Category Archives: Financial Planning

Benefits of Moving to Florida From a high-tax State

I recently stumbled across an article that articulates the basic thesis of The Florida Domicile Handbook; and this article touches base on many of the things that are explained in-depth in The Florida Domicile Handbook.

Some of these advantages include:
• No Income tax
• An Array of Asset Protection
• Healthy Real Estate Market
• Homestead Exemption
• No State Estate Tax

One of the key takeaways from this article and the book is that the process of declaring domicile in Florida can make your life more enjoyable all across the board. The weather provides year-round access to the outdoors and endless opportunity for recreation, the vibrant wildlife and beautiful scenery can be found no where else in the world and the tax codes help keep a little more money in your pocket. Click here to read the article, and pick up your copy of The Florida Domicile Handbook for a step by step guide of your move to paradise.


Wheaton Wealth Partners Establishes a Year Round Office in Naples, FL

Free Book with Consult

Free Book with Consult

After five years of maintaining a seasonal office in Southwest Florida, we are excited to announce a full time Wheaton Wealth Partners office in Naples. Our partner, Rob O’Dell, and his family have made the decision to relocate to Florida.

Rob has contributed to the third edition of The Florida Domicile Handbook: Vital Information for New Florida Residents. If you are considering Florida residency, schedule a complimentary InsightMap Preview Meeting. As a thank you, we will provide you with a free copy of The Florida Domicile Handbook

Protecting your assets in Florida

I read an interesting article online called “Dynasty trusts let wealthy beat the taxman” that explained why a dynasty trust is becoming more popular and wanted to share it with you.

In the article, author Elizabeth Ody, explains that “A dynasty trust funded with $10 million from a couple today could be worth as much as $184 million in 50 years, assuming no intergenerational transfer taxes and a 6 percent annual return, and before subtracting any federal income or capital-gains taxes paid on the trust’s investment returns. By comparison, assets not placed in a trust and taxed twice as an estate in that period could be worth $39 million at the end of 50 years, assuming a $1 million exemption and 55 percent top rate.”

This is a significant benefit to consider and should not be overlooked when you’re preparing your estate plan.

Many families in Florida have turned to funding dynasty trusts as a way to keep assets within the family. This type of trust has no expiration date, and assets (such as cash and stocks) can be passed on to multiple generations while increasing in value.

A dynasty trust essentially holds assets in trust without transfer of ownership to a beneficiary. Instead, future generations receive distributions from assets within the trust. The trust allows assets to grow safely and for tax purposes, assets remain valued at the amount they were worth when the trust was originally created, and for as long as they stay in the trust. Appreciation on those assets is exempt from estate taxes.

Protection provided by the dynasty or the “generation-skipping” trust is absolute so that future creditors of current or future family members cannot touch it. In Florida, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) can be designed as a dynasty trust. The ILIT allows proceeds to reach future generations and is not limited to the generation immediately following the grantor. Plus, each beneficiary will avoid being levied a tax.

Proper estate planning is vital to any family: not solely for millionaires. If you have assets that you want to protect or ensure the inheritance of your life’s accomplishments, then Florida law provides such protection through vehicles like the ILIT at generally less tax impositions compared to other states.

In my book, the Florida Domicile Handbook, you can find more information on these benefits of trusts.

But I’m certain you’ll find the reasoning is undeniable. Florida domicile offers one the most sensible asset protection destinations in the United States today. To find out more about Florida’s tax haven status, purchase a copy of the Florida Domicile Handbook.

The Importance of Trust Funds

There was a time when trust funds were only used by wealthy Americans who wanted to secure their assets and pass them on safely to their heirs. Today, setting up a trust fund has become recommended financial planning for those who want protection from creditors, predators, and divorce.

Take for example the case of the Lumpkin siblings of Columbus, Ohio. The remainder of their deceased father’s estate has not yet been divided between the siblings 11 years after his death. There have been losses to the estate because of the unresolved feud which has escalated and caught state-wide media interest.

The law requires that all state representatives arrive at a unanimous decision on matters of the remainder of Lumpkin Jr.’s estate. Unfortunately, this is a very bad idea for this family as the siblings apparently could not see eye to eye. This drama has dragged on for years, causing significant losses to the estate and has branched out into personal conflicts and lawsuits from both sides.

Most people have heard of trusts, but they do not understand what they do and usually think they are tools for rich people. The truth is that trusts are not complicated and can be useful for virtually everyone.

There are two basic types of trusts, the revocable (living) trust (RLT) and irrevocable trusts (IRT) and depending upon your goals, you may want to use one or both types.

There are four primary purposes for forming and funding a RLT –

1. avoid probate,

2. take care of your wishes in the event you become incapacitated and cannot manage your own affairs,

3. take advantage of certain tax benefits, and

4. protect your loved ones in a way they cannot do for themselves.

Irrevocable trusts have various uses and, depending upon your specific goal(s), have various names and acronyms. For example, the Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) is an irrevocable trust that can provide many benefits to you and your family while you are alive and take care of any charitable intent you have when you are gone.

Irrevocable trusts sound ominous because of the word “irrevocable,” but a properly structured irrevocable trust can provide for changes in the future through the use of a trust “protector.” A trust protector is someone named in your trust that you, as the “grantor,” can give the power to make specific changes in the future. The trust protector cannot be the grantor (you), the trustee or the beneficiary(ies).

You can learn more about the different kinds of trust funds in chapter 4 of  The Florida Domicile Handbook.

Derek Jeter’s Tampa Mansion

American Baseball League player, Derek Jeter who plays shortstop for the New York Yankees has changed the landscape, if not the skyline of Tampa, Florida. A year after they started building, the biggest home in Hillsborough County is completed.

