Tampa Law Blog

Petition for Administration: Should you Consent or Object?

A loved one has passed away and after a few weeks you receive a package from a probate attorney's office. Inside the package are several official looking documents along with a cover letter asking that you sign and return a Consent to the enclosed Petition for Administration. Should you sign the Consent or not? Should you file an Objection?

Funding: How do you put assets or property into a Trust?

In Florida estate planning, a commonly used instrument is a "Living Trust" (also called a "Revocable Trust" or a "Revocable Living Trust"). In this blog, we will simply call it a "Trust." There are multiple benefits accomplished by establishing a Trust, including avoiding probate and controlling distribution--particularly to minors or financially irresponsible adult beneficiaries.

A Surviving Spouse's Decision on Homestead

Tom and Cathy (an imaginary couple) are married and have no children together. Tom has two adult children from a prior marriage; Cathy has no children. The couple reside in a Florida home which Tom owned before they got married. As a result, title to the home is only in Tom's name. Sadly, Tom dies unexpectedly of a heart-attack. At the time of his death, Tom had no Last Will and Testament. Cathy goes to see an estate attorney to find out about her rights regarding the home she and Tom had lived in for over ten years--she leaves in shock!

Five Excuses for Not Doing Estate Planning

Estate planning involves having certain documents in place to protect your loved ones and you in the event of illness, injury, incapacity or death. These may include a Will, a Trust, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will, Establishing an estate plan is not terribly difficult or time consuming but the benefits can be tremendous! A good estate plan provides both protection and peace of mind. So why do people not set up their estate plan? Here are some possible reasons:

Second Marriages: Estate Planning with Your IRA

If you own an IRA account, you will usually name a person as beneficiary to receive the IRA at the time of your death. In most instances, the beneficiary can roll the IRA over into an IRA in the beneficiary's name and also defer taxes by withdrawing the funds over time. When a beneficiary is a responsible adult and when you want that person to be able to access the full IRA account, this is a good plan. The IRA can be rolled over into an inherited IRA and the beneficiary can withdraw the funds over time, thereby reducing taxes. The person can also name a beneficiary for the IRA to go to upon his or her death. In a situation where spouses have been married for a long time and have responsible adult children together, this works well.

Do adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida?

In our estate planning practice, clients often ask whether their adult children have a "right" to inherit in Florida. [this discussion is not addressing minor children--their rights can be different]. While the question is a simple one, the answer is somewhat of a "mixed bag." As with many legal questions, the answer is "it depends."

Summary Administration in Florida

In Florida, there are two types of probate administration: formal and summary. Both accomplish essentially the same objective of allowing the distribution of a decedent's assets. However, there are some significant differences between these two types of probate. This article is intended to discuss the summary probate administration.

Remember to watch out for trip-and-fall hazards on Halloween

Like most Florida children, your kids likely want to get out and about for Halloween. You may somewhat dread the holiday because it can be hectic to get the kids the costumes they want, actually get them into the costumes when the day comes, and keep them from fighting over candy or other issues as you take them house to house for treats.

Of course, as stressful as you might find Halloween, you may still look forward to seeing the joy on your children's faces as the excitement for the holiday builds. Though you may worry about the amount of candy they will eat and the stomach aches that could follow, you also need to think about other hazards of going onto other people's property, such as dangerous conditions.

Florida's Spousal Elective Share and Life Insurance

Under Florida law, a spouse has the right to receive 30% of certain of his or her deceased spouse's assets. This is true notwithstanding whether the deceased spouse has excluded his or her spouse under his or her Last Will and Testament or Trust. So if the deceased spouse died having a Will which left nothing to his or her spouse, then the surviving spouse could still receive 30% of the applicable assets. The surviving spouse would have to make an election under Section 732.201, Fla. Stat. in order to be entitled to receive this share.

In Florida probate, when is homestead property not given homestead protection?

Article X, Section 4 of the Constitution of Florida provides protection against the claims of creditors for a person's homestead, i.e. their principal residence. In essence, if a homeowner owes money to a creditor, that creditor cannot attach or force sale of the residence in order to receive payment. The same concept applies if the owner dies owning a homestead. In other words, if a homeowner owes a creditor (such as a credit card, medical bills, etc.), when the person dies, the creditor usually cannot collect against the homestead. The homestead is exempt form the claims of creditors.

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