During this COVID-19 crisis, our team remains fully operational and available to provide all legal services. Though our physical office is closed for the health and safety of our clients and staff, we are available at any time for phone or videoconference consultations. In addition, for those Floridians in urgent need, we also offer in-car signings of critical documents. These signings meet all state-required safety guidelines and also incorporate additional safety measures.  Stay safe and give us a call today!

At the Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A., our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services.  By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques.  Please watch our videos to learn more about who we are and the services we provide.

Serving Miami and South Florida since 1985

Founded in 1985 by Brian C. Perlin, the Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A. is a boutique law firm located in Coral Gables, Florida. Our office represents clients throughout South Florida in matters related to estate planning, probate, trust administration, elder law and asset protection. Through extensive knowledge of the law, along with our background in tax and financial services, we provide clients with tailored, strategic plans to meet their needs and the needs of their families, while being mindful of the life events many clients are facing.

The Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A. prides itself on the creation of well-designed estate plans, and on easing the burden of the probate, guardianship and trust administration processes. For over 35 years, we have safeguarded thousands of families from the potentially devastating effects of illness, disability, creditor claims and death. Regardless of your stage in life, it is never too early or too late to make a plan. We look forward to assisting you in achieving a peace of mind that only comes from the creation of a proper legal plan.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE ONE FAMILY AT A TIME

Client Testimonials

Tips for Making the Best Choices for You During Medicare Open Enrollment

This year, Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment begins in October and runs into the beginning of December. While you may know this is the health care coverage for most Florida seniors, did you know the annual Open Enrollment Period gives Medicare beneficiaries an opportunity to make alterations to their existing coverage selections to ensure they have the right coverage for them? These changes can include, but not be limited to, any of the following: • Changes in the beneficiary’s health care needs, • Changes to the provider network, • Changes in provided benefits, • Changes to premiums, deductibles, and overall costs, • Changes to covered pharmacies and medications, and • Changes to included hospitals. We know you may have questions about where to start in your analysis of your Medicare coverage. Let us share a few key tips you can use as you intentionally review your Medicare coverage to ensure your plan can work the way you need it to next year. 1. Review your Annual Notice of Change letter. This Medicare letter should have arrived by mid-September and contains key information about your current plan. From coverage and changes to premiums updates and copay adjustments, this letter can help you evaluate your plan to make sure it works the way you need it to. 2. Review your medical expenses for the past year. Have they changed? Are they more or less than you expected? Is there a plan available in your community that would be a better fit? Do not forget to review the costs for all of your doctors, specialists, deductibles, and the prescription medications you need. 3. Determine if there is a better option for you available in your community. You may be surprised to learn there are different types of plans available. You may use the Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website to learn more about what is offered in our area. The Medicare Plan Finder is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications, you can compare plans available in your area. 4. Choosing between “traditional” Medicare or change to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to “traditional” Medicare. It is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Further, most Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage. Before switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, however, be sure to examine it closely and compare what could be a $0 premium with potentially hidden costs for the care you need. Our office is here to act as a resource to you during open enrollment. Remember that finding the right Medicare plan for you is critical to both your overall estate planning and elder law planning goals. If you need help with either of these areas, or have questions, do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Key Ideas You Need to Consider for Your Florida Estate Plan This National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Did you know that every year during the third week of October we focus on National Estate Planning Awareness week? How familiar are you with estate planning in Florida? Did you know estate planning involves putting legal protections in place to help secure a future you want for yourself and your loved ones? These protections can bring peace of mind in a world of uncertainties. We find that this holds especially true as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

Every Florida estate plan should include two key things: incapacity planning for during your lifetime and after death planning. Let us begin with the former. Incapacity planning allows for considerations, such as having someone you have selected assist you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The most important tools for incapacity planning may include:

1. A Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney allows an agent you appoint to manage your financial affairs and other specified matters. The fact that it is durable means the power will survive even in the event that you become incapacitated.

2. Health Care Planning Tools. Different individuals have different needs. You and your estate planning attorney can choose health care planning tools that can allow you to designate a selected individual to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

3. Living Will. A living will allows you to indicate what kinds of end-of-life care you do and do not want should you be incapacitated and in a terminal medical situation.

Now let’s discuss the after death planning you need. This is what most potential clients who come to our firm for a meeting are more familiar with at the beginning. In fact, the last will and testament may be the most common legal document for estate planning. It becomes effective after you have passed away and directs the distribution of your property at the time of your death. Through your will, you may appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your assets.

