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Displaying items by tag: What Is A Probate and why do I want to avoid it

Many times, clients come into my office stating that they need to have Last Will and Testaments done and at the same time, they tell me they want to avoid probate of their estate after they die. These clients are usually very adamant that they do not want the government to get their assets, they do not want their families to pay attorney's fees, and they do not want their estate to be tied up for months and months. The problem is that a Last Will and Testament will not avoid probate and clients are usually very surprised to hear that.

Think of a Last Will and Testament like a "love letter" to the Court. When you die, your Will gets filed with the Court. Filing the Will puts the public on notice that you have died and lets the Court know who you want to be the beneficiaries of your estate. The Will also tells the Court who you want to administer your estate – you name who you want to be the "personal representative" or "executor" (these terms are used interchangeably). However, in order for the Will to "do it's job", a probate proceeding needs to be opened. A probate proceeding is opened when someone (an "interested party" - usually one of the beneficiaries of the estate, or the person named as the personal representative in the Will) files a Petition with the Court asking the court to appoint a personal representative to administer the decedent's estate.

In most cases, the person filing the Petition is required to use an attorney to do so. Interestingly, guardianship and probate cases are the only cases in Florida where you are required to have an attorney in order to file an action. The fees and expenses of a probate administration can run from a couple thousand dollars to many thousands of dollars. It really depends on what assets are going through probate and the value of those assets.

So, the big question is - how do we avoid probate? Very simply, the way to avoid probate is to make sure that you do not have assets solely in your name or that you have beneficiaries on everything you own. For instance, a bank account can be owned jointly with another person (spouse, child, an unrelated person) or you can put a "payable on death" or "P.O.D." beneficiary designation on the account and it will transfer at death to whomever you name as the beneficiary. If you have life insurance or brokerage accounts, then you can provide for beneficiaries for those types of accounts or policies (and you should check your beneficiary designations whenever you have major life changes, such as a death or divorce).

Real estate is a tricky asset on which to avoid probate. If you add someone to the deed on your property, you have a few issues to deal with. First, you could affect the homestead tax exemptions that you receive if the joint owner is not also living in the house. Second, if the joint owner has creditor issues, and the house is not their homestead, their creditors can potentially go after their interest in your house. Third, by adding someone as a joint owner on your property, you are affecting the step-up in basis that they can receive at your death. If someone inherits property, they get a tax break from capital gains tax when they go to sell the property. For example, if you buy a house for $100,000 and your adult child inherits it and then sells it, after you die, and the house is now worth $300,000, the child would not have to pay any capital gains tax on the sale. But, if you add the child to the deed of your house, and then you die, when your child goes to sell the property, he or she will have to pay capital gains tax on $200,000 because they lost the step-up in basis when you added him/her to the deed.

Many times, financial planners will tell people that they need a revocable trust to put their house into so that they can avoid probate. While a revocable trust does avoid probate, if you are using the trust to primarily avoid probate of your homestead, your beneficiaries may be surprised that they will still have to open a probate after you die. Why is that? Even if your house is in a trust, if your beneficiaries want to sell the house within two years after your death, most title companies will require you to provide an order from the court stating that the homestead was exempt from creditors before they will write title insurance for the sale of the house. The only way to get that order is to open up a probate (and this will cost you, depending on what part of Florida you are in) a minimum of $1,500 to do.

So how do you avoid probate on the homestead? You can do an enhanced life estate deed. An enhanced life estate deed allows you to reserve a life estate in your property while giving the remainder interest to a beneficiary at your death. This type of deed allows you to reserve the right to sell, convey, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of your property during your lifetime without the joinder and consent of the remainder person(s). Only if you still own the house upon your death, will the property pass to the named beneficiaries (or the “remainder person(s)”). To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the enhanced life estate deeds, click here - http://ohalllaw.com/2016/05/enhanced-life-estate-deed/.

If you have questions about probate or other estate planning matters, please call the Law Office of Laurie E. Ohall to schedule a complimentary phone consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys at 813-438-8503.

Published in Legal Corner

Sallys Stuff

Senior Citizens Discounts

This information was passed along to us; we thought this would be interesting information to post on our website, since we all love a good deal!

In order to receive the Senior Citizen discounts listed below, you have to mention the discount prior to paying.

If you find that some of these locations do not offer the discount any longer, or if you come across a vendor that should be added to the list, please go the “Contact US” Tab on the homepage of the website.  Send us an email, for a vendor to be added or removed. Happy Shopping& Saving! ~ From the staff at Sallycares.com

Applebee's: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby's: 10% off ( 55 +)
Ben & Jerry's: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan's: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob's Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)
Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)
Chili's: 10% off ( 55+)
CiCi's Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny's: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)
Dunkin' Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)
Einstein's Bagels: 10% off baker's dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddruckers: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
Gaetti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)

Hardee's: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off ( 50+)
Long John Silver's: various discounts at locations ( 55+)

McDonald's: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Shoney's: 10% off
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak 'n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday ( 50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)
Tea Room Cafe: 10% off ( 50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy's: 10% off ( 55 +)
Whataburger: 10% off (62+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+)

Banana Republic: 30% off ( 50 +)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month ( 50 +)
Belk's: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)
Big Lots: 30% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (50+)
Clarks : 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kmart: 40% off (Wednesdays only) ( 50+)
Kohl's: 15% off (60+)Modell's Sporting Goods: 30% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)

Albertson's: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday ( 50 +)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)

Food Lion: 60% off every Monday (60+)

Fry's Supermarket: free Fry's VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday ( 50 +)
Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppe's Marketplace: 15% off (62+)

Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)
American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods. (Tuesdays - Thursdays) (62+)and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations.
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount).
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount).
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

Amtrak: 15% off (62+)

Greyhound: 15% off (62+)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+

Car Rental:
Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
Budget Rental Cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for AARP members ( 50+)
Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off ( 50+) Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Overnight Accommodations:
Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)
Best Western: 40% off (55+)
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Waldorf Astoria - NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)
Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler's Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)
Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)
Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)

AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)
Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
Massage Envy - NYC 20% off all "Happy Endings" (62 +)
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 50% off Ripley's Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket ( 55 +)
SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)

AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service ( 50 +)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+).

Great Clips: $8 off haircuts (60+)
Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)