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Monday, April 17, 2017

Dangers of DIY Wills


Should I create my own will?

A will is one of the most important estate planning documents, yet fewer than half of all Americans have a valid will in place.  Numerous websites are attempting to induce more people to make a will by offering do-it-yourself wills.  These sites have online, cookie cutter forms available at a low cost.  While it may be tempting to make a will at a fraction of the cost, DIY wills can come at tremendous long-term costs.  Our


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Will vs. Trust: Which is Best For You?


Do I need a will or living trust?

None of us want to consider the possibility of our eventual death, but setting up a thorough estate plan is vital to ensuring your legacy continues.  If you are of retirement age, you are likely familiar with some options for estate planning in Florida.  Take a look at some essential facts about wills and trusts to select the estate planning option that is best for you.
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Designating a Healthcare Surrogate in Florida


What is a healthcare surrogate and why do I need one?

Unexpected illnesses or injuries can strike at any time.  No matter your age or health status, it is important to prepare for the possibility that you may one day be in a position where you cannot make important medical decisions on your own.  Our Tampa, Florida estate planning attorneys at Verras Law discuss the importance of designating a healthcare surrogate below.  For assistance with your comprehensive estate plan in the Tampa Bay area, contact one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Elder Abuse Remains a Problem in Florida


What are the signs of elder abuse?

A home webcam in Texas recently captured shocking footage that has outraged the public and raised awareness as to the ongoing problem of elder abuse.  In the viral video, a home health care aid is captured physically and verbally abusing her 94-year-old patient.  The health care worker goes so far as to strike the disabled, elderly woman.

Sadly, elder abuse experts in Florida report that this Texas case is far from isolated.  According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, over 2,500 cases of elder abuse occurred in 2015.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

Estate Planning for the Single Parent


As a single parent, do I need an estate plan?

As a single parent, your primary focus is the well-being of your child.  Single parents face a unique set of responsibilities.  You are the sole caretaker and financial provider.  Parenting solo can be stressful, but the joys you experience with your children along the way are far greater.  Being a single parent makes it all the more important for you to prepare a thorough estate plan.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Selecting a Guardian Requires Careful Consideration


What qualities should I look for in a guardian for my children

New parents take on a number of responsibilities and having a child is a big adjustment. While becoming a parent is a wonderful experience, it is also a time to start thinking about the future. Of course, no one wants to think about dying or the chance that their child will be left without a parent. But new parents must ask themselves who will care for their children if they die.


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Make Estate Planning Your New Year's Resolution


Why do I need an estate plan?

Now that the New Year is hear, many individuals will make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, find a new job, take up a long neglected hobby, and so on. But there's one thing everyone should put at the top of their to do list for 2017: estate planning.

Surely, no one wants to start the new year thinking about dying or the possibility of becoming ill, but like the song says, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Without further delay, let's take at look at some estate planning options for the coming year.

Create or Update Your Will

If you don't have a will, now is the time to put one in place.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Simple Tips for Personal Representatives


How can I prepare for being a personal representative?

While being named as the personal representative (another way of saying executor) of a friend or loved one's estate may be an honor, it is also a serious responsibility. In fact, managing deceased person's assets can be complicated and stressful, but there are steps you can take to make getting the job done easier.

The first thing to recognize is that coping with the loss of a family member or friend is emotionally challenging. Dealing with grief can not only make you sad, but also irritable and anxious, all of which can affect your ability to think clearly and to make reasonable decisions. While there may be things that need to be done quickly, such as arranging for the funeral, everyone should take time to mourn the loss of a loved one before assuming the duties of an executor.

Once you're ready to begin the legal process of administering the deceased's estate, here are some simple tips to keep in mind:


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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Nexus of Digital Assets and Estate Planning

What is the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act?

Americans increasingly conduct their affairs digitally through the use of email, social media, computer storage of digital pictures, videos and music, as well as online bank, insurance, and investment accounts. Many people never stop to consider what will become of their online existence if they are incapacitated, and how their electronic property will be administered when they die. Human life is short, but the Internet is forever. Who will manage our digital selves when our biological selves are no longer able to do so?
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tips for Avoiding a Will Contest

How can I prevent my will from being contested?

Will challenges and probate litigation are much more common than many people realize, and they often drag on for months and years and can even deplete the estate. While entire treatises have been written about this topic, there are just a few basic reasons a will can be contested and some simple steps you can take to prevent such a will contest after your death.

Reasons for a Will Contest

There are a number of bases on which a will (or, with much greater difficulty, a trust) can be challenged. The first is that the will itself was not properly executed. Generally, the document must be signed by the person making it (the "testator") along with two witnesses. While it is not technically necessary to notarize the will, Florida probate law has a provision for "self-proven wills" which can simplify the probate process. This requires the testator and the witnesses to execute a Self-Proving Affidavit before a notary. The need to have a properly prepared and executed last will and testament is one of many reasons that do-it-yourself wills are problematic.

The best way to avoid a will contest is to engage the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who takes the time to fully understand your life situation and your wishes before drafting your will. If the will is later challenged, the attorney who met with you privately, who assessed your capacity. who prepared the document, who explained it to you, and who supervised its execution will be a very important witness in defense of that will.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Childless Single's Guide to Estate Planning

What basic estate planning documents should single people with no children have in place?

While many of our estate planning clients are married couples or single people with children, It is also important that single people without children create an estate plan. Of course the concerns and needs of childless singles differ, but it is just as vital for them to have a comprehensive plan to protect themselves and their assets. Unmarried people don't have spouses who can usually step in to manage the affairs of an incapacitated married person, and childless people don't have descendants to serve as their "natural heirs." Consequently, it is critical that they thoughtfully plan their estates and advance directives.

By failing to have a will and other essential documents in place, the state's laws will determine which heirs will inherit your assets. These "heirs at law" are usually close relatives such as children, parents and siblings. If no living relatives can be located, the state may ultimately acquire these assets. In either scenario, these decisions may not be consistent with a person's wishes, or disputes can arise between those who believe they are entitled to an inheritance. For example, the artist Prince passed away unexpectedly in 2016 without a will. He was unmarried and had no children, and his parents had both predeceased him. Under the laws of the state of Minnesota, where he lived, his siblings would inherit his substantial estate in equal shares. Since Prince had no will identifying his siblings, several persons came forward claiming to be children of his late father. The result was lengthy and expensive probate litigation.


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