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Estate-Plan-Type-Blog

When Should You Review or Modify Your Estate Plan?

Your estate plan is a collection of legal documents, such as your last will and testament, trusts, advanced healthcare directives, and powers of attorney, that describe your last wishes for your end-of-life care. It’s best to work with an estate planning attorney in Orlando, like The Boutty Law Firm, to develop your estate plan and ensure all areas of your estate are accounted for. Once your plan is created, you’ll want to review and update it periodically. Below, we discuss when you should consider modifying your estate plan:

 A Few Years After Creating It

We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three to five years. Laws regarding estate planning regularly change. An Orlando estate planning attorney can help you update your plan to ensure it follows all new rules and regulations.

Change in Marital Status

Whether you’re just married or are going through a divorce, you should update your estate plan when your marital status changes. When you get married, you’ll want to add your new spouse as a beneficiary in your will and on financial accounts like IRAs, savings accounts, and 401(k)s. If you or your new spouse have children from previous relationships, you may want to include them as beneficiaries in your will and other accounts. Stepchildren aren’t considered legal heirs, so if you want them to receive a share of your estate when you pass away, you’ll need to include them in your will. You’ll also want to update your last name, if applicable. If you get divorced, you’ll want to remove your ex-spouse, stepchildren, and ex-in-laws (if applicable) from your will and other estate planning documents.

New Health Diagnosis

Comprehensive estate plans include several documents, such as advanced directives, detailing how you’d like your healthcare handled if you become incapacitated or face a terminal diagnosis. If you’re diagnosed with a specific condition such as cancer, Parkinson’s, or dementia, you’ll want to update your estate plan to include steps for your care regarding those particular conditions.

 

New Birth or Adoption in the Family

If you are a parent, it’s important to update your will every time you have a new child. This allows you to name a guardian for each new addition to your family and include them as a beneficiary. If you are a grandparent, consider updating your will to include your grandchildren, if desired.

 Purchasing or Selling a Large Asset

It’s important to update your estate plan after buying or selling a large asset, such as a real estate property, a luxury car, a vacation home, or a boat. If you purchased an item like this, you’ll want to include it as part of your estate and designate a beneficiary to get ownership of it after you pass away. If you sold a large asset like the ones listed above, you’ll want to account for any additional funds in your will, either by selecting a beneficiary to receive them or setting the funds aside for charitable giving. You’ll also want to update your estate plan if you start or sell a business.

Moved From Another State

Every state has its own estate planning laws. If you recently moved to Florida from another state, you’ll want to review your estate plan with an estate planning attorney in Orlando to ensure your plan remains valid in Florida. Florida Statute 732.502 specifies that wills created and deemed valid in other states are also valid in Florida, even if they don’t follow the regular guidelines of what’s considered a valid will in Florida. You’ll also want to review your other estate planning documents and update bank and account information as needed.

A Beneficiary or Your Personal Representative Passes Away

The personal representative plays a vital role in the probate process, so keeping their information updated in your estate plan is essential. If the person you chose as your personal representative passes away, you’ll want to amend your will (also called a codicil) to include a new representative. You can follow a similar process if one of your beneficiaries passes away. You’ll want to either amend the will and give that share of the estate to someone else or create an entirely new document and revoke the old one. 

Change in Economic Status

You should update your estate plan when you experience significant financial changes, such as a job promotion, job loss, retirement, winning the lottery, or inheriting funds from another estate. Assess your economic status, review what you’re leaving to beneficiaries, and decide to increase (or decrease) these amounts. You can also decide to leave a portion of your estate to charity.

How to Modify Your Estate Plan

Each estate planning document has specific parameters for updating it. For example, you can add a formal amendment or codicil to your will to update it. However, certain documents, such as advanced healthcare directives, should be replaced with entirely new documents. Your estate planning attorney in Orlando can help you determine the best steps to modify each part of your estate plan.

Estate Planning and Modification with Boutty Law Firm

Our team at the Boutty Law Firm can assist you in developing, updating, and maintaining your estate plan. Our estate planning attorneys in Orlando will help you review, update, and revoke all necessary documentation to avoid confusion about your last wishes. Call our office at 407-622-1395 or contact us online today to get started.

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Business

The Importance of Due Diligence: What Business Owners Need to Know When Buying a Business

When you’re in the process of a business merger or acquisition, you need to perform a detailed review to understand its current status, assess potential risks, and ensure that the business assets have been accurately represented as described in the offer letter. This process is called due diligence. When acquiring a business, the due diligence process can be detailed and complicated. You’ll want an experienced business lawyer in Orlando, like our team at The Boutty Law Firm, to help ensure you make a good investment. Here’s what business owners should know about the due diligence process during business transactions.

