February 2011 Archives

February 28, 2011

Wife loses Financial Support when Husband becomes Incapacitated

A Florida family member is not always qualified to act as guardian for a loved one who has been determined to be incapacitated.

If you are the spouse or dependent of a person who has been deemed incapacitated under Florida Law, and who is under the control of a professional guardian, you may petition the court for an order directing the guardian of the property to contribute to your support from the property of the ward.

A Ponte Vedra Guardianship Lawyer can petition the court for the support of a person financially dependent upon a ward. The court may enter an order for suitable support and education of the dependent person out of the ward's property which is subject to the guardianship.

February 25, 2011

"Do it yourself" Wills: Prepare According to Florida Law

Thumbnail image for Last Will and Testament 1.jpgPreparing your will without the assistance of a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer may cost your family future trouble and costs. Your Will must be clearly worded, otherwise, your intentions may be disputed by family members.

A Florida Will contest may result in a lengthy and expensive court battle, which is exactly what you did not intend for your surviving family. A Last Will and Testament must meet the requirements of the Florida Statutes. If your Florida Will is not signed and witnessed in the proper fashion, a Probate Judge may refuse to admit your will to Probate, resulting in your property being distributed as if you had no Will at all.

To avoid any challenge to your Florida Will, it is advisable that you consult with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer . An Attorney will prepare your Last Will and Testament according to your directions and supervise the execution (signing) of your Will to ensure that it is witnessed according to Florida Law.

February 22, 2011

Estate Planning and Criminal Defense Lawyer

We often do not think of Criminal Defense in connection with Florida estate planning. We have a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer who has been helpful in dealing with crimes committed by fiduciary agents. Every month we get contacted by individuals who have had their parents or families life savings depleted because someone with a Power of Attorney or other fiduciary position thinks that they can treat the other persons funds as their own. Not only are we able to help represent the individuals who have lost the money, but we often represent other family members that have lost their inheritance because of the bad acts of others.

Often it is a difficult choice to decide whether to just go after recover of the money or to also package the information for the state to review for possible criminal charges. Florida has very strict laws when it comes to financial abuse of the elderly.

If you believe that a Power of Attorney or trustee or other person with a fiduciary responsibility has acted inappropriately, contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer to discuss your situation. You may also review the Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers Blog or more information on this and other financial crimes.

February 22, 2011

Estate Tax, Inheritance Tax, What about Both?

According to a Market Watch article by Bill Bischoff, on the Worst Places to Die, New Jersey Tops the list with a combined effective estate and inheritance tax rate of 54.1 %.

Estate tax is bad enough but several states have an inheritance tax. Yes you could actually leave money to a family member and they could be charged a percentage of your assets by the state they live in. Florida residents are not subject to either a state inheritance tax or a state estate tax.

While 16 states have a state estate tax only 6 have inheritance taxes and two states have both (New Jersey and Maryland)

February 16, 2011

A Florida House Divided

house_divided.jpgAs a Jacksonville Beach Probate Attorney, I often hear the disheartening accounts of people who own or buy Florida property together and then have a falling out. If co-owners (who are not married) can't agree to live together or how to handle the property, Florida law allows for a partition action.

A partition action requests that the court divide the property amongst the owners. However, in the case where property cannot be divided, the court may order that the property be sold and the proceeds divided and distributed among the owners.

According to the Florida Partition Statute, the payment of attorney fees are to be paid to the plaintiff's or defendant's attorneys or to each of them proportionate with their services rendered and of benefit to the partition of the property.

If you own property with one or more persons and there is a conflict of interest among you, or you are denied access or entry to that home, it may be in your best interest to speak with Jacksonville Beach Attorneys about how a partition action is initiated.

February 15, 2011

Good Deeds Can Save Your Home for Your Partner

Florida house.jpgIf you are in a domestic partnership and live in a Florida home, or if you are in a same-sex relationship and are planning to buy a house with your partner, you may want to speak with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney and discuss how your deed [the instrument transferring title to real property] should be titled.

Under Florida law, there are three types of ownership, joint tenants wth right of survivorship, tenants in common, and tenants by the entirety (which is solely for a husband and wife).

Tenants in common gives each individual an undivided interest in the entire property. As tenants in common, there is no right of survivorship. When one owner dies, his/her interest passes to the beneficiaries as named in his/her will or passes per the Florida Intestacy law.

In Joint tenancy with right of survivorship two or more own property together, and on the death of a joint owner, the property passes to the surviving co-owner who now owns the property, without the need of a probate administration.

Jacksonville Domestic Partners, Life Partners, or same-sex couples can title their property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, or tenants in common. Another powerful instrument , the Enhanced Life Estate Deed or "Ladybird Deed" might be an option for you as well [to be discussed in future entry].

The particular circumstances of your relationship and what you and your partner have discussed as to each partner's future ownership of the property, will help to determine the best way to title your deed. Whatever your decision is it is best to consult with an Estate Planning Attorney who is sensitive to your needs.

February 9, 2011

Domestic Partners: Don't wait until illness or incapacity strikes.

rainbow lights.jpgNo one wants to plan for their future, especially when the planning involves a future which may not include you. Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorneys will tell you to prepare your legal documents while you are healthy, and not when you become ill or disabled. There are numerous documents which will allow you to choose the individual(s) with whom you want to have the authority to make decisions for you on your behalf.

A Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows you to select who will consent to medical treatment in the event you are unable to make your own decisions. A Financial Durable Power of Attorney will permit your agent to make financial transactions and decisions as well as conduct everyday financial business for you, in the event that you become incapacitated.

Sit down with a Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorney who is sensitive to the issues faced by the Gay and Lesbian Community and the importance of having these legal documents prepared.

February 8, 2011

Half-siblings beware, you may have to share your Inheritance

Thumbnail image for homes in a neighborhood.jpgAn Orange Park daughter loses her mother and only then realizes that the deed to the family home was in her father's name, alone. Her father had children from a previous marriage, her father died many years ago, and her father did not leave a Will. According to the Florida Intestate Succession law if one dies without a will, property passes in a specific manner. Once the mother passed away, the home would then pass to the father's children, all of them.

Whether you have a relationship with your half-siblings and whether you know where they are currently living, may make a difference in how easy or complicated your efforts to obtain ownership of the family home will be. If you need advice, or are wondering what you should expect in your efforts to obtain title to the home, speaking with experienced Orange Park probate attorneys will benefit you.