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Estate Planning Considerations for Miami Rental Property Owners

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5 Factors Landlords Should Consider When Estate Planning

Miami has one of the most robust rental markets in the country, with both long-term rentals and short-term vacation units in high demand. Property owners who have been able to take advantage of this increase in demand — along with rapidly rising property values — in the past few years may have strong investment portfolios. But what happens if the owner unexpectedly passes away? Having an estate plan that includes your rental properties can ensure that your investments are protected and are passed down according to your wishes.

1. Structure of Ownership

How your rental properties are held makes a difference in what happens to them after you die and what protections they need with an estate plan. If you are an individual owner, for example, the properties will be part of your overall estate and will have to pass through probate and then be handled according to the terms of your will.

Jointly held properties with a right to survivorship can pass directly to the sole ownership of the surviving owner when one person dies. But if there is no right to survivorship, a jointly held property may still need to go through probate with the rest of the estate.

If the rental properties are held in an LLC or another business structure, it can be even more complicated. It’s best to discuss your current situation with an estate planning attorney who can inform you of what would happen if you died right now and discuss what you can do to ensure your investments are handled according to your wishes.

2. What Debts You Have

When you’re deciding how to include rental properties in your estate plan, it’s important to look at the overall value of the property and, in particular, what debt you have against it. Many rental property owners carry mortgages, but they may also have property improvement loans or other debts associated with the property. If you are the sole owner of the rental, these debts will need to be settled as part of your estate, and this could force the sale of the property. If you want to make sure that the property passes on to your beneficiaries, an estate planning attorney can help you set this up.

3. Succession Planning

When you’re making plans for your rental property, you’ll need to decide what you want to happen to it. You may want the property to pass on to a beneficiary directly to manage on their own, have it stay as part of a business holding and have a property manager oversee it, or have it sold and the proceeds distributed among your beneficiaries. An attorney can walk you through the pros and cons of each option. In many cases, it’s preferable to have the rental property in a trust so that business operations can continue seamlessly after you pass.

4. Tax Implications

Taxes are something that every adult deals with on at least a yearly basis, and landlords also have to deal with property taxes in Miami-Dade County. While estate taxes were removed in Florida in 2004, it’s possible that property owners who have large portfolios or very expensive estates could be impacted by federal estate taxes. Federal estate taxes only apply to estates worth more than $13.61 million as of 2024. If you believe your estate would qualify for federal estate taxes, talk to an attorney about what estate planning strategies you can use to minimize the estate tax burden.

5. Probate

Probate is the process of filing the last will and testament, settling the estate, and ensuring the beneficiaries get their inheritances as stated in the will. It’s often a lengthy process, often taking 6-12 months. If there are complications, such as a lack of will or a contested will, this can take even longer. If rental properties can’t continue to be occupied during the probate process, it can mean thousands in missed income for your beneficiaries. If rental income is needed to pay for things like repairs and property taxes, it can result in a major financial burden.

Using estate planning tools like trusts or joint ownership with right to survivorship can help you keep your rental properties out of probate. This needs to be done strategically and with the help of an attorney who can ensure that you understand all of your options and how to structure an estate plan that works for your needs and goals.

Integrating Rental Properties Into Your Overall Estate Plan

If you own rental properties in the Miami area, they are an important part of your asset portfolio and need to be protected with an estate plan. Even if you’re young and in good health, nobody can predict the future, and an estate plan provides the security and peace of mind you need for the years to come. For example, you might be able to set up an LLC to hold your rental properties for more seamless succession planning. You may also be able to gift the property or establish a trust to ensure that your designated heirs receive their inheritance without having to wait for probate.

Any estate plan should be tailored to your specific situation, including what assets you hold and how you want them to be passed on to the next generation. When you work with the legal team at Perez-Roura Law, we take the time to get a full understanding of what your goals are with your estate plan and provide suggestions on how to execute a strategy that meets your needs. Call our office at 305-359-3888 to speak to a member of our team and schedule a free consultation.

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