Don't keep your Will in a Safe Deposit Box! Never! Please! This may seem like a good idea to keep the Will safe, but let me assure you, it is not. In an estate where the family was never informed of the Will’s location, we recently had to get into one to retrieve the ORIGINAL Will, which the state of Florida requires be filed. A copy of the Will is not sufficient. We did not have a key, so we had to get the court to order our entrance and then drill, yes DRILL, into it to get it opened. This caused several weeks of delay and thousands of dollars of additional costs to the family because of this blunder. Go to the bank now and remove yours... and more importantly, tell the person you’ve appointed to be your Personal Representative exactly where you are keeping it!
If you were to die without a Will or Trust in Florida, you will be considered to have died “intestate.” Your “intestate estate” – i.e. any asset you own that has not been effectively disposed of or transferred to a beneficiary – will be distributed according to Florida intestate succession law.
If this isn’t a fundamental human right, I propose to make it one – the right to muddle through. This has been bothering me. America is supposed to be the land of the free, but that freedom becomes precarious when you reach “old age”. Florida’s Guardianship Law permits a Circuit Court Judge to strip you of all of your civil and personal rights. I’ve seen it happen in a 5 minute hearing. 5 minutes! That is all it takes to become a “ward of the state.” Unfortunately, unless we can start a massive human rights campaign right now, “the right to muddle through” is being lost here in Florida.
Change is underway at Cramer Law Center. First, we are moving in 2 weeks to new offices at 4655 Salisbury Road, Suite 100A. (The move will take place the week of June 25). If you enter from Salisbury, we will be in the third of 3 buildings in the “Quadrant at Southpoint” office complex. You also can enter from Belfort Road. If you turn in at the entrance to the Borland-Groover Clinic and keep going past the clinic, we will be the first of the Quadrant buildings. I believe the official designation is “Quadrant II.” This location near I-95 and JTB is more centrally located than our present offices. Although traffic during rush hour is bad everywhere in Jacksonville, at least there is more than one way in and out of the new offices—as contrasted to our present location. We will have a map up on our website as soon as we relocate.
Following up on other potentially problematic legislation which has not been codified into law, we have the Florida Electronic Wills Act. The bad news is this potentially disastrous law actually passed both houses of the Florida Legislature. The good news is Governor Scott vetoed the bill and gave very thoughtful reasons for doing so.
Sometimes the best decision by a legislature is not to pass a bill. Among the bills that did not pass the Florida Legislature in 2017 was Senate Bill 228, which would have made POLST a law in Florida. It died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. About twenty states have enacted POLST legislation.
In our last newsletter, we discussed the latest statutory assault on the homestead citadel Assault on the Homestead Citadel. In this newsletter, we will discuss a recent case law assault on Florida’s broad homestead protections.
Effective July 1, 2017, the Florida Legislature has amended Florida Statute 732.2035 dealing with property entering into the “elective estate.” The Legislature has added into the list of assets that make up the elective estate for the first time, the decedent’s interest in property which constitutes the protected homestead of the decedent. The law establishing an elective estate or “elective share,” as it is known, is designed to protect surviving spouses from being completely disinherited. The law provides that a surviving spouse must receive at least 30% of the decedent’s “elective estate,” no matter what the decedent’s Will, Trust, or other type of estate plan might say. This statute then goes on to list all of the various types of properties and assets that are included in the calculation of the “elective estate.” Previously, the homestead was not included.