2014 Annual Reports are due!

If you are a business owner, then this Alert is for you.  If you are not, please forward this to your friends who are business owners. Failing to take the following action will result in a late fee assessed against the business by the State of Florida that cannot be waived.

During January each year, the State sends emails to business entities registered in the State that reminds them to file annual reports by May 1st of that year (unless the business is a not-for-profit).  Unfortunately, some email addresses change over time or are invalid, which means that many businesses will not receive this reminder.

Failing to file an annual report on a timely basis will result in a business being administratively dissolved by the State, or at a minimum, require the payments of expensive reinstatement and/or late fees.  With the annual report, a filing fee must be submitted.

The filing fees are as follows:

Filed by May 1      Filed after May 1
·         For profit corporation:               $150.00                   $550.00

·         Limited partnership:                   $500.00                  $900.00

·         Limited liability company:            $138.75                  $538.75

Information on filing an annual report can be obtained at www.sunbiz.org.  In fact, you can submit the annual report and pay the filing fee on-line. To do this, you will need the document number assigned to the business by the State.  This number is located in the State’s email, or if you do not receive an email, you can locate the number by searching the sunbiz website for your business record.  Feel free to give our office a call if you would like us to walk you through the filing process FREE OF CHARGE.

Also, do not forget that the act of filing an annual report does not negate the responsibility of businesses from following all statutory requirements to maintain those businesses, such as holding annual shareholder and board meetings (for corporations).

Finally, for profit companies send out emails about the annual report requirement.  They collect email addresses from the State’s website and is soliciting businesses.  These are THIRD party solicitations not associated with the State – you can file your report on-line without going through any of these companies.

Accepting “Wrong”

This may surprise many, but I have accepted the reality that all estate planning will be wrong. Yes, that’s right, I said “wrong.”  And I tell all of my clients that they, too, need to accept that reality.

That’s not to say that estate planning will be legally incorrect or insufficient. Of course, we strive for drawing documents that are legally correct.

Instead of thinking about the legalities of estate planning documents, I am talking about the practicalities. Imagine going through different iterations in planning. We do it with every single client. We need to and they deserve it. Those discussions are quite enjoyable to consider with clients, and that is what makes our clients’ documents their own. That is, they are as customized as we can make them.

However, the truth is, we don’t really know what is going to happen in the future. All we can really do is make some educated guesses. All of the planning that we do is based on assumptions, none of which may ever happen (other than death – we know that death will happen for all of us).

I am not suggesting that we need to go to the extreme and conclude that because we cannot predict the future, we should put our heads in the sand. To the contrary, I fully believe in estate planning and find it quite liberating to think that we won’t get it right.

So, what should YOU do? Show your family that you love them by taking the time to thoughtfully consider your planning. If it’s from the heart, it will be as right as you can make.

How often is too often?

During meetings with estate planning clients, usually during a signing meeting, we are sometimes asked “how often should I look at or review my documents?”  That’s a great question and one that is quite welcomed by our office!

A lot of people view estate planning as an important process, but one that they really don’t want to do over and over again. It’s like going to the dentist – we know that we need to have check-ups and teeth cleanings, but we really don’t want to go. Now keep in mind that my sister and her husband are dentists, and I was one of my sister’s guinea pigs in dental school. Did I really enjoy sitting in dental chair for hours on end? Of course not, but it needed to be done.

With that mindset, estate planning  is generally thought of as “one and done.”  Great, I have completed that from my to-do list and never have to think about that terrible topic again. Once is not always enough – life events tend to happen that should trigger a review. Those events could include:

  • Significant changes in net worth
  • Birth of a child
  • Death of a family member
  • Change in marital status
  • “Problems” with family members

Because we understand that life is busy and hectic, we contact our clients every two years to check-in. I know most of the time that nothing significant has happened and so we won’t need to make any revisions.  In fact, I know that most of the time, our letters are simply read and then tossed out. That’s okay – as least we have given our clients reminder to dust off their documents periodically. A time will come for most of us that we will say “Oh yeah, I have been thinking about updating my Will.”

If you are not getting those types of check-up letters from your advisors, we recommend that you calendar a review at least very three to five years. Go ahead and put it on your smart phone’s calendar as a reoccurring review every three years. This review does not need to be with an attorney or other advisor. You can certainly review your documents to see if they still “work.”  Of course, a short review with your attorney might make sense so that he or she can tell you about any law changes that may affect your documents.