Unfortunately, we deal with death on a fairly regular basis as part of our practice, so it usually does not take us by surprise. However, we recently have had a couple of shocking deaths which illustrate why it is never too soon to plan.

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Did you know that, in Florida, you can adopt someone without ever going to court and making it official?  For the finale of our Adoption Series (click to read part one, two, or three), we will highlight an unusual way that people sometimes inherit from their non-biological “parents.”

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We recently have written about how adopting an adult can allow an unrelated person to share in an inheritance (unless it is done with improper motives).  But how, and from whom, do adopted persons (whether they are adults or children) inherit under Florida law?

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Wording in a will or trust which allows a named person to decide where your property and money should go after your death (instead of you making that decision ahead of time) is called “precatory” language.  An example is the recent Florida case of Cody v. Cody, where Earler Martin’s will left his home, and the rest of his estate, to one of his three stepsons, “to divide between [himself and his brothers], as he sees fit and proper.”  Earler’s wish was probably that the inheriting stepson, Buford, divide up the home and other property equally between himself and his brothers.  However, the words he chose to express that desire defeated that intent.

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When working with clients who have minor children, we spend a lot of time discussing the kids: their individual personalities, the values the clients are trying to instill, and concerns for their future. We do our best to craft an estate plan that will secure the children’s financial future. This usually involves planning both from a financial perspective (making sure there is enough money for future expenses, especially if something happened to the clients), with the help of the clients’ financial advisors, and from a legal standpoint (ensuring the children will have access to any money when and how the clients judge best).

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The number of seniors (Americans aged 65 or older) who drive is on the rise.  In fact, from 1999 to 2009, statistics show a 20% increase in senior drivers.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety predicts that this trend will continue; seniors will make up 25% of the drivers on the road by 2025 and there will be at least 60 million senior drivers by 2030.

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Now that graduation season is behind us, we have some important information for parents of young adults who are going off to college or starting their first job.  Once your child turns 18, he or she is automatically an “adult” in the eyes of the law, no matter how immature or inexperienced.  Being an adult comes with the right to manage your assets (including opening credit cards and taking out loans) and make decisions about your life (such as where to live, who to socialize with, and whether you want medical treatment).  As you might imagine, this silent leap into full adulthood can cause some nasty surprises down the road. 

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In the first part of this series, we discussed how failing to address the issue of adult adoption in your estate plan can cause unnecessary litigation after your death, even when there is nothing sinister about the adoption.  In this article, we will discuss what happened to a man who attempted to use adult adoption to preserve his lavish lifestyle at the expense of his biological children.

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When people think about adoption, images of a young child in need often come to mind. Yet, Florida law contemplates a broader vision. Under Florida Statute § 63.042(1) “[a]ny person, a minor or an adult, may be adopted.” The recent Florida case Dennis v. Kline demonstrates the complications that may arise when an estate plan allows adopted children to become beneficiaries, but fails to address whether “adopted children” includes adopted adults.

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Sometimes blessings occur when we least expect them, but a lack of planning for such blessings can have unpleasant results. In the recent case of Maher v. Iglikova, a Florida court dealt with the ramifications of an unexpected blessing: the discovery of a previously unknown child.

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