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Importance of Trust Protectors in Florida Estate Planning

FAQs Jun 3, 2023
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What’s the importance of trust protectors in Florida when many Floridians already have an estate plan? They have a POA, a living will, a will and a revocable trust. Where does a Trust Protector fit in? Understanding Basic Florida Estate Planning Documents Let’s start with a basic Florida estate plan: Trust Protectors Florida A trust protector is the creature of “hard thinking” trust lawyers. There’s no one definition for a trust protector. In the Florida Trust Code, the word “trust protector” is only used once. And not even defined. And, candidly, lawyers who “write” trusts have different takes on trust protectors and what they do or should do. Here’s a broad overview:


Florida Trust Accounting

In the News Jan 28, 2023
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Who gets to see the books? And who has legal standing in a trust matter to get a Florida trust accounting? The answers may surprise you. Who gets a Florida trust accounting? Just as “not everyone” can participate in a Florida probate, you have to be connected to participate in a trust. (To read more about the probate process, click here.) What?… Who gets a Florida trust accounting is limited to qualified beneficiaries. What’s a qualified beneficiary? Well, think of it as one who can get trust money right now, or who may get it when another beneficiary’s interest ceases. (Like, for example, if your mom or dad die, you might inherit their share of the trust. You don’t get money now, but you will get it in the future if there’s any trust money left. You and mom or dad in this example are qualified beneficiaries. And entitled to an accounting each year). A qualified beneficiary is defined in the Florida Trust Code at 736.0103(19). Want to learn more? Read this…. Read Florida Trust Code Chapter 736. It will tell you all about Trust Law in Florida and explain beneficiary rights and trustee obligations or duties. For more information about legal standing in a trust contest, read the Cruz case. This 5th District Court of Appeal opinion dealt with adult children who challenged their father’s revocable trust. This case also dealt with a limitations notice. (To learn about standing in a Florida probate, you can read this for free […]


Florida Heirs

Probate Information Jan 19, 2023
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Who are Florida heirs and how much do you inherit? Heir Inherit an Intestate Estate Many people die in Florida without a will. When that happens, the estate is called an “intestate” estate. The Florida laws of intestacy rule. What do the laws of intestacy say? They say that heirs inherit. How much? The entire estate. But remember, that you have to pay taxes, claims, creditors and expenses of administration before beneficiaries see a dime. (For more on intestacy, click here.) Who Are Florida Heirs? OK…………..so, who, exactly are Florida heirs? First of all, a surviving spouse is. Descendants are. Like minor or adult children and a deceased child’s children. Note that being an “heir” is different than being an interested person. If the spouse of the deceased Florida resident is the parent of all the children of the deceased Florida resident, the spouse takes the entire estate. Unless he or she waived inheritance rights. Like in a prenup. Then, her or his rights to inherit are limited by the prenup. Assuming the prenup is valid or cannot be turned over. But , then again, sometimes people fight about the “plain” language in a prenup. If the spouse is not the parent of one or more of the deceased Florida resident’s children: the spouse takes half the estate and the other heirs take the other half. Remember: homestead is often a very valuable asset. That’s the one true home of the deceased Florida resident. Although the spouse has lots of […]


Who Are Heirs in Florida?

FAQs Jan 18, 2023
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Heirs can inherit an entire Florida probate. Like….. all the property of the dead Florida resident. BUT, there are rules. To learn more about whether you are an heir or not, keep reading, or click here. Florida Probates + Family Who are heirs in Florida? That class of “legal actors” are those who inherit under the laws of intestacy. There is a Florida statute right on point in the Florida Probate Code. Check out Florida Statute 731.201(20). These can include the surviving spouse (if any), adult or minor children, and, maybe, grandchildren (children of deceased children). To read more about intestacy, click here. Quick note: an heir may be different than an “interested person.” Remember, not everyone can participate in a Florida probate. You need some connection. That’s an interested person. And remember: often, one’s house or homestead is very, very valuable. So, find out how the house “goes” and see if you get a share. Who Are Heirs and What Do They Inherit? In Florida, a person has the right to dispose of her wealth as she sees fit. That means that she can leave it all to whomever she wants. You just can’t dis-inherit your spouse completely. A surviving spouse has a LOT of inheritance rights. Unless they signed a prenup. Children…………..that’s a different story. But, if there is no will, that’s called intestacy. Heirs inherit the entire estate in an intestacy. What some call an “intestate estate.” But remember, heirs only get paid after all the creditors, […]


Estate Appeal — now or never in Florida !

