September 28, 2011

Zsa Zsa Gabor to be a new mother at age 95?

zsa-zsa-gabor.jpg-5760.jpgZsa Zsa Gabor, currently 94, is in the process of becoming one of the oldest new mothers ever. In law school we learn about a theory involving a fertile octogenarian with the point being that no one is too old to have a child so it is important to plan for future children.

Today this is most common with grandparents who adopt children, Zsa Zsa is going about this a little differently. She is reportedly in the process of selecting an egg donor, surrogate mother, and after a succesful artificial insemination she could become a new mother. Zsa Zsa's only previous child predeceased her.

What if the artificial insemination takes but the child is not born before she dies? Hopefully we will not have to answer this question. Historically an unborn child is considered a child of the parent if born within 9 months of death. Obviously this has historically applied to the father. What would the courts decide about a artificially inseminated child using a surrogate mother? I have no idea what a court would rule or what rational they would use, but it sounds like a law school or bar exam question.

The Trust Advisor is quoting Florida Estate Planning Lawyer David Goldman regarding Zsa Zsa.

CNN is reporting that there may be a problem obtaining Zsa Zsa's consent to become a mother.

September 26, 2011

LGBT Legal Issues for Military in Florida

gay-military-300x225.png As of September 20th 2011,the old "don't ask, don't tell" rule that has been in force for about 18 years is gone. The end of this policy marks a victory for Mayport gay and lesbian military personnel.

Now Mayport gay sailors and soldiers who don't have to fear the loss of their military career because of their sexual orientation can feel free to obtain the legal advice and LGBT legal documents which will not only protect them but their relationships as well.

There are several Estate Planning Documents that will enable Jacksonville military men and women to provide for their loved ones. Same-sex couples do not have the inherent rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. Preparing a Will, Trust and Advance Directives will ensure that your decisions are honored when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

Same-sex couples are often encouraged to consult with a Mayport Attorney to learn about other ways to legally ensure that you, your partner, and your children are provided for not only now but in the future as well.

Mayport gay and lesbian naval and military members can feel comfortable consulting with a Mayport Law Firm that accepts them for who they are, not who they love or how they love.

September 25, 2011

Estate Planning in a Nutshell

Estate Planning.jpgWe all need someone to look after us and care for us when we become part of the eldery population. We also need to take care of our spouses, our children, and our loved ones, when we have passed away. Looking to, and preparing for our future is in a nutshell, what Estate Planning in Jacksonville is all about.

Florida Estate Planning can be as simple as having your Florida Will, Florida Living Will, Florida Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and Florida Durable Power of Attorney prepared. You can also have different types of trusts prepared if you would rather have your assets managed by a trusted individual, after your death. In Florida, Trusts are also a great way to minimize your taxes as well as to manage your assets.

Preparing for future medical and financial decisions to be made on our behalf in the event of our incapacity, or illness, is the reason we prepare a Living Will, Do Not Resucitate Order, Health Care Surrogate Designation, and Power of Attorney.

Preparing for future disposition of our assets and property is the reason we "Estate Plan". Whether you live in a large home or a small home, have extensive assets or are just scraping by, whatever we own as individuals, (real property, personal property and intangible property) is important. What we pass on to our loved ones has value to us and to them.

No matter what you have as assets and property, make sure it is protected when you pass away. Prepare now and your family won't have the burden of going through the difficult process of grieving, while at the same time having to make decisions on your behalf, when you have not put your wishes and desires down in writing.

In a nutshell, Estate Planning in Floridais easy, just call a Florida Estate Planning Attorney to schedule an appointment today.

September 25, 2011

Protect the Elderly from Scams

Jacksonville Elder Abusecouple.jpgRecently in the Jacksonville news there was a disturbing story about Florida's senior citizens being exploited. Men posing as bank investigators were targeting Jacksonville women in their 70's and 80's. These women were being told, among other things, that illegal activity was occurring in their bank accounts, thereby paving the way for the con men to obtain crucial bank account information.

As a Jacksonville Elder Law Attorney, this is just one of the many horrific stories I hear about our Florida Elderly population being taken advantage of and exploited.
The Florida Statutes provide for a remedy when abuse, neglect or exploitation of elderly person or disabled adult occur. This abuse can take the form of financial theft and exploitation, or the intentional infliction of physical or psychological harm. The amount of money involved, the nature, the and severity of the injury will determine the degree of the crime.

Sadly family members and friends often take advantage of the elderly. In addition, Acquaintances, such as the hairdresser, caretakers, or neighbors, are also guilty of exploiting Florida's older population. If you live in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, and feel like you are being treated in an abusive manner, or feel like money or property is being taken without your consent, contact a Jacksonville Elder Law Attorney.

September 25, 2011

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Wishes and the Elderly.

DNR.jpgFlorida elders know the importance of having a Living Will prepared. A Florida Living Will is a legal document, which expresses a person's wishes as to life-prolonging procedures. A Living Will typically only comes in to play when certain legally defined conditions exist. These conditions are:


  • a Terminable Condition;

  • an End-State Condition; and

  • a Persistent Vegetative State

An Eighty year old granddmother made her wishes plain as day, when she had the words "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed across her chest. She is not kidding around. Just in case emergency personnel find her face down, a large tattoo "PTO" with an arrow is inked on her back. It's not that this Octogenarian has a death wish, it's just that her feelings are Strong that she not be kept alive through artificial means. If she is in a vegetative state, she does not want her family to remember her as a "lump".

When asked whether her tattoos were legally sufficient, a General Medical Council spokesman stated that most doctors would ignore her DNR tattoo. He said her DNR wishes need to be put in writing and witnessed, or for a health surrogate to be designated.

Moral of story. . . before you get inked, consult with a Jacksonville Advance Health Directives Attorney about having the legal documents prepared to express your end of life health care wishes. A Florida Living Will, executed pursuant to Florida Statutes, establishes a rebuttable presumption of clear and convincing evidence of a person's wishes.

September 24, 2011

Updating your Florida Will is as Important as making a Will!

will and testament.bmpCircumstances change, possessions change, homes change, has your Will changed? As a Middleburg Estate Planning Attorney, I have heard many "will" stories, not all of them have a happy ending.

A Florida woman was left a home in her father's Florida Will . Her brother was left money in the amount equivalent to the value of the home. Her father sold the home before he died, but failed to update his Florida Will to provide for his daughter.

If the subject matter of a specific gift is not in the estate at the time of the testator's death, the specific gift, (in this case the house) will fail and the person who should have received the gift will take nothing. This is called "Ademption by Extinction", in other words, the house no longer belongs to the deceased and therefore it cannot pass to his heirs.

Although nothing precludes the heir from contesting the will, this is a time-consuming and costly endeavor guaranteed to cause stress. A better plan is to consult with a Middleburg Wills Attorney. An attorney will review your current Will, and make suggestions as to how you can prevent similar scenarios. If you no longer own the mint condition mustang that you devised to your granddaughter, she may be quite disappointed when she realizes she receives no car or anything else.

If you have already had your Will prepared, that is great. However, life changes, what we own changes, our heirs may change. If your Will is not updated to reflect what your circumstances are now, it will not reflect what your true intentions are.

September 14, 2011

IRS extends Filing Deadline for Form 706 and 8939 for Decedents dying in 2010

The IRS just released Notice 2011-76 that extends the filing deadline for Forms 706 and 8939 for estates of decedents dying in 2010.

The Notice provides that large estates of people who died in 2010 will have until early next year to file various required returns and pay any estate taxes due. In addition, the IRS is providing penalty relief to certain beneficiaries of these estates on their 2010 federal income tax returns. This relief is designed to give large estates, normally those over $5 million, more time to comply with key tax law changes enacted late last year. Specifically, the following relief is given:

Continue reading "IRS extends Filing Deadline for Form 706 and 8939 for Decedents dying in 2010" »

September 11, 2011

Differences between Estate Planning and Elder Law

Last Will and Testament 1.jpgMany Middleburg families have thought about their future and what they want to happen upon their incapacity or death. However, many Middleburg families have not made that important call to consult with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney about memorializing their thoughts in valid legal documents.

When you plan in advance you make your own decisions, you pay less, and you rest comfortably knowing that if you become incapacitated, and when you pass away, you have important legal documents in place. Legal documents that direct what you want to happen, to your children, your assets and you.

If you are a parent, whether you are married, divorced, or single, you must consider who will take care of, and provide for your minor children in the event of your incapacity or death. It is important to designate in a Forida Will or Pre-need Guardianship document your choice of who would be your child's guardian. Better that you make this choice than a judge.

You may not have minor children or any children, however, you still want to control what individuals inherit your assets. If you do not prepare your Will, the State of Florida will distribute Your assets according to state law, which may be in conflict of what you may have wanted.

Middleburg residents should also discuss with an Attorney about appropriate legal documents needed to designate the person you want to make those important personal, health care, and financial decisions, in the event that you are incapacitated, or are suffering from a serious illness or injury.

A Middleburg Estate Planning Attorney is able to advise you as to what documents are best suited for your needs.

September 9, 2011

Personal Represntative of Yale Student's Estate Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

It is the PR's job in a Florida Probate case to take actions to gather the assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries. When wrongful death claims are not assets subject to distribution under Florida Probate, it is the personal representative of an estate who pursues a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida or another state. The Jacksonville Wrongful Death Lawyer will often work directly with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to pursue the claim for the family and children of the decedent.

The Yale Daily News is reporting that

The estate of former pharmacology student Annie Le GRD '13 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University in New Haven Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging that pervasive sexual harassment at the University "emboldened" her killer, Raymond Clark III, who is serving a 44-year sentence for the murder and who the suit claims was hired through Yale's negligence.

While many states have broader statutes dealing with wrongful death claims, Florida limits which family members can have a claim and often when an elderly person dies, the adult children may not be able to file a claim.

It is important to talk with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with the Florida Wrongful Death Statute and requirements so that the correct form of probate is opened and unnecessary estate or personal assets are not waisted when there is no claim that can be recovered.

September 9, 2011

Protecting the Family Vacation Home

Florida asset protection for homestead- House.jpgOften families have vacation property that has been owned for may years or generations. It would be virtually impossible for most children to acquire or maintain these types of properties in today's market.

We often use business entities or trusts to hold title to the property and other assets to help provide for the management and expense of owning and operating a vacation home. When the property is going to be inherited by more than one child or family. An operating agreement or trust agreement can provide rules for handling allocation of time, and expenses among the children and their families.

If you have a family beech or lake home or a ski lodge you may want to talk with a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer about how to protect the property from your creditors, the creditors of your children, and disputes between your children regarding the use and expense sharing of the home in the future.

September 9, 2011

TBE Bank Accounts and Asset Protection

When protecting one's assets in Forida a Florida Asset Protection Lawyer will often look at the stying of accounts and other personal property.

There are situations when having a Bank account in the name of a husband and wife as tenants by the entireties can offer additional protection from creditors. In Florida if you open joint bank account or certificate of deposit (CD) and the joint owners are the husband and wife, the account will have the benefits of a tenants by the entireties account. The statute seems to allow for husband AND wife as well as husband OR wife and does not indicate any issues as to when or how the account was opened or if a spouse was added at a later time. Florida Statute 655.29(1) is very limited and does not establish TBE status on other types of accounts or personal property that you may own. It is important to review the way in which you hold title to your personal property to make sure you will be afforded creditor protection.

655.29(1) Unless otherwise expressly provided in a contract, agreement, or signature card executed in connection with the opening or maintenance of an account, including a certificate of deposit, a deposit account in the names of two or more persons shall be presumed to have been intended by such persons to provide that, upon the death of any one of them, all rights, title, interest, and claim in, to, and in respect of such deposit account, less all proper setoffs and charges in favor of the institution, vest in the surviving person or persons. Any deposit or account made in the name of two persons who are husband and wife shall be considered a tenancy by the entirety unless otherwise specified in writing.

September 6, 2011

Gay and Lesbian and Living in the Bible Belt

gay bible.jpgThe grandson of the late evangelist Oral Roberts has "come out" as a gay man. Courageous move for a man that comes from a devout and famous evangelical family. Although he and his family have minimal contact, their opposing views as to living a gay lifestyle has them at opposite ends of the spectrum (the rainbow spectrum).

This is a familiar pattern for many Orange Park and Jacksonville gay and lesbian individuals. Families can't and won't accept their lifestyle. Communication is the first key, but often times that does not work. Living in a same-sex relationship often involves thinking about your partner and your future together. Because same-sex relationships are not a legally recognized union in Florida, it is important to talk with an Orange Park Estate Planning Attorney sensitive to the concerns of the LGBT community. There are many avenues and legal documents that enable you to be in control of who will make future health and financial decisions in the event of your incapacity.

Florida Estate planning can help protect your same-sex partners and their children. This can help avoid disputes between your family and your parents and siblings

There are a growing number of gay-affirming and welcoming churches and synagogues right here on the Florida First Coast as well as all around the country. If you would like more information, contact Patricia Davis to find out more about what services aJacksonville LGBT Lawyer can provide to you and your family.

August 26, 2011

Protecting Assets From a Florida Divorce using an IPUG Trust

In Florida, all marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. If you leave assets to your children in a revocable trust, they can also be at risk to equitable distribution depending on the circumstances and how they are used. If you create an Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trust (IPUG) and leave assets to your children in their own IPUG they will remain separate property and are only subject to alimony and child support as a last resort. Generally these assets will be protected as separate property in the case of a divorce which occurs in around 50% of all marriages.

To discuss how an IPUG trust can protect assets from your creditors and those of your beneficiaries, contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your circumstances and goals.

August 25, 2011

Can Minor Children Pick the Personal Representative of an Estate

In Florida Statute 733.301(1)(b)(2) defines how a minor child can participate in a probate proceeding. Minor children are not able to participate directly, but can do so through a court appointed guardian over their property. In a recent Florida case out of the 2nd District of Florida the appellate court found that it is an error not to give the minor children an opportunity to have a guardian appointed before appointing a personal representative.

The court found that although the mother, as natural parent, had no right to select the personal representative, she did have the right to file objections on behalf of her children. Significantly, the statute does not entitle a natural guardian to such a right. Rather, section 733.301(2) provides that "[a] guardian of the property of a ward who if competent would be entitled to appointment as, or to select, the personal representative may exercise the right to select the personal representative."

Although Florida Probate Rule 5.040(a)(2) provides that where an interested person on whom formal notice is served does not serve written defenses within twenty days, the probate court may consider the pleading ex parte, Florida courts treat this rule as merely procedural; it is "`in no sense' a statute of limitations or a mandatory non-claim provision." Tanner v. Estate of Tanner, 476 So. 2d 793, 794 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).

August 24, 2011

Florida Probate and Timeshare Ownership?

In Florida Probate is the legal process which occurs after death and is used to transfer assets and pay the debts of the person who is deceased. This process takes place in the Civil Court where the person lived at the time they passed away or in the county where the decedent owned property in Florida. Additionally, a probate proceeding is usually required in each state where the decedent owned property in their own name without a right of survivorship.

The basic steps to a Florida probate case are:



  1. Filing a petition in the Probate Court

  2. Heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors are identified.

  3. Notice is delivered to all heirs and beneficiaries.

  4. A public notice of petition is published in a local newspaper

  5. For larger estates a Personal Representative appointed by the court and obtains letters of administration

  6. An inventory of assets and debts is created.

  7. Creditors claims are verified and disputed when necessary.

  8. A proposed distribution of assets is presented to the Court.

  9. The Court determines and approves the distribution of assets and actions of the Personal Representative.

  10. The Probate is finalized through consent or by order of the Probate Judge.

A basic probate can be in the range of $1000-$1500 and larger estates typically are based on the assets in the estate. We will quote fixed fees for probates and even discount them in larger estates based on the statutory guidelines.

Timeshares can be problematic and one should consider owning the timeshare in a Trust or LLC, or holding ownership with another party as joint tenants with rights of survivorship in an effort to avoid an unnecessary probate