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Estate Planning

          • Last Will and Testament

          • Durable Power of Attorney

          • Living Will

          • Designation of Health Care Surrogate

          • Revocable Trust

If I die, will my out of State Will be accepted here in Florida?


Good question and not an uncommon one given that we live in an area with a highly mobile population.  Many of our residents are transplants, having relocated here as a result of their military service or they decided to live in paradise after having visited it on a vacation.  


The general answer is, Yes. Floridawill recognize your out of State Will so long as it was validly executed in the State where it was prepared.  The Probate of your Will, however, will be subject toFloridalaw.  If there are provisions that are contrary to Florida law, then the law will trump.  A common conflict arises in your selection of the person to be the Personal Representative of your estate.  (Other States call that person the Executor or Administrator.) 


I will gladly review your Will at no charge to see if there are potential problems that need to be addressed.  If changes are required or recommended and you have me make those changes, then there will be a charge for those services.


I have a military Will prepared by the Judge Advocate, shouldn’t it be good everywhere, including here?  


Yes, but again, as with an out of State WILL, if you die while residing in Florida the provisions of your Will will be subject to Florida law.  As a retired military officer and former commander I am very familiar with the Wills prepared by the Judge Advocates.  Of necessity, those Wills are very general in nature and often provide for the disposition of your estate in the same manner as would occur by law if you died without a Will!  The reason is that the JAG does not work for you, the military member.  He or she is on the Commander’s staff and works for the military institution.  Any service they provide to the military member is collateral, an additional duty in essence, to their primary job.  Unless that JAG is licensed by the State where they are located to practice law, they cannot give you personal legal advice on personal, nonmilitary matters; to do so would have them subject to prosecution for the unlicensed practice of law.  Consequently, the Wills their offices prepare for you are standard, “cookie cutter” Wills in which they simply put in them what you say.  What you say to put in them may not be best for you and your circumstances and the JAG cannot advise you otherwise.  (You may have not even seen the JAG when you went to have your Will done as any administrative staff can fill out the Will forms for you.)  Bring your Will to me for a free review and we’ll discuss its provisions and your wishes and discuss how best to achieve them.


I don’t really have anything, do I need a Will?


Yes, while you may live modestly or even poor, you may die rich!  For example, a drunk driver crosses the centerline, striking your car and killing you.  Your estate could sue that driver for wrongful death and possibly be awarded a substantial sum of money.  While it wouldn’t do you any good, your Will would allow you to “speak from the grave” and do something nice for the people you care about by deciding who would get that award. 

And money isn’t the only concern.  You may be a single parent and need to make provision for your children, expressing your wishes with respect to who will take them in and raise them for you in your absence.  Let’s talk and see what kind of things you should consider based upon your life circumstances.


I have a Revocable Living Trust so that I can avoid Probate; I don’t need a Will.


You still need a Will. Many people are not diligent about transferring ownership of their assets to the Trust.  They die and substantial parts of their estate don’t belong to the Trust.  You need a will to make sure it goes to the right places and people.  Many people also fail to put newly acquired property into the Trust, so once again a Will is needed to decide upon its disposition on your death.


Probate is not a bad thing.  It protects your assets and provides for supervision by a disinterested person (the Judge) to ensure your wishes are followed.  When you die people, including creditors, have two years to come out of the woodwork and claim that they’re entitled to some of your estate.  If you have a probate, you can limit that time to three months.  Plus, the administration of your estate in a probate is overseen by a Judge who makes sure that your wishes expressed in the Will are followed and, in Florida, your Personal Representative is required to have an attorney guide them through the process to ensure things are done properly.  If you’re relying on a Trust to dispose of your estate after your death, the Trustee is unsupervised; you’re relying on the Trustee to know what they’re doing and to do it right, as well as comply with your wishes as expressed in your Trust document.  In addition, those creditors have got two years to show up and ask for money.


A Trust can serve a valuable purpose, depending upon your circumstances.  Let’s talk and see what makes sense for you.


I have a Will; I think I’m ready to go when the time comes.


Maybe; a proper Will that addresses your wishes is a great thing to have.  While many of us may think about and prepare to go, often we don’t think about hanging on.  What happens if you’re incapacitated and unable to tend to your affairs and carry out your normal tasks?  What if you’re in a coma or unconscious and can’t make medical or other decisions for yourself?  What if you’re in a vegetative state with no reasonable medical probability that you’re going to recover?


Proper estate planning seeks to address all of those possibilities.  Let’ talk and see how you’ll be taken care of in those circumstances.