In the absence of a will in Florida, the probate court may need to decide who should oversee the distribution of your assets, and who will take care of your children. State intestate laws may dictate how your assets are distributed and we find that this often does not reflect what your wishes actually are or they are not reflective of the legacy you wish to create. By contrast, a revocable trust agreement can be a tool that can be used both for incapacity planning and for your estate after you pass away. This estate planning tool can also help maintain privacy and ensure that your wishes are followed both during end-of-life and after you pass.

Whether it is in the month of October or anytime throughout the year our law firm is here to help you. We can guide you and your family through your Florida estate planning options. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule a meeting with our experienced Florida attorneys.

Tips and Ideas for Successfully Completing Special Need Estate Planning

Do you have a child with a disability? Have you begun the process to plan for your child and his or her future? Do you know some of the legal considerations you need to think about? We understand you may want to avoid this topic due to the difficult challenges it forces you to face but you cannot wait to complete this planning. It is important to plan ahead for the long-term future of your disabled child.

When children reach the age of majority, which across the nation is between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, there are many changes that can take place. One of the changes is that the child may now make his or her own decisions in regard to finances and health. For example, did you know that even if the child is extremely high on the spectrum or can barely function for him-or herself, a parent no longer has the legal rights to make financial or health care decisions once the child is deemed an adult? Without proper Florida estate planning, even someone with a significant developmental, cognitive or mental health disability is legally permitted to make decisions at the age of majority.

What should you do? For years, you have spoken to the school, to banks, financial institutions, doctors, specialists and so many more for your child. Now, this has the potential of no longer being a legally viable option on your child’s eighteenth birthday. If your child does not have the requisite capacity to make advanced directives, such as powers of attorney or health care planning documents, you may need to consider creating a guardianship.

As your child’s guardian you will be able to maintain the authority to make legal decisions. The process of deciding whether or not guardianship is necessary, though, can be difficult. Before speaking with your attorney, you need to assess all of the different areas in which your special needs child may need assistance. This includes evaluating his or her medical, educational, financial, and vocational decision-making skills. In this situation, your child with a disability may be able to retain specific control over some aspects of his or her life, but you, as the parent and guardian, maintain the rest. This will be important to establish early on as the court in the guardianship of special needs children often encourages communication on what the child can do to create the right governance moving forward.

Your attorney, with specific expertise in this area, can be very helpful in providing guidance and thoughtful decision-making. Your attorney will not only assist you with the guardianship but work with you to ensure that your estate planning is comprehensive and up-to-date. You need to ensure your legacy will provide for your child should something happen to you. Planning ahead for a future where you are no longer here is extremely important. You do not want the person with disabilities to be left to his or her own defenses, or let the court make decisions through the intestacy process in the probate court. Further, your attorney can help you create a special needs trust to ensure that money will be available for a person with disabilities throughout his or her lifetime. It can be used for a special needs beneficiary while not interrupting his or her ability to receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

You and your loved ones deserve the best Florida estate planning possible. The key is to plan ahead both for your loved one and for yourself. Do not wait to plan. We welcome you to schedule an appointment by contacting our office.

3 Ways to Plan for a Loved One with a Disability in Florida

Did you know the majority of Americans still have not completed an estate plan? While, as attorneys, we know how critical this type of planning is, we find that most of our potential clients do not realize how important a Florida estate plan is until it is too late. Unfortunately, you are not able to complete an estate plan if you have diminished capacity or are unable to communicate. While the state of Florida does have a line of succession for who may make decisions for you in a crisis or inherit from you at your death, for many of our clients this is different than what they actually want for themselves and their families.

Florida estate planning becomes especially important when you have a disabled loved one. When you have a loved one who has a disability, times can be challenging. No matter what the disability is, we know that you want to make sure they are cared for now and also in the future. That future may be a time when you are no longer here and able to care for them. It is this latter time that your estate planning, which you can create with an experienced Florida attorney, can ensure that your disabled loved one is cared for, no matter what the circumstances are.

We know you may have questions. Did you know that October is National Special Needs Planning Month? While we work with families just like yours to plan to protect loved ones with disabilities at all times throughout the year, let us share three ways you can help right now.