What is Due Diligence, and Why Does It Matter?

Due diligence is the process of performing an in-depth inspection and analysis of the business before you purchase it. Like buying a used car, due diligence allows you to “look under the hood” of the business to ensure everything is in proper working order and that you’re making a sound investment. Due diligence is performed during any business transaction, such as a merger, acquisition, investment, or partnership. The goal of due diligence is to ensure that the buyer is making a good investment and understands any potential risks or liabilities before officially buying the business.

Due diligence is important because it helps you avoid surprises with the business you want to purchase. It will help you protect your time and money by ensuring you’re investing in an upstanding business that the seller has accurately depicted. Due diligence will also help you make informed business decisions and develop the acquisition plan so you can run the business after the transaction is complete.

Types of Due Diligence

By looking at each area of the business you want to buy, you’ll get a complete picture of the current business standing and be better equipped to make decisions regarding the business. Here are the types of due diligence you should perform when undergoing a business transaction:

Financial

 During financial due diligence, you’ll get a complete and comprehensive overview of the business’ financial status. You will gather relevant financial documentation such as three to five years’ worth of business tax returns, bank statements, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, financial audits, reports, and information about any business debt. You’ll also want to know how the business handles cash flow.

Legal

You’ll want assistance from a business lawyer in Orlando to help perform legal due diligence. During this time, you’ll review partner or supplier contracts to see what established partnerships are already in place. This is also when any risks or liabilities will be reviewed. Your lawyer will review contracts, established agreements, and any pending lawsuits or legal risks associated with the business.

Operational

During operational due diligence, you’ll learn how the business operates on a day-to-day basis. You’ll assess risks and challenges with the current operations so you can make potential improvements once the transaction is complete. You’ll want to investigate whether there are any issues, liabilities, or risks that could set the business up for failure now or in the future. You may wish to speak with employees during this time to get an accurate perspective of the business operations. You’ll also want to review customer satisfaction with the company and assess for improvements.

Technology

Technology is integral to most business operations, so you’ll want to review the current patents, software, and programs it utilizes. You’ll check the business’ cybersecurity protocols, review CRMs and databases, and evaluate current software or apps.

How to Perform Due Diligence

Due diligence can be as simple as reviewing the business’ accounting software or as complicated as having a team of business lawyers perform a detailed analysis that lasts several weeks. Here is how the due diligence process works:

Gather Your Team

You’ll want to assemble your team of Orlando business lawyers, accountants, and industry experts to give you trusted advice about the business’ status. Due diligence is performed after an offer has been accepted and before closing. Many companies aren’t willing to provide the documentation needed to perform a full due diligence report before an offer has been made, so keep that in mind.

Compile Documentation

One of the most tedious and detailed parts of performing due diligence is gathering the paperwork to review. You’ll need to request financial documentation from the business seller, review contracts the business has made with others, interview employees and stakeholders, and audit the current business operations. It’s crucial to stay organized during this process.

Review and Analyze

Your Orlando business lawyer, accountant, and expert team will compile the documentation and conduct a thorough analysis and audit. Findings will be crafted into detailed reports stating the business’ health, risks, and liabilities.

Determination

The end goal of due diligence is to decide whether you should proceed with the business transaction. Performing due diligence will allow you to get an accurate view of the business so you know what you’re getting into. Once the assessment has been made and risks or liabilities have been identified, you can proceed with closing the transaction and start to draft the purchase agreement.

The Boutty Law Firm: Business Lawyer in Orlando

Our team at the Boutty Law Firm is experienced in performing due diligence for many business transactions. We’ll help you ensure the terms for your letter of intent (LOI) are represented accurately. After that, your lawyer will help draft the purchase agreement, and you can start the closing process. Contact us at 407-622-1395 or schedule a consultation online to discuss how we may aid you in acquiring a business.

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Estate Probate Blog

How Do You Value an Estate for Probate?

Every estate that goes through probate must be valued. Valuing the estate occurs after the notice of administration has been filed with the probate and creditors/beneficiaries have been notified that the estate has entered probate. During estate valuation for probate, the decedent’s belongings and possessions are appraised, consolidated, and assigned a monetary value. Estates are valued to ensure debts and creditors can be repaid. The estate value also determines whether the estate qualifies for summary or formal administration. Here are some important factors to consider when valuing an estate during probate.

