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Estates, Wills, and Trusts

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Plan Your Estate by Forming a Will

Sure, today is just a typical Tuesday for some, but it could also be the day that you plan your estate by forming a Will.

The Ticktin Law Group can ensure that things run as organized as possible, should anything happen to you.

Let today be the day you plan your future and think of your family and friends.

Call The Ticktin Law Group and schedule an appointment to draft your Will.

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Protecting Elderly Women from Fraudulent Activity

The Ticktin Law Group was successful in revoking a power of attorney that was in place for an elderly woman in her 80’s.  Her daughter had full power of attorney and was using it to take advantage of her own mother’s assets.

At a guardianship hearing the judge set up protective measures to protect the assets so that her daughter was no longer able to take advantage of her mother.

Did you know the State of Florida has one of the highest occurrences of elderly abuse in the country? If you know any elderly person that has been abused, please tell them about us.

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Why do you need a Will?: Here are the Default Rules

Any person who does not make a will is agreeing to have all their assets distributed after their death using the default rules the Florida Legislature has established.  In essence, that person has allowed politicians in Tallahassee to write their will for them.  These rules are known as the rules of intestate succession.

Here are the rules of intestate succession; you may realize that these rules aren’t right for you:

1. If you are married at the time of your death and you and your spouse do not have children from other relationships, then your spouse gets your entire estate.  If you have children with your spouse, there’s an unwritten presumption that your spouse will provide for your children (they are not obligated to do so).

2. If you are married and either you or your spouse has children from other relationships, then your spouse gets one-half of your estate.

3. Whatever is not distributed to a spouse is distributed as follows:

a. If you have any descendants, they get all of your property.  A descendant is a child of yours, a grandchild, a great-grandchild, and so on.
b. If you do not have descendants, then your father and mother keep all your property if, either or both of them are still alive.
c. If you do not have descendants or living parents, then your brothers and sisters and the descendants of your deceased brothers and sisters get your property.  Half brothers and sisters only get half as much as whole brothers and sisters.
d.  If you do not have descendants, living parents, or brothers or sisters, then half of your property will be distributed to your maternal family and the other half to your paternal family as follows:

i.  Your grandfather and grandmother share their half of the property.
ii.  If there is no grandfather or grandmother living, then uncles and aunts and the descendants of dead uncles and aunts share that half of the property.
iii. If either the paternal or maternal side of your family does not have any living members, then the other side gets all of the property.

4. If none of these provisions apply to distribute your property, then if any of the descendants of your great-grandparents were Holocaust victims, then the descendants of your great-grandparents would get your property.

5. If none of the provisions above apply and there is still property to be distributed, then that property goes to the State of Florida.

This is a simplification of the rules, and believe me, there’s more.  These are bright-line rules.  It doesn’t matter if you hated your brother or if one of your children is richer than the others.  A probate court would just apply the rules as written.  There is no room for discretion.

For most people, there is something about these rules that they don’t like.  If this is the case for you, then get a will done.

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Execute a Will to avoid State Distribution of your assets

Most individuals wait too long to execute their will or never create one at all.    If an individual dies and leaves behind a properly executed will, then his or her probate assets will receive testate distribution; or more simply, the assets will be distributed according to the will as drafted.  However, if a person dies without executing a will, then this is known as dying intestate. When an individual dies intestate, that individual’s probate assets will be distributed according to Florida statute.  Florida’s intestate distribution statute was created by the legislature to protect a person’s spouse and children.  It was also created to prevent long and expensive lawsuits as to whom the assets will be distributed.  But, an individual may not agree with the distribution scheme created by Florida’s legislature for whatever reason.  As such, a properly executed will must be created as early as possible to protect your intentions upon your death.  Of course, a person’s mind and circumstances can change over time.  Not to worry, a will can be revoked or modified as long as the proper formalities are followed.  Thus, it is imperative to contact an attorney to create a will early to protect one’s intentions and assets upon his or her death.

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The Lady Bird Deed: Transfer Real Property in Florida Without Probate

In Florida, a “Lady Bird” deed is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to transfer real property at death, without the need for probate administration.   Avoiding the need for probate provides certainty and efficiency in dealing with affairs after death.

The Lady Bird deed is an enhanced life estate deed because it offers the automatic transfer of property at death, while providing the life tenant the ability to retain control over the property.

Florida is one of the only states in the United States of America, by way of a Lady Bird Deed that allows an individual to transfer their property at the time of their death, thereby avoiding the need to probate that property, while still allowing that individual to retain the right to sell, lease, and mortgage their property, without the consent of the intended beneficiary.

 In most states, once the life estate deed is executed, the life tenant’s hands are tied, as the life tenant now needs the consent of any beneficiaries named in the life estate deed, in order to revoke the deed, or even allow the property to be sold, as the beneficiaries interest becomes vested once the deed is executed.

The opposite occurs in the State of Florida, with a Lady Bird Deed, as the life tenant still retains the right to cancel the deed, sell the property, lease, and put mortgages on the property, without the consent of the beneficiary.   For the Deed to allow this, the deed has to be drafted in a very specific way, which typically requires an experienced lawyer drafting the deed.

The Lady Bird deed is an attractive estate planning tool that should be considered.  It allows for the property to be transferred at the time of death, without the need for probate.  Even a will does not allow for this type of transfer at death, as a will simply names the intended beneficiary.  Moreover, if a person was to deed their property to their beneficiaries by way of a quit claim deed, prior to their death, then in effect that person no longer owns their property.

The transfer of real property is a serious matter and a qualified Florida attorney should be consulted before executing a deed.  Even with the costs to create and record a Lady Bird deed, it remains an inexpensive and effective tool to transfer real property at death without the need for probate.

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