Monday, May 22, 2017

The Probate Process

Probate is the court process to distribute assets and pay liabilities of a deceased person (in legal terms, the “decedent”). The personal representative of the decedent represents the decedent during this process, and it is strongly recommended that each personal representative retain experienced legal counsel to handle the probate process to ensure accuracy, efficiency and the proper administration of the decedent’s wishes.

Under Florida law, there are four types of probate administration. The two most common are “formal administration” and “summary administration.” A third type, called “disposition of personal property without administration,” is available for very small estates that satisfy certain conditions. And the fourth type, called “ancillary administration,” is for property outside of Florida and is initiated in the state in which the property is located. More of the differences between the four types of administration will be discussed in our next article.

Probate is necessary only for certain of a decedent’s assets, but probate is required whether or not a decedent had a will. It is noteworthy that the probate process can be much simpler and less expensive when a decedent has a valid will. In any event, all assets owned by a decedent at death that lack a means for automatic transfer of ownership are considered probate assets. Common probate assets include real property (unless it is the homestead of the decedent), motor vehicles, and bank accounts. Assets that are commonly excluded from probate because they transfer automatically as a result of a decedent’s death are financial accounts with “transfer on death” designations and real property that is held as a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.

The personal representative of the decedent is charged with distributing the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries and for paying the decedent’s creditors. However, in order for the beneficiary of a decedent’s probate asset to obtain legal ownership of a particular asset, the probate process must be completed. For Florida residents, a probate case is initiated in the county where the decedent lived at the time of his or her death.

The Florida Probate Code and Florida Probate Rules govern the probate process and can be very complicated in their application. Throughout the probate process, certain steps must be completed within statutorily required time frames. If a particular step is accidentally overlooked or completed with errors, or if an important deadline is missed, it can leave the decedent’s estate, or the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, open to litigation for years to come and it can result in a complete waiver of a valuable right.

If you are facing any issue related to any probate matter, please call us immediately. We are always here when you need us.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Over Lundy Alvarez Ribbon Cutting Celebration

Our Ribbon Cutting Celebration with @South Tampa Chamber of Commerce and @Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce yesterday was a success!

Monday, March 27, 2017

We All Need a Will

According to an article written last year in Forbes magazine, more than 70% of Americans don’t have a will or have a will that is outdated, with 63% of Americans having no will at all and 9% of Americans having a will that is outdated. In other words, chances are you don’t have a will. Why?

Perhaps you haven’t gotten a will because it scares you to think about passing away or what will happen afterward. And after all, who wants to spend money on something that won’t directly benefit him or her and won’t be that useful until after he or she has passed away?

While it’s true that existing law attempts to detail what will happen to your property if you pass away without a will, this law is very general in nature and dictates only what each of your heirs’ percentage shares of your property will be. It does not, however, provide for what specific items of property each heir will receive. We’ve all heard horror stories about families fighting over a deceased loved one’s estate. When there is no will, or only a poorly drafted will, one’s heirs can end up in a long and expensive court battle over something as seemingly simple as a family heirloom. All of this could have been avoided with a simple, relatively inexpensive will.

These feuds are more common now because of the ever-changing dynamics of family structures, especially when it comes to outdated wills. Divorces are more common than ever and more couples are living together without getting married. It is important to have a will created or updated after every single life-changing event, including divorce, separation, and even gaining a new significant other who resides with you.

Passing away without a will also means that your heirs will be forced to track down all your assets to ensure they are properly transferred and distributed. Your failure to have a proper will can can end up costing your heirs a lot of time and money to conduct a thorough enough investigation to ensure a complete and proper transfer of all assets. A proper will should describe the person’s property and its location so that the executor can easily and efficiently carry out the deceased person’s wishes by locating and transferring each and every item of property.

We all face the certainty of death, and the grief and other consequences it brings to loved ones. Isn’t it worth your resources to act now and leave your loved ones with as little strife as possible? A well-drafted will is intended to allow your loved ones to focus their attention on mourning and looking forward in life, rather than becoming embroiled in a painful family conflict. Why wouldn’t everyone want that for their families?

Click Here to Contact our attorney, David Fall for more information.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

We've moved!

Our new office location is located at 1000 W. Cass Street, Tampa, Florida 33606

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tampa Bay Business Alliance

Older Lundy & Alvarez Founding Partner, Ben Older, met Andy Carr, White House Chief of Staff to George W. Bush at Tampa Bay Business Alliance tonight. Mr. Carr shared that he was responsible for telling the president that the Twin Towers were hit in 9-11.