Types of Property

 Any property that’s considered a probate asset needs to be valued. Here are some examples of the types of property that would be valued during probate proceedings:

Real Property

Real property the decedent owned will be appraised and valued during probate. Real property includes homes, land, vacation houses, and timeshares.

Personal Possessions

Notable personal property will also need to be valued for probate. This includes cars, boats, household items, electronics, and furniture. It also includes the value of family heirlooms, collections, and jewelry.

Financial

Financial property is money in bank accounts the decedent owned. This includes the value of life insurance plans, retirement accounts, and savings. Business assets and intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, and patents) are also valued.

Methods for Evaluation

Estate valuation for probate determines the fair market value of the decedent’s possessions. Different evaluation methods may be employed depending on the asset. For instance, a market approach is often utilized when valuing real property. With this approach, value is decided by analyzing the sale prices of comparable properties in the area and determining what a piece of property in similar condition and age would be worth. The value of property like timeshares, cars, and boats can be found using similar methods. Any asset estimated at $50,000 or more may require a formal appraisal.

What Assets Are Exempt from the Evaluation Process?

Only some possessions the decedent owned need to be valued for probate purposes. Non-probate assets don’t need to be valued. Examples of non-probate assets include possessions the decedent jointly owned with someone else, financial accounts with “payable on death” or “transfer upon death” benefits; life insurance plans with a beneficiary designation. Shared property that benefits a surviving spouse and their children, such as a family home, furniture, and up to two cars, are exempt, too.

Estate Valuation for Probate Steps

Here are the steps to value an estate in Florida:

  1. Gather all assets.

Gather all the probate assets together in one place to begin. Create a spreadsheet to ensure you stay organized. In the spreadsheet, list each possession and leave space to put each item’s estimated value. The list should include all probate assets, from real estate to stocks.

  1. Determine fair market value for personal property.

The second step is determining each possession’s value when the decedent passed away. Formal appraisals may be ordered for some of the most valuable assets. For others, value is determined through internet research and expert insight. If the decedent jointly owned property, only the decedent’s share would be subject to estate valuation for probate.

  1. Create an estate bank account.

As property is valued, an estate bank account should be established. This is the bank account that all profits from sold possessions and property should go in. Funds from the decedent’s accounts are also put in this account. Creditors will be paid out of existing funds from this account.

  1. List all debts and known creditor claims.

List out any known creditor claims against the estate, as well as any debts the decedent had. Note the value of each claim and the party that’s owed money. You’ll also want a probate attorney to look over each claim to ensure it’s a valid creditor claim.

Estate Administration with Boutty Law Firm

Personal representatives have many responsibilities, including estate valuation for probate. Our attorneys at the Boutty Law Firm will help you through each step of the probate process, including collecting and valuing the estate and paying creditors. Call our office at 407-622-1395 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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Will

What to Include in a Will: 5 Topics to Cover

Wills are one of the best ways to ensure that your possessions and assets are distributed how you desire after you pass away. A last will and testament allows your family members to execute your final wishes without having to guess how you would have liked your affairs handled. Deciding what to include in a will can be a challenging task. Many people are nervous that they may forget something or unintentionally exclude a beneficiary. Below, we discuss the top five primary topics you should cover when creating your will.   

  1. Name a Personal Representative  

Personal representatives have a very important role when executing a will. They are responsible for managing the estate bank account, valuing your assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries about probate proceedings, and distributing your possessions to beneficiaries. Your personal representative is also the primary contact between your family and the court during probate proceedings. When deciding what to include in a will, naming a personal representative is one of the most important things you should include. Choose a close family member or friend who’s comfortable with the responsibility and gets along with most of your family members. You’ll want to consider speaking with your intended representative beforehand to ensure they can take on the task.  

  1. Choose a Legal Guardian for Minor Children  

When you have minor children in your home, naming a legal guardian to take care of them is one of the most important things to include in a will.  No other estate planning document will allow you to name a guardian in the same fashion as a valid will can. If you don’t name a guardian for your children in your will, custody of them will most likely go to the surviving biological parent or a close relative who petitions for their custody if you pass away.  

  1. Divide Your Possessions  

Another item you’ll want to include in your will is naming beneficiaries for your most prized and cherished possessions. While it’s unnecessary to list out a beneficiary for every item you own, you’ll want to list who you’d like to receive many different types of assets in your will, such as family heirlooms, photographs, and jewelry. You’ll want to specify who is entitled to real property you left behind, such as cars, boats, RVs, and houses. If you own intellectual property or a business, you’ll want to include who will inherit those, also.  

