Many Florida residents may well have heard of the probate process and they may also have an idea that it has something to do with wills and estates. But many people may not understand exactly what probate is, and when it applies. One good resource for such questions is the Florida Bar.
Florida residents are, no doubt, fully aware of the "digital revolution." Many people's online lives rival their "real lives" in scope and intimacy. As many Internet users know, there are myriad ways to communicate, store and share through email, photo services, and social networking websites. A question arises then: what happens to digital Internet accounts when the account holder dies?
Residents of Florida may be aware that various types of assets come with forms that must be filled out to designate to whom the holder wishes the asset to go on the occasion of the holder's death. What they may not know, however, is that those forms can take precedence over the division of assets that is stated in a person's last will and testament.
As most Floridians may know, Rosa Parks was a figure of stature during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Her defiant stand against segregation in public transportation helped spark the beginning of the end of the Jim Crow Era. Unfortunately, her legacy is now partially in the hands of a probate judge as her heirs are in litigation over the distribution of some of her effects.
Florida has a large population of older residents, and remains a destination for individuals who have retired from lucrative professions. A significant number of these people either have a spouse who has died or have been divorced, and are contemplating getting married again.
The so-called "five W's" are generally associated with the field of journalism as a way to describe the minimum components necessary to write an informative story. However, using this idea in the estate planning realm can help individuals, including residents of Florida, to organize their thoughts when it comes to planning an estate to help minimize the potential for probate litigation.
Estate planning can encompass a wide variety of legal and financial issues, including the use of trusts, retirement income planning, powers of attorney and medical directives, to name a few. The oldest, and perhaps most fundamental, estate planning document is the last will and testament. Wills are a common device used to transfer property from the testator to heirs. The process generally used to act on a will's contents is the probate process. Because this process can be complicated, and varies from state to state, there are several issues with which individuals may need help.
All residents of Florida should think about what may happen in the event of their incapacity or death. Planning and having the appropriate legal documents to ensure that one's wishes are followed is something everyone should do. It is especially important for couples who, for whatever reason, do not have the legal protection of marriage.
While many people are aware that probate is something to be avoided, if possible, they do not necessarily know why. In Florida, there are several factors that make the probate process one that many people might wish not to experience.
Prior to 2010, people who were heirs in Florida had no real legal means to challenge the validity of a marriage after the death of the testator-spouse. Because, at common law, heirs did not have standing to object to the marriage in probate court, people who felt that the marriage had been instigated by fraud, or under duress, had no recourse if they were disinherited, or received less of the estate than they believed they should.