Probate Proceedings

are handled efficiently and as inexpensively as possible. Have a skillful Miami probate attorney direct you through the legally intricate probate process. Israel is one of the few Probate lawyers in Miami who know that it is important, for the administration of estates with longer settlement periods, to monitor the timing and characterization of payments so that tax deductions are not lost. Israel is a natural-born problem-solver, a native Miami probate lawyer, with many contacts who can help to unravel mysteries that a person may leave behind. Israel has experience working with high-profile individuals and understands the value of discretion.  He is in Broward and Miami-Dade probate courts every week and will assure that the administration proceeds as quickly as possible, which is another reason why many clients say that he is the best probate lawyer in Miami. Probate is 95% formulaic, with procedures that simply follow Florida Statutes, but there is a certain amount of “wiggle room” in Florida probate, and Israel does the research allowing him to sometimes find a way to save time and money.  Israel believes in fixed, flat-fee probate – because as long as things stay friendly between heirs, he likes the heirs to know exactly where the money is going.  However, if you suspect that you are not being treated fairly, Israel can help you with probate litigation as well.

International Clients

are counseled and assisted on structuring ownership of U.S. assets to minimize taxation. Asset protection, a consideration that is under-appreciated by many foreign nationals, is an added value to titling assets in legal entities instead of personally. The best way to hold real estate for nonresidents is usually a Florida LLC that is owned by an offshore corporation. Immigration issues are also considered, as they interact with the considerations above. Israel is fluent in Spanish and French, and works with the client’s tax planner in their home country to create a total tax package that takes in universal assets and taxation. For example, with the high applicable exclusion amount that US residents receive, a citizen of a country with high estate taxes may be encouraged to establish residency in the US so as to benefit from a tax treaty that allows the US to tax the person instead of their home country.

Tax Planning

is the central focus of the Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in Estate Planning at the University of Miami, the primary school in the country for this highly specialized degree. Working with your CPA, Israel, a leading estate planning lawyer in Miami, will assure that saving money on one kind of tax will not lead to over-payment on a related but different tax. Israel and Professor Jerome M. Hesch, one of the leading tax experts in the U.S. and special tax counsel at Israel Sands Law, will use a conservative, holistic tax approach. Israel will look at how a client's financial life may be restructured for overall tax savings, considering both the client and the future heirs. Israel chooses a tax strategy that responds to the individual client's domestic or family situation and their assets portfolio, always opting for the simplest and most elegant solution, and for future flexibility. This includes preparing the way for "post-death estate tax planning", with toggle-switch on/off provisions in the documents that can minimize taxes during the administration of an estate - and can even increase tax basis on assets left for heirs. Israel is familiar with tax strategies accepted by the IRS that can lower the valuation of assets for transfer tax purposes. International transfer tax strategy in Miami is very important, and it is not neglected. Israel chooses a tax strategy that always opts for the simplest and most elegant solution, and for future flexibility. Careful investigation of various possible solutions is important for Israel, especially in helping nonresident foreign investors prepare for the future.

Unmarried Couples

are advised on how to approximate the legal privileges of matrimony, with guardianship designation and directives that anticipate the difficult periods just before and after death. Undivided joint ownership of assets is risky where domestic partners do not start out on equal financial footing, so unmarried couples need appropriately titled assets and solid documents to ensure a distribution of assets that respects valued relationships. Unmarried couples are advised on how to structure ownership and document the flow of money in their relationship to avoid unnecessary taxation.

Purposeful Trusts

are trusts that think beyond tax minimization. They apply the principles of Positive Psychology to the field of drafting trusts. They try to assure that assets will be put to good use by heirs. Money cannot buy happiness, but a good estate plan minimizes the possibility of money producing aimless trust-fund beneficiaries susceptible to depression, predators, and substance abuse. A legacy should not get in the way of the self-worth that comes with achievement in life. Israel disapproves of trust fund “salaries” that can put beneficiaries on a path of fast living and bad values caused by trust narcissism and entitlement. Instead, a trust fund should be there to help beneficiaries flourish as independent and contributing members of society.

