Estate planning is the process of designating who will receive your assets and handle your responsibilities after your death or if you become incapacitated.

Do you have a complete estate plan?  These documents include:

  • Advance medical directives that spell out your wishes for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  This includes a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will.
  • A durable financial power of attorney allows someone else to manage your financial and legal affairs if you are medically unable to do so.
  • A will lists your beneficiaries and names an executor for your estate.
  • A living trust might be appropriate for you. Upon your death, the trust assets transfer to your designated beneficiaries, bypassing probate which is the court process that may otherwise distribute your property.
  • Beneficiary Designations. Another essential part of your estate plan includes a careful review of your designated beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and insurance policies.  The named beneficiaries outweigh what is in your will and trust. Make sure the right people inherit your assets.

And do not forget to revisit your estate plan when your circumstances change, for better or for worse. This may include a marriage or divorce, birth of a child, loss of a loved one, getting a new job or being terminated.  Life changes. So should your estate plan.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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 Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Will I Get To Spend Time With My Child If We Get Divorced?

Your relationship with your child is very important, not only for you and the child, but that relationship is important to the Judge, representing the interests of the state of Florida.

Florida courts strive to make sure your child spends as much time as possible with each parent.  The Court has wide discretion to consider the work schedule of each parent, the schooling of the child, and even the travel time required for time-sharing, among other factors.

 In many cases, Florida courts are now awarding a 50/50 time share split with equal sharing of most parental responsibilities.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

I’ve Lost My Job:  Am I Going To  Have To Pay Child Support?

We are now living in a pandemic with all its terrible economic consequences. Significantly, many businesses are having to cut back their workforce, and worse, some businesses are closing their doors.

If you have lost your job, it does not necessarily relieve you from child support payments.  Your obligation doesn’t automatically stop even though you may have reduced or no income. You need to petition the Court to modify your support obligation.  This will likely be easier in the aftermath of this unprecedented time.

The child support statutes do allow for modification due to economic hardship.  But, remember, you have to ask.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

My Wife Says She’s Going To Leave Florida And Take Our Kids

In Coronavirus times many divorced parents to want to flee, with their children, perhaps to their hometown, or to their parents’ home, or the like.  But, be careful before you make such a threat.  The law is probably not going to be on your side.

Florida has a genuine interest in your children and their well-being. This includes the right they have to be with both parents. So, in the absence of a specific agreement between the parents, the Court will be reluctant to let one parent take the children, and can even order the return of the children to their Florida home.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

Can You Sue Someone If You Get Coronavirus?

Many cases have been successfully brought concerning the transmission of viruses or infectious diseases, including during a pandemic. Past lawsuits pertaining to Ebola, Swine Flu and HIV/AIDS, and can serve as an indication of whether you can sue a person or business if you contract the novel coronavirus – COVID-19.

California courts have ruled that suits regarding the negligent transmission of sexual diseases, such as the HIV/AIDS virus, can proceed if the infected person knew or should have known he or she had the virus.

Some states have criminalized the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

A Texas court held that it would be possible for a husband to sue for his wife’s contraction of the HIV/AIDS virus.

And recently, the Supreme Court of Texas heard a case involving a claim brought under the Texas Medical Liability Act. A nurse who cared for a patient infected with Ebola went to Ohio to shop at a bridal shop. Once she returned to Dallas, she became ill and was later diagnosed with Ebola herself. The bridal shop claimed the hospital where the nurse worked was negligent for failure to prevent transmission of the Ebola virus to the nurse. The case was dismissed on procedural grounds so it remains unsettled whether such a claim could be successful.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

The Most Important Legal Document for the Coronavirus – the Durable Power of Attorney

We never want to think about getting sick.  But, most of us are thinking about it all the time now.

If you become ill or incapacitated and need someone to take over your finances, the most important document to have is a fully executed Durable Power of Attorney.  This document will enable someone you trust to take care of your financial affairs if you fall ill.

It is not enough to prepare documents using online forms.  These generic forms may not work and may not suit your specific needs.  And most importantly, in order to be valid, they must be properly signed, witnessed and notarized. 

Extreme times call for extreme measures. 

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms has implemented such measures.  Our office space has been reconfigured to allow for social distancing to meet with clients.  We are here to help.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has all of us facing our own mortality.  Some of us are realizing that we do not have the basic estate planning documents.

To protect yourself and your loved ones now’s a good time to make sure that you have the following four documents prepared and updated.

  • A will or revocable trust.
    • We need to leave instructions as to who will inherit our assets and who will be in control of our estates. Revocable Trusts are a good tool to avoid probate.
  • Beneficiary designations on financial accounts.
    • Many assets do not pass through a will or trust, such as an IRA, 401(k) account, or life insurance policy, and instead the proceeds go to the person you name as the beneficiary of that account.
  • Advance Directive for Health Care.
    • This document will give the person you designate as your agent the ability to make the medical decisions you specify on your behalf.
  • Financial durable power of attorney.
    •  In the chance that you become incompetent, financial responsibilities continue. You can designate a trusted person to handle your financial and legal affairs if you cannot.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more. We are currently offering free consultations via video conference to assist you with your needs.

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.

Some lucky retirees split their time between two different states. You do not need separate estate planning documents for each state, but it may make sense to do so. 

While your Will should be from the state that is your primary residence, your Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive from another state might present challenges.

Financial and health care institutions are used to the documents used in their states and may refuse to honor out-of-state documents. In the case of health care documents, other states may use different terms for the document, such as “durable power of attorney for health care” or “advance directive.” Durable Power of Attorney requirements vary significantly from state to state.  (And the people reviewing your documents may not be willing to accept the other state’s language).

In the absence of a durable power of attorney and advance medical directive, family members often must resort to going to court for a guardianship.  This causes delay and and unnecessary legal fees.

So, if you spend a part of the year in another state, executing a local durable power of attorney and a medical directive is a good idea.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

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.

The Secure Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019, by President Donald Trump.  This new law ends the availability for beneficiaries of inherited IRAs to stretch the tax-deferred and/or tax-free growth of the assets within it over the beneficiaries’ life-time.

Under the new law, non-spouse beneficiaries will have to withdraw all the funds in the inherited IRA within 10 years from the death of the account holder.  It applies to IRAs inherited after December 31, 2019.  

An exception to the new 10-year rule is for disabled and minor children. 

The new Secure Act could significantly alter your estate planning goals.  The Law Office of Debra G. Simms is holding free seminars to discuss how the new law might affect you.  Contact us to reserve a seat.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

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.

ESTATE PLANNING ESSENTIALS

In Florida, an estate planning attorney can help with the completion of four very important documents that are necessary such as a: 

  • last will and testament with or without guardianship depending on a scenario where there are minor children, 
  • an advanced healthcare directive,
  • durable power of attorney, and
  • living will

  A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and who will be the Personal Representative of the Estate.

An Advance Healthcare Directive is the document that details the type of care you want administered in the event you become disabled and cannot speak for yourself. In Florida this essential documentation is sometimes called a medical directive or advance directive.

A Durable Power of Attorney designates another person to conduct business on your behalf when you cannot. In the event of disability all other powers of attorney become ineffective except for this one document; the durability of this document allows it to survive disability and is fundamental to estate planning.

A Living Will is a declaration regarding your choices of medical care if you are in an end-stage condition, persistent vegetative state, or terminal condition, AND where there is no medical probability of recovery.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms can be of assistance in the preparation of estate planning documents. The initial 30 minute consultation is free.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

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