Tampa Law Blog

How do I transfer Florida real estate after the owner has died?

Not uncommonly, we have prospective clients come into the office after a loved one has died. Their request is often simple...for example:"I need a deed to put Mom's house into my name. Her Will says I'm supposed to get it. Can you prepare that deed for me?" Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In most instances, there will need to be a court order to transfer the property. And in Florida, that means opening a probate.

Avoiders, Do-it-laterers, Around-to-iters, Out-of-sight, Out-of-minderers, and Other Procrastinators!

As an estate planning law firm, we advise and counsel clients, and establish and implement a plans in order to protect individuals, families, and businesses in the event of illness, incapacity, disruption from the unexpected, and death. Who needs this advice, planning and protection? Simply put-everyone! Illness, incapacity, disruption from the unexpected, and death are inevitable. We all face these realities, so why not be prepared?

What is an "adversary proceeding" in Florida probate?

In Florida probate, certain types of disputes are considered adversary proceedings. This designation has several implications, including that fact that the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure apply. In effect, an adversary proceeding proceeds as if it were a civil lawsuit within the probate. In particular, the parties can conduct discovery, including Requests for Production of Documents, Interrogatories, and taking depositions.

Excuses...Excuses...Reasons people give for not having their estate plan in order.

In 30-plus years of law practice, I won't say I've heard every excuse but I've sure heard my share. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of these excuses and my thoughts in response to them.

Why does probate of a Florida estate take so long?

In Florida, probate is a court proceeding whereby a deceased person's final affairs are resolved and assets are distributed. There are two types of probate in Florida: summary administration and formal administration. In a summary probate, estate assets must not exceed $75,000 (not including the homestead) and there must be no creditors--or all creditors must be dealt with. Essentially all other probate cases fall under "formal" administration. 

Impact of divorce on assets such as life insurance which pass outside probate

In Florida, as in many states, certain assets belonging to a deceased person pass outside of probate. A few examples are life insurance, annuities, IRA's and 401K's. What each of these have in common is that the owner can designate a beneficiary so that upon the owner's or the insured's death, the asset passes to the beneficiary and is not involved in the decedent's probate. This is good for a number of reasons, including saving significant time and expense caused by undergoing probate.

There's nothing "Pro" about Procrastination.

As an estate planning lawyer, I protect clients by preparing documents such as Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. These documents play a vital role in protecting individuals and their families in the event of illness, injury, incapacity, and death. Simply stated, having these estate documents in place is a "great thing" and every adult should have them. When I explain to clients what these basic estate documents accomplish, they rarely disagree with the importance of having these in place.

Voluntarily Filing Probate to Resolve Creditor Claims

With effective estate planning, probate in Florida can almost always be avoided. This can be accomplished by establishing a Living Trust (also referred to as a "Revocable Trust") and transferring assets into the Trust before death. Avoiding probate may also be accomplished by use of beneficiary or "pay-on-death" designations with certain financial accounts, annuities, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

The decisions you make when forming your business matter

When you are starting a business in Florida, there are many important decisions you will have to make as you move forward. The choices you make during the formation process will have an impact on the future of your company and the way your business operates. It can be beneficial to have guidance as you establish and organize your company. 

One of the main aspects of the business formation process is to decide what type of business you want to have. The right choice for you depends on the type of industry you are in and your individual goals for your company. It is important to evaluate what you want to accomplish as you choose the appropriate structure for your small business.

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