Some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we are asked......

Can I prevent a daughter-in-law or son-in-law from benefitting from my child’s inheritance if they get a divorce?

An inheritance belongs to the person to whom it is given.  There are a number of options of protecting the inheritance from a divorce.  The most common way is to put it into a trust.  There are a variety of trusts available for providing such protection, depending on the situation.  An experienced estate planning attorney can explain the various options to you.

Can National Guard Veterans Collect US Veterans’ Benefits?

National Guard members are only eligible for VA benefits stemming from their federal service, which includes periods during which they were ordered into federal service by President under the appropriate authority, and tasked to perform duty under the provisions of federal law. National Guard members who are ordered into the active service of state are not eligible for VA benefits related to that service.

How can I help my elderly parents make changes to their will?

There many things children can do to help their parents draft or make changes to a last will and testament. You will need to make an appointment with an attorney to finalize the document, but before this step, you and your parents should have a clear understanding of what you want to include (and not include) in their final wishes.

What to Do Before Your Appointment With an Elder Law Attorney

  • Consider all aspects. Your mom and dad may have told you who gets the life insurance policy or the antique furniture, but a will goes beyond division of property. Make a list of all of the questions you want your attorney to answer to make sure your will is complete.
  • Think about the “what ifs.” Your parents will also need to draft a living will, or instructions on their care if they are in a coma or unable to make their own medical decisions. Who would be entrusted to make life and death decisions, and has he or she been given power of attorney?
  • Set the plan in motion. Make an appointment to meet with your parents’ attorney. Your parents should choose an executor they can trust to adhere to their wishes, and that person should accompany them to the attorney’s office.
  • Go prepared. It’s better to have too much information than none at all, so make sure you bring all of your important documents with you to your meeting with the attorney. This includes several forms of ID, copies of other wills or trusts, proof of insurance, a list of your assets, tax forms, and anything else you may need to allocate your property.

Do you have more questions for a Florida elder law attorney? We can help you make sure that your parents have peace of mind as they enjoy their retirement. Click the contact link on this page to set up a consultation with Ric Blackwell today.

What are the different legal documents involved in buying a house?

There are many different types of legal documents needed before a property can be transferred from one party to another. Generally speaking, a form must be filed for each step in the buying process, creating a mountain of paperwork by the time the buyer completes the final signing over of the deed.

Here are the most common legal documents involved in buying a house:

  • Purchasing agreement. This document clearly lists the basic terms and conditions of the transaction, and must include each party’s name and address, the purchase price, the down payment amount, the condition of the property, what is (and is not) included in the sale, the closing and possession dates, and how long the offer is valid.
  • Property disclosure. Under Florida law, the seller is required to present you with a disclosure form detailing all known defects of the property. These can include items that need repair, past work that has been done to or done on the property, lead-based paint disclosure (for pre-1978 homes), and any existing legal actions or outstanding debts involving the property.
  • Deed. This is the official form of ownership transferring the property from the seller to the buyer. A copy of the deed is given to the county recorder to prove that you are now the legal owner.
  • Bill of sale. This document lists the property and all accompanying items that are being transferred (such as appliances, security systems, satellite dishes, and other additions to the real estate deal).
  • Seller’s affidavit. This is a sworn statement from the seller attesting that he owns the property, and therefore has a right to sell it. It should also include any known title defects, such as leases or work that is being done on the property that could potentially lead to future liens or boundary line disputes.
  • Buyer/seller settlement statement. This document outlines all of the financial transfers between the seller and buyer. Common listings include the purchase price (including the amount of down payment), brokers’ commissions, transfer tax payments, title insurance, escrow fees, surveyor’s fees, and county recorder’s fees.

It should be noted that these documents are only the tip of the iceberg. There will likely also be insurance forms, inspection reports, tax documents, and financing paperwork—and there could be additional filings if problems arise before the transaction is final.

Before you buy a house in Sarasota, Naples, or another Florida city, click the contact link on this page to get your documents reviewed by me. I can help you spot problems and financial liability before you commit to buy.

What Do I Need To Know Before Forming An LLC In Florida?

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a simple business structure that allows owners to pay business income on their individual taxes, but only extends liability as far as the business. In other words, owners personally pay taxes on the profits from the business, but if the business is named in a lawsuit, only the money in the business is at risk.

For example, a woman has been earning a small amount of money from a side business making pies. She decides to form an LLC and reports the income every year on her taxes. If someone threatens to sue her because they got sick eating one of her pies, she could potentially lose her business; however, her house, car, and personal property cannot be taken in payment.

Is an LLC a Smart Idea for My Business?

An LLC is one of the simplest business models a company can have. While it carries many advantages, there are also rules governing who may—and may not—benefit:

  • Business size. LLCs have successfully been formed with only one owner, while others have two, ten, twenty or more. However, the more partners a business has, the harder it will be to designate duties under an LLC, making a corporation more preferable.
  • Specific risks. While anyone who is concerned about personal exposure to business debts may form an LLC, some businesses are inherently at higher risk than others. For instance, owners who host their business in a office space may form an LLC as protection against slip-and-fall accidents on the property.
  • Exclusions. Some businesses, such as banks and insurance companies, are prohibited from forming LLCs, so your eligibility will depend (to some extent) on the nature of your business.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Help Me Protect My Company?

While most states require only paperwork and filing fees to form an LLC in Florida, it takes much more than that to create a business. You will have to complete an operating agreement, choose a location, finance your operation, and designate duties for each member of the business. Before you start a business in Fort Myers, Sarasota, or anywhere else, click the contact link on this page to have me examine your business plan and identify any potential legal problems.

What is power of attorney?

A “power of attorney” (POA) is a legal document that appoints a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf. They can be used to allow someone to make your business decisions for you, make choices about your health care, or otherwise act as your agent.

Since a general power of attorney document only allows someone to act on your behalf with your consent, it will no longer apply if you become incapacitated. In order for someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are mentally ill or unresponsive, you will need to establish a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney is generally created for one of two reasons:

  • Financial Power of Attorney. A financial POA will allow someone to act as your agent in financial transactions. If you are incapacitated, your agent may be given the authority to perform your banking transactions, pay your bills, file your tax returns, manage your investments, or any other duties you assign him or her. The agent doesn’t have to be a financial professional, but it should be someone who you trust and who is good with numbers.
  • Medical Power of Attorney. A medical POA gives someone the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are too injured or ill to speak on your behalf. The creation of a medical POA includes information on what treatment options you prefer if you are in a coma, are severely disabled, or suffer from dementia. Also called a durable power of attorney for health care, your agent will ensure that your wishes are followed and that you get the medical care you have chosen.

Can I Choose One Person for Both Medical and Financial Power of Attorney?

While you can give POA for health care and finances to the same person, you should strongly consider your options. You may be placing an undue burden on your agent, as well as giving him or her complete access to your personal information and medical records. The most important thing is that you trust your agent completely to carry out the choices that you have made.

For more help choosing an agent to act as power of attorney, contact me to ask a question or set up a consultation.