Estate Planning Archives

What is a Pour-Over Will?

When person establishing a Trust (soemtimes called a "Settlor") does not take the steps necessary to fund the Trust, in most instances a probate will be necessary in order to allow the transfer or liquidation of those assets. This would apply to most assets which are titled only in the Settlor's name and which do not have a beneficiary or a POD designation.

Leaving Out the Best Part: No Residuary Clause in a Will or Trust

The provision in the Will or Trust which designates what happens to the "rest, residue and remainder" of an estate after specific devises are made is sometimes referred to as the "residuary provision" or "residuary clause."Every Will and Trust should include a residuary clause. This is the provision that acts as the "catch all" for all remaining assets or property not specifically distributed. In many estates, the residuary clause is where the bulk of the assets are devised.

What Matters Most to You?

When meeting with estate planning clients, I often start by asking a simple question: "What matters most to you?" Without fail, the answer I get most often is "My family and my loved ones." This simple question and answer goes right to the heart of what we do as estate planning lawyers. We help people plan and prepare to assist their family and loved ones in the event of illness, incapacity, or death.

Use a Lady Bird Deed Very Cautiously

A "Lady Bird Deed" (or more accurately called an "Enhanced Life-Estate Deed") is a type of deed which provides the grantor--i.e. the real estate property owner--with certain rights during life, with the remaining interest going to a named grantee at the grantor's death. The grantee under a Lady Bird Deed receives a "remainder" interest.. This means that the grantee gets title to the property upon the death of the grantor but has virtually no rights during the grantor's life. Florida is one of a list of states that recognize the use of this type of deed.

Common Estate Planning Mistake: Naming as Personal Representative a Nonresident Not Related by Blood or Marriage

When doing basic estate planning, one of the most important instruments to set up is a Last Will and Testament. This allows you to designate beneficiaries, i.e. who will receive your estate assets. The Will also designates the Personal Representative, i.e. who will be in charge of your probate estate. [Note: in some states, this person is referred to as an "Executor" or an "Administrator" but regardless of the name, they are essentially the same position.]

What I learned from my broken crown!

I recently broke my crown. I'd worn the crown for a few years and it served me well. However, people noticed when I broke my crown because I was unhappy and had a pained look on my face. No, I'm not talking about the kind of crown that rests on your head---I wish I had one of those but it wasn't in the genes! The crown that I broke is of the 'dental" kind. When it broke, I learned a valuable lesson which can be applied to my estate planning law practice. Don't put things off!

Being of "Sound Mind" to Execute a Will

In Florida, as in most states, it has long been emphasized that the right to dispose of one's property by Will is highly valuable and it is the policy of the law to hold a Last Will and Testament good wherever possible. Not uncommonly, disgruntled beneficiaries sometimes challenge a Will on the grounds that the person who executed the Will (known as either the Testator if a man or a Testatrix if a woman) did not have testamentary capacity. In other words, they allege that the person's mental state was such that they could not validly sign a Will. 

Preparing for Alzheimers and Dementia Ahead of Time

"Dementia" is an umbrella term describing a variety of diseases and conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The death or malfunction of these nerve cells, called neurons, causes changes in one's memory, behavior and ability to think clearly. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, making up as much as 80 percent of dementia in elderly persons. Ultimately, after losing one's quality of life, Alzheimers leads to death. In fact it is the fifth leading cause of death in person over age 65 and it is the only cause of death in the top ten that has little treatment, ability to slow progression, or cure.

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?

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