Are last minute tax tips for your estate plan top of mind? Are you like many of our clients who know how important creating a Florida estate plan is for themselves and their families? Are you wanting to protect yourself, your family, your business, your estate from taxes and be sure your legacy will survive you? We know and understand the importance of your goals and we can work with you to create a Florida estate plan that will accomplish all your goals. 

As part of our planning process we not only look at who is to inherit from you and who should make your decisions in a moment of crisis, but what implications your planning can have or not have. This will involve a very important look at your financial picture, including your tax structure.  

You have often heard the idiom said, “there is nothing certain in life but death and taxes.”  Well, in your Florida estate plan taxes play an important role. The decisions you make now may have both a lifetime and deathtime impact on your estate, which is critical to plan for.  We have a few tips to share with you right here.

1. Avoid federal estate taxation by having a plan. Were you aware that one of the benefits of living in Florida is that there is no state death tax? However, be aware that this is not the case on the federal level. In fact all Americans, with a taxable estate high enough in value, may face estate taxation. As Florida estate planning attorneys our goal, through your comprehensive Florida estate planning, is to minimize the risk that your estate will be taxed at your death. This is done by a careful consideration of factors including, but not limited to, your family structure, what assets comprise your taxable estate, the structure and nature of those assets, and the strategies available to you.

2. Be very careful when making lifetime gifts. Were you aware that your estate planning and donative intent can impact your annual taxes as well? This occurs through the gift tax. While you can give your loved ones the annual exclusion amount each year, which is $17,000 per person this year according to the IRS, you can make larger gifts each year and still avoid lifetime taxation. To engage in an advanced strategy like this, we highly recommend that you meet with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to learn more about the pros and cons of this type of strategy, as well as how it may benefit your estate down the line.

3. Consider utilizing an estate planning strategy that incorporates the Generation Skipping Tax (GST). There are careful rules to plan around when it comes to using the GST as a part of your estate planning. This comes into play when you leave to a family member where there is a thirty-seven and a half year age difference or more. While there can be significant benefits to this type of planning and reasons to complete it, this should not be undertaken without the advice of an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.

4. Be mindful of and guard against any unprotected property you have and the probate estate. Did you know that it is critical that you plan to not leave your assets unprotected? Be aware that anything you own at the time of your death that does not have a co-owner or beneficiary, could be subject to the probate process. This is the legal court process that allows solely owner property to pass to the intended beneficiaries. Unfortunately, as a result of the probate process, this is after creditors have the opportunity to file their claims against your estate. When you are planning for your estate and your taxes, it is critical to work with your Florida estate planning attorney to create the right trust agreement for you. It is a trust agreement, and not a last will and testament, that can help you avoid the probate process.

Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers.  We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.