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

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


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




La Ley de Ajuste Cubano aplica a NO Cubanos.

La Ley de Ajuste Cubano aplica a NO Cubanos? Si! Me han hecho esta pregunta incredulamente muchas veces. La respuesta, sigue siendo positiva.

La ley de ajuste cubano aplica a personas que no son cubanas y a sus hijos cuando se han casado con un cubano que es residente permanente y . . . aqui va el trick . . . el cubano tiene que haber recibido su residencia bajo la ley de ajuste cubano.

Los cubanos que entraron por peticiones familiares o a través de ciertas loterías de visa no pueden transferir su residencia a su esposa/esposa sin una petición de visa primero! Los cubanos que obtuvieron residencia bajo la ley de ajuste cubano pero ya son ciudadanos no transmiten el privilegio de la ley de ajuste a sus esposo(a) e hijos(as) o hijastros(as).

La ley de ajuste cubano aplica a ciudadanos cubanos o personas que hayan nacido en Cuba. Es decir, que los cubanos que han vivido en otros países y han obtenido ciudadanía del país donde han residido todavía califican para aplicar bajo la ley de ajuste mientras tengan un certificado de nacimiento cubano. Esos que han nacido en países extranjeros que hayan sido registrados con la embajada cubana como cubanos, son considerados cubanos para los propósitos de la ley de inmigración de los Estados Unidos.

Recuerden que las leyes de inmigración son extensas y lo anterior es solo un resumen de algunos puntos importantes de dicha ley pero cada caso es único y requiere de atención específica a su caso independiente.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, A Law Firm, PL

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

Any information herein contained is for information purposes only, it is not intended and shall not be construed in any way to constitute legal advice.

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

Are you old at 50? Financial Smarts peak at 50 –Here’s How to Protect Your Older Self.

A recent study conducted by Texas Tech University concluded that the ability to make smart financial decisions peaks at age 50.  This decline was observed in both men and women, making both sexes equally vulnerable to financial fraud as they age.

4 Tips for Protecting Your Finances From Scams, Shams and Schemes as You Age

In “4 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Money From Scammers (and Your Future Self)” (, Liz Weston points out that fraud victims age 65 and older lost an average of $30,000, and one in ten lost more than $100,000.

Now that I have your attention, here are the four tips that Ms. Weston offers for protecting your finances as you age or those of you with an elderly parent or other relative:

  1. Make Investing Simpler. This tip emphasizes consolidation of similar accounts (such as combining multiple IRA accounts into a single account), replacing individual stocks and bonds with mutual funds or exchanged-traded funds (in general funds will require less attention), and keep two credit cards (one for everyday use and the other for automatic bill payments).
  1. Assemble Defenders. This tip emphasizes choosing the right person – someone who is money-savvy, trustworthy, and ready to act in your best interest – to step in and manage your finances when you are not able. This is accomplished through naming an agent to act on your behalf in financial matters in a legal document called a Power of Attorney.  While your spouse may be your first choice as agent, be sure to choose a younger alternate in case your spouse also becomes impaired.
  1. Open Up Your Finances. This tip emphasizes sharing your financial information with your agent so that he or she will be able to notice when things go awry. For example, you can set up email or text alerts with your financial institutions that notify both you and your agent when unusually large transactions take place. You should also give your doctor and financial advisor permission to contact your agent if they become concerned about your cognitive abilities.
  1. Design a Money Blueprint. This tip emphasizes putting together an “investment policy statement” (IPS) which spells out your financial goals over time, what types of investments you will hold, and how much of your portfolio should be allocated to safe and riskier assets. An IPS will not only help you keep your investments on track, but it will also help you resist sales pitches that fall outside of your plan.

Of course, a Comprehensive Estate Plan is the ultimate way to protect you, your family and your finances as you age. Please contact Yahima Suarez, PA at 305-456-7158 if you are interested in learning more about estate planning or if you have an estate plan that has not been updated in the past few years. An Estate Plan may be updated as often as needed, but if yours have been sitting there for three or more years, make sure to get it reviewed and possibly updated.

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

Early Predictions About 2016 Estate Tax, Gift Tax, GST Tax and Annual Gift Tax Limits

Under current law the federal estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions have become unified and are indexed for inflation on an annual basis.  Since 2011, the exemption and tax rate have changed as follows:

Year    Exemption       Tax Rate

2011    $5,000,000      35%
2012    $5,120,000      35%
2013    $5,250,000      40%
2014    $5,340,000      40%
2015    $5,430,000      40%

The annual exclusion from gift taxes is also indexed for inflation on an annual basis but only in $1,000 increments.  Since 2011, the annual gift tax exclusion has changed as follows:

Year    Exclusion
2011    $13,000
2012    $13,000
2013    $14,000
2014    $14,000
2015    $14,000

While the IRS will not officially release the 2016 inflation-indexed exemption and exclusion until later in October, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting has released its 2016 predictions based on historical inflationary trends.  According to Wolters, the exemption should end up at $5,450,000 in 2016, or $10,900,000 for married couples.  While this is a mere $20,000 per individual / $40,000 per married couple increase over the 2015 exemption, it is a whopping $450,000 per individual / $900,000 per married couple increase since 2011. Unfortunately, Wolters anticipates that the annual gift exclusion will remain at $14,000 for 2016.

Wealthy individuals and couples should continue to monitor these inflation-indexed numbers and plan accordingly. We will update you on the official 2016 numbers once they are released by the IRS.

Guidance and further information is available. You are not alone. Feel free to give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will happy to schedule a Legacy & Estate Planning session to answer any questions you may have.


Yahima Suarez


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