and make the appropriate recommendations for you and your family. My ultimate goal is for you to enjoy peace of mind.

Yahima Suarez, PA

Yahima Suarez

Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Trust: Which Is Best for You?

Trusts  allow you to avoid probate, minimize taxes, provide organization, maintain control, and provide for yourself and your heirs. In its most simple terms, a trust is a book of instructions wherein you tell your people what to do, when, and how.

While there are many types of trusts, the major distinction between trusts is whether they are revocable or irrevocable. Let’s take a look at both so you’ll have the information you need:

Revocable Trusts. Revocable trusts are also known as “living trusts” because they benefit you during your lifetime and you can alter, change, modify, or revoke them if your circumstances or goals change.

  • You stay in control of your revocable trust. You can transfer property into a trust and take it out, serve as the trustee, and be the beneficiary. You have full control. Most of our clients like that.
  • You select successor trustees to manage the trust if you become incapacitated and for after you die. Most of our clients like that they, not the courts, select who’s in charge when they need help.
  • Your trust assets avoid probate. This makes it difficult for creditors to access assets since they must petition a court for an order to enable the creditor to get to the assets held in the trust. Most of our clients want to protect their beneficiaries’ inheritances.

Irrevocable Trusts: When irrevocable trusts are used, assets are transferred out of the trustmaker’s estate into the name of the trust.  You, as the trustmaker, cannot alter, change, modify, or revoke this trust after execution. It’s irrevocable and you usually cannot be in control.

  • Irrevocable trust assets have increased asset protection and are kept out of the reach of creditors.
  • Taxes are often reduced because, in most cases, irrevocable trust assets are no longer part of your estate.
  • Trust protectors can modify your trust if your goals become frustrated.

So which one should you choose? It will depend on your needs, family situation, desires, and options to achieve your economic and family protection goals. As experienced estate planning attorneys, we can help you figure out whether a revocable or irrevocable trust is a good fit for you and your loved ones.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA


Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning

How to Avoid Sending Your Loved Ones (and Assets) through Probate

Today many people are using a revocable living trust instead of a will or joint ownership as the foundation of their estate plan. When properly prepared, a living trust will avoid the public, costly and time-consuming court processes guardianship (due to incapacity) or probate (after death). However, just having a Living Trust drafted is not enough. A big and very common mistake people make that send their assets and loved ones right into the court system anyways is the failure to fund their Trust.

What Does It Mean to Fund Your Trust?

Funding a trust is simply the process of transferring assets from your name into your Trust.  Usually beneficiary designations are also changed to the Trust so that the trust receives those assets and the assets are distributed as per the terms of the Trust.

Funding is accomplished in several different ways:

  • Changing the title of the asset from your individual name (or joint names if you’re married) to the name of your trust – for example, from John Smith to John Smith, Trustee of the John Smith Living Trust dated December 1, 2015.
  • Assigning your interest in an asset without a title (such as artwork, jewelry, collectibles or antiques) to your trust.
  • Changing the primary or contingent beneficiary of assets, such as bank accounts, retirement or investment accounts, to your trust.

What Happens to Assets Left Out of Your Trust?

One of the many reasons for having a Trust in the first place is to avoid the need of going through a Guardianship or through Probate. Unfortunately, it may feel that once the Trust is signed, the work is complete; but this is not true. Once the trust is signed, funding must take place. Funding is as important as having the Trust drafted in the first place. If you fail to take the next step to change title and beneficiary designations to the name of the Trust, then the Trust is not going to achieve the goals you wanted and in the event of incapacity, you are going to need a Guardianship and a Probate if you die. Thus, it is extremely important that your trust is properly funded.

Which Assets Should, and Should Not, Be Funded into Your Trust?

In general, you will probably want to fund the following assets into your trust:

  • Real estate – homes, rental properties, vacant land and timeshares
  • Bank and credit union accounts – checking, savings, CDs
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Investment accounts – brokerage, agency, custody
  • Notes payable to you
  • Life insurance – if you don’t have an irrevocable life insurance trust
  • Business interests
  • Intellectual property
  • Oil and gas interests
  • Personal effects – artwork, jewelry, collectibles, antiques

On the other hand, you will probably not want to fund the following assets into your trust:

  • IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement accounts – only the beneficiary should be changed
  • Incentive stock options and Section 1244 stock
  • Interests in professional corporations
  • Foreign assets – in some countries funding an asset into a U.S.-based trust causes adverse tax consequences, while in other countries trusts aren’t recognized or are ignored due to forced heirship laws
  • UTMA and UGMA accounts – your minor grandchild is the owner, not you as the custodian; instead, name a successor custodian
  • Cars, trucks boats, motorcycles and scooters –most states allow a small amount of assets, including vehicles, to pass outside of probate, in others a beneficiary can be designated for vehicles, and in others, vehicles don’t have to go through probate at all

It’s important to work closely with your attorney to determine what should go into your trust and what should stay out.  Remember that improperly funded assets may end up through a guardianship or probate action in Court.

