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…

Jan 042013
 
Does a living trust make sense for me?

Many people think that a trust is only for wealthy people, but it can be a great tool to manage your assets while you are alive, regardless of whether you are wealthy or not. A trust is a private instrument that does not become public record, like a will. That means only the beneficiaries and trustee will know the details of the trust, such as the value, the actual beneficiaries’ names and what the beneficiaries will receive. A trustee has the responsibility of managing the trust, keeping records, filing tax returns and making distributions. You can be your own trustee 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 192012
 
Funding A Revocable Living Trust

One of the most common estate planning instruments used in the State of Florida is the revocable living trust.  These trusts are popular due to their ability to help avoid the arduous Florida probate process as well as their usefulness in planning for incapacity.  The first step to forming a Florida revocable living trust, is usually the drafting of a trust agreement which is then signed by the trust creator (known as the “settlor” under Florida law) who may also serve as initial trustee.  These agreements are often crafted under the guidance of a Florida estate planning attorney, as they 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 302012
 

As a follow-up to the previous post regarding 4 life changing events that require an estate planning review we now turn to three property transactions that should also lead to a review of an estate plan. Going through probate: It is no secret that longer life spans, ballooning medical costs, and two recessions have been negative factors on the average inheritance these days.  That said, whatever the amount is, there will be even less of it if creditors come calling or if it passes through another probate.  Any time a person receives a large sum of money or property, they More…

Aug 242012
 
Avoiding Built-In Conflicts Is An Essential Element Of Any Estate Plan

One of the primary purposes of engaging in estate planning is that of avoiding conflicts.  The death of a loved one can easily bring out the worst in people, especially if there is incomplete, or nonexistent, guidance regarding how the decedent’s assets are to be divided.  Thus we engage in estate planning to provide some certainty as to our wishes, with the hope that this will make things easier on our family and friends after we are gone. One of the important goals of the experienced estate planning attorney is that of avoiding “built-in” conflicts.  For example, if the children 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…

Aug 172012
 
When It Comes To Florida Probate, Don’t Mess With The IRS

It is common during the course of a Florida probate for the personal representative to discover that the decedent has outstanding federal tax debt.  When this happens, it is imperative that funds which are available to pay creditor’s claims be properly allocated to the IRS.  Florida Statute 733.707, which outlines the order in which creditors of the probate estate are to be paid, states that the IRS is a “Class 3″ creditor.  This means that the funds which are available after payment of administrative costs and fees, compensation for the personal representative and the fees of the probate attorney, and More…