Looking for an easy New Years Resolution?

Each year, many of us make a New Year’s Resolution – maybe it’s to get fit, lose weight, spend time with family. These are all worthwhile but the busyness of daily life seems to get in the way of us actually accomplishing our resolution. So when thinking about this over our extended holiday vacation, I realized that perhaps setting mini-resolutions may be a better way to go. After all, if you set a first goal or resolution that is manageable, maybe others will follow.

So, I have an “easy” one to suggest. If you have not reviewed your estate plan in some time, why don’t you schedule time to review it at home? I seem to be governed by my calendar, and so it would make sense to me that I would block time off maybe one hour to review my documents. What am I doing I’m reviewing? I look at the following:

  • The names of my children’s guardians. Are they still a good fit to raise our girls if my wife and I are gone?
  • The names of my children’s trustee. Are the trustees able to make sound financial decisions based on my guidance (e.g., exercising discretion to make distributions and selecting an investment portfolio)?
  • The time(s) when my children will get funds from their trusts. Am I still comfortable with my children getting control of funds at the predetermined ages in my trust?
  • The names of those who will assist my wife and me if we are incapacitated.  Do these individuals have the time necessary to pay our bills and make medical decisions?

In effect, I like to review the “who” and the “how” of our planning. Boiling it down to these two simple areas makes my review very manageable. You don’t have to pay us to help you with this review, but we certainly welcome the opportunity to visit with you.

With that New Year’s Resolution checked off, I can now go on to the next one!

2015 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.  You can also follow the State’s step-by-step instructions here.

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 are 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.

Do I need an estate plan?

I saw a recent article that estimated that 65% of Americans do not have the basic last will in place. Among other things, the article suggests that most people think estate planning is only for the “wealthy.”

With such a significant increase in the estate tax exemption over the last five years (the 2015 estate tax exemption will likely be $5.43 million), it is easy to think that most Americans do not feel that estate planning is necessary for them.

I think the real reason that people don’t have estate plans is much more primitive. Most of us do not wish to face our mortality. We are in meetings each day with clients who are often intimidated by discussions involving death. This is certainly understandable; heck, I used to say “if you pass away” in meetings.  There’s no “ifs” in death! If you have loved ones, you must overcome this fear to have a well thought out estate plan put in place.

The reality is that estate planning is for any adult who wishes to decide how his or her assets would be distributed at death. If you do not have a Will, the State of Florida (and most states) is kind enough to determine who would get your assets at your death. You might get lucky and have your assets distributed the same individuals under the so-called free Will from the State as you would under a Will that you would create. Or, it may be significantly different.

When thinking about estate planning, start with the basics:

  • Last Will and Testament to outline who would receive your assets and your death;
  • Durable Power of Attorney to allow someone to take care of your bills while you’re living; and
  • Medical Directives to name someone who can make health care decisions if you cannot make them on your own.

Conversations on estate planning can get much more involved, but starting with these basics will allow you to overcome the fear (and possible anxiety) in having these discussions. Want to chat about your estate plan, give us a call! We’d be honored to help.