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Miami, FL 33180

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Planning for taxes after death

If you are a Florida resident considering drafting or revising your estate planning documents, you probably want to make sure your heirs are able to avoid unnecessary state and federal taxes. Even though the process may seem daunting, there are many options for avoiding the so-called "double taxation" that devastates the value of many Floridians' estates.

Experts say as many as 1 in 10 estates experiences tax problems. Not only do these issues cause financial inconvenience for the heirs, but they can also introduce an entirely new set of worries during a stressful time. Heirs are often forced to deal with unpaid state or federal taxes, health care bills, estate or inheritance taxes. Families are often surprised by the state estate taxes, which are activated far below the federal threshold of $5.25 million. When an estate goes to probate, for example, the tax collectors go to the front of the payment line, regardless of your wishes.

Even more shocking is the fact that many benefactors do not understand the tax implications of assets that they think are divided fairly. As a consequence, they leave one child with very little while providing the other with an adequate inheritance. Estate taxes are often considered low priorities during early life, and the mental fog that can accompany old age may reduce the likelihood of proper tax planning.

Snowbirds in Florida are also likely to run into specific problems, especially if they plan to claim residency in this southern state. It is important to remember to fully transition your residency, including driver's license, ID cards and voter registration, in order to claim the tax benefits available to residents of the state.

If you have questions about the tax implications of your estate plan, consider seeking the opinion of a qualified probate attorney. These professionals can help you address details that could guarantee your estate plan is executed as designed.

Source: articles.chicagotribune.com, "Plan now to avoid inheriting a tax mess" Amy Feldman, Aug. 08, 2013