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


Family and Wealth Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Nosey Neighbor Nellie Can Find Out About Your Probate. Really!

Most people think of probate as a private process. However, since Wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means your nosey neighbor Nellie can simply go down to the courthouse or hop online and find out about your probate and know exactly what’s in it, who will receive and how much!

It’s Not Just Nellie That Has Access…

After a death, most states require that whoever has possession of the deceased person’s will must file it with the probate court – even if there is not going to be any probate court proceedings.  While Nellie may be an annoyance and have no other reason to view the information other than curiosity, others can get access to your public records and make your beneficiaries’ lives miserable, such as:

  • Financial predators. While today’s digital world is convenient, it’s also dangerous. Financial predators find ways to access information online. Since courts are part of a bureaucratic process that often moves slower than a glacier, months can elapse before you (or the court) realizes that your beneficiaries have been tricked.
  • Even the most well-meaning charities can become an annoyance when money is considered “up for grabs.” This is especially true in an estate situation when those inheriting assets want to do the right thing and honor their loved one.
  • Will challengers. Public record documents such as probate provide those with an interest (whether valid or invalid) to challenge the will. This can equate to added costs and time defending the will.

Avoid the “Nosey Nellie” Factor with A Trust

Trusts are never filed with a court, either before or after your death. Probate courts are not involved in supervising your trust administration. So, you can avoid busy bodies and predators by creating a trust. Did you hear that, Nellie?

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

What is the different between Dying Intestate or with a Will or Trust?

Most people understand that having some sort of an estate plan is, as Martha Stewart would say, a “good thing.” However, many of us don’t take the steps to get that estate plan in place because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts – and dying without either.

Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a will, and with a trust. For this example, we’re assuming you have children, but no spouse:

  1. If you should die intestate, your estate will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, what you owed, and who got what. Your mortgage company, car loan company, and credit card companies will all seek payment on balances you owed at the time of your death.

After that, state law will decide who gets what and when.

  • For example, if your only heirs are your children and you have not provided any instructions, state law will mandate dividing up proceeds equally.
  • Your older children will get their shares immediately if they’ve attained adulthood.
  • But, the court will appoint a guardian to manage the money for your minor children until they become adults.
  • Shockingly, that guardian can charge a lot of money and be a total stranger – as can the guardian who raises your child.
  • Yes, if you die without an estate plan, the court, not you, will decide who raises your minor children.

Keep in mind that since your death has been published to alert valid creditors, it’s not uncommon for predators (fake creditors) to come forth and make demands for payment – even if they’re not owed anything.

The bottom line? Dying intestate allows state law and the court to make all the decisions on your behalf – regardless of what your intent might have been. Publicity is guaranteed.

  1. If you should die with a valid will, your assets will still go through the probate process. However, after creditors have been satisfied, the remaining assets go to whom you’ve identified in your will.
  • So, if you want to leave money to your children and name a guardian for the minor ones, the court will usually abide by your wishes.
  • The same holds true if you specified that you wanted to give assets to a charity, your Aunt Betty, or your neighbor.
  • Keep in mind that predatory creditors are still an issue as your death has been publicized. Even with a will, probate is a public process.

The bottom line? While a court oversees the process, having a Will allows you to tell the court exactly how you want your estate to be handled. But, a public probate is still guaranteed.

  1. If you’ve created a trust, you’ve taken control of your estate plan and your assets. Trust assets are not subject to the probate process and one of the most important benefits of trusts is that they are private. Notices are not published, so you avoid predators coming after your estate.

You’ll have named a trustee to manage your estate with specific instructions on how your assets should be dispersed and when.

  • One word of caution – trusts must be funded in order to bypass probate.
  • Funding means that your assets have been re-titled in the name of your trust.
  • Think of your trust as a bushel basket. You must put the apples into the basket as you must put your assets into the trust for either to have value.

You do still need a will to pour any assets inadvertently or intentionally left out of your trust.  This is more of a safety-net if your trust is properly funded and it can name guardians for minor children. However, as part of our trust plans, we prepare a set of documents to name financial and custodial guardians for minor children with very detailed and specific instructions for those guardians.

The bottom line? Trusts allow you to maintain control of your assets through your chosen trustee, avoid probate, and leave specific instructions so that your children are taken care of – without receiving a lump sum of money at an age where they are more likely to squander it or have it seized from them.

Don’t let the will versus trust controversy slow you down. Call the office today; we’ll put together an estate plan that works for you and your family whether it be a will, trust, or both but make sure to get it done.

