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Miami FL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Friday, January 18, 2019

Buying A House After Bankruptcy

It is no secret that filing for bankruptcy can harm your credit. However, compared to simply letting your accounts go past due for months on end, bankruptcy may actually be better for your credit over the long term because there are no repeated “dings” on your credit score. Getting the bankruptcy finished allows you to start fresh and begin to rebuild your credit rating.

Your credit score is closely examined when you enter the home buying process, which means  that filing for bankruptcy may affect your ability to purchase a home in the future. Even if your credit score is not significantly harmed,  a bankruptcy discharge will remain on your credit report for up to ten years. That type of history can make lenders nervous about your creditworthiness.  Nonetheless, it is possible to purchase a house after bankruptcy, but it may take some additional time and extra steps.

Don’t Become a Boomerang Buyer!

After you discharge your debts, it can be very tempting to make large purchases because you may have extra income. You should not to give in to this temptation. It will take time to rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy, and if you decide to purchase too soon, you may end up getting denied entirely or obtaining an interest rate that just does not make financial sense. Nonetheless, some buyers are so excited about the possibility of being able to afford a home that they take on high-interest rate loans, often to their detriment. Unfortunately, this practice occurs so often that there is a term for it—“Boomerang Buyers.”

Biting off more than you can chew after bankruptcy can put you in financial hot water. This type of situation is especially troubling after bankruptcy because you do not have the option of filing for bankruptcy again for several years.

The Timeline for Buying After Bankruptcy

How quickly you can purchase after bankruptcy l depends on the type of bankruptcy you filed. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the process can last up to five years. This  means you generally cannot purchase a house until long after your five-year repayment plan has been completed. Once you receive your discharge, most lenders will require you to go through at least a two-year waiting period before you can qualify for a conventional loan.


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Friday, January 11, 2019

The Basics of Withholding Taxes for Employees

Getting tax withholdings right can be extremely daunting. Failure to pay the IRS or state taxing authority the correct amount could end up costing you thousands of dollars in penalties and interest. For many employers, an outright failure to pay could result in personal liability for employment taxes.

Payroll tax withholding covers more than just federal taxes. It also addresses any state tax obligations, local tax requirements, and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Taxes. If you, as an employer, do not pay these correctly, you could have both the federal and state taxing authorities upset with you, and your employee may have to pay into the government at the end of the year. You can avoid all of these potential problems by simply ensuring that you are withholding for everything you are supposed to—in the right amount.

The Payroll Tax Process

As an employer, your first step is figuring the gross amount of pay for the employee for that pay period. You then use information obtained by the employee regarding their exemptions to determine how much should be withheld to pay taxes. You must also deduct a specific amount for FICA taxes as well. The remaining amount should be given to your employee as his or her net income or used to fund other benefits, such as the employee’s portion of health insurance or a retirement plan.

Employee Exemptions

Employees can claim exemptions to decrease the amount of taxes that are withheld from their paycheck. These exemptions will depend on who the employee can claim as a dependent on his or her tax return.

The employee will indicate on Form W-4 how many exemptions he or she would like to take. Some employees choose to take fewer exemptions to avoid having to pay in for their tax obligations at the end of the year. Ideally, however, most employees will try to “break even” in claiming their exemptions.


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Friday, January 4, 2019

Selling Your Business

The majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. To understand the impact that small business has, consider the fact that small business generates nearly 60% of all new jobs within the United States. Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies often stand out with their massive revenues and employment numbers, but at the end of the day, the primary drivers behind the economy are small business.

If you have a family business or personal business that you’ve built up, you are likely one of these economic drivers. For many families and individuals, the business becomes an identity. Family businesses in particular are susceptible to acting as an identity for that family. Thus, for many small business owners planning for retirement, the question of what to do with the small business is a major stressor. For a family business, the transfer of control and ownership from one generation to the next can be incredibly complicated and strenuous. If it’s not a family business, then the question is primarily how to effectuate the sale and estate planning repercussions. The following sections will give an overview of general considerations for family-owned businesses and then general concerns relating to the sale of a business.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Removing a Trustee

Trustees are responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In some instances, multiple trustees may administer a trust as co-trustees. Occasionally, issues arise causing the beneficiaries of a trust or the co-trustees to pursue removal of a trustee. These issues could be general unhappiness with trust accounting or failure of the trustee or co-trustee to provide information when requested. In short, the grantor (creator) of the trust, co-trustees, the trust beneficiaries,  and the  probate court have the ability to remove a trustee

Reasons a Trustee Can Be Removed

The reasons for removal of a trustee depend upon the trust documents and applicable state law. Generally, a trustee can be removed for:


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Monday, December 10, 2018

Fiduciary Responsibilities and Your Business

As a business owner, you have certain responsibilities that must be fulfilled.While being a sole proprietor gives you more leeway, business owners who use any other business formation must be familiar with fiduciary responsibilities. These obligations extend to corporate officers and even managers in some situations. So, what are fiduciary responsibilities for business owners and corporate officers?

What are Fiduciary Duties?

