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December 2014 Archives

What is a living will in Florida?

Floridians may have heard the estate planning term "living will." Some may be a bit confused by the phrase and how it differs from what they may think of as a "regular" will. First, it is important to understand that a "living will" isn't really a will, in the technical sense. That is why the term is increasingly being replaced with the terms "health care advanced directive" or "health care proxy." These are the terms recognized by Florida law and they make more sense and differentiate an important document from a last will and testament.

Trust may be a way to stop emotion-based wealth squandering

As the so-called "baby boom" generation continues to age, it is becoming increasingly likely that many individuals will receive an inheritance within the next few decades. A Boston College study has found that it is possible that, over the next 40 years, various beneficiaries will receive as much as $59 trillion through inheritance. Unfortunately, according to a 2012 Ohio State University study, it is a distinct possibility that those heirs will spend, lose or donate about half of their inheritances. With HSBC, a banking company, indicating that the average American inheritance will be about $177,000, there will be a great deal of wealth squandered, both here in Florida and around the country.

Guardians of adults can face challenges in Florida

While there are several types of adult guardianship in Florida, being the legal guardian of another adult in any form can be a difficult job. The guardian must attempt to balance taking action that is in the best interests of the ward with allowing the ward as much independence and autonomy as possible within the scope of the guardianship. Further, others often challenge the guardian, either in establishing the guardianship, or in the actions the guardian chooses to take. Sometimes, these challenges end up before a judge.

Who inherits in Florida if there is no will?

A person who dies without a will is said to have died "intestate." When that happens the distribution of the decedent's property is governed by Florida's intestacy statute. If the decedent was married but had no children, all the assets pass to the surviving spouse. If there are children, grandchildren or any other descendants of the decedent still living, and the surviving spouse has no children by anyone else, the spouse also gets the entire estate.

What are the main reasons to challenge a Florida will?

Having a solid estate plan is essential if you wish to have some control over how your assets are distributed after you die. We have discussed some ways of avoiding probate in Florida and the delays and costs associated with it. But for various reasons, probate is sometimes necessary, so it might be a good idea to take a look at the more likely legal justifications someone might have for challenging all or part of a will.