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
Family and Wealth Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Trust Planning? What are my options?

Creating an estate plan that works can seem daunting.  However, that’s what we, as estate planning attorneys, do every day. We know the laws and know how to design the right plan that works for the needs of the individual client and the client’s specific situation by walking the client through the roads of Estate Planning.

Some of the considerations we make when walking the client through the Estate Planning path is the type of trust or trusts the client may need. Next you can look at the basics of ten common trusts in an aim to provide a general understanding. There will not be a quiz at the end- it is just helpful information.  All you need to do when we meet is share your goals and insight into your family and financial situation, and we will design a plan that incorporates the best planning for your situation.

  1. Bypass Trusts. Commonly referred to as Credit Shelter Trust, Family Trust, or B Trust, Bypass Trusts do just that: bypass the surviving spouse’s estate to take advantage of tax exclusions and provide asset protection.
  1. Charitable Lead Trusts. CLTs are split interest trusts which provide a stream of income to a charity of your choice for a period of years or a lifetime. Whatever’s left goes to you or your loved ones.
  1. Charitable Remainder Trusts. CRTs are split interest trusts which provide a stream of income to you for a period of years or a lifetime and the remainder goes to the charity of your choice.
  1. Special Needs Trusts. SNTs allow you to benefit someone with special needs without disqualifying them for governmental benefits. Federal laws allow special needs beneficiaries to obtain benefits from a carefully crafted trust without defeating eligibility for government benefits.
  1. Generation-Skipping Trusts. GST Trusts allow you to distribute your assets to your grandchildren, or even to later generations, without paying the generation-skipping tax.
  1. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts. GRATs are irrevocable trusts which are used to make large financial gifts to family members while limiting estate and gift taxes.
  1. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts. ILITs are designed to exclude life insurance proceeds from the deceased’s estate for tax purposes. However, proceeds are still available to provide liquidity to pay taxes, equalize inheritances, fund buy-sell agreements, or provide an inheritance.
  1. Marital Trusts. Marital Trusts are designed to provide asset protection and financial benefits to a surviving spouse. Trust assets are included in his or her estate for tax purposes.
  1. Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trusts. QTIPs initially provide income to a surviving spouse and, upon his or her death, the remaining assets are distributed to other named beneficiaries. These are commonly used in second marriage situations and to maximize estate and generation-skipping tax exemptions and tax planning flexibility.
  1. Testamentary Trusts. Testamentary Trusts are created in a will. These trusts are created upon an individual’s death and are commonly used to provide for a beneficiary. They are commonly used when a beneficiary is too young, has medical or drug issues, or may be a spendthrift. Trusts also provide asset protection from lawsuits brought against the beneficiary.

There are many types of trusts available and planning options. We’ll help you select which trust or trusts, if any, are a good fit for you.

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, Testamentos y Herencias

HELP! This Probate Is Taking Forever!!!

After a loved one dies, his/her  estate must be probated (court action through which assets are transferred to heirs or beneficiaries). While most everyone wants the probate process to be done as soon as possible, probate can take a year and more, even for a modest estate. Yes, you heard that right.

5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long:

There are many reasons why probating a will takes so long. Here are five of the most common:

  • Paperwork. Managing probate required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines.
  • Complexity. Estates with numerous or complicated assets simply take longer to probate as there are more items to be accounted for and valued. However, at this time, any small estate takes up to a year to be processed. Imagine how long are the larger estate’s administration taking!
  • Probate court caseload. Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited staff.
  • Challenges to the will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those, who thought they’d be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the will’s terms and legality. While state law dictates how long they have to object, will challenges can add years to the process. Common challenges include that the testator (person who executed the will) was:
    • Lacking testamentary capacity
    • Delusional
    • Subject to undue influence
    • A victim of fraud
  • Creditor Notification. A will’s personal representative must notify the decedent’s creditors so they have time to submit claims for debts, which means, that the Estate must also wait three months for the claim period to run before any further action is taken on the case.

Most state probate laws are designed to keep the process moving along in a timely manner. But that’s more of a plan than a reality.

Simply Put, Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better.

By putting assets in a trust, the administration time is shortened.  It does not mean that there is no administration, but the administration is faster because it is not tied up to the court calendar, costs are usually reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.

Take Action Now.

First, if you need help handling a probate case in court, we can help you through the process and that way remove some of the burden from you, so you can move on with your life. Second, we can help you make sure you never burden your loved ones the way you’ve been burden. How? We’ll show you how to avoid probate with a trust.

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 that will not require probate.

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