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Category: Blog

New Statutory Requirements for an Attorney Serving as Personal Representative or Trustee

The new changes to Fla. Stat. 733.617 of Florida’s Probate Code and Fla. Stat. 736.0708 of Florida’s Trust Code now require a written statement by the testator of a will or settlor of a trust, acknowledging that the attorney made certain disclosures to them before the will or trust was signed. 

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Undue Influence: Tittle v. Dahm, — So. 3d — 2020 WL 6053264

The October 14, 2020 opinion from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a petition for administration, grounded on a finding of undue influence.

The takeaway from this opinion is the Third District’s explanation that the factors in the seminal case of In re Carpenter’s Estate…, 253 So.

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

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

…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.

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

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Teachers and Estate Planning in the COVID Era

…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. 

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

…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.

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Estate Planning for New Parents

…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? 

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

…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.

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

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