A fiduciary duty is a legal requirement that applies to anyone who has a relationship of trust with another person or organization. While fiduciary responsibilities extend to more than just the business context, they are often associated with corporations and partnerships.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

An Overview of Retirement Plan Options

Retirement planning is essential given ever-increasing life expectancies in the United States. Unfortunately, many Americans fail to save adequate amounts to make it through retirement. Often, individuals believe that they will be fine on Social Security. However, Social Security is only designed to compensate for 40% of your income; Social Security is designed to be an income supplement rather than a sole income source. To make matters worse, workers tend to overestimate how late into their life they will be able to work. Inadequate savings and an inability to work produce an exceptionally stressful retirement. Remember, it’s never too late to start saving.


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Friday, November 16, 2018

Need to Know Differences Between a Commercial and Residential Lease

It is important to know the differences between a residential and commercial lease because both are treated differently under the law. The distinctions will set out certain rights and obligations for both parties involved in the contract.

What is a Residential Lease Agreement?

A residential lease is most often between a landlord and an individual tenant or family. The agreement is to provide a living arrangement. It is usually set up to include a monthly payment, but not always. The term varies from month-to-month to a term of several years, although one-year leases are perhaps the most common.

These types of leases usually apply to houses, apartments, townhouses, or condos. The location is generally not used for profit. However, some areas do permit residences to run a business out of their home.

What is a Commercial Lease?

Commercial leases involve a contract between a landlord and a business. The business can be a sole proprietorship or a corporation. The purpose of the arrangement is to provide space so that the business can sell goods or provide service. The goal for the company is to use the area to generate a profit. It is not designed for sleeping or to meet the residential needs of a business owner or its employees.

Commercial spaces are usually locations such as:


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Friday, November 9, 2018

Developing a Disciplinary Policy as an Employer

Very few employers like to discipline employees for misconduct or poor performance. However, it may be necessary to do so to prompt t workers  to fulfill their job duties appropriately or behave in a specific way. Establishing a disciplinary policy long before you need it will clarify your expectations of employees and also help you avoid legal liability for wrongful termination or similar claims. This article is a brief discussion of how to  develop a disciplinary policy that works for your business and your employees.


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Friday, November 2, 2018

An Overview of the Residential Real Estate Sales Process

Residential real estate sales can be overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, the  process is similar for every transaction. This means t you can prepare long before you find the right home, here’s how.

The Listing Agreement

If you are selling your home, you will start with creating a listing agreement. This agreement sets the asking s price,   the commission your real estate agent will be paid, and also specifies the length of time the property will be listed, that is, remain on the market.

In a listing agreement, , you may also be required to disclose certain physical information about the property, such as the age or condition of the roof and any significant problems you have experienced. You are also required by  federal law to disclose any known lead-based paint used in the home.

All of this information is vital to buyers who are considering purchasing the home. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you will start the process with a listing agreement, if you are using a real estate agent. You may also list your home for sale yourself. There is no requirement to use a realtor and no need to have a listing agreement. Instead, you simply start advertising  the home for sale independently.


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Friday, October 19, 2018

Neighbor Disputes: Property Boundaries

Disputes with neighbors can range widely, from loud parties, to poor upkeep, to boundary encroachments. If you are like most property owners, you take great pride in your land, and you do not want anyone to use property that is rightfully yours. When neighbors start taking down shrubs, planting trees, or putting up fences on your property, that is exactly what they are doing—using your real estate. What can you do to deal with these issues?

Know Your Property Lines

Many people generally understand where their property reaches, but they may not know precisely where the property line is located. In many situations, merely pointing out where you think your property lines lie can halt encroachments in their tracks. In other circumstances, it may be a good idea to call in a professional.

You can get a formal land survey done that indicates exactly where your property ends and where your neighbor’s land begins. Having this information can be extremely valuable in dealing with any boundary issues. You may learn that you have misunderstood where your property line is located, or that your neighbor was mistaken about where your property begins.

Land surveys do cost money, but some neighbors will agree to split the costs. In other situations, it may be worth the expense to avoid litigation down the road.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

Who Benefits from an IRA Inheritance Trust?

Trying to unravel all the ins and outs of the estate planning process can make your head spin. Most people associate wills with estate planning, but there are so many more legal tools that can be put in place to help plan for the future health and financial well being of you and your family. An IRA inheritance trust is one such valuable legal tool that may be beneficial to you and your loved ones. Find out of an IRA inheritance trust should become part of your estate plan.

The majority of the time, the money held in an IRA account will be distributed to the person you list on the beneficiary designation form. This is one of the forms you will fill out when you open or amend an IRA account. Not many people are actually aware that you do not necessarily have to name an individual as the account beneficiary. You may list a trust as the beneficiary. This trust is what is referred to as an IRA inheritance trust.

When considering whether or not to utilize an IRA inheritance trust, you really need to think about who would benefit from establishing such a trust. This means considering who would be the designated beneficiary of the IRA proceeds. An IRA inheritance trust can be very beneficial if you are considering designating an IRA beneficiary who may:


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