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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Probate Litigation Bullying

If you’ve listened to me long enough, you’ve heard Cramer’s theory of what happens in contested probate proceedings: “The bully always wins.” Well, now that might change. Recent amendments to both the Florida Probate Code and Trust Code, which apply to all proceedings filed on or after July 1, 2015, provide ammunition for family members to fight back against the bully.

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Estate Tax Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate, recently proposed a bill in Congress that he titled “The Responsible Estate Tax Act.” The Act proposes to raise the estate tax and broaden its coverage. The proposal immediately was endorsed by well-known economists such as Robert Reich and Thomas Piketty. Surprisingly, for an unabashed progressive like Senator Sanders, the Act proposes only a modest increase in the estate tax. Here is what the bill would do:

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Divorce Estate Planning

Most complications that arise in estate administration are the result of unanticipated events. Divorce is one of the least planned for events in any estate plan; it can also cause some of the most devastating complications. The recent case of Carroll v. Israelson illustrates this point.

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