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January 2012 Archives

Dispute over Etta James' estate plan resolved

Residents of West Palm Beach may have heard that Etta James, the legendary rhythm and blues singer, recently passed away. James, who later in life suffered from leukemia and dementia, was known for singing such enduring chart-toppers as "At Last" and "Tell Mama." She was 72 years old when she passed away, and sadly, the last year of her life involved some controversy over her estate plan. Readers in South Florida who are concerned with issues of powers of attorney, determining incapacity, medical directives or other estate planning matters may be interested in the dispute over James' estate, since many people in Florida face similar conflicts every year.

Cargill heir to dismiss probate lawsuit against mother

Residents in South Florida know that probate litigation can get complicated and sometimes downright unpleasant. But a solid and well-considered estate plan can ease the burden on heirs and beneficiaries, as well as ease the minds of living asset owners. Still, family strains and other factors too often make probate litigation anything but simple, and a prime example of such a situation is a recent case involving the apparent heir to the family fortune of the giant Cargill Corp.

What kind of asset protection can a living trust provide?

Residents of West Palm Beach who are currently involved in estate planning may have questions about Florida law as it relates to establishing a living trust. For instance, can a living trust provide any asset protection if the owner of assets benefits from or controls the trust in any way? In this case, the answer is no. Usually, with a living trust, the owner of assets can serve as or appoint a trustee. The owner can also revoke or make changes to a trust, as well as withdraw trust assets. These powers are very helpful in estate planning and avoiding probate. But if the owner has these powers, creditors are allowed to attach the trust assets.