1. Know at what time you will stop being able to make decisions. When someone with autism reaches the age of majority, there are many changes that can take place. Did you know that at this time a parent no longer has the legal rights to make financial or health care decisions for the child? Without proper planning, even someone with a significant developmental, cognitive or mental health disability is legally permitted to make decisions at the age of majority.

2. Know that early planning can avoid court involvement. For years, parents and grandparents may have spoken to the school, to banks, financial institutions, doctors, specialists and so many more for the disabled individual. This has the potential of no longer being a legally viable option on the disabled person’s eighteenth birthday. If he or she can understand basic planning documents, you may be able to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create less restrictive alternatives and avoid the court guardianship process. The key is to not wait and speak to an attorney now.

3. Know your estate planning options. Planning ahead for a future where you are no longer here is extremely important. You do not want the person with disabilities to be left to his or her own defenses, or let the court make decisions through the intestacy process in the probate court. A special needs trust can be set up for people with disabilities to ensure that money will be available for a disabled person throughout his or her lifetime. It can be used for a special needs beneficiary while not interrupting his or her ability to receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

People with disabilities deserve the best planning possible. The key is to plan ahead, both for your loved one and yourself. Do not wait to contact our office to schedule a time to meet.

What LGBTQ+ Families Need To Know About Estate Planning

Many people may have the misconception that estate planning is only something extremely wealthy people need to think about and, unfortunately, that may be why a lot of families suffer when a partner passes away or becomes incapacitated. The truth is, estate planning can be essential for everyone.  Have you considered that it may be particularly critical for many members of the LGBTQ+ community? 

Although in 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages, the Census Bureau reports that less than 60% of same-sex couples are actually married. This statistic underscores the importance of estate planning because, for example, if a same-sex couple is unmarried and one partner dies without a last will and testament, the surviving partner may not be entitled to inherit any of the partner’s assets under the law. Additionally, if a same-sex couple is unmarried and one partner becomes incapacitated and unable to make financial or medical decisions, the partner may not have access to financial or medical information without a properly executed power of attorney and health care documents in place. 

In addition, same-sex couples who are married may require effective estate planning. Documents, such as a last will and testament, power of attorney, and health care documents, can be important to execute so that you make your wishes with respect to your assets and your health care clear.  Other estate planning and wealth distribution vehicles may also be appropriate for a same-sex couple who are married because of the additional inheritance rights given to spouses under most state laws. For example, in most states, you cannot leave all of your assets to your children if you leave behind a surviving spouse. In other words, even if your will leaves everything to your children, your surviving spouse can “elect” against the will and inherit up to one half of your assets, depending on the state’s laws. This issue can be avoided through the use of pre- or post-nuptial agreements, trusts, and other estate planning strategies.

Finally, the children of a same-sex couple should be protected in an estate plan. Without adoption, a non-biological parent may have little or no custody rights. Also, without adoption, a child may not be able to inherit from a non-biological parent unless the inheritance is provided for expressly in a will.

To make sure these and any other issues specific to your family’s goals are adequately addressed in your estate plan, contact our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

4 Ways To Eliminate Complications Associated With Family Heirlooms In Your Estate Plan

Family heirlooms are often some of your most prized possessions. This can often mean that they can be a source of conflict and strife for other family members if they are not properly addressed in your estate plan. Who will get the family jewelry, the art collection, or other valuables, for example? Let us review four ways to minimize the risk of complications and ensure that your family heirlooms are passed in accordance with your wishes.

1. Understand the value of the heirloom. One of the most important things you should know when evaluating how to incorporate your family heirloom into your estate plan may be the value of that asset. Some assets are simpler to assign a value than others, but it can be important to at least have a general idea of its worth so that you can understand potential tax implications and strategize accordingly. Additionally, if you have multiple beneficiaries, for example, you may want to ensure you are distributing your estate evenly and understanding the value of each asset will help accomplish that goal.

2. Determine how to distribute the heirloom. Once you understand the value of your asset, you should consider coming up with a plan regarding how you will distribute it to your beneficiaries. Sometimes, it may make sense to leave the asset through your will. Other times, it may make sense to establish a trust, gift the asset during your lifetime, or utilize a variety of other estate planning vehicles. 

3. Write down your wishes. Make sure that no matter how you decide to distribute the family heirloom, you expressly provide for it in your estate planning documents.