Many people like the cost and time savings, plus the added control over assets a living trust offers. Yet in the end a unfunded trust isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Make sure that if you already have a trust, that it is fully funded. If you are in the process of creating a trust, make sure that it is property funded. We are available to answer your questions about funding your trust and look forward to working with you and your advisors on all of your estate planning needs.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request that we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA


Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning

Wills vs. Trusts: A Quick & Simple Reference Guide

the time abou

I talk all the time about a Will and a Trust as two different things and I always get confused glares. Not sure about the differences between wills and trusts?  You are not alone. While it’s always wise to contact experts like us, it’s also important to understand the basics. Here’s a quick and simple reference guide so you don’t have to glare confusedly when someone says that a Will and a Trust are very different:

What Revocable Living Trusts Can Do – That Wills Can’t

  • Avoid a Guardianship. A revocable living trust allows you to authorize your spouse, partner, child, or other trusted person to manage your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs. Wills only become effective when you die, so they are useless in avoiding a Guardianship proceeding during your life.
  • Bypass probate. Property in a revocable living trust does not pass through probate. Property that passes using a Will guarantees The probate process, designed to wrap up a person’s affairs after satisfying outstanding debts, is public and can be costly and time consuming – sometimes taking years to resolve.
  • Maintain privacy after death. Wills are public documents; trusts are not. Anyone, including noisy neighbors, predators, and unscrupulous “charities” can discover the details of your estate if you have a will. Trusts allow you to maintain your family’s privacy after death.
  • Protect you from court challenges. Although court challenges to Wills and Trusts occur, attacking a Trust is generally much harder than attacking a Will because trust provisions are not made public.

What Wills Can Do – That Revocable Living Trusts Can’t                     

  • Name guardians for children. It is believed that only a Will can name Guardians for your children. However, we prepare for our clients, as part of their Trust package, a series of documents to name guardians for minor children, both financial guardians and care-takers. These documents are subject to current state law, for example: family law in Florida, where the surviving parent would have more legal rights over the child’s custody than any other person designated as a guardian. However, you are still able to name an independent financial guardian for your minor child who is not the same person as the care-taker.
  • Specify an executor or personal representative. Wills allow you to name an executor or personal representative – someone who will take responsibility to wrap up your estate after you die. This typically involves working with the probate court, protecting assets, paying your debts, and distributing what remains to beneficiaries. But, if there are no assets in your probate estate (because you have a fully funded revocable trust), this feature is not necessarily useful. However, a trust does not require a Personal Representative. A trust names a Trustee or Trustees to do the work during the life of the Grantor and after.

What Both Wills & Trusts Can Do:

  • Allow revisions to your document. Both wills and trusts can be revised whenever your intentions or circumstances change so long as you have the legal capacity to execute them.

WARNING: There is such as a thing as irrevocable trusts, which cannot be changed without legal action.

  • Name beneficiaries. Both wills and trusts are vehicles which allow you to name beneficiaries for your assets.
  • Wills simply describe assets and proclaim who gets what. Only assets in your individual name will be controlled by a will.
  • While trusts act similarly, you must go one step further and “transfer” the property into the trust – commonly referred to as “funding.” Only assets in the name of your trust will be controlled by your trust.
  • Provide asset protection. Trusts, and less commonly, wills, are crafted to include protective sub-trusts which allow your beneficiaries access but keep the assets from being seized by their creditors such as divorcing spouses, car accident litigants, bankruptcy trustee, and business failure.

While some of the differences between wills and trusts are subtle; others are not. Together, we’ll take a look at your goals as well as your financial and family situation and design an estate plan tailored to your needs.

Give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule an Estate Planning Session for you or you can click Estate Planning Session to request we call you to schedule. Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

What is Thanksgiving Day for?

As I grew up in Cuba we had no idea there was a holiday designated to give thanks. As we arrived to the United States in 1995, we started integrating ourselves to the American culture. This tradition we absorbed and enjoyed since our first year.

I had just started ninth grade, when Ms. Castro,  my ESOL teacher explained why Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, the history behind it and the food involved. Some of the major ingredients in the feast were not very common to me or my family, others were completely unknown.  Nonetheless, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving day in November of 1995.

To date, every year on Thanksgiving Day we gather the family together, as many of us as possible, and we share a delicious meal. For this one day in the year, we try to keep the table as American as possible. But what’s a holiday party without a flan for dessert?  It is just a splash of Cuban flare, we tell ourselves.

It does not matter what you do or what you eat or where you spend Thanksgiving Day, what’s important is to Give Thanks!

I give thanks this year for every single day of my life and for everything that has happened each one of those days. I give thanks for the best times and for the not so good times, as those are the ones who have made me grow and be stronger. I give thanks for my family and for my daughter!  I give thanks for my life.  I give thanks  for the opportunity to help others protect themselves and their families. What are you giving thanks for?

I wish you have loads to give thanks for, as all we receive through life is gift!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, PA
Legacy & Estate Planning for your Family!

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family