September 2010 Archives

September 12, 2010

Estate Planning Update: New Changes to Florida Homestead

home_under_water.jpgStarting October 1, 2010, if you die in Florida your spouse will be able to elect to take the traditional life estate in your homestead that is separate property or a 1/2 interest in the property. While this does not effect many Floridians, it does effect many who got married after purchasing their home or who have children from another marriage.

Traditionally the new spouse would receive a life estate ( the ability to live in the home for the rest of their life) and the children of the deceased parent who owned the home would receive the remainder of the property after the death of the surviving spouse or their step parent.

A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer can create documents that change or alter the homestead rights of a surviving spouse. Remember that it may not be your spouse making the decision, but the government or an agent acting under a power of attorney who make the decision and they may not agree with what you and your spouse decided upon years earlier. It is best to create a post nuptial agreement or valid waiver to address these issues while everyone agrees and before it is too late.

Contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer or Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss creating documents that address these issues and protect your spouse and children from the influence of others.

September 11, 2010

Florida Estate Planning Procedure

Estate Planning Procedure

We make it easy and affordable to obtain professional legal advice by offering complimentary consultations for your Florida estate planning needs with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney. Once you've decided to implement your Florida estate plan, your documents will often be ready in less than two weeks.


Call our office at 904-685-1200,  email us  to obtain your Confidential Estate Planning Questionnaire or download it here: [PDF] [DOC]. Fill out our Confidential Form and send it to us.  All information listed on your estate planning worksheet is completely confidential and bound by the attorney-client privilege.  It should only take 10-15 minutes to fill out the document. Ther is no need to enter personal information more than once, you can siply list the name if the information was previously provided.  We only need general information on the assets, exact balances or values are not required.  For example if you have around 100K in cash we do not need to know that the number is 107,682.42.  You should not have pull bank statements or stock statements to get exact figures to answer any of the question.


Once we receive your information a Florida estate planning lawyer will contact you. We will review your assets with you and learn about you and your loved ones and answer questions regarding the planning options and tell you exactly how much each option costs.  If you have existing documents we will review those with you to make sure they will provide the protection you need given your current circumstances and goals.


Next, we will concentrate on creating an estate plan custom-designed to meet your specific needs and goals. We will decide together all of the specifics for your plan. We will agree on a fair, fixed fee for the work we do. You will know exactly what you will receive and for what price. Once these are decided and documented, we will begin drafting your plan.


We will schedule a time to come to our office or review the documents over the phone.  Then you can sign all of the documents.  If changes are needed, we will make them and re-execute the documents. We feel it is important that documents are in place when you leave our office to so that if something happens you will be covered.

September 8, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Wills: Good or Bad

While most articles seem to be nothing more than a press release from Legal Zoom or Quicken, Deborah Jacobs seems to really examine the issue. Check our the article on some of the Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself WIlls

September 7, 2010

When can Notice to the Creditors Be sent

probate.jpgCreditors only have 90 days to file claims in a Florida Probate once notice has been published. For this reason it may be beneficial to publish notice as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you can only publish notice once a Personal Representative has been appointed. If there is a dispute about who will be the PR in a Florida Probate case the ability to publish notice to the creditors will not happen until the Florida Court appoints a Personal Representative.

Creditors claims are barred 90 days after publication or 2 years after the death of the decedent. If you have a question about a Florida Probate case or want to speak with a Jacksonville Probate Lawyer contact us by phone or email.

September 2, 2010

Florida Constitution can protect two Florida Homes as Homestead

twohomes.jpgThe Homestead Exemption in Florida, which was established in the State's Constitution, has always provided for the protection of the Family home free from creditors and liens. In 1985 the Constitution was amended to extend the protection to the "natural person" and not necessarily having to be the head of the household. The 4th district Court of Appeals ruled that a husband and wife who are separated for a period of time can BOTH claim the Florida Homestead Protection from creditors. This ruling does nothing to allow two homestead tax deductions. Law v. Law et al., 738 So. 2d 522.

The case involves a husband and wife who were separated for several years. They both claimed Homestead exemption for the Hollywood home that they owned jointly. But when his mother got sick, he and his wife decided to sell the home to pay for the medical bills. His ex-wife had a claim against him for support and brought action to seek recovery through the sell of the home. He filed for Homestead exemption. The court of appeals ruled that "we see nothing inconsistent with our public policy if we extend a homestead exemption to each of two people who are married, but legitimately live apart in separate residences, if they otherwise meet the requirements." Court referencing Colwell v. Royal International Trading Corp., 226 B.R. 714 (Bank S.D. Fla. 1998) to show precedent on allowing dual homestead exemption. The court seemed to find it important to find that the separation was not contrived to defraud creditors.

If you would like to talk about how to create two homesteads and document them to avoid unnecessary litigation over the issue, contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or if one or more of your home is in foreclosure contact a Jacksonville Foreclosure Defense Lawyer.