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?
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.
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.
We have heard many excuses to avoid discussing wills, trusts, and everything else relating to estate planning. The most common stem from concerns that it is too personal or sensitive a subject. Some even believe that talking about their potential demise will cause it to happen. However, having a conversation about estate planning with your loved ones is an opportunity for you to explain your wishes, discourage future discord through transparency, and open the door to better planning through better understanding. Here are some tips on where to begin:
As a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer, I see many examples of how poor planning results in increased probate costs. Recently, a client had to open a St. Johns County, Florida probate case so that the decedent’s 1% interest in a parcel of New York real property could be transferred. Even though we utilized the least costly probate procedure known as “summary administration,” the probate costs still were three (3) times greater than the value of the property being transferred to the probate estate.