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Category:Blog

Schlossberg v. Estate of Kaporovsky, — So. 3d — , 2020 WL 4496139 (Fla. 4th DCA Aug. 5, 2020)

November 19, 2020

In this recent decision, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reviewed the requisites for execution of a deed.  The Fourth District explained that where all essential legal requisites are present, legal title is conveyed, and that void deeds would be limited to forged deeds or deeds that violate constitutional homestead protections.  Here, the trustees signed a deed transferring a condominium out of the trust to the settlor, and a beneficiary then challenged the validity of the deed.  Due to the unique nature of the revocable trust involved and the settlor’s right to control the disposition of her own property, namely her condominium, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in declaring the deed void….

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Discovery on the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and Probate Litigation

November 3, 2020

What does the phrase “Internet of Things” really mean?  The Internet of Things, or “IoT”, refers to the connection of everyday objects or devices to the internet, like wearable devices (such as Fitbits, Garmins, and Apple Watches), home electronics (such as Ring doorbell cameras, Nest cameras and home thermostats), devices that use natural language assistants (such as Alexa and Siri), Smart TVs, computer technology integrated into cars (such as the Tesla), and many others. Many objects or devices that are connected to the internet and collecting data, whether by use of the device itself or in the cloud, may likely be part of or be connected to the IoT….

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De La Riva v. Chavez, — So.3d — 2020 WL 5372283 (Fla. 4th DCA Sept. 9, 2020)

October 20, 2020

To sue an estate, there needs to be a personal representative.  An “estate” cannot be a party to a lawsuit.  This concept was again explained by the Court in the recent decision of De La Riva v. Chaves, — So. 3d —, 2020 WL 532283 (Fla. 4thDCA Sept. 9, 2020).  In De La Riva, the Fourth District Court of Appeal explained that, when trying to sue an estate:

“[I]t is well-settled that ‘an “[e]state” is not an entity that can be a party to litigation….

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Teachers and Estate Planning in the COVID Era

October 5, 2020

School districts across the country are now faced with further unprecedented tests – beginning a new school year in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic.  With millions of confirmed cases in the United States, including hundreds of thousands of fatalities, it is undoubtedly concerning for teachers to go back into the classroom in fear of their own health and safety, even with some degree of remote or distance learning.  It is beyond heartbreaking for teachers to be feel forced between the career they chose and love and their health and safety. …

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Reimbursement for Estate Related Expenses: Negedly v. Smith, 286 So. 3d 341 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019)

September 18, 2020

After the proper presentation of claims against a decedent’s estate, it is then a personal representative’s duty to pay valid claims to the extent of the funds and assets of the estate which he or she has in his or her hands, subject, of course, to the decedent’s debts.

It is a personal representative’s obligation to ascertain the propriety and existence of the decedent’s debts and pay (and/or settle) those debts. Payment of a claim depends on the circumstances of the case and the intent of the parties, as well as other elements necessary for a valid payment. …

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Estate Planning for New Parents

September 8, 2020

Amid buying baby clothes, diapers, and toys, setting up a nursery, and managing the sleepless nights of new parenthood, estate planning may not be on the list of priorities for new parents.  What about considering how a child’s everyday needs would be met if they pass away: making sure they have well-balanced meals, seeing doctors for checkups, and getting a good education?  Admittedly, it is an uncomfortable thought, but nevertheless important to address through estate planning.

Estate planning is often bigger than just wills and trusts. …

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Anderson v. Letosky — So.3d — (Fla. 2d DCA May 27, 2020), 2020 WL 2745559

August 20, 2020

Does renting a room in a homestead property destroy the unique protections of a Florida homesteaded property?  The Second District Court of Appeal said no. Homestead property which is rented to tenants loses protection from creditors (and therefore the homestead exemptions) if the rented portion contains completely separate living quarters or common areas, such as separate living rooms and kitchens, and can be divided by imaginary horizontal or vertical lines, such as duplexes and triplexes.

In Anderson, the Decedent died owning a 4 bedroom house. …

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Soldatich v. Jones, 290 So. 2d 497 (Fla. 4th DCA January 22, 2020)

August 6, 2020

Florida guardianship lawyers often encounter cases involving financial exploitation of the elderly or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Attorneys receive calls from concerned friends or relatives regarding an elderly loved one being financially exploited or abused. What can you do, and how to know when you need an experienced guardianship lawyer?

Many times, cases that involve the exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable adult involve those with diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory or cognition-related issue….

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Reverse Mortgages May Be an Issue for Your Heirs

July 29, 2020

A reverse mortgage may initially seem to be a good way to convert home equity into immediate cash, and without the need for making monthly mortgage payments. Before considering a reverse mortgage, however, you should consider speaking with your accountant, financial advisor, and estate planning attorney to fully evaluate the tax and estate ramifications.

The amount of money that a homeowner can borrow is based on the equity in the home, the homeowner’s age, and the applicable interest rate. …

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Lefkowitz v. Schwartz, — So. 3d —, 2020 WL 3115998 (Fla. 5th DCA June 12, 2020)

July 15, 2020

This recent Fifth District Court of Appeal opinion reversed the trial court’s decision to impose a constructive trust over assets that were appropriately part of the Decedent’s estate.

In 2011, during the course of Decedent’s marriage to her daughter Lauren, Arlene Schwartz (the appellee, hereafter, “Schwartz”) loaned the Decedent and Lauren $260,000 for the purchase of a condominium.  The Decedent formed an LLC to own and manage the condominium, ultimately purchased the condominium in his name and then transferred it to the LLC….

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