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Articles

The Store Bought Will.

I recently received a request from an out of state client to handle his deceased uncle’s estate. Uncle had passed away in a nursing home in St. Pete, and the estate qualified for “Summary Administration” under Florida law. The nephew sent me his uncle’s will for filing in the Probate Court. The will certainly looked official, with “Last Will and Testament” printed in large letters on top, and with the Uncle’s signature and three witness signatures, all notarized, at the bottom. The will was not prepared by an attorney, however, and that caused unnecessary expense in the end. The problem was, the will was not “self proving.” A “self proving” will is properly acknowledged by the testator and witnesses before an officer authorized to administer oaths (usually a notary public). A self-proving will may be admitted to probate without testimony of the attesting witnesses. Although a notary signed and stamped ...
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Florida Rules of Intestacy

Florida law provides a default mechanism for the distribution of assets when an individual dies without an estate plan. This article is a summary of the Florida rules, which have been updated since the article originally appeared on the website. Spouse: The surviving spouse will receive all of the deceased person’s estate if there are no surviving lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.-we will refer to all of them as “children”) of the deceased. If the decedent left surviving child/ren, then the surviving spouse/parent will receive all of the deceased’s estate provided that all of the deceased’s children are also children of the surviving spouse/parent, AND that the surviving spouse/parent does not have any other children who are not also children of the deceased (i.e., if the deceased and/or widow/er has one or more children by previous relationship(s)). If the deceased left a child who is not also a descendant of ...
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New Powers of Attorney for Florida and Illinois

In 2008, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) published a report that highlighted problems with Power of Attorney laws that, in some cases, led to exploitation of vulnerable adults (Power of Attorney Abuse: What States Can Do About It; AARP, November 2008). The report urged states to adopt a uniform power of attorney act to address these concerns. Illinois enacted new powers of attorney for both property and health care that went into effect on July 1, 2011. Florida’s new power of attorney for property is effective on October 1, 2011. This article explains how the new powers of attorney differ from the previous laws. This will help you, the client, decide whether you need new power of attorney documents prepared, and, if so, how to request them from my office. Both Florida and Illinois provide that powers of attorney that were prepared before the effective dates of the ...
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When to Review and Update Your Estate Plan

Once a will or revocable trust is prepared and put in a safe place, many clients will then forget about them. There are many reasons, however, for reviewing and updating your estate plan. Do any of the below circumstances apply to you? If so, contact my office regarding updating your estate plan. You have moved to a different state. The estate plan that was prepared for you when you lived in your previous state may need to be updated to conform to requirements of your new state. Each state, for example, has its own legal requirements for making a will. While our U.S. Constitution requires that each state must accept wills prepared in other states, updating your will to conform to your new state may ensure a smoother probate or trust administration for your heirs. New people should be named in your will (e.g. birth, adoption). A substantial increase or ...
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