Estate Planning Archives

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?

Excuses...Excuses...Reasons people give for not having their estate plan in order.

In 30-plus years of law practice, I won't say I've heard every excuse but I've sure heard my share. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of these excuses and my thoughts in response to them.

Life Insurance and a Living Trust

With a life insurance policy, the owner can designate beneficiaries, and at the death of the owner, the policy pays the death benefits directly to the designated beneficiaries. The benefits are paid in accordance with the contractual terms of the policy. So long as a beneficiary is named, no probate is required and the person's Last Will & Testament does not come into play. This is one of the nice benefits of life insurance.

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.

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