Jeter has long planned this project, buying adjacent lands in Davis Islands since 2005. The mansion, built in an English Manor style and situated near the water, cost $7.7 million.

With seven bedrooms and nine baths, the 30,000 square feet domicile sits on three lots in the Bahama Circle. It has two 3-car garages, a swimming pool that overlooks the ocean, a billiards room and a memorabilia room. Of course, it also comes with a small pier. All this to be protected from the public eye with a 6-foot privacy fence.

The Yankee reportedly made $21 million last year, so the $7.7 million mega mansion should be covered. Jeter also has another smaller house in Avila. Smaller because it is only 4,000 square foot and only cost him a mere $1 million. It is situated in Avila Golf and Country Club, north Tampa.

Aside from his homes in Florida, Jeter’s other assets include homes in Marlboro, New Jersey, Greenwood Lake, New York and a Trump World Tower apartment in Manhattan – the latter being currently in the market.

Jeter has claimed Florida residency, hence his exemption from state income tax. Although he works in New York, his residency and majority of assets are in Florida. Since 1994, Jeter has maintained a Tampa residence when he first started out with the Yankees.

Back in 2007, Jeter was hounded by New York tax officials. The issue was his failure to pay taxes between the years 2001 to 2003. His apartment purchase in the Manhattan Trump World Tower and an $8,000 monthly rental in Long Island brought him under tax scrutiny.

This new mega mansion in Tampa will help prove his intent and slide the scale in favor of Florida domicile. Assuming Jeter has filed a declaration of Domicile in Florida, his homestead will be under the vast umbrella of the asset protection laws of Florida.

Read all about Florida Homestead laws and protection in Chapter 3 of the Florida Domicile Handbook.

Don’t Write a Check to a Charity

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is an irrevocable trust that allows you to make a charitable contribution and diversify your assets without paying immediate income tax while retaining an income stream.

Grantors typically transfer property, usually appreciated stock or appreciated real estate, but other assets can also be contributed. The donor of the property typically designates himself or herself as trustee. The donor and spouse generally are the income beneficiaries of the CRT for their lifetimes. This allows the donor-beneficiary to retain control of and receive income from the contributed assets.

Once transferred into the CRT, the assets are often free from the claims of creditors. Upon the death of the income beneficiaries, any assets left in the CRT are distributed to one or more charities designated by you as grantor.

Read more about the benefits of a Charitable Remainder Trust and other wealth preservation strategies in 2nd Edition of The Florida Domicile Handbook.

Is a split domicile the best of both worlds?

Some prospective Florida residents feel that splitting domicile between themselves and a spouse will allow them to have the best of all worlds. While there are certain circumstances that could call for splitting domicile, it may not be advisable.

The state of Florida will not allow you to retain your Florida homestead exemption if your spouse is claiming a homestead exemption in another state.

A split domicile raises additional issues. Some states require a married couple to file a joint state income tax return, if the couple files a joint federal income tax return. Additionally, a split domicile may limit the amount of your total federal capital gain exclusion (from $500,000 to $250,000) for the sale of a principal residence after one spouse changes domicile.

Learn more about Florida’s tax benefits in the new updated of The Florida Domicile Handbook. Make sure you consult with a Florida attorney and carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of a split domicile.


Healey’s split domicile to take advantage of Florida residency

According to the Boston Globe, former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and her husband are splitting their domicile to take advantage of Florida residency.

While there are times that a split domicile might be appropriate, there can be unintended issues for married couples.

First, it starts the clock ticking on one of the couple’s two $250,000 real estate exclusions. (a sale of a residence qualifies if it was a “primary residence” two out of the last five years). So if the home is sold after 3 years from the date of changing residence, there is only one $250,000 real estate exclusion available, not two ($500,000), as is the case for most couples.

Second, Florida does not allow a couple to benefit from two homestead exemptions, thus no Florida homestead exemption for the spouse changing to a Florida domicile – if the northern home is enjoying a homestead exemption.

Third, some states require a couple to file joint state tax returns if they are filing a joint federal return.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of Florida residency, buy The Florida Domicile Handbook and join me for my last Florida Domicile seminar of the season on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

A Marital Obligation or is it Just Guilt?

A client sent me an e-mail asking this interesting question:

Q: Am I required to leave a certain portion of my estate to my surviving spouse?

With co-author Brad Galbraith’s help, here’s the answer we gave the client:

A: Under the laws of Florida, your surviving spouse may “elect” to receive 30% of your estate plus the value of certain lifetime transfers at your death even if such a gift would be against your wishes. This right is called the elective share. Consult with an attorney to ensure that your estate plan takes this elective share into account.

For example, your estate plan may be designed to hold your spouse’s elective share in trust instead of being distributed outright. Your spouse’s right to this elective share may also be restricted or eliminated with a pre- or post-marital agreement.

If you have a question that you would like answered on this blog, email me at


6 questions to answer in your Revocable Living Trust

If your Revocable Living Trust will also act as a will, you may want to consider the following questions:

1)     Who do you want to inherit your assets and in what amounts or percentages?

2)     What should be the timing of the distributions of your assets to your various heirs?

3)     Who would you like to receive specific assets, such as your personal effects (e.g. car, watch, jewelry and artwork)?

4)     Should you leave assets outright or, as suggested above, in one or more trusts?

5)     If you decide on leaving assets in trust, who should be the trustee of each trust?

6)     Does it make sense to have a co-trustee, such as a trust company, for certain trusts for a period of time or for the life of the trust?

If you have questions about preparing your Revocable Living Trust, call me directly at (239) 261-1888 or email