4. Consult an estate planning expert. The best way to ensure that you have all of your bases covered when incorporating family heirlooms into your estate plan may be to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Your attorney can help you assess value, strategize to avoid negative tax consequences, and confirm that your plan is written into properly executed estate planning documents. Your attorney can also help you address and prevent any conflicts that you believe may arise between family members regarding access to your family heirlooms. 

For assistance creating a comprehensive estate plan which accounts for your family heirlooms, our office is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Miami Seniors Need to Plan for Long-Term Care As Soon as Possible

Did you know that, in Miami, the median monthly cost of a semi private room in a nursing home is $8000.00 per month and the median monthly cost of a private nursing home room is $11,000.00 per month? This translates to the annual cost of a nursing home in the Miami area costing between $96,000.00 and $132,000.00 annually. Accordingly, Miami seniors should plan for long-term care as soon as possible.

As the life expectancy of Americans is currently ten years greater than it was fifty years ago, the statistical probability of a person living long enough to require nursing home care has also increased. While many seniors believe that they will not require nursing home care because they will be cared for by family members, in addition to living longer, Americans are also starting families later. This phenomenon has created the sandwich generation, whereby middle-aged Americans may be raising young children, while simultaneously caring for their aging parents. They may also be working full-time, while tasked with both of these responsibilities. The end result of this can be that once the aging parents’ care needs reach a certain level, they will most likely require nursing home care, as their adult child will not have the resources to provide care at a higher level.          

With the exuberant cost of nursing home care in the Miami area, Miami seniors should have a plan to cover the cost of nursing home care. As most will not be able to afford it out of pocket and do not have long-term care insurance in place, Medicaid eligibility planning may be their best option. Due to the financial parameters surrounding Medicaid eligibility, however, seniors should plan to shelter their assets in order to meet these requirements. This can require, however, some advanced planning, such as the creation of an irrevocable trust. As Medicaid has a lookback period from the application date, which is five years in Florida, it can be necessary to conduct this planning well in advance of the time nursing home care is indicated. If you or a loved one are already residing in a nursing home, or planning for one in the immediate future, a Medicaid attorney or elder law attorney may be able to assist with unique planning options to address the five-year look back period in Florida.

The bottom line is if you are a Miami senior, it can be in your best interest to contact a Medicaid attorney or Miami elder law attorney, who can assist you with Medicaid planning to assure the care you need is available, when you need it. Our office is here to help you and your loved ones. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Understanding Why Prenuptial Agreements Matter to Your Estate Plan if You Are a Business Owner

Are you a small business owner? If so, you may not be thinking about estate planning too much. After all, you are working hard every day to manage your employees, maximize profits, and ensure your business is a success. If you are considering getting married and you own a small business, however, you may want to consider how a prenuptial agreement might be beneficial both for your new family’s finances and your estate planning. Let us review four reasons why.

1. You Built Your Business Before Your Marriage. If you built your business prior to your marriage, you may want to preserve your financial interest in the business while you are married and be able to choose who will inherit it after your death. Take some time to talk this through with your future spouse.

2. You Want to Acknowledge Your Spouse’s Contributions. If your new spouse has already contributed to the success of your business, or he or she is going to take on a bigger role when you are married, a prenuptial agreement can help him or her, too! You might consider structuring an agreement so that your spouse acquires a financial stake in your business over time as he or she contributes to handling matters at home while you focus on work, or directly work with your business.

3. You Want to Separate Business from Family. Even though you may not want to think about death or divorce, it is important to consider the possibility when you own your own business. You may decide in a prenuptial agreement that in the event of a divorce, you will buy your spouse out of the business by giving him or her other financial assets, because it could get messy to continue working together or making company decisions together if you are divorced.

4. You Want a Succession Plan in Place. Ultimately, part of both business succession planning and estate planning is ensuring your business is secure after you pass away. You can address this in a prenuptial agreement as part of your estate planning, by outlining your future spouse’s continued role in the business, and what you would expect for any children you may have.

For assistance developing a prenuptial agreement as part of your estate plan, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.

5 Reasons Why You Need A Knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney

Did you know that, unlike criminal or family law attorneys, elder law attorneys are defined by the population they serve: seniors and their adult children? Elder law attorneys focus on the specific needs of older adults, including housing, long-term care planning, Medicaid and Medicare planning, and more. Let us review five specific reasons why you may need an elder law attorney.

