July 2008 Archives

July 8, 2008

Divorce and Estate Planning

In Florida as with most states, Estate Planning is something that needs to be addressed when one has major changes in their life. This includes divorce and separation.

You only have to think about your spouse or ex-spouse getting all of your assets if you should die to realize the importance of addressing the issue.

In the last year I have seen a number of families who have been adversely affected because of a lack of planning. Several couples were separated for many years when one died and the estranged spouse received a significant portion of the estate. In Florida, even if you change you will to disinherit your spouse, the spouse is entitled to an elective share of your estate. This is equal to 30 percent of your entire estate. If you are divorced in theory, go ahead and file the paperwork to make it official.

When you get a divorce, be sure to change payable of death designations on your retirement accounts, life insurance, bank accounts.

Be sure to revoke any guarantees associated with credit established in both of your names. Change the way property is owned, even if you plan on selling it soon.

The 401(k)s is also a non-probate assets also, but be careful because ERISA, a federal law, protects a surviving spouse. I have seen children loose their parents life insurance because their parent never finalized the divorce and made changes when they separated from their spouse decades ago. If you are getting a divorce be sure that proper paperwork to change the designations is made part of the divorce or separation agreement.

Unless your Florida Divorce Lawyer is also a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer, it is best to have a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Contact and work with your Florida Divorce Attorney.

July 7, 2008

Pending Partition of Property does does not Survive Death of Joint Tenant

What happens if you are in the middle of a partition to divide or sell property and one of the owners dies?

The pending action is has no force and effect on the ownership. What doest this mean? If you own property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and you want to partition the property but die in the middle of the court action, the other joint tenant will own the entire property.

A recent 1st DCA case Mercurio v. Headrick, WL 2434193 (Fla. 1st DCA Jun 18, 2008) has the expected outcome that all attorney's learn in their first year property course. In addition many other states have reached similar opinions but Florida had not seen this issue before. The Florida Probate Litigation Blog has an in depth article on this case.

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? You should convey your property to break the joint tenancy with right of survivorship prior to bringing the action. The benefit in doing this is that should you die during the action, your heirs or family will not loose the entire value of the property.

To learn how to do this properly in Florida Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

July 1, 2008

Google Offers Personal Health Records on the Web

Google Health just began offering personal health records on the Web. They are joining WebMD, Microsoft, and Revolution Health.

These services are designed to help consumers manage their health care and medical spending records.

Google record allows users to send personal information to some clinics or to pull records from the clinic into the Google personal file. One clinic that has begun working with Google is the Cleveland Clinic.

As of the launch, more than two dozen companies announced a partnership with Google Health. Some of the companies include Walgreens, CVS, the American Heart Association, Quest Diagnostics, Beth Israel, Deaconess Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic.

If you plan to subscribe to a service like this make sure you deal with it in your Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney so that the benefit from these services is not lost by your subsequent incapacity.

To discuss how to integrate these services into your Florida Estate planning documents Contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer.