Jacksonville Probate: How to Handle Missing Beneficiaries

Jacksonville probate attorneys often deal with a beneficiary that is alive, but no one knows this person’s address.  If a beneficiary goes missing or cannot be found, then there are a few options including using professional heir search companies.

The first place to start is the Florida Rules of Probate, which requires formal notice to be sent to a number of different parties affected by the probate of the estate.  The rule can be found under Florida Rule of Probate 5.040.  The rule states the formal notice can be sent to the following parties:

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Jacksonville Estate Planning For Single Parents

One of the best aspects of Jacksonville estate planning is that every plan can be tailored to a person’s life and specific needs.  In Jacksonville, Estate planning is important for every person, but it is even more important when you are a single parent because estate planning can directly benefit minor children.

There are several issues that single parents need to consider with their Jacksonville estate planning attorneys.  These are some of the common issues that single parents should consider.

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Florida Asset Protection Trusts and Domestic Asset Protection Trusts Can Be Effective Prenuptial Agreements

Planning for a divorce is never easy or fun, but divorce is an unfortunate reality in today’s world where almost half of all marriages end in divorce.  Without legal planning, a spouse seeking a divorce is likely entitled to an equitable portion of the marital property.  The traditional way to protect property from a divorce was through a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement; now there may be a better alternative by using a Florida asset protection trust.

So what happens if there is no legal planning?  If the married couple fails to plan for the dissolution of marriage adequately, then the division of marital property will be left to the discretion of a judge during the process of an expensive and time-consuming divorce process.
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One issue that has come before the Supreme Court is what is actual fraud, and does actual fraud included fraudulent transfers.  Stated in another way, is it fraud to accept a fraudulent transfer.  For a long time the answer depended on the judicial circuit.  Now the Supreme Court has provided a firm answer.

So before we can determine the importance of the Supreme Court’s decision it is important to understand what actual fraud is in the context of bankruptcy law.  The bankruptcy code bars the discharge of “any debt… for money, property, [or] services… to the extent obtained by… false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud.”

So how does the reception of fraudulent transfers fit within this definition of actual fraud?

The first step in answering this question is to determine how fraud is defined.  The modern law concerning fraudulent transfers comes from the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act (UFTA), which was adopted in most states including Florida.  The UFTA defines fraudulent transfers against present and future creditors as “a transfer made under obligation incurred by a debtor if made with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor of the debtor.”

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In Florida it can be crucial to do Estate Planning For Second Marriage

More and more Americans are getting remarried which is causing estate planning to become more complex.  People are living much longer than in the past, which means that the rate of remarriage is occurring at a much higher frequency.  A second marriage adds new obligations and rights for the new people in your life, while still keeping the obligations from your first marriage.

The effect of multiple marriages is that it could create multiple claims on a person’s estate.  Many estate planning issues can be resolved with careful planning.  Here are some key issues for estate planning for a second marriage.

1. Length of the New Marriage

The first issue that is common in estate planning is the duration of the subsequent marriage.  For instance, say a person has a spouse with early Alzheimer’s.  This person also has a retirement plan that named his children outside the marriage as beneficiaries.  The couple has been married for eight years, and the person would be destitute without the spouse’s IRA.  It may be time to think about changing the estate plan to include the new spouse, which would desperately need the funds from the retirement plan.

2. Children from the First Marriage or outside the current marriage

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A Durable Power of Attorney is an important document, but sometimes having one can cause problems.

A recent Florida court ruling scored a major win in the fight against elder abuse. The case established that a health care proxy does not have the authority to waive the right to jury trial and bind a person to a contract.

The case is Hugh Moen v. Bradenton Council on Aging LLC, where the defendants, the nursing home, filed motions to dismiss and to compel binding arbitration.  The plaintiff, Moen, was the personal representative of the estate of Norma Silverthrone, appealed the order granting the motions to dismiss.  The appeals court sided with the personal representative.

Background on The Case

Norma Silverthorne was admitted to a nursing home in 2013.  Her daughter, Susan Moen, accepted a health care proxy designation on her mother’s behalf. Norma never executed a durable power of attorney in her daughter’s favor.  Susan signed the nursing home’s admission agreement, which contained a “Voluntary Arbitration Agreement.”
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Yes A Spendthrift Provisions Can Protect Against Civil Judgments

What is a Spendthrift Provision? One of the best forms of asset protection we can provide is through a trust that contains a spendthrift provision.  In a revocable trust, a spendthrift provision has some significant benefits such as protection against your beneficiaries’ creditors.

So what exactly does a spendthrift provision do?  A spendthrift provision is a provision within a revocable or irrevocable trust that limits the beneficiary’s access to trust.  This restriction protects the trust property in two ways, it prevents a beneficiary from selling his or her interest in the trust property as a beneficiary, and it prevents the beneficiary’s creditors from compelling the trustee to make distributions except where this would void public policy like in the case of alimony, child support and some civil judgements.
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Warning Signs of Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Studies show that financial abuse of the elderly is a growing problem throughout the United States and especially here in Florida.  The overall population is aging, and persons over 65 years old control about one-third of the wealth in the United States.   This creates a big problem when you consider this group is much more susceptible to abuse due to health problems like dementia.

Estimates show that Americans loose nearly $3 billion a year due to financial abuse of the elderly from friends, loved ones, or even strangers.  This abuse comes in the form of financial abuse, scams, and other types of exploitation. The worst part is this type of financial abuse of the elderly is that it usually goes undiscovered until all an elder’s money is gone.

How To Protect Against Elder Abuse

A Senate Special Committee on Aging had a hearing in November of 2016, which allowed experts to testify that elder abuse is still a growing problem in the United States.  The experts testified that over 5 million elders, or one in ten seniors, that live at home experience some elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Jaye Martin, the executive director of Maine Legal Services for the Elderly, testified that not only is financial abuse (elder abuse) running rampant, but that the elder abuse is most often perpetrated by family members who are guardians.  This information regarding financial elder abuse was further supported by a report issued by the Government Accountability Office.
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What is the Florida Statute Of Limitations on a Will?
A common question Jacksonville estate planning lawyers are often asked is how long does a person have to Florida will contest a will or what is the statute of limitations to contest a will in Florida.  As with most legal answers it depends on the rest of the facts.  The statute of limitations to dispute or contest a will depends on what documents you have received and what type of notice were given.

The relevant statutes dealing with the Florida statute of limitations on a will can be found under Florida Statute Section 733.212.  If a person receives a copy of the Petition for Administration via Formal Notice before the Letter of Administration being issued, then he or she will have 20 days to file any objections to the will.  However, it is more likely that a person will be served a copy of the Notice of Administration after Letters of Administration are issued.
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