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SFBW Agenda

How to avoid being tripped up in family legal, financial planning

When it comes to estate planning, sometimes the most obvious things can be overlooked – like forgetting to consider whether your ex-spouse should be your health care surrogate, says James A. Ballerano Jr, an attorney at Day Pitney LLP.

Ballerano spoke at a Family Office Association event at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach with Todd Kesterson, director of family office and business services for tax and consulting firm Kaufman Rossin.

One of the topics was the importance of having legal documents issued in the person’s state of residence. For example, someone who has moved to Florida should have a health care surrogacy and estate plans drawn up here to prevent delays and legal issues, Ballerano said. If you have moved to Florida from the Northeast, make sure to file with the Atlanta IRS office so your former state is less likely to say you haven’t moved away in an attempt to claim state taxes. Kesterson said mileage logs and receipts can help document that someone has moved to Florida.

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Children and inheritance issues were another topic. Things can be complicated when estate planning forgets to consider children born out of wedlock, Ballerano said. He also had a situation where parents didn’t want their sometimes-troubled son to inherit money if he divorced his wife – they thought she was the best thing that had happened to him.

Ballerano suggests having real estate assets held in individual entities so liability on one doesn’t ripple over to another. A master holding company can be used to provide an umbrella. “The limited liability company (LLC) has become a favorite vehicle for owners of real estate assets who are seeking to establish a level of personal liability protection,” he said. Such protection, however, might not be unlimited.

Kesterson also said it can be useful to put vacation homes in an LLC or trust, especially since drinking is a common activity and friends are often visiting. Certain types of trusts also can be used for residences that still qualify for the homestead exemption in Florida.

Kesterson recommends consolidated reporting of a family’s holdings. Some families can literally lose track of some of their holdings. Also, “If there is a death of a key member and there is an estate tax return, the consolidated report can avoid money spent on attorneys and accountants accumulating information,” he said. Wealth advisors who have an overview of holdings can do a better evaluation of liquidity needs and use the information for budgeting and to keep families better informed.

Ballerano also said it’s important to designate somebody to keep copies of amendments to trusts and successor documents. You don’t want to give notice to someone who isn’t actually the trustee.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.