Answer these 7 simple questions to find out!

  1. Have you prepared a Will or Trust?

If you do not have a will, the State of Florida will determine how your assets will pass.  This could have potentially undesired results!

  1. If you have done a Will or Trust when was it last reviewed?

Your estate planning documents should be reviewed on an annual basis to be certain that the representatives, agents, trustees, etc. that you have appointed are still appropriate.  You should also review your plan of distribution.  If changes have occurred in your family, financial situation, or your desires, then new provisions may be necessary.   Also, changes in the law do occur, so plans should be periodically reviewed by an estate planning attorney.

An out-of-date estate plan perhaps is worse than no estate plan at all.  Think of estate planning as a process, not an event.

  1. Does your current plan provide your heirs with asset protection, divorce protection, and lawsuit protection?

Under Florida law, children and grandchildren can inherit property at age 18 without restriction.  Proper planning is crucial to prevent an heir from squandering his or her inheritance.  Are the distributions to your children protected from their creditors and divorce?

  1. Do you only have a Will and not a Living Trust?

Many of your assets could be subject to Probate proceedings.  Probates are costly and require many months to conclude.  A properly funded Living Trust is an excellent way to avoid Probate.

  1. Should your decision makers be changed?

Over time, many people change their minds about who is best suited to be their personal representatives, trustees, and health decision makers.  Or the people designated in the original documents may have moved, died, become ill, or grown distant.  You should also consider naming successors to act as back-up.

  1. Is this your only marriage?

Second or subsequent marriages present unique planning issues, particularly if both have children from a prior marriage.  Proper planning is critical to prevent undesired results.

  1. Do you have assets titled jointly with a child or children, or someone else?

Holding assets jointly with someone else other than a spouse is quite common, but has some potentially devastating consequences of which most people are unaware.  In Florida, a creditor of a joint tenant can claim the asset!  A creditor would include a divorcing spouse, judgment creditor, or business creditor.  Additionally, problems can be created if joint tenants die in the wrong order.  There are better ways to allow your children to access your accounts.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Here is a list of quick tips for what to do after you leave the attorney’s office:

  • Keep your original documents in a safe and secure place.
  • Make sure your agent under your Power of Attorney knows where you keep your documents and that he or she has the name of your attorney.
  • Give copies of your Medical Directives to the people you have named in the documents; your Primary Care Physician and other Health Care providers should also have a copy.
  • Discuss your wishes for health care and end of life choices with your chosen agents. Don’t make them guess what you would want.
  • If you have not already done so, consider Pre-paid funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements. It is not only less costly but when the time comes, it will ease the burden for your loved ones who are grieving your loss.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Important Tips for New Florida Residents

Welcome to Florida.  To ease the transition to your new home, below is a checklist of important tasks to complete your move.

  • Driver’s License or ID Card:  Florida requires that you obtain a Florida driver’s license or ID card within 30 days of moving to the state.  To obtain this, there are extensive document requirements: proof of identity, proof of residency, proof of social security number and proof of car insurance. For a new license, you will also need a valid out-of-state license and a vision test is required.  When you get your license, you can also register to vote.
  • Property Tax: If you purchase real estate, the new ownership information will be automatically updated on the tax roll after the deed is recorded.  You should check your eligibility to file for any exemptions with the Property Appraiser.
  • Vehicle Title and Registration: Florida law requires a vehicle to be registered within 10 days after the owner establishes residency. You will need the current title to register and title your vehicle. If your title is being held by a lender, you must provide your registration.  You must present proof of insurance.  The vehicle VIN number must also be verified; therefore, you must bring the vehicle with you.
  • Boats: Florida titles and registers most vessels.  You must present your registration from your old state.
  • Hunting and Fishing: To hunt or fish, you may be required to obtain a license. If you already have a license, your address will be changed when you update your driver’s license.
  • Tourist Tax: If you purchase a property for 6 months or less, you must register to pay the Tourist Development Tax.  If your property is rented for 1 month or less, you will also have to pay the Business Tax.
  • Update your Estate Planning documents: If you have a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, or Living Will from another state,  the documents might not be effective in Florida.  See a Florida Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney for a consultation and bring along your documents for review.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

A Dementia Living Will is specifically designed to address advance care planning in cases of dementia.  In order to be effective, the document must be combined with a Designation of Advance Healthcare Surrogate and a Living Will.

For many people with dementia, there can be a number of years between losing the ability to make medical decisions and the point at which a living will would take effect.  Multiple medical issues can occur during those years, and a lack of information leaves your healthcare surrogates unprepared.

The purpose of the Dementia Living Will is to provide information to your health care surrogate in case you develop dementia.  It is intended to serve as a communication tool so your surrogate is aware of your medical choices regarding medical issues that are common during dementia.

The document can be completed by anyone over the age of 18 and is particularly helpful for those who are concerned about a diagnosis of dementia in the future and those individuals who have been diagnosed with early dementia are still capable of making their own medical choices.

Disclaimer:  If properly drafted and executed with witnesses the document should comply with Florida law.  However, with any new legal document, there may be some legal issues.   In the case of any challenge to legality, a signed and witnessed documents will provide a presumption of “clear and convincing evidence of the principal’s wishes”.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms now offers a Dementia Living Will.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
629 N. Dixie HWY
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667

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