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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Advanced Class: Navigating Florida's Intestacy Laws

Intestate means having died without a will. If there is no will, each state has laws that specify who will inherit the property of the deceased (referred to as the "decedent" in probate proceedings), which are usually based on the closeness of familial relationships. In complex situations, intestacy can lead to unwieldy results, and even in the simplest cases can unnecessarily complicate the probate of the estate while the family relationships are proven to the probate court.

An example of the chaos intestacy can cause is the $300 million estate of the rock performer known as Prince (real name: Prince Rogers Nelson), who died intestate in 2016. Prince had never been married, had no children, and was predeceased by his parents, whose marriage produced only two children. Under Minnesota's intestacy laws, his sole heir and next of kin should have been his sister. However, within weeks of his death, over 700 people claimed to be Prince's half-siblings (out-of-wedlock children of Prince's late father) while others claimed to be Prince's own out-of-wedlock children.

Intestacy statutes usually come into play when the deceased leaves no will. However, intestacy statutes also apply to property not properly disposed of in a valid will or to the extent that the law prohibits a disposition of property by will, such as under Florida's restrictions on descent of homestead.

Here's how intestacy works in Florida:


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Friday, September 29, 2017

Estate Planning and Second Marriages


How might my second marriage affect my estate plan?

American families today are increasingly blended.  It is estimated that about four out of every ten new marriages include at least one person who has been married before, according to data released by the United States Census Bureau.  Estate planning can take on heightened importance when second marriages and children from previous relationships are involved.


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Friday, September 22, 2017

What Successor Trustees Need to Know


What is the role of a successor trustee?

The successor trustee is the person who will take control of the trust after the grantor dies or becomes unable to complete his or her role.  Often, those named as successor trustee never seek out legal advice about their role and may informally assume the task of trustee, without going through the proper legal channels.  Handling a trust in this manner can have disastrous results.  Our


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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Child in Florida


What happens if I die before naming a guardian for my child?

Our children are our most valued assets.  While none of us want to consider the possibility of dying and leaving our children behind, it is imperative that Florida parents take action now to protect their children in the event of an untimely death or incapacity. More than 60 percent of parents do not have a named guardian for their children.  Absent a named guardian, the Florida courts will be forced to select a qualified guardian for your child.  Your


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Monday, August 28, 2017

Does My Estate Need to Go Through Probate?


We have all likely heard probate horror stories.  Probate actions that took years to complete, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on taxes, and family members that received nothing from their loved one’s estate.  It is critical that Floridians understand what assets must go through probate, and which do not, so that you can prepare your estate plan accordingly.


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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Talk to Your Parents About Their Estate Plan Today


How should I broach the topic of estate planning with my parents?

Bringing up the topic of finances and the future with your aging parents is never easy, but putting off these hard subjects can prove devastating.  Discussions about finances can lead to thorough estate planning, which will positively impact you and your family in the long run.  It is crucial, however, that you approach the subject of estate planning in a respectful manner so as not to lead to ill feelings.  Our


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Electronic Wills in Florida


Are electronic wills the estate planning tool of the future?

Today, it seems like everything that was once on paper has moved to the internet.  Estate planning is no different, with electronic wills rapidly becoming a topic of interest in the estate planning realm.  An electronic will is one that is signed on the computer and stored electronically.  Rather than printing a hard copy and having it signed by the testator, witnesses, and notary, the electronic will is prepared entirely on the computer.  While electronic wills appear to be the way of the future,


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Estate Planning Basics: Three Things To Do Before You Die


What estate planning steps should I take to protect my family?

None of us want to consider the eventuality of our own deaths, but avoiding the topic of estate planning can leave your family in a precarious position.  With a little forethought, you can plan for the end of your life and ensure your family will be in the best position possible to deal with your death. Our Tampa estate planning lawyers discuss the three estate planning documents everyone should have before their deaths below.


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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Avoid These Estate Planning Mistakes


How can I help to ensure my estate plan is error-free?

Your estate plan will be a lasting part of your legacy.  A good estate plan will allow your assets to pass with minimal tax consequences to your named heirs, while a poor estate plan, or a lack of an estate plan all together, may leave your assets in the control of the courts and subject to extreme taxation.  Our Tampa estate planning lawyers discuss some estate planning errors you should avoid in order to preserve your assets and legacy.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Setting Up an Educational Trust for Future Generations


What is an educational trust fund?

As grandparents, you want to see that your grandchildren, and their children down the road, have the funds needed to pay for higher education.  In today’s competitive job market, having a college or graduate degree can set you apart.  Most families agree that education is a top priority, but rising education costs have made higher education unaffordable to some.  Parents and grandparents in Florida with a high net worth are advised to consider creating an


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Guardianship for Disabled Family Members


How can I protect my disabled family member using a guardianship?

Roughly 50 million people across the United States have some form of disability, with almost 25 million classified as severely limited in their functioning.  Being the parent, spouse, or relative of a person with a disability can be challenging.  One of your greatest roles as the family member of a disabled person is being an advocate, but without legal decision-making authority, fulfilling this role can be difficult.  Our


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