Estate Planning Archives

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.

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.

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.

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.

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