Not a Scam, But You Never Know

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Not a Scam, But You Never Know

SCAM ALERT: Recently, I have received a few emails from folks who, probably are NOT trying to scam me or trying to hack into my email account. I get something like this: Please read the attached. More than likely someone has written to me about some matter and rather than type it in a long email, they type it up and just attach it to their email to me. I will not open that under any circumstance, and you should not do it either. Why? First of all, even if you know your friend, you don’t know whether his or her email address has been comprised. Second, until you open that attachment you don’t know for sure what it says and if there is a virus in it, once you open the attachment (or click on a link), your email system has been infected. So, I realize the inconvenience and I realize that we always want to trust someone. Here’s what I do; I write back and simply say that I am not willing to open attachments or links.
Q. I have a fairly large estate but it’s not federally taxable. It’s not likely that it ever will be federally taxable. I have no close relatives and I do not intend to leave anything to the distant ones I know about. I have some friends and I have some charities and they will get the bulk of my estate, probably all of it. I have no idea who to name as the administrator of my estate, nor who to name for my health care person. So, my question is are there good estate planning options that do not include having a Trust or should I have a Trust and if so, who do I name as the administrator.A. There’s a lot to unpack here and in a column like this, it’s not possible to do justice to what you’ve raised. But I think you have brought up some very significant and highly interesting issues and so I will address your questions but only in a general fashion. And before I even start to do that, my primary advice to you is to meet with your attorney or with an attorney that can provide estate tax advice. A member of our law firm, Attorney John Beck will take over now and will give you and my readers some thoughts about your question. Hi, everybody, I’m John Beck. First, let me mention who to consider as administrator of your estate. I always that your best option is to select someone you absolutely trust and of more importance, it should be someone who has the business acumen to be able to make financial decisions and who also have the emotional strength to make difficult but important health care decisions. In your specific circumstance, I strongly advise you to sit down with your attorney or other financial advisor and explain your concerns.

Now, the more complicated question is whether to have a Will or a Trust. Since, under your situation, there are no close family members, and considering that a significant portion of your estate will pass to charitable entities, the simplest document for you might just be a Will, rather than a Trust. I say that because when it comes to simplicity, for you, having a Will, durable power of attorney is easiest and does not require that you make any changes to your existing asset structure. Yes, there will be estate administration, at your passing, but at least in my own opinion, you really don’t have any beneficiaries that you need to protect or that you need to make sure of the dollar amount they are to receive. Having said that, though, if you are concerned about any of the beneficiaries, you could always have your bank account or brokerage account, set up in payable on death mode. That will avoid probate for those assets, while at the same time, allowing you to have a solid estate plan that meets your goals while at the same time keeping it from becoming overly complex.

Please understand that there are many advanced estate planning opportunities when charitable planning is a goal. For example: you might wish to create a unique estate plan that involves trusts where you, through your trustee or successor trustee can exercise control over the method a charity uses to distribute the inheritance received from your estate. The truth is that the facts you’ve presented offers many different planning opportunities if you wish to do them. As Jerry said, there’s a lot to unpack in your fact situation. Thus, I urge you to meet with your attorney or with an attorney who understands your needs.

Gerald R. Colen, and his law partner Rachel M. Wagoner manage the Law Offices of Colen and Wagoner, P.A. The law firm’s attorneys are Jerry Colen, Rachel Wagoner, and John Beck. All are members of the Florida Bar Association. Jerry Colen and Rachel Wagoner are members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. Attorney John Beck has a degree in finance, a master’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in taxation. The law firm practices in the areas of simple and complex Estate Planning, wills, trusts, probate, real estate, title insurance, elder law, taxation, Medicaid Planning and business and professional advice. This column is only intended to present fact situations that may be of interest to the reader. It does not, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. You should not rely on what is written in this column to be legal advice for any situation. You should always consult your own attorney for legal advice. Mr. Colen, Ms. Wagoner, and Mr. Beck have law offices at 1756 N. Belcher Road. Clearwater, FL 33765. Mr. Colen, Ms. Wagoner, and Mr. Beck also meet clients at On Top of the World, in Clearwater, Florida. Visit the law firm’s website at Email Jerry Colen at; Email Rachel Wagoner at Email John Beck at

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