Spiro J. Verras Blog

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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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

How can I avoid mistakes in my estate plan? 

Many people have heard of the term "estate planning," but may not understand what it means. Put simply, estate planning is about getting your affairs in order, protecting your assets, deciding in advance who will make decisions for you if you are unable to do so, and providing for your loved ones. Although there is a wealth of information at our fingertips online, the internet is not a reliable source for estate planning information and guidance. As as result, many individuals are poorly advised and misinformed. Let's take a look at a few common estate planning mistakes.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nursing Homes Barred from Requiring Arbitration

What is being done about elder abuse in nursing homes?

Last month, we wrote a post on the factors involved in selecting a nursing home in light of widespread neglect and abuse in the elder care system. The Obama Administration has since issued a rule that will make it easier for the families of injured nursing home residents to sue for damages.  Specifically, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (a division of the Department of Health and Human Services) has barred all nursing homes that receive federal funding from requiring residents to resolve disputes through arbitration. This new rule is designed to provide greater protection to as many as 1.5 million residents.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Things to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

How can I select the best nursing home for my aging parent?

The fact that our society as a whole is living longer and the number of seniors is growing fast means that many individuals will face the difficult choice of entering an assisted living facility ("ALF") or a nursing home. While many elder care facilities provide quality health care to their residents and patients, nursing home neglect and abuse continues to plague the system. For this reason, elders and their loved ones need to choose an ALF or nursing home carefully, and also have a plan for financing long-term care.  

Why are patients injured in nursing homes?

Patients are often neglected and injured for a number of reasons. One overarching problem is that some nursing homes care more about making profits rather than patient care. As such, these facilities look to cut costs by not retaining adequate staff or hiring workers who have not received adequate training.

When patients are neglected, not properly supervised, or heavily sedated (as they sometimes are in an effort to minimize their care needs) they are more likely to be injured in falls, which can have catastrophic consequences

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why Young Parents Need an Estate Plan

What steps do new parents need to take to protect their family?

New parents are faced with many challenges, usually including exhaustion and sleep deprivation. While adjusting to parenthood requires hard work and patience, it is also essential to think about the future. No one wants to think about death or becoming disabled when welcoming a new child into the world, but this is the perfect time to protect your family by putting an estate plan in place.

Read more . . .

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