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 tht time of death.
As an estate planning lawyer, I sometimes have a client ask whether they are entitled to inherit from their spouse. In other words, can their spouse cut them out of an inheritance? For the most part, the answer is that one spouse cannot be "written out" altogether from their spouse's estate. Unless there's a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in place, the surviving spouse has certain rights that arise as a matter of Florida law.
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.
A well-recognized Latin phrase, "In Omnia Paratus" is translated as "Ready for anything." Legally speaking, when it comes to life's challenges, many adults are not ready for anything. In particular, they are not ready in the event of disability, incapacity, or death. They simply are not prepared.
As an estate planning lawyer, I'm often asked by clients where they should keep their original estate planning documents. Do they need to keep them in a bank safe-deposit box? Generally speaking, my advice is to keep them somewhere safe and accessible but a safe-deposit box may not be the best answer and in many instances, is actually not recommended.
Quite commonly, after their loved one has died clients come to us as estate attorneys and they tell us that a bank or other financial institution is asking for "Letters of Administration." When that happens, the client will ask us how do they get such Letters.
As an estate planning attorney, I often have clients ask wheter their estate will be subject to taxation at the time of death. Answering this question is something that invlvoves numerous considerations and therefore a person should seek specific legal and financial advice based on their circumstances. However, there are some basic principles of which you should be aware that will help on this subject.
A "caveat" is a notice which can be filed with a Florida probate court which gives notice that certain actions may not be taken without informing the person who gave the notice.
As estate attorneys, we often have families come in after the death of a loved one and they have no idea where to start. What assets--accounts, investments, real estate, insurance, retirement accounts--did their loved on have? Where did their loved one have these assets? Who do they contact for assistance?
Sadly, as an estate attorney I often see families where a person is in their final days before death and the squabbling has already begun. Often these are families where no one expected there to be bickering over the dying person's estate--and yet it happens all too often. The fact is, sometimes money changes people.This underscores the importance of thorough estate planning.