6 Things You Need to Know About Florida’s Last Will and Testament

Florida’s Last Will and Testament. 

One final nod to the deceased. One last chance to determine what happens to property accumulated over a lifetime. The closing chapter on a life and all it accomplished. 

The Will is one of the most fundamental tools in Florida’s Estate Planning toolbox. 

Yes, there are others. Trusts, Joint Accounts, Beneficiary Designations and Intestate Statutes to name a few. 

But the Will, if used correctly, can work to supplement the other tools and catch any assets that may have been missed during the Estate Planning process. Kind of a belts-and-suspenders approach.

Consider the following questions in determining whether all of your assets are properly accounted for in your estate plan:


4 Things You Need to Know About a New York Quitclaim Deed

New York quitclaim laws are similar to most other states with a few exceptions. 

1. Transfer of Interest
You can only use a quitclaim deed to transfer your interest in the property and nothing more.

If you own a life estate interest in a parcel of property you cannot transfer a fee simple absolute interest in the property. If you own a leasehold interest in a parcel of property you cannot transfer a life estate interest in the property.

At its core, the person granting a quitclaim deed is really only saying "I'm not representing that I have any interest in the property. I'm only representing that if I have any interest in the property I'm transferring that interest to the grantee."

In other words, if you are buying property and you want the seller to represent that he or she actually owns the property you will need to use a different form of deed (e.g. warranty deed).

2. Unclear Language
If the language in the quitclaim deed is clear and unambiguous, you cannot bring in outside evidence to prove the deed intended to transfer something other than what is stated in the document.


7 Things Florida Courts Presume About Real Property Deeds

Remember the 2007 real estate crash?  Who doesn’t, right?

Leading up to the crash my law firm was involved in 30 new closings a month.  Most of them involved beachfront investment property in Florida’s panhandle. 

After the crash many of our clients were left scrambling. The sellers scrambled to close their deals.  The buyers scrambled to get out of their deals.

In January, 2008, one of my clients approached me with an interesting question. 

He had purchased beachfront investment property in Pensacola, Florida.  The deal closed a year before the crash.

His property was valued at over $1 million before the crash.  Now it was worth $300,000.

His question: Can I reverse a real estate transaction a year after the closing? This question was on the minds of many Florida investors in the winter of 2008. As with most legal issues, the answer was: It depends.

Florida real property laws can be difficult to navigate.  As in most states, Florida statutes and case law create certain “presumptions” about the transfer of real property.

1. Florida law presumes a "fee simple" property transfer


Why Do I Need an Advance Healthcare Directive?

Right now you are the person in charge of deciding what type of medical care you receive. Well, you and your insurance company. But what will happen if (and likely when) you are no longer able to make medical decisions for yourself. That day may be twenty years from now, OR it could be tomorrow.

Consider the case of Terry Lynn Schiavo which ignited a firestorm of controversy when it pitted the Parental Rights of an adult living in a vegetative state against those of the adult’s Spouse.

Top Five Things People Regret at the End of Their Lives

A recent article spells out the Top Five things people regret having done or not done when they come to the end of their lives. The article is based on answers to questions an end of life nurse has posed to her patients over the years. The list includes:

1. Having been too concerned with what others wanted them to be and not what they wanted to be. Leaving dreams unfulfilled.


How to Transfer Ownership of Real Estate?

Transferring ownership of real estate requires the owner of the property to prepare and record a legal form known as a "Deed" with the Clerk of Court in the County where the real property is located. There are a number of different legal Deeds that can be used to transfer ownership. The two most common types of Deed are the "General Warranty Deed" and the "Quitclaim Deed." The General Warranty Deed gives the new owner a guarantee that there are no problems with the chain of title to the property, while the Quitclaim Deed makes no such guarantee.


How to Keep the State From Taking Real Estate When an Owner Dies With No Will

There are a number of popular tools for ensuring property does not end up in the possession of the state when someone passes away without a Will. Three of these tools include: (1) the state's particular "Intestate Statute," (2) naming an heir in the property deed, and (3) setting up a trust. Each of these tools is designed to allow a property owner to determine who will take ownership of his or her property upon passing away. It is important to note that one of these tools (Intestate Statute) will likely require a legal proceeding to determine ownership while the other two (property deed and trust) do not.

FHA Streamline Refinance Requirements

Although the real estate purchase sector in the United States as a whole is still struggling to return to where it was before the crash, one section of the real estate market has taken off in recent months: Mortgage Refinances.  This is due primarily to historically low interest rates and new FHA Streamline Refinance Requirements. 

Historically Low Interest Rates
There are several reasons for a recent spike in Mortgage Refinancing. First, interest rates on refinances are extremely low. Several years ago, refinancing your home at an interest rate lower than 4.5% meant buying down the rate using the points system. Now it is not uncommon to find interest rates in the 3.5% range without any points. It is, however, unclear how long interest rates will stay as low as they are now.


Transfer On Death Vehicle Registration

The biggest reason you don’t want a vehicle to go through probate is because they depreciate over time. The longer the probate process drags on the less the vehicle is worth. A car worth $15,000 this year might be worth $10,000 the next. The sooner your heirs can get the vehicle transferred into their names, the more they will be able to sell it for. It only makes sense to pass your vehicles to your heirs outside of probate.


Surviving Spouse as Sole Beneficiary of Retirement Accounts

More often than not, spouses choose to leave their assets to each other when they die.  When it comes to retirement accounts this decision makes good financial sense as there are specific state and federal rules that favor leaving the account to a spouse.

Benefits of Naming Spouse as Sole Beneficiary of Retirement Account
For instance, a surviving spouse who is named as the sole beneficiary of a retirement account is not required to withdraw the money right after the deceased spouse's death.  This allows the surviving spouse to keep the tax deferred status of the money and not begin making withdrawals until the later of (1) the year the deceased spouse would have turned 70 1/2; or (2) December 31 of the year following the deceased spouse's death.
© CORPUS JURIS. All rights reserved.