Tampa Law Blog

In Florida, does a surviving spouse have a right to inherit from their deceased spouse?

As an estate planning lawyer, I sometimes have a client ask whether they are entitled to inherit from their spouse. In other words, can their spouse cut them out of an inheritance? For the most part, the answer is that one spouse cannot be "written out" altogether from their spouse's estate. Unless there's a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in place, the surviving spouse has certain rights that arise as a matter of Florida law.

Contesting a Will or Trust as a Result of Undue Influence in Florida

In Florida, a Last Will & Testament or a Trust can be contested for a number of reasons, including fraud, duress and undue influence. In the case of undue influence, if a substantial beneficiary under a Will or Trust occupies a confidential relationship with the person who executed the instrument and is active in procuring the contested Will or Trust, a presumption of undue influence arises. So what does it mean that a person is active in procuring?

What is a "Pour-Over" Will?

Many times clients who have a Living Trust ask whether they also should also have a Last Will & Testament. After all, doesn't the Trust do essentially everything without needing the Will? Most experienced estate planning lawyers would agree that the answer is a resounding "yes." Even though you have a Trust, you should still have a Will--a special kind of Will often referred to as a "Pour-Over Will."

 

In a Florida Durable Power of Attorney, can co-agents act independently?

In a recent blog, I discussed the difference between naming consecutive or successor agents versus naming co-agents in a Durable Power of Attorney ("DPOA"). A common question we hear when naming co-agents is whether they must act together. Stated another way, if co-agents are named, can one act alone or independently without the other being present?

Consecutive or Co-Agents: Naming Multiple Persons to Act in a Florida Durable Power of Attorney

An essential document in any Florida estate plan should include a Durable Power of Attorney ("DPOA"). This document allows a person to designate another person or persons to act on their behalf in connection with personal, business and financial matters. A DPOA is critical in the event a person has a health crisis or becomes severely injured or incapacitated. Elderly persons particularly benefit by having a DPOA because their designated person, i.e. their agent, can act for them on matters that they can no longer do themselves. Without a DPOA, often a court-administered guardianship becomes the only alternative.

In Florida Probate: Who gets paid and in what order?

When a person dies and a probate is opened in Florida, expenses and claims of creditors get paid in a certain order. This becomes especially important to understand when there are not enough assets (i.e. money) to go around.

Choosing the right structure when starting your business

Starting a business is an exciting time, but there are many important decisions to be made that could have a direct impact on the direction of your operations in the future. One of these decisions is to identify the most appropriate choice regarding your business entity. The type of business structure that you choose is a critical decision, and you would be wise to proceed through the initial stages carefully.

There are multiple factors that you must consider when making this important decision. Your product, your objectives, your personal liability and various other factors could influence your choice, yet this is not a thought process you must navigate alone. This is an important first step, and experienced legal counsel can be invaluable during the initial stages of starting your Florida small business.

What does it mean that Florida is a "No Fault" state?

If you live in Florida, you almost certainly know that Florida is described as a "No-Fault" state. However, many people do not really understand what this means and how it applies when they're in a car accident.

Does Having a Will Avoid Probate in Florida?

One of the most common misconceptions I run into as an estate planning lawyer is that many people think that if they have a Last Will and Testament in Florida, probate will not be necessary. The reality is that a Will sets forth the deceased person's wishes--such as designating the beneficiaries and the Personal Representative to oversee the estate. In essence, the Will acts as the "roadmap" for the probate court to follow. But the important thing to understand is that the Will is not self-implementing--it is the power given by the probate court that implements the wishes set forth in the Will.

Elder Law: Helping Our Older Loved Ones

Like many professions, lawyers tend to concentrate their practices on certain areas. There are lawyers who practice in almost every imaginable topic. One popular lawyer website lists over 235 areas of the law in which lawyers concentrate their practice. This is in contrast to a general legal practitioner who does a little bit of everything. As the old adage says, a general practitioner is a "jack of all trades but master of none."

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