Details Matter When Completing A Beneficiary Designation!

A recent federal case, originating in Florida, illustrates the importance of compliance with the EXACT requirements to designate a beneficiary for a 401(k) and ESOP plan. In Arlene Ruiz V. Publix Super Markets, Inc., a federal district court determined that an intent to change a beneficiary is NOT enough to…

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File Portability Election Late? Is There Relief?

The concept of portability has been discussed in a prior blog. What happens if a surviving spouse does not file the portability election timely? The spouse is potentially losing a savings of over $2 million in estate taxes! Relief for filing a late portability election depends on whether a federal…

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Electronic Wills? The Future of Will Drafting in Florida?

Until a recent  Florida Real Property, Probate and Trust Law (“RPPTL”) meeting, this author had never heard of an electronic will statute. An organization, independent of RPPTL and the Florida Bar, proposed a bill in the legislature, (the “Act”) with the help of Senator Passidomo, enacting electronic wills, effective July…

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Portability and Blended Families…May Not Be A Good Mix!

Portability has been discussed in a prior blog but as the federal statute is fairly new, case law has been scarce. A recent Oklahoma Supreme Court (the “Court”) case has lawyers rethinking prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and the drafting of estate planning documents. As a reminder, the following is an…

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Estate Owns a Car? Be Careful!

When an individual passes away, assets held in such individual’s name (and with no named beneficiary) generally become assets of that individual’s estate. Assume the individual owns a car, dies and his child drives the car before someone is appointed as personal representative. Child causes a wreck. Is the estate…

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State Statute Throws Beneficiary a Lifeline!

Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”) 201706004 addresses a beneficiary designation issue. Taxpayer died owning an individual retirement account (“IRA”). The beneficiary designation indicated that taxpayer’s trust was the beneficiary. The only problem? There was NO trust created by taxpayer! The custodian of the IRA found no trust, the taxpayer’s will referenced…

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Improper GSTT Exemption Allocation…IRS Grants Relief!

The generation skipping transfer tax (“GSTT”) is a harsh tax (40%) imposed on certain transfers to grandchildren and certain individuals in that same generation. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) provides a GSTT basic exclusion amount (the “Exemption”) which is the same amount as the basic exclusion amount for…

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Surviving Spouse? Don’t Make an IRA Rollover Mistake!

Professionals often advise individuals to name their spouse as a beneficiary of an IRA. Instead of immediately reporting the distributions from the deceased spouse’s IRA as taxable income,  the surviving spouse can rollover the amount into their own IRA. They can then defer distributions (and thus income) until they reach…

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