Author Archive

Estate Planning for Young Adults

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Teenagers, rejoice! At age 18, your government says you are an adult and your parents have no legal ability to make decisions for you. Just what you want, right? No more nagging about cleaning up after yourself, making something of your life, and sitting up straight.

Parents, beware! When your child turns age 18, your government says your child is an adult and you no longer have the legal ability to make decisions for him/her. Are you accustomed to ...

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Your Child and Their Inheritance: How to Share the Financials

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Most children are left in the dark regarding detailed information about their parents’ financials. Well-off parents may not want to tell their children for fear of them becoming dependent. Parents who struggle financially may not tell their children as a means to keep them from worrying. Both approaches are understandable, but in failing to speak to children about the family wealth, children may be unprepared for what will happen after their parents are gone.

As a group, baby boomers are heartened ...

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Elder Abuse & Exploitation: What to Look For

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According to the American Psychological Association, roughly 2.1 million elderly Americans become victims to abuse each year. Elderly adults may become victimized due to isolation, physical and/or mental disabilities, and dependence on others. Elderly victims are often reluctant to report abuse. The abuser may be family and the victim may mistakenly defend them or feel that they deserved the abuse or exploitation in some way. As with any type of abuse, they may also feel ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid.

To stop ...

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The Internet vs. The Professional

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How is it that most attorneys, with decades of legal knowledge continuing education, are being replaced by electronic documents or advice forums? Welcome to the age of the Internet.

The Internet has unfortunately encouraged the rise of amateurism in all professional fields. You may have a recurring migraine and instead of consulting the expert neurologist, you simply type WebMD into Google and self-diagnose.

My staff and I come across this Internet vs. Professional mentality daily. Yes, it is easy to sit in ...

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Estate Planning is Still Relevant: Three Key Documents Every Adult Should Have

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The federal estate tax exemption, which is the maximum amount of wealth an individual can have when they die but not pay any federal estate tax, used to be $600,000. The families of the deceased who exceeded this limit were often people who did not consider themselves rich—maybe a farming family with a small working farm for example. Unfortunately, they often discovered that all it took was a little bit of real estate, combined with the death benefit payout from ...

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Top 10 Blunders in Probate & Trust Administration

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Probate and trust administration isn’t for wimps. It also isn’t for people who aren’t ready to shoulder the burdens associated with being named as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is the person who gets the laborious task of holding assets in trust for a beneficiary. In Florida, trustees of trusts and personal representatives of estates are classified as fiduciaries.

While taking on such a role may be a labor of love for those who are named by their deceased loved ones, mistakes ...

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Undue Influence: How to Spot When Assistance crosses the Line

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Everyone has influence in their life. Influence is the ability to effect someone’s character and behavior. When raising children, a parent’s influence is generally positive. Parents choose their child’s clothing, diet, social environment, residence, education and entertainment.

So, what is undue influence? This type of negative influence involves a person taking a position of power over another person. To put it into perspective, here are a few examples.

Should a teacher tell a student which political party or candidate to favor?
Should ...

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Poor Man’s Probate is Usually Poorly Planned

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People often ask what seems to be the usual recurring question, “Do I really need a will?” After I ask a few questions about their circumstances, I usually discover that they have already done something about their estate plan. Unfortunately, this generally means that a non-attorney gave them legal advice and misleading direction. They’ve engaged in a course of action in which some call a “Poor Man’s Probate”. The results, which they will probably never witness, are usually tragic and ...

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Attention Florida Residents: Change in Power of Attorney Law

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Just when you thought you had your estate planning documents in order, there sneaks up a drastic change in the power of attorney law. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone the authority to act on your behalf. You are the principal and the person you appoint is the agent. Effective October 1, 2011, the new law comes into effect in Florida. The most pressing question is whether your “old” or existing document is ...

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Who Will Raise Hope?

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There is a corny television show named Raising Hope. It is about a twenty-something young man named Jimmy who is raising his daughter Hope because her mother was executed for a crime she committed. Jimmy lives with his mother, Virginia, father, Bert, grandmother and daughter Hope. They are a wacky family that marches to the beat of a different drummer. Jimmy works at a grocery store where he has a friend named Sabrina, who is a cashier.

The subject comes up ...

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