Traditional incentive trusts (such as requiring a college degree before a distribution) may not be responsive enough to the needs of each beneficiary. A better solution is giving a trustee full discretion as to distributions, and having the trustee work with a psychologist or life coach, who works with each beneficiary at the beginning of each year to create a plan for the beneficiary. This plan may include exercises to promote a sense of responsibility and/or a gratitude journal showing proper respect for the opportunities presented by the trust fund. At the end of the year the beneficiary meets with the psychologist or life coach, and only after showing that the beneficiary has been responsible with their time and their assets do they get a distribution the following year.

The work is not all done by the beneficiary though: for the beneficiary of a trust to feel optimal gratitude, they must hear the voice of the creator of the trust. The creator of the trust (yes, on top of having made the money) needs to send a message down the generations about themselves and their family. Expressions of intent by the creator of the trust are incorporated into the document, which also prevent a frustration of the creator’s intentions if there is an attempt to reform the trust. One such exercise is the creator answering the question: Why this trust? This question is answered with the hopes that the creator is putting into the trust, and the creator’s faith in the goodness and potential of each named beneficiary.

Purposeful trusts often provide for family reunions where descendants of the trust creator meet to share time and receive support from each other to learn from the lessons of the creator’s life and how to make the best use of the means and freedom afforded to them. In the case of larger estates or special needs beneficiaries, it may be a good idea for the creator of a trust to “let go”, set up the process for administration of the trust while they are still alive, and witness the benefits of a purposeful trust. In some cases, this has improved the quality of the relationships between the creator and the beneficiaries.

Estate Planning

is not only for the rich. Everyone needs a will, which should be reviewed every 5 years. In Florida, a will with a revocable trust is the best way to lower expenses, save time, and assure privacy by avoiding Probate. Health care directives are important, even if you have no assets, to assure that the medical care you receive will be in keeping with your philosophy and wishes. If you do not make decisions about who will become guardian of your children or dependents if something happens to you, the decisions will be made by a judge who may not make the best-informed decision. Planning your estate is a responsibility that you may have postponed. You will find it satisfying to sit in Israel Sands' sun-filled office on South Beach, where you can discuss the needs of your heirs and the legacy that you want to create for them. Israel is also available for meetings at your home or office. There are many moving parts in estate planning, and that is why it’s important to select a leading estate planning attorney. If you have young children, and own life insurance to assure their education and future in case something happens to you, it is vital that you create a trust and name it as the beneficiary of your insurance policy (never your children, who would come into serious money at an age when they are too young to manage it properly). Israel Sands' approach to Estate Planning, rated "AV" (highest rating) by Martindale-Hubbell, emphasizes flexibility and forethought. This is in response to how quickly situations change, and how priorities may need to be adjusted without having to recast the entire estate plan. The approach is people-centered: sometimes the optimal estate plan is not the best tax solution; the priority is getting the right amount of the right assets to the right heirs, at the right time - and not before. Larger assets are best protected by being held in trust: safe from predators (like future ex-spouses) but available to beneficiaries to meet their needs. This protects both the assets and the beneficiaries. Israel believes that family unity and personal relationships are more important to conserve and foster than wealth. At first sight, the perfect trustee for a sibling who is financially irresponsible might be a sibling who is a financial genius, but Israel would prefer an institutional trustee, whose investment skills may not even be as good as the sibling’s; but Israel is unwilling to risk the integrity of a fraternal relationship just for greater return on investment. Complex family situations with second or later spouses, marriages with mixed children, and nontraditional family units require a carefully considered trust or will so that heirs will respect each other and the memory of their parent or ancestor. Israel is one of the best-qualified French speaking estate planning lawyers in Miami, but he also speaks Spanish and has had exposure to many cultures, preparing him to be able to create an estate plan that is sensitive to your background and lifestyle. Israel is among a handful of the best same-sex estate planning lawyers in Miami who had personal training as an intern with the pioneer same-sex estate planning lawyer in Miami, Jerry Chasen. The expertise and creativity required to navigate this complicated field makes working with Israel an easy choice, whatever your family situation.