Tampa Law Blog

Florida Homestead Protection of Spouse and Minor Children

In Florida, a person's homestead is their principal place of residence and as homestead, the property has certain benefits and protections. These include: (1) exemption for creditor claims; (2) exemption from certain real estate taxes; and (3) protection of spouse and minor children. Prior blogs on this site have addressed the first two benefits listed; this blog will address the third.

In Florida, what do we mean by the term "Homestead?"

We often have clients come into the office to discuss their estate planning. Not uncommonly, the term "homestead" will come up and after some discussion, it becomes clear that there is confusion on use of the term. One of the reasons for this confusion is that, from a legal perspective in Florida, homestead can refer to different things depending on the context.

Estate Planning: The Three P's

The term "Estate planning" conjures up a lot of misimpression. It's not uncommon for people to say "I'm not rich like Bill Gates, so why do I need estate planning?" or "I'm young and in good health, so why do I need estate planning?" The fact is, you don't have to be rich, elderly, or in poor health to need basic estate planning. Estate planning is important and necessary for every adult.

What happens when spouses die simultaneously?

Although it is unthinkable, imagine a scenario where husband and wife die at the same time. Even though it may seem unlikely, it happens. Just this past year our firm handled the probates of a husband and wife who were killed instantly in a car accident. When spouses travel together, it can happen. Regardless of whether by plane, train, or automobile, simultaneous death can occur. With wise planning, a couple can avoid undesirable legal consequences caused by their simultaneous death.

Pursuing a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one

The unexpected loss of a loved one can be devastating for a Florida family, especially if the death was the result of an accident. It is particularly traumatic to learn that the negligent or reckless actions of another person are the reason why your loved one died. In some cases, grieving families could have the right to pursue financial compensation through a civil claim.

If you lost a loved one in an accident or incident that was not his or her fault, you could have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. While this certainly cannot reverse what happened to you, it can help you recover your financial losses and compensate you for your emotional and mental duress.

How Do I "Fund" My Living Trust?

Having a Living Trust has a number of advantages. A person can set up the Trust so that their assets can by-pass probate. This saves on time and expense in the distribution of the person's assets. In addition, by not going through probate, the distribution is private and not subjected to public disclosure.

Planning Paralysis: Don't Let Indecision Tank Your Estate Planning

When you begin the estate planning process, certain decisions have to be made by you. As it comes to your beneficiaries, you have to decide who will receive your assets and in what amounts or percentages. When it comes to distributing your estate, you must decide who will be in charge. As it relates to your health, you must decide who can speak with your medical providers on your behalf. If you have minor children, perhaps the biggest decision you face will be who will be their guardian--i.e. their caretaker--if something happens to you.

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."

 

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