Family Home in Florida Homestead Law

As our faithful readers (and workshop attendees) may recall, Florida homestead law is meant to protect a person’s primary residence from creditors, but its quirks can cause major problems, particularly for a blended family. A recent court decision illustrates that point in a situation where another potent ingredient was thrown into the mix: a marital settlement agreement. A “marital settlement agreement” is a legally-binding, final agreement between the husband and wife in a divorce case.

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Available on Netflix, “Lullaby” is a movie by Andrew Levitas about a dysfunctional family that is reunited by end-of-life issues.  Jonathan is a young man living on the opposite coast from his wealthy New York family.  Although they have been estranged for years, Jonathan agrees to visit his terminally ill father when he learns that he wishes to be taken off life support within 48 hours.

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Alzheimer's wine tasting

We are pleased to announce that Cramer Law Center is participating in the Jacksonville Walk to End Alzheimer's for the third year in a row. To help us reach this year’s fundraising goal, we are holding our Second Annual Wine Tasting to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at our office on Thursday, November 6, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. Please join us for some unique wines from PRP Wine International, snacking, networking, and a silent auction, all for a great cause. You can RSVP, as well as invite friends and family, to the event via Facebook.

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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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