Probate

Steps for the Personal Representative

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It can be overwhelming when a loved one passes away. The following steps are written as a guide for the next of kin or personal representative of the decedent. Although they are ordered, many of these tasks can be undertaken at the same time. For example, the first steps in administrative tasks can be taken the same day as the first steps in funeral arrangements.

Immediate tasks

  1. Lock the decedent’s real estate premises to keep contents secure.
  2. Prepare a team to help you ...
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A Will or Trust? It’s Not About the Size of Your Estate

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When I use the word “trust” in a consultation, people often quickly tell me that they don’t have enough money or assets to require a trust. This is a common misconception, that a trust requires a vast estate. Perhaps we owe that to the word “trust” conjuring up visions of large philanthropic organizations that operate exclusively out of a trust, or “trust fund babies.”

In fact, a trust can often cost much less in administrative fees, on the back end, to ...

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If You Own Out of State Property, Establish a Trust

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If you own out of state property, it’s almost a certainty that you and your family will be better served by a trust instead of a will.

Why is that?

First, consider that probate is unavoidable with a will. Many of my clients arrive at my office assuming that probate is only for those that are intestate, or without a will. The decedent’s loved ones are often confused and frustrated with the hassles and paperwork involved in probate when they are already ...

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Stranger Things from Beyond the Courthouse

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Recent surveys from Caring.com show that only 42% of U.S. adults have estate planning documents. The following cases could have been easily avoided with those documents in place.

(All names in the following case examples have been changed.)

Elizabeth Always Had a Plan

Elizabeth’s son, Steve, came to us in when his mother was becoming forgetful. She had dementia. ...

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Greed or Passive Opportunism? Financial Exploitation of the Elderly an Unfortunate Reality

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From where I sit, it’s not uncommon to find myself with a front row seat peering into the darker side of humanity. It’s hard to imagine anything more heartbreaking than litigating a probate case involving the apparent financial exploitation of an elderly citizen with dementia.

But the sad reality is that instances of financial exploitation of the elderly are actually on the rise throughout our country.  Some elder law professionals speculate that the increase is due to a combination of factors, ...

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Yes, Virginia, Your Uncle’s Will Must Be Probated

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During the month of January we began seeing a flurry of clients walk through the door with probate issues.  Based on what we’re seeing, most Americans – irrespective of educational background or socioeconomic circumstances – seem to be under the misimpression that having a will means the beneficiaries will receive their inheritance posthaste and without having to pay legal expenses associated with probate. Wrong. Probate is the legal process where a will is determined to be valid or invalid, ...

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Son Discovers Mother’s Estate Plan in Storage Unit after Spending Nearly $24,000 in Guardianship Fees

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Developing an estate plan is perhaps one of the noblest actions you will take to ensure the efficient transfer of your assets to future generations in a manner that affirms your values and wishes. In addition to helping your heirs avoid probate and minimize family chaos after your death, a properly drafted estate plan also prevents court control of your assets should you become mentally or physically incapacitated.

But what happens if you become incapacitated, are in need of a family ...

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Inheriting Land Located in Multiple States Thrusts Florida Heirs into Costly Probate Proceedings

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For many families, owning land is a rewarding way to build wealth while creating a tangible legacy for future generations.  But along with claiming a slice of the American dream, land ownership carries a number of responsibilities, including the annual payment of property taxes, having an estate plan, and articulating one’s vision for the use of the land by future generations.

If a Florida resident owns land located in multiple states and dies intestate (without a will), transferring ownership ...

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Avoiding Probate Problems

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“Will my estate need to go through probate?” This is a question that we often hear in our office. Many people have had a bad experience with probate and worry about how their own heirs will be treated when their own estate is eventually probated. While probate administration typically takes a little longer and can be a bit more expensive than trust administration, it is not a terrible thing. Creditors get paid, heirs still receive their gifts, and property passes ...

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Protecting Your Florida Homestead

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Florida homestead is a wonderful thing. When you invest in your home, you’re investing in what is most likely the largest purchase of your life. You’ll want to protect this asset from creditors. Guess what? Florida homestead offers great creditor protection.

As with anything, there are of course problems that can arise. If your estate plan does not properly address certain issues, you may run into quite an array of problems. A prime example of a very typical Florida homestead issue ...

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