Probate Information Jan 14, 2023
post about Estate Appeal — now or never in Florida !

This legal commentary is on a Florida estate appeal. It will list each probate ruling which you MUST appeal within 30 days under the “new” Florida Rule 9.170. To learn more about a probate appeal or a homestead appeal, click those links for free commentary. Understanding the Basics So, here are some of the basics to understanding an estate appeal in Florida. After all, every day in Florida, family members, beneficiaries, interested persons and personal representatives are faced with orders and judgments. Knowing if you can live with them, or if it makes sense to take an appeal, are challenges which many face. In many instances, you have to wait until the end of your legal matter (e.g. trial) to file an appeal. You only file an appeal if you believe that the probate court committed reversible error. (For short video on an appeal regarding a petition to revoke probate, click here.) More Basics — to help you understand What do you do if you WIN in the probate court? And the other side appeals? Well, you have a couple of options. One, you may not want to spend the money on an experienced probate appellate attorney. Two, maybe someone else will defend the judgment or order and “fight” the appeal so you don’t have to. Or, three, maybe you file a limited cross-appeal. This may be done if you believe that there was one little, or limited, error that needs correcting. Talk to your probate appeals lawyer about whether […]


Probate Appeal

Probate Information Jan 14, 2023
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When does a probate appeal in Florida make sense? Well, for some orders, you actually MUST appeal right NOW– within 30 days of the order. Or you can’t later. Here are some pointers for beneficiaries, family members, creditors and personal representatives. For legal commentary on appeal attorneys fees, click here. Probate Appeal and the “secret rule“ OK, so you are involved in a probate. A Florida estate. And the probate court judge just handed down a ruling that you don’t like. And, maybe that ruling affects one’s inheritance, or some important estate assets (like homestead), or how the estate will be administered. (like, who will be the administrator or personal representative). Maybe there was a will contest. Anyway…… You want to know if you can, or should, file an appeal. There is a lot to consider over a short time frame. Remember, in the Florida probate process, time is almost never on your side. Super short deadlines requiring you to act. For a free Florida legal video on this subject, click HERE. There are two things which you need to know right away. One, how much time do you have? Two, is the order that was handed down, one subject to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.170? A few years ago, probate litigation attorneys were introduced to a new appellate rule. This “new” rule (not so “new” anymore, right?) made certain probate court orders IMMEDIATELY “APPEALABLE.” That also means that if you don’t appeal now, you end up living with […]


Homestead Florida

Probate Information Jan 14, 2023
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One’s true and single abode, or home, is your Florida homestead. And family members inherit millions, if not billions, of dollars each year from this unique asset. How do you get yours? For more on homestead litigation, click that link. Understanding the Basics Here’s a list of important bullet points that will start you on your way to understanding homestead. To assert your right to an inheritance, you may need to file two things, if everybody cannot agree. A petition to determine homestead or beneficiaries. And maybe a partition action. The truth is that lots of Florida residents, even really rich ones, die without a will. All the time. That means that millions of dollars are going to “heirs.” Most of the time, one of the most valuable assets in the estate is the house. Here are things you need to know : Each Florida resident has one homestead. Only one, no matter how many houses you have. There are three areas of legal importance: creditor protection, real estate taxes and who gets it when when you die. This commentary is about the last topic. There are restrictions on how you can, must or may leave it. (it’s often referred to as restrictions on “devise”) If left one way, the house is said to automatically “descend” to the heirs. (a spouse is included in the class of heirs) You cannot dis-inherit your spouse from your homestead unless he agrees in writing. Yes, spouses in Florida have automatic rights to homestead […]


