Florida Estate Planning and Probate Law Blog focused on recent case law and planning ideas.

2016 CONTRIBUTION & BENEFIT LIMITS



The following chart details the compensation, contribution and benefit limits for 2016. All limits are applicable for the plan year commencing in the respective year, except as stated otherwise below.
LIMIT
2016
 2015
 2014
401(K) DEFERRAL CONTRIBUTIONS
$18,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
 $18,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
 $17,500 (Calendar Year Limit)
GOVERNMENTS AND TAX-EXEMPT PLANS DEFERRAL CONTRIBUTIONS
$18,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
 $18,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
$17,500 (Calendar Year Limit)
401(K)/403(B)/ GOVERNMENTAL 457(B) CATCH-UP CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS OVER AGE 50
$6,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
$6,000 (Calendar Year Limit)
$5,500 (Calendar Year Limit)
INCLUDIBLE COMPENSATION
 $265,000
 $265,000
 $260,000
ANNUAL DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN LIMIT (415 LIMIT)
$53,000 (Effective for Limitation Years Ending in 2016)
$53,000 (Effective for Limitation Years Ending in 2015)
$52,000 (Effective for Limitation Years Ending in 2014)
DEFINED BENEFIT PLAN ANNUAL BENEFIT LIMITATION
 $210,000
 $210,000
$210,000
FICA WAGE BASE FOR INTEGRATED PLANS
 $118,500
 $118,500
$117,000
DEFINITION OF HIGHLY COMPENSATED EMPLOYEE
For Determining HCEs in 2016, Employees Who Earned More than $120,000 in 2015
For Determining HCEs in 2015, Employees Who Earned More than $115,000 in 2014
For Determining HCEs in 2014, Employees Who Earned More than $115,000 in 2013
DEFINITION OF KEY EMPLOYEE (OFFICER COMPENSATION)
$170,000
$170,000
$170,000

EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO DETERMINE POSSESSION OF PROPERTY DURING FLORIDA PROBATE PROCEEDINGS

 
 
During the Florida probate administration the personal representative may take possession of all of the decedent’s property.  Fla. Stat. § 733.607(1).  However, this provision of the Probate Code also provides that such property can be left with the person presumptively entitled to it.  As a result, it is very common for disputes to arise as to (i) whether property is, in fact, the decedent’s property; and (ii) whether someone other than the personal representative has a right to possession of the property during administration.
 
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue in Delbrouck v. Eberling, et al., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). In Delbrouck, an estate beneficiary and the personal representative argued over the right to possess certain real property in the decedent’s name while estate administration was pending.  The personal representative filed a motion seeking surrender of the assets in question because the assets were titled in the decedent’s name.  The beneficiary countered by moving for authorization to occupy the properties, arguing that the Probate Code provides for a person presumptively entitled to possession of property to retain possession (Fla. Stat. § 733.607(1)). 
 
On appeal, the Fourth District reversed, holding that where a claim of possession is made on property titled in the decedent’s name, the determination as to who is entitled to temporary possession during probate requires an evidentiary hearing.  The appellate court reasoned that if “ownership of an asset can be contested during probate, it cannot be the case that a personal representative’s assertion of the right to possession can never be challenged.”

WHERE ELDER LAW AND ESTATE PLANNING MEET


 
Florida Estate planning does not only involve the preparation of a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney, but also takes into consideration retirement issues. For the ordinary individual, both the means-tested and non-means-tested government benefit programs (Security Security, Medicare and Medicaid) are an important retirement consideration.
 
As a result, individuals must consider whether they should dispose of their assets, prior to death, through pre-need planning in order to qualify for means-tested government programs (Medicaid – which may pay for the cost of long term nursing home care). However, in order to qualify for these programs, the programs will consider the transfers of assets in the 60 months prior to the benefits application, with limited exceptions (irrevocable college saving plans, and the "two-year caretaker rule”). Veteran benefits and health care may also be available for eligible individuals and their surviving family. 
 
In addition, a means-tested government benefit recipient who receives an inheritance or is the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, may have their government benefits terminate as a result of the windfall. As a result, more sophisticated estate planning techniques may be utilized to ensure the beneficiary does not lose their eligibility for government benefits and can still receive the benefit of the bequest.