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Deputies Cleared of Wrongdoing in Mar-a-Lago Shooting

According to an internal affairs investigation, two Florida sheriff's deputies have been found justified in firing shots at a Connecticut opera singer during a security incident outside former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in 2020. The deputies, Palm Beach County Detective Christopher Farron and Lt. John Paul Harvey followed agency firearms policy when they and a Secret Service agent shot at Hannah Roemhild, who was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.

The report stated that the deputies were "exonerated" and faced no disciplinary action. Roemhild, who was charged with various offenses, including aggravated assault and fleeing arrest, was deemed not guilty by reason of insanity in a plea agreement reached two years ago.

The incident occurred on January 31, 2020, when Roemhild drove her rented Jeep through a checkpoint outside Mar-a-Lago. The deputies' bullets shattered the Jeep's windows, but Roemhild was unharmed. This was one of several security breaches that took place at Mar-a-Lago during Trump's presidency. Roemhild was arrested later when she tried to run from officers at a nearby motel, claiming she was escaping people trying to kill her.

Roemhild's attorney, David Roth, stated that she has made significant progress and has moved forward from the incident. Roth emphasized that Roemhild harbors no ill will towards law enforcement agencies involved in her arrest. The report did not reveal the name of the Secret Service agent who fired shots at Roemhild.

Mar-a-Lago experienced four other security breaches during Trump's tenure as president. In August 2020, three teenagers were arrested after jumping over a wall while carrying a semiautomatic gun. In March 2019, a Chinese national gained access to Mar-a-Lago while carrying electronic equipment, leading to trespassing charges. In December 2019, another Chinese national was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest after taking photos at the club. In November 2018, a university student was arrested for entering Mar-a-Lago without permission.

The internal affairs investigation determined that the actions of the two sheriff's deputies were in line with agency policy and justified in response to the security breach at Mar-a-Lago. Roemhild, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity, has since agreed to undergo psychiatric counseling and medication. The report concludes that Roemhild does not pose a substantial risk of harm to herself or others.

In case you missed it:

Four Ways a Revocable Trust Can Benefit Retirees

Imagine walking into a store and asking the salesperson whether you need a phone. The salesperson would answer confidently: "Of course, you need one! The only question is which one you will buy."

Unfortunately, this can be expected from many estate attorneys. No matter who you are or what your situation is, the attorney will likely advise you on getting a revocable trust. 

A revocable trust often makes sense. Here are four reasons why a revocable trust may fit your situation:

Avoiding Probate

When clients insist they need a trust, it's generally because of a good or bad experience they had because of a trust or lack thereof. A parent had a trust, and things passed very smoothly. Or their parents didn't have a trust, and they had to deal with the probate courts in a challenging jurisdiction. Either that or a targeted Facebook ad saying they should have one.

Probate avoidance is a reasonable basis to set up a trust. If you pass assets through your will, they will go through probate. Probate is a court-supervised process of distributing the decedent's assets, which can be expensive and time-consuming, depending on the jurisdiction.

If you own assets in multiple states, this can be especially important. My office is in Virginia, but I can see D.C. and Maryland from my office window. Suppose I own a rental property in Maryland and die; in that case, my family will go through probate in Virginia and ancillary probate in Maryland. However, a revocable trust that owns both properties solves that problem.

Maintaining Control

It is more common than not to have kids who will do very different things with the same inheritance. The standard way that revocable trusts control this challenge is to release a certain percentage of assets once the beneficiary hits a certain age. While this is most common, other ways exist to solve the problem.

Along with the advantage of control is flexibility. My current trust limits payouts to an annual maximum equal to the amount my beneficiaries save.

Ensures Privacy

Creating an estate plan can be a very emotional process. Ideally, there will be little disagreement among the participants, and you will develop a plan to execute your wishes. You typically keep your wishes private except for sharing them with those with some role or benefit in the plan.

If you plan to pass assets through a will, remember that it will most likely become public once the probate estate is closed. If you left one of your kids out, left another a bit more, or are just a private person, you may be better off with a trust.

Plan For Incapacity

Unfortunately, the scenario that no one expects or wants does occur sometimes. If your bank accounts are titled only in your name, this can become a nightmare for simple tasks like paying your bills. A revocable trust won't improve your situation but can create continuity and simplicity in handling financial matters.

Should you become incapacitated, name a successor trustee who will manage assets to the terms outlined in the trust; this can happen immediately rather than going through the legal process of seeking guardianship or conservatorship.

Final Thoughts

While these are four solid reasons for drawing up a living trust, this is a one-size-fits-all answer, and you should proceed with caution as they are not necessarily for everyone.

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