A Dangerous Curve Ahead: Access to Florida Guardianship Proceedings at Risk

By: Melody B. Lynch

Yesterday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that The Florida Bar Board of Governors, at the recommendation of The Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar, is considering a proposal to change Florida’s guardianship law to further reduce and limit the information available to family members regarding their loved ones involved in guardianship proceedings. In addition to limitations on family members, the media and other groups would also be barred from accessing guardianship records if the new proposal is adopted and ultimately ends up in the legislature. read more

Worried That a Sizeable Estate or Trust Gift Was Procured by Undue Influence?

By: Melody Lynch

Do you have a loved one who recently passed away and you are concerned that their will or trust was procured by undue influence? Although the law on undue influence has not evolved much since the seminal Florida Supreme Court case of In re Estate of Carpenter in 1971, the greying of the population in Florida has resulted in an increase in undue influence claims in the courts. In order to prove undue influence in Florida, you must demonstrate that a substantial beneficiary acquired an asset via undue influence. This person must have had a confidential relationship and must have actively procured the gift in one of the following ways: (1) presence of the beneficiary at execution of the document; (2) presence of the beneficiary when the person expressed the desire to make a will or form a trust; (3) the beneficiary recommends the attorney who prepared the will or trust; (4) the beneficiary knows the contents of the will or trust prior to execution; (5) the beneficiary gives direction to the attorney preparing the document; (6) the beneficiary secures witnesses for execution; or (7) the beneficiary maintains the will or trust for safekeeping. read more

Governor Scott’s New Law To Lower Sales Tax Rate On Commercial Leases

On May 25, 2017, Governor Scott signed HB 7109 into law. The new law will lower the sales tax rate on commercial leases under Florida Statute Section 212.031 from 6% to 5.8%. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2018. It is projected to save Florida commercial tenants $61,000,000 per year. Sales tax brackets and sales tax software programs will need to be updated for the new law change in January. For more info, go to:

http://www.flgov.com/gov-scott-announces-100-million-tax-cut-on-business-rents-as-part-of-the-its-your-money-tax-cut-budget-2/ read more

Act Now! Protect Yourself From Tax Fraud

By:  Amanda Wilson

Tax identity theft is a big issue right now, with people only discovering that they are victims when they go to file their tax return with the IRS.  Instead of having their returns accepted, these people find themselves having their returns rejected by the IRS becuase an identity thief has already filed a fraudulent return (and received a huge refund check).  The next year will be a nightmare of frustration and red tape as they try to resolve the issue with the IRS.

I am happy to share with you that some help combatting this issue is now available to residents of Florida, Georgia, and the District of Columbia.  If you filed a tax return last year as a resident of one of these states, the IRS is offering you another layer of fraud protection.  You can go the IRS website and apply for an “identity protection personal identification number”.  Once received, this must be included on your federal returns.  This will prevent identity thieves from successfully filing a tax return (and obtaining a refund) even if the thieves have your social security number.  Please take a few minutes and protect yourself from one of the largest growing areas of identity theft!

New Florida LLC Act – Another Reason for Non-Voting Interests

By:  Jim Hoctor

Just like a corporation, a limited liablity company can have non-voting interests.  Non-voting interests are often used in LLC’s formed for family investments or when interests are given or sold to employees of the LLC.  An important benefit of making these interests non-voting is that non-voting members don’t have “appraisal rights.”  Under the Florida LLC act, appraisal rights give a dissenting voting member the right to force a court action to determine the value of his or her interest and require the company to purchase the interest based on that value.  The new Florida limited liability company act has added the sale of all or substantially all of a LLC’s assets as an event that triggers appraisal rights.  Previously, the only transactions that triggered appraisal rights for members of a Florida LLC were a merger or a conversion.  Therefore, it is now even more important to consider using non-voting interests in Florida LLC’s.