Aug 272015
 

Many people think they can avoid the probate of an estate if their deceased loved one had a Last Will and Testament. This is a common misconception. A will is a set of directions by the deceased on how they want their estate to be distributed. Probate is the legal processes where a deceased person’s affairs are managed in an organized manner to ensure that all legitimate debts are paid, burial expenses are taken care of, and the remaining assets are transferred to the beneficiaries according to the will or via intestacy. 

Aug 132015
 
Considering a Do-It-Yourself Will?

When clients visit our office to discuss the prospect of having a will drafted, the topic of online legal services often arise. Clients want to know if the cost savings are worth it. Sure, it costs less to use a document created by a website, but is it truly worth it? The 2014 Florida Supreme Court case, Aldrich v. Basile, provides a cautionary tale. In 2004, Ann Aldrich drafted her will with an “E-Z Legal Form.” After her intended beneficiary predeceased her (and left all of her assets to Ann), she attempted to add an addendum to her will, leaving More…

Feb 062014
 
Don't Forget Your Pets!

Pet ownership throughout the nation is on the rise and so are the number of pet trusts created each year. Although some pet owners leave tens of thousands of dollars in trusts to care for their pets, pet trusts are no longer just for the wealthy. Many pet owners leave just enough funds to provide for the basic necessities of their pets, such as food and veterinary care making pet trusts more popular among all pet owners. As many pet owners view their pets as a part of their family, pet owners want to be sure that their pets are More…

Oct 112012
 
If I Die Without A Will, Will The State Get My Assets?

The answer is, possibly.  One of the most persistent estate planning “myths” around is the belief that if someone dies without a will, the State of Florida is entitled to their possessions.  While it is possible that Florida could collect a windfall upon a person’s passing, it is by no means a certainty. When a Florida resident dies without a will, they are considered legally “intestate.”  Given the relative frequency of this occurrence, it is not surprising that the Florida Statutes have a procedure in place for controlling the disposition of the decedent’s property. If there is a surviving spouse, More…

Sep 132012
 
Florida Law Removes Divorced Spouse As A Beneficiary From Non-Probate Assets

A recently enacted Florida law would nullify the designation of a spouse as the beneficiary of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies, qualified annuities, individual retirement accounts (IRA), employee benefit plans, and payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) accounts, upon the dissolution or annulment of a marriage. Florida Statute 732.703, effective July 1, 2012, states that “a designation made by or on behalf of the decedent providing for the payment or transfer at death of an interest in an asset to or for the benefit of the decedent’s former spouse is void as of the time More…

Sep 112012
 

Sherman Hemsley, who delighted American television audiences as the cantankerous George Jefferson, sadly lost a battle with cancer on July 24, 2012.  In a development that surely makes a bad situation even worse, a legal battle over his estate has caused his embalmed body to remain in refrigeration at an El Paso, Texas, funeral home until a local court rules on the validity of his will. It seems that a dispute has arisen between Hemsley’s manager and “beloved partner” Flora Enchinton, and Richard Thornton, a man who claims to be the actor’s brother.  According to the funeral home, the Philadelphia More…

Aug 282012
 
4 Life Changing Events That Require An Estate Planning Review

Effective estate planning is not the kind of thing that is done once and then put on a shelf for the rest of your life.  It requires consistent review and alteration as circumstances change.  Here are 4 life changing instances which should cause you to pick up the phone and give your Florida estate planning attorney a call: Marriage: Anytime someone decides to get married is a good time to consider whether an estate planning change is in order.  This is true for both the individual and their descendants.  Decisions will need to be made regarding how property will be More…

Aug 222012
 
Avoiding The Stress And Strife That Comes With Estate Planning

One lesson that too many families seem to learn the hard way is that dying without any estate planning can lead to problems.  In fact, if you ask any experienced Florida estate planning attorney about the easiest initial conference they can imagine, chances are high that they will cite those where the perspective client has recently lost a loved one and been forced to go through Florida probate without the guidance of a will or trust agreement.  A person who has gone through this experience often has a burning desire to ensure that their loved ones do not suffer through More…

Jul 122012
 
When May A Surviving Spouse Elect To Take 1/2 Of The Homestead?

Article X, Section 4(c) of the Florida Constitution imposes restrictions on the transfer or devise of homestead property.  While living, a husband and wife who own homestead property may transfer an interest in this property only if both of them sign the deed, mortgage, or other conveyance.  Upon death, there are limits upon how an individual can devise homestead property that are largely dependent on who survives the decedent. If someone attempts to devise the homestead in a manner that is not authorized by Florida law or the Florida Constitution, the Florida Statutes determine the proper manner of descent.  The More…

Jun 112012
 
Effective Estate Planning Can Help To Preserve Dwindling Inheritances

An article that appeared today in the Wall Street Journal deals with the concept that the inheritance prospects for baby boomers are dwindling, even as more of them are relying on a big bequest to help offset the retirement losses they suffered in the stock market over the past few years.  According to the article, “for a growing number of boomers, things aren’t going according to plan.  The postwar generation is living longer—and many are spending their savings along the way.  And, of course, many of them also took a hit in 2008.  The result is that, as a group, More…