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Preparing an estate plan for the death of both spouses

Following the death of George H.W. Bush just a few months after his wife's death, some Florida couples may have wondered how their estate plans would be affected if one died shortly after the after. Sometimes called "broken-heart syndrome," this is not an unusual occurrence when a couple has been together for a long time. There are steps people can take to help ensure that assets are still transferred smoothly even if this happens.

A survivorship provision requires a spouse to live for a certain amount of time after the death of the first spouse. With this in place, if spouses die just a few hours or days apart, it may be possible for their estates to pass through probate together. However, this would not have been useful in the case of the Bushes since there was a longer gap. In such a situation, there might be a question as to who assets will pass to. With a qualified disclaimer, the spouse can choose to waive a claim on assets so they go directly to the next beneficiary.

3 children of late singer Glen Campbell end estate dispute

Country music fans in Florida remember the hits of singer and songwriter Glen Campbell fondly. His passing in 2017, however, resulted in three of his children contesting the validity of his will that excluded them from any inheritance. The children have now chosen to dismiss their bid for a portion of their father's estate. Their legal filings did not explain their reason for dropping the matter.

Campbell's other five children and his wife, who was married to him for the last 34 years of his life, were the beneficiaries of his will that was completed in 2006. The three excluded children were born during Campbell's previous marriages. When they contested his will, they claimed that their father had lacked the mental capacity to create a valid will. Alzheimer's disease eventually led to his death.

When to seek guardianship for an aging parent?

As your parents age, you have likely started to notice little changes in their behaviors. Maybe you noticed your mom forgot to take her medications or you dad didn’t pay the electric bill this month. Sometimes incidents like these are regular accidents, but sometimes they are signs of a parent’s deteriorating health.

If you have noticed signs of a parent’s deteriorating health, you may be wondering when is the right time to start taking over some of their responsibilities. There are several legal ways to do this, but you may be met with some resistance from your parent, who might view these changes as a loss of freedom. While it is important to work with your parent to maintain his or her freedom as long as possible, there is a point in which it is no longer in his or her best interest and you may need to consider petitioning for guardianship.

Dealing with the Florida probate process

Probate is the process of administering, organizing and sorting a person's estate after he or she dies. In cases where the person leaves a will, he or she is said to have died testate; without a will, the decedent is intestate. Florida law governs the probate process either way, and the probate court will administer, supervise and distribute the estate. Typically, the executor of the estate is named in the will.

If an executor is not named in the will, one will be appointed by the probate court. Probate begins when the executor puts forth the will for probate. The will should be probated with the court where the decedent owned real property or lived. The time required to complete the probate process varies from case to case, depending on factors like the number of debts and taxes outstanding, the number of heirs, the size of the estate and whether the will is being contested. The probate process is usually complete within 24 months after the date the person dies. In cases where the will is contested or there are lawsuits associated with probate, the process could take several years or decades.

Legal issues for small businesses

Owning a small business in Florida can be exciting. However, finding success also involves a lot of work. Most business owners have invested a lot of time, money and effort to see that their projects grow and expand.

Because of the stakes involved, it's important for business owners to be prepared in case a threat arises at some point in time. You should know how to address obstacles head-on before they can grow into larger problems. Being able to negotiate your position in contracts is also important so that you can secure provisions that protect your interests.

Choosing the right executor for an estate

Florida residents who are thinking about their plans for the future may want to make sure that they have properly arranged to pass their belongings on to their loved ones. When writing a will, one of the most important decisions people can make is not about the distribution of their property but about who they select to serve as executor. While the task can require some complex legal and financial responsibilities, many select an executor for emotional or familial reasons rather than the person's ability to do the job. People may name their closest siblings or best friends as a way to honor the relationship.

When it comes to picking an executor, an estate owner should be aware that this is not an honorary title. The executor is responsible for managing the estate after the testator passes away. This includes accounting for all of the person's assets, working with the probate court and handling any final tax liabilities. The executor also must also account for the estate's expenses and income. Depending on the size of the estate, the executor may need to work together with lawyers, accountants and other professionals. If a dispute emerges over the will, the executor's job can become even more fraught.

Stakes are often high when people have questions about land use

Communities and municipalities throughout Florida have established numerous rules about land use. These zoning laws are intended to protect communities from unwanted activities or developments, but their terms might complicate your plans for a property. You might be uncertain how land regulations could limit your ability to buy, sell or develop a piece of land. Many different situations could require that you engage with local officials or neighboring property owners. Legal insights and guidance could help you understand your position and how to proceed with a complaint or request.

If you want to develop a property, you might require clarity about the existing rules. Learning what you can and cannot do is essential before you make investments. Your due diligence efforts might benefit from legal research and advice. At times, you might feel that you have a good case for requesting a variance. When approaching authorities, you will need to prepare a request that outlines your goals and explains why it should qualify for an exception.

On the other hand, you might oppose a proposed project in your community. Such developments could emerge from either private parties or your local government. Information about how to approach the local planning commission and communicate your concerns could empower you when communicating with regulators.

Archery range owner asks for exemption to zoning rule

Central Florida Archery was forced to close its doors after neighbors complained that it was being operated improperly. It was not allowed to operate on Sully Drive because it was not zoned for business purposes. However, outdoor clubs are allowed to operate on property zoned A-1 if they have a special permit to do so. The owner of Central Florida Archery said that he was not aware of the rule.

He said that he would be speaking to authorities to secure the exemption and resume operations. Members of the community were upset that the owner was forced to shut down temporarily, and more than 1,000 people signed an online petition to keep it open. One woman remarked that the range provided an opportunity to bond with her family while another person said his son was training there to participate in the Olympics.

Understand the importance of keeping an estate plan up to date

Creating and maintaining an estate plan provides a person with the peace of mind in knowing they have a plan for the future. Whether it’s preparing for the future of a business, planning for potential health issues or deciding on beneficiaries, estate planning allows you to make important decisions now that will hold great impact down the line.

It’s not enough to compile an estate plan and leave it in a folder for when it’s needed. All prudent planners in Florida need to revisit their estate over time to ensure it remains relevant and enforceable if necessary. It’s important to keep an estate plan up to date with the changes in your life as well as any changes in law and policies governing estate planning and probate.

The basics of creating an estate plan

Florida fans of Aretha Franklin may know that she died without an estate plan despite the fact that she had a special-needs son and her health was poor. Prince also died without a will, and his relatives have still not received any payments from the estate. While most people do not have to worry about estate tax with the federal exemption currently at $11.18 million, there are a number of other reasons to create an estate plan.

Without a will, state law decides what happens to a person's assets. A will can name an executor to oversee the process of identifying and distributing assets and a guardian for minor children. A person might also want to avoid probate and keep an estate plan private. In that case, the person may want to set up a living trust. Once the trust is created, it is necessary to transfer assets into it.

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