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Author Archives: Judy-Ann Smith

What are the Rules for Creditors in Florida Probate Matters?

After the death of a Florida resident, it is often necessary to open a probate estate. The probate process “proves” the deceased person’s will, or if there was not a valid will, ensures state intestacy law is followed with regard to distribution of assets. But, probate is about more than simply distributing assets. If the […]

Titling Florida Property As a Life Estate or Enhanced Life Estate

There are number of ways to title property and structure ownership in the state of Florida, one of which is by structuring ownership as a life estate. What follows is a closer look at life estates broadly, as well as a relatively rare form of life estate titling known as an enhanced life estate deed. […]

Titling Florida Property Under a Tenants in Common Ownership Structure

When making preparations to review or establish title to Florida real estate, it is important to know the legal options for Florida property ownership. One of the more common ways to title property in Florida is by establishing a “tenants in common” ownership structure. Here is a closer look at how “tenants in common” titling […]

Who Should Be Notified When Probate Is Started?

Probate is a legal process that involves transferring the assets of a deceased person (decedent). This is a necessary and court-supervised process for: Identifying and collecting the decedent’s assets Paying the decedent’s remaining debts Distributing assets to beneficiaries, which typically occurs after probate costs and outstanding debts are paid As a general rule, the people […]

Using Florida’s Homestead Laws to Protect and Transfer Your Home

If you are like most homeowners in Florida, your home is, if not your largest asset, certainly an important part of your overall estate. Florida law provides some protections for your home from the claims of creditors. As long as your home falls under the definition of a “homestead” in Florida, the state constitution says […]

Can I Dispute a Will in Florida?

When someone you love dies, it can be a highly emotional time for the family. It can be even more difficult if it becomes known that the now-deceased family member left a will that disinherited a child or spouse. When someone seemingly intentionally leaves a loved one out of the will, there can be many […]

Understanding Spousal Rights Under Florida’s Elective Share Law

What is Elective Share in Florida? In the state of Florida, you cannot completely disinherit your spouse. The “Elective Share” provisions (Part II of Ch. 732, Florida Statutes) is designed to protect a surviving spouse from spousal impoverishment because a cruel or vindictive spouse left their entire estate to others. Here are answers to some of the […]

Do I Have to Open a Probate Estate?

When a loved one dies, there are many issues to resolve. There are funeral services, church services, final arrangements for burial or cremation, and in many cases, property to be inventoried. For grieving families, going through a loved one’s things after death can be a troubling and uncomfortable situation. No doubt, someone will probably mention […]

Why You Should Not Delay in Creating Your Estate Plan

Of all the things people hate talking about, death is probably right at the top. Sure, no one wants to discuss what will happen when they die, but putting off the conversation is not going to make you live forever. On the other hand, knowing that you have a solid and informed plan can actually […]

Dying Intestate (Without a Will) in Florida

If, at the time you die, you have assets that don’t pass to others through joint tenancy, through beneficiary designations (such as those on retirement accounts and life insurance policies) or through a will or trust instrument, Florida’s intestacy laws will govern how those assets will pass. Essentially, if you don’t have a will or […]