In March 2016, Florida passed the Collaborative Law Process Act. The intent of this law is to promote friendly divorce settlements through private negotiations between qualified attorneys rather than spouses engaging in long and costly court battles. A divorce for a high-net-worth couple in the Tampa Bay area can be expensive, complicated, and drawn-out — especially when there are numerous assets and several properties that need to be split up along with the marriage.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that during a divorce proceeding, a circuit court will divide all of a couple’s assets and properties based on what ownership percentages the court considers to be fair (though not necessarily equal). For example, a two-family house that a wife purchased with her brother as a rental property could be assessed and valued and then divided in divorce court with her husband getting 25 percent of the ownership. This may not seem very fair, however, to a 65-year-old woman who had planned on living in a section of that house while also earning rental income from it until she passes away. For a person who wishes to retain 100 percent ownership of a property after a divorce and who also has the intention of leaving it to her adult children in a will, a solid estate plan with asset protection can help.
Florida requires properties bequeathed to heirs in a will to go through probate upon the death of the will’s creator, or testator. A great deal of planning may be required by a testator to ensure that a will is drafted and executed properly. Proper planning can make it more likely that a real estate inheritance will go through probate smoothly and become the rightful possession of the testator’s chosen heirs. A will can be legally contested in probate court, which can sometimes result in a lengthy and potentially ugly battle between a divorced spouse and the former couple’s adult children.
Creating a limited liability company (LLC) is an effective legal strategy for protecting real estate in Florida. When the creation of the LLC is used for the purpose of successfully passing on real estate to one’s chosen heirs, it can be created during the time a will is drafted. For an individual who intends to purchase real estate with the intent to use that property while alive, and then leave it to his or her chosen heirs, creating the LLC can be a formidable and challenging task without the assistance of a competent attorney.
Frank Miranda Attorneys at Law provides experienced real estate and estate planning counsel with a full grasp of the intricate knowledge and details involved in successfully planning an estate with the benefit of asset protection in Florida. Call us at 813-902-3925 or contact us online to see if the LLC strategy can help ensure that your full intentions are carried out.