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.  Continue reading »

Jul 032014
 
Using Online Legal Forms

Clients visit our office to discuss the prospect of having a Will drafted. Often the topic of the many online services arises, and clients want to know if the cost savings is worth it. Sure, it costs less to use a document created by a website, but is it truly worth it? In 2004, Ann Aldrich used a form from “E-Z Legal form” for her Will. In this recent Florida Supreme Court decision, the Court found that Ann’s two nieces were entitled to inherit property that Ann received after making out her Will. This was more than likely, not the More…

Mar 042014
 

Philip Seymour Hoffman passed in February at the age of 46. He was a successful actor with a family. Nobody plans to die in their forties but it happens. Fortunately, Hoffman left a last will and testament. However, not only was it old and outdated, but it was apparently drafted by a real estate attorney. Unfortunately, many lawyers include wills and trusts or estate planning in their list of practice areas. When deciding to use an attorney to assist you with your estate planning, hire an experienced estate planning attorney. As time passes, laws change, as they did in 2011 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…

Jan 312013
 
Ready for New Gun Control Laws?

President Obama has recently taken the gun control issue into his own hands, sidestepping Congress, to implement new gun laws through executive order. That is how the press reported the issue. In fact, these were presidential memorandums and proclamations as opposed to laws. The issues include banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and performing much more thorough background checks. While most people posing online seem to be against mentally disturbed individuals possessing firearms, this could take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. However, the writing seems to be on the wall. if you want a gun, 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…

Oct 032012
 
Obtaining The Florida Homestead Tax Exemption Following Transfer To A Trust

Article VII, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution currently allows for homestead protection from ad valorem real property taxes.  The effect of this provision is to exempt the first $25,000 of property value for all purposes and also to exempt another $25,000 of value for homes worth up to $75,000 for all purposes but the property taxes calculated for schools.  This exemption may be further expanded following the 2012 election. Many people wonder how they can preserve their homestead protection from taxes if the property is transferred to a revocable or irrevocable trust.  Florida Statute § 196.031(1)(a) says that every 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 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 052012
 

When it comes to families with special needs children, the act of engaging in effective estate planning takes on an even greater importance.  If something should happen to the parents of the child, it is essential that a proper plan is in place to avoid any unnecessary disruption during what will already be a devastating time in that child’s life. One important step in this kind of estate plan is the establishment of a supplemental needs trust (also known as a “special needs trust”).  These kinds of trusts are utilized as a method of protecting the child’s assets from harmful More…