  1. Allocate Funds & Financial Asset Division  

Dividing your financial assets is an essential part of what to include in your will. You’ll want to set aside funds for funeral expenses, charitable giving, and other causes that are important to you. You can also allocate funds to friends and family members for specific purposes, such as higher education tuition for your grandchildren.  

  1. Write a Letter of Instruction  

A letter of instruction is a valuable document for your friends and family members to help execute your will, though it’s not legally required. This letter should contain information that will help your family access your assets. This could include banking information, safety deposit boxes, and contact information for lawyers and bankers. You can describe the location of important documents in your home, safe combinations, and online account passwords. You can also use this letter to state your preferences for burial and funeral arrangements and address your family and friends one last time.  

Amending a Will  

Forget something after you draft your will, or need to include additional assets or beneficiaries? Wills can be modified and revoked after they are created. There are two options to modify a will. First, you can create an entirely new will and revoke the old one. You should then destroy previous versions of the will. The second way to modify a will is to create a codicil (also called an amendment). Codicils are added to the original will and allow you to change one specific element of the will without voiding the entire document. Just like when you created the will, codicils should be signed by you and two witnesses to be legally valid. It’s a good idea to review your will every three to five years and make updates as necessary.  

What to Include in a Will: Estate Planning With The Boutty Law Firm 

Don’t stress over what to include in a will. Our legal team at The Boutty Law Firm can help you draft your will and other estate planning documents. Ease the burden of handling your estate with a comprehensive estate plan. From will creation to trust formation, we can help you plan for the future. Call us today at (407) 622-1395 or contact us online to learn how we can help you with your estate planning needs.  

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Reasons For Challenging a Will

If you’ve been wrongfully removed from a loved one’s will or believe someone has unfairly influenced how a will was created, you may want to challenge its validity in court. Challenging, or “contesting,” a will is a complex process that can take an emotional toll on family members who have just lost a loved one. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced probate attorney on your side to help you ensure the appropriate legal action is taken. Anyone with a vested interest in the outcome of someone’s will can challenge its validity, even if they aren’t named as a beneficiary. Here are the most common reasons to challenge a will in Florida:  

Undue Influence  

Undue influence is the intentional manipulation of the terms of a will to greatly benefit one person. Undue influence is one of the most common reasons to challenge a will. It happens when someone tries to coerce or threaten the testator (the person who created the will) to make a will that benefits a specific person. For instance, a family member who’s the primary caretaker of an elderly relative may convince your relative to leave everything in their will to them. To prove undue influence, you’ll need to provide evidence that someone persuaded the testator to create the will in a particular way.  

Unlawfully Created  

For a will to be valid, it must follow the guidelines stated in Florida Statute 732.502. The testator must be over 18 and legally able to create a will. The will must be in writing. It also must be signed at the bottom of the document by the testator and two witnesses. It’s preferable that the two witnesses are not beneficiaries in the will.  

Incapacity  

A testator must be of sound mind to create a valid will. The testator must have a complete understanding of what they’re doing at the time of signing the document. If the testator has a persistent condition (such as late-stage dementia) that prevents them from fully acknowledging the gravity of the document they’re creating, the will would be invalid. To prove this in court, you may have to provide diagnosis information and testimonies from medical professionals that can authenticate the testator’s condition.  

Wrongfully Removed  

If you feel you have been wrongfully removed from a loved one’s will, you may be able to challenge your removal. To do this, you’ll need to prove that the testator planned to include you in the will but didn’t, either by mistake or coercion. You will need to provide evidence showing your loved one planned to list you as a beneficiary. This could include prior drafts of the will with you listed as a beneficiary or a written statement from the testator before they died about their intention to include you. 

Fraud 

A will made under false pretenses is invalid and can be challenged in probate court. This could include acts such as forgery, lying, and inaccuracies. 

How to Challenge a Will  

You can challenge a will if you stand to benefit significantly from the will’s outcome, even if you’re not listed as a beneficiary. To contest a will, you must file a petition with the probate court handling the estate within 90 days of the Notice of Administration (the formal beginning of probate). The petition should specify whether you want the will to be revoked, modified, or made invalid. It should also explain why you’re challenging the will. After the estate is notified, the case will either be settled or go to a hearing for a judge to determine the will’s validity.  

Boutty Law Firm: Central Florida Probate Attorneys  

Contesting a will can be a challenging and emotional process. However, sometimes there’s too much at stake, and action must be taken to preserve your family’s legacy. At Boutty Law Firm, our experienced legal team can provide the guidance you need to navigate challenging a will. To schedule a consultation, please call our Orlando office at 407-622-1395.

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