Homestead Appeal

FAQs Jan 13, 2023
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A homestead appeal often means that there are millions of dollars on the line. So, you need a probate lawyer who understands both the intricacies of Florida homestead and also appeals. (To read about getting attorneys fees for your appeal, consider reading this). Experience Counts Let’s face it. Experience Counts. Homestead law is confusing. So are appeals. And sometimes there is “tension” between a 2nd, 3rd or 4th spouse and the deceased Florida resident’s adult children. But, in Florida, a surviving spouse or widow has VERY VALUABLE PROPERTY RIGHTS. Unless you signed a prenup. But even then, folks “fight” over what the prenup says. What its terms are. Who gets what? That’s why it makes sense to find a law firm that has handled appeals for years. And specifically homestead litigation and appeals. Here is a recent homestead appeal that got the client millions of dollars. The adult children of the deceased Florida resident “fought” the surviving spouse, who signed a prenup. The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the Palm Beach County probate judge (who gave the spouse nothing). The DCA agreed with the lawyers for the spouse –she should get half of the homestead. When the appeal finished, the real estate market was on fire. The residence was worth millions. And the spouse got millions. Homestead Rights So, the surviving spouse has very valuable homestead rights. This includes a right to live in the deceased Florida resident (spouse’s) home. See Florida Probate Law 732.401. Or, under limited 6 […]


Florida Probate Appeal

Probate Information Jan 13, 2023
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A Florida Probate Appeal may be your only way to get justice if you just lost on an important issue. In some instances, you MUST appeal a probate order within 30 days. Read on to learn more about this. (For a free video on a complex estate appeal, click here.) How long do I have to appeal? Most people know that you generally have 30 days to file a notice of appeal. But, in the context of estates and probates, it can be confusing. Why? Because over the last decade, there was an important Florida probate appeal rule change. (Check out the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure). This new rule (not so “new” anymore) is rule 9.170. Why is that important ? Because, generally, you can’t appeal matters until the end of your lawsuit. And you can generally only appeal “final” orders. You know, those judgments or orders which finally determine a right. BUT, with this “new” probate appeals rule, this new change permitted the IMMEDIATE review of probate court orders. In other words, for certain rulings, you don’t have to wait until later. What that also means is that if you want to appeal a certain ruling by a Florida probate court, you MUST do so know. Failure to file a timely appeal means that, generally, you have abandoned further judicial review of that order or judgment. If an order or judgment is not appealed, then that becomes a final, “un-appealable” order. That means that you can’t later try […]


Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

FAQs Dec 28, 2022
post about Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

Do you really need a lawyer for the Florida Probate that you are involved in? You may not, after all. Find out some secrets from the experts to help you stay informed, up to date, and to receive your inheritance. (Yup, that’s right: it should not be that difficult!) For more perspective on this topic, click HERE. Florida Probate Process Explained Previously, we have written about the whole “estate-probate-inheritance” process. To read more about this topic, you can click here. But, let’s quickly go over some basic, important aspects that you NEED to know. First, if there is no will, then “heirs” inherit through intestacy. This includes the surviving spouse unless he signed a prenup or some waiver of inheritance rights. Second, in an intestate estate, adult children — NOT just minor children– inherit. And maybe even some grandkids. Intestacy is the passing of property from an estate to heirs. It’s a process with its own special rules. Why talk so much about this topic? Because today, lots and lots of people die without a will. Even those who had the money to afford an attorney to write one. It happens all the time. Third, to get your inheritance, you probably need to “open” a probate. Why? Because you probably want two things: first, a “personal representative” appointed to administer the estate; and two, orders from the probate judge that say you inherit. (This is true especially for real estate or homestead. When you go to sell it, the title […]