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!
In previous posts, we addressed digital assets and how difficult it might be for fiduciaries (personal representatives or trustees) of an estate to access the digital assets of a deceased loved one, specifically their Facebook account and assets such as email accounts. Although we had hopes that the Florida legislature would pass a bill on the subject early last year (Senate Bill 102), it unfortunately died on May 1. The Legislature, however, was determined to pass a bill on the subject, and we can now say that it has!
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.
This fascinating documentary details the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ private collection of modern and post-impressionist art, valued at 40-50 billion dollars. Even if you haven’t heard of Dr. Barnes or his phenomenal art collection, this film is a must-see.
This newsletter begins a series discussing the impact of marriage on the legal rights of spouses to share in each other’s assets. We begin by talking about the “elective share” and the “pretermitted spouse.”
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.
When people think about adoption, images of a young child in need often come to mind. Yet, Florida law contemplates a broader vision. Under Florida Statute § 63.042(1) “[a]ny person, a minor or an adult, may be adopted.” The recent Florida case Dennis v. Kline demonstrates the complications that may arise when an estate plan allows adopted children to become beneficiaries, but fails to address whether “adopted children” includes adopted adults.
The Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, held every January, is the nation’s leading conference for estate planners. This year’s most-discussed topic was big changes in planning for same-sex couples.
Florida attorneys have long been prohibited by our ethical rules from soliciting or accepting gifts from clients, including drafting a will or trust that names the attorney (or his close relative) as a beneficiary. The concern is that an attorney who is asking for or receiving a gift from a client has a personal stake and thus will not be able to properly advise the client regarding the transaction (what we call a “conflict of interest”). There is also the possibility that an attorney could exploit his relationship as a trusted advisor to obtain a gift from his client.