Substance Abuse: Marchman Act

Many of us have a family member who has a substance addiction. If your loved one will  not seek treatment on their own, but you have serious concerns about their health and well-being, you could consider taking action under the Marchman Act. The act, Fla. Stat. Chapter 397, provides a statutory means of compelling an addicted person first to be evaluated for substance abuse treatment and then to potentially receive short-term substance abuse treatment. It is important to note that the Marchman Act governs only persons who are suffering from substance addiction. Other Florida laws, including the Baker Act, cover individuals who may need involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental health reasons other than substance abuse.

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Renunciation Rule: Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

You may not be familiar with the Renunciation Rule. It often comes up in litigation over trusts, and it is a rule that all beneficiaries and trustees should be familiar with. Renunciation in this context requires that a person renounce (or refuse to take) any interest in a trust and give back any contested assets he has already received if he wants to argue that the trust is invalid. The old saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” applies here. You can’t argue that the trust should not be followed and still benefit from it by receiving assets.

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Neighbor Gets Payable On Death

In a case from our own backyard, Keul vs Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church, Mrs. Lampp and her late husband executed wills in 2009, several months before he died. Their estate plan provided that after Mrs. Lampp’s death, the entire estate would go to Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church. When she died, Mrs. Lampp had $333,000 in Navy Federal Credit Union accounts that she had jointly owned with her husband before he died. Her "friendly" neighbor provided a "payable on death" form from the credit union that gave her (the neighbor!) 75% of the credit union accounts, 10% each to her son and daughter and the remaining 5% to her former daughter-in-law. Nothing was left to the church.

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Guardianship Proceedings

The recent Zelman case involved all-too-familiar fighting between a second wife and first kids. The children of  85-year-old Martin Zelman instituted guardianship proceedings alleging that Martin’s wife was taking advantage of him and isolating him from his children, in part to take control of his substantial assets. The children alleged that Martin had “accidentally” deposited $3 million in the couple’s joint bank account, and that the money should be returned to Martin’s sole ownership.

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Family With Minor Children

The law governing Florida’s UTMA accounts has been amended. Effective July 1, 2015, persons creating a UTMA account for a minor theoretically can create a custodianship that does not terminate until the minor attains age 25. Previously, Florida law required that UTMA accounts terminate when the minor attains age 21.

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Legal Changes

Guardianship is a legal concept where, if a court determines that a person (called the “ward”) is not capable of handling his or her own affairs due to age or incapacity, the court appoints a “guardian” to handle these affairs for the ward. We've previously addressed some predatory practices that have put individuals at risk (see here). Recently, new laws have taken effect in Florida to help provide increased protections for wards (see here).

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New Cramer Law Center Branch Amelia Island

We're thrilled to announce the opening of a new branch office on Amelia Island in order to better meet the estate planning and related needs of Northeast Florida residents! The office is located at 5211 South Fletcher Avenue.

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