Blog

Only One Father Per Child

Anyone who has adopted a child, or been adopted, probably knows this, but for everyone else, remember this: When it comes to inheritance, you only have one father or one mother. While sometimes we distinguish between a “biological mother” and an “adoptive mother,” when it comes to being an “heir,” there can be only one… read more

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What Does “Per Stirpes” Mean?

In a Last Will, what does “per stirpes” mean? We get that question a lot, as “per stirpes” (pronounced “purr STIR pees”) is a very useful Latin expression for Last Wills. Someone somewhere a long, long time ago started using it as a shortcut expression, and it stuck. We’ll skip the Latin lesson. Over-simplified, it… read more

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An Important Change to Florida Law

Who inherits, and how much, when there is no Last Will? Starting October 1, 2011, step-parents in Florida have even more incentive to have a Last Will. Without a will, the surviving spouse inherits much less of the estate if either of the parents has children by any other relationship. Thankfully, the results below can… read more

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Children Inherit Assets Not Debts

Why do some people worry about having to pay their parent’s debts? It always surprises us when our clients ask us if they are responsible for the debts of their deceased parents. We scratch our heads and ask, “Where would you get such a thought?” We are sure that in some societies at some times… read more

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The Quick and the Deed

There is a type of deed called a “quit claim deed,” the name of which comes from an archaic verb that actually says the person signing the deed “quitclaims” the title to the other person. Literally, it means “I will not make any claim to the title after I record this deed.” Because the word… read more

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Finally, a Book to Recommend

People often ask us if we can recommend estate administration or estate planning services, software or books, and we’ve been looking, honestly. Sadly, the answer is usually “no.” Florida law has just enough oddities that anything written for a national audience almost always fails to spot all the places where Florida law differs. But we’re… read more

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Florida’s Two Kinds of Probate

Probate is a court process, which varies from state to state. People use it to transfer ownership of assets (land, houses, stocks, money) from people who died (decedents) to the people who under the law inherited those assets (heirs or beneficiaries). Sounds simple? Sadly, it often is not. In Florida, there are two very different… read more

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Firearms in the Estate

Inheriting a gun may be OK — shipping it, maybe not. What does a personal representative do when firearms are among the estate assets? Obviously, he or she must take steps to make sure that guns are not loaded, accessible to minors or to others who should not be trusted with firearms, or otherwise creating… read more

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Florida : “Entirety” = Fewer Probates

Rarely is probate needed for Florida property when one spouse dies. The general rule in Florida is that, even if the deed does not identify two owners as husband and wife, if they are indeed legally married most likely the couple owns the property as “tenants by the entirety” (TBE). TBE ownership means that no probate… read more

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Don’t Blindly Trust Trusts

The best thing a nominated Trustee can do is decline to serve (I’m only kidding…or perhaps not). The second best thing is to hire an attorney. It’s no secret among those who regularly practice in trusts and estates that living trusts have been oversold for the past 15 years. By “living trust,” I am referring… read more

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