Tampa Law Blog

Vetting your potential business partner

Finding a business partner who complements your personality, feeds your creativity and appreciates your goals is not easy. If you have found someone you think will work well with you, congratulations. However, it is still wise to proceed with caution before you sign contracts and commit to a partnership.

Whether you have known your potential partner for years or you just met at a business conference, you may not know the factors that affect the success or failure of a business. As difficult and awkward as it may be, you will want to learn as much as you can about your partnership candidate, and this may mean looking under every stone.

Medicaid Claim Against A Deceased Person's Estate

A common question which we encounter in our Florida estate and probate practice is whether a person's estate will owe any money to Medicaid upon the person's death. Usually the reason for their question is that the person has received Medicaid benefits prior to their death. Many times, those benefits were as a result of Medicaid paying for the deceased person's long term care in their final years.

What does it mean to get a "step-up" in basis on assets when a person dies?

In our estate and probate practice, beneficiaries often ask whether they will have to pay taxes on assets that they inherit. The answer to this often depends on what type of asset is involved and whether there is a gain or a loss on the asset. When a person owns property and they devise it to someone at death, in determining whether there's a gain or a loss for tax purposes, a determination must be made of the "basis" for the property. From the basis, it can be determined whether the value went up--a gain--or went down--a loss.

Who has Priority to be Appointed as Personal Representative of an Estate in Florida?

When a person dies and a formal probate estate must be opened in Florida, the probate court will appoint a person to be in charge of the estate administration. In Florida, this person is known as a "Personal Representative." In other states, it is known as an "Executor" or "Administrator." In Florida, no one is authorized to act as Personal Representative until a probate court issues an Order appointing the Personal Representative. Simply being designated in the Will is not enough--an Order appointing the Personal Representative is required.

How do I access a deceased loved one's bank account after they're gone?

Not uncommonly, we have clients come into the office after a loved one has died and ask for some assistance. Their request is often simple...for example: "How do I access Mom's bank account now that she's gone? Her Will says I'm supposed to get it. Can I take the Will to the bank and get it transferred over to my name?" Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor Children

If parents with minor children die, a Guardian will be appointed to raise and care for the children. Parents have the right to designate who will be appointed Guardian--so long as the parents do so before they die. If they do not, then a court will make the decision.

Proving Undue Influence in a Will Contest

When a family member or loved one decides to challenge a Will (or a Trust) based on "undue influence," proof is often a challenge. Undue influence in executing a Will is not usually exercised openly in the presence of others. It is usually perpetrated in secret. Changes made to a person's estate plan due to undue influence are often hidden by the perpetrator. As a result, most of the time undue influence cannot be proven directly. In many instances, it must be proven by way of presumptions and indirect or circumstantial evidence.

Contesting a Will: the Role of Undue Influence

More and more often these days, it seems that after a family member or loved one dies, those left behind are unhappy with the way the deceased's estate is to be distributed through their Last Will and Testament. Often, the persons feel that their loved one has been taken advantage of, perhaps due to their vulnerability or for other reasons. When a family member or loved one decides to challenge a Will (or a Trust), one of the most common grounds is based on what is known as "undue influence." Florida has a statute, Section 732.5165, Fla. Stat., which specifically provides that "[a] Will is void if the execution is procured by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence."

Use of a Separate Writing in Florida Estate Planning

Florida, like many states, has a convenient statutory provision when it comes to dealing with tangible personal property (items such as jewelry, furniture, keepsakes, etc.) through estate planning.

The Unfunded Trust--All Dressed Up But the Only Place You're Going is to Probate!

There's an old expression: "All dressed up but nowhere to go!" This phrase has been interpreted to mean being completely prepared for an event that fails to materialize. This is sometimes true with persons who do a Revocable or Living Trust but fail to fund it. They are prepared to avoid probate but this objective--avoiding probate--fails to materialize because assets are not in the Trust at that time of death.

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