1. Power of Attorney. A power of attorney can allow an adult you trust to manage your affairs and make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. It can be vital to set up a power of attorney before you have any significant mental or physical health complications. 

2. Medicare, Medicaid, and Long-term Care Planning. Long-term care can be very expensive. While insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid can help, these programs are complex. The best time to think about how you might pay for long-term care is well before you need it.  However, if you need long-term care now, it may be critical that you and your loved ones speak with a knowledgeable elder law attorney now to protect your assets and help you understand what the restrictions and limits on eligibility are. 

3. Veterans Benefits and Disability Benefits. If you have a disability, or were in the military, you may be entitled to additional benefits or accommodations. An elder law attorney can help ensure that you are receiving the care you need and deserve, and that appropriate accommodations are being made for you. 

4. Estates Need Planning. A knowledgeable elder law attorney can help ensure that your assets go to the people and charities that you want to receive them, and not to predatory creditors or to unnecessary taxes. Additionally, estate planning makes it easier on your loved ones to carry out your wishes after you have passed. Instead of dealing with a headache of paperwork and forms, they can focus on remembering you and passing forward your legacy. 

5. Elder Abuse Can be a Significant Risk. Elder abuse can happen anywhere, even in the finest facilities. An elder law attorney can help protect you from traumatic abuse and financial abuse, and they can seek punishment and restitution if someone you love is victimized. 

For assistance navigating these issues and related elder law matters, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

4 Key Reasons Why You Need to Update Your Estate Plan When You Move to a New State

When people move, they usually remember to get a new driver’s license, to update their voter’s registration, and to find a new doctor. Did you know that  updating their estate plans should also be on their to-do lists? While your existing estate plan is probably still valid in your new state, parts of it may prove invalid or ineffective under the laws of your new state. Laws can vary significantly between states, and may impact items like your income tax, state estate tax or inheritance tax, and whether your property is considered marital or separate. What makes a good plan in California or Florida may not be favorable in Texas, New York, or Washington, and vise-a-versa. 

In addition, it can be important to review your estate plan every 5 years. When you review your plan, look for any significant life changes for you, your beneficiaries, or your fiduciaries, such as birth, death, marriage, or divorce among family or loved ones and for changes in tax laws that could impact your estate. Updating your plan can reduce unnecessary stress or unintended consequences resulting from differences in laws. Let us review some of the key reasons why your plan might be impacted by your move. 

You will be taxed according to the state in which you are domiciled. Your domicile is your “permanent home,” and can be determined by a variety of factors, such as where you own a home, where you spend your time, where you work, where you are registered to vote or drive, and the address in your legal documents. If your domicile state changes, so will the laws governing your estate plans.

Furthermore, changes in state can mean significant changes in applicable marital property laws. Marital property laws determine the division of assets between spouses upon death or divorce. In nine states, almost all property acquired during a marriage is community property, meaning it is owned equally by both spouses. Upon the death of the first spouse, all of the community property automatically transfers in full to the surviving spouse, and he or she receives a step up in basis for capital gains and income tax on that property. The other 41 states treat each spouse’s property as individually owned. Thus, a trust prepared in a separate property state may be detrimental to the surviving spouse once domicile is established in a community property state, where the laws are more favorable to spouses. 

Health care directives, including living wills and health care surrogates, can also vary by state. While they may be technically valid across the country, medical personnel may only be familiar with their home state’s typical forms. Legal counsel may be needed to confirm the validity of out of state documents, which could delay decision-making in your care. 

Additionally, geography can be an important factor in selecting your fiduciaries, such as an agent under a power of attorney or the personal representative of your estate. It can be logistically difficult to make decisions on your behalf from another state. Some states do not allow non-residents to serve as personal representatives or executors, unless they additionally have an in-state agent or post a bond to protect your estate. 

There can also be big estate tax changes when you move to a different state. While federal estate tax only applies to decedents with estates above $11.5 million, state estate, inheritance, and gift taxes may be imposed on decedents with significantly lower net worth. The tax rate as well as the amount that may be excluded, varies between states. In Massachusetts and Oregon, the exemption limit is $1 million, while Maine’s exemption limit is $5.7 million. The tax rate on amounts over the exemption can be as high as 20%, like it is in Hawaii. 

These are just a few of the key reasons why you should meet with a local attorney who is experienced in estate planning when planning to move. Our office is available to act as a resource to those who have recently relocated. Please contact us to schedule an appointment time.

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