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Hernando County Law Blog

Why new parents need an estate plan

If you and your spouse or partner have recently become new Florida parents, congratulations! Nothing surpasses the thrill and happiness of welcoming a new child into your family. But have you considered that along with the baby furniture, baby clothes, car seat, etc., you should now also have a new estate plan

Before you shrug off that idea, thinking that only rich people need estate plans, consider this. Regardless of how much wealth you currently possess, you now have a new child and heir for whom you must be responsible for the next 18+ years. And even though you and your spouse or partner are relatively young people, what happens to that child if you should both die in a sudden catastrophic accident? Who would then care for him or her? Would the money be there to provide for his or her needs and get him or her through school?

When strategies to prevent foreclosure do not work

When people receive a foreclosure notice on their property in Florida, their first instinct is often to panic and feel hopelessness. While foreclosure is no casual issue, people do have the chance to stop the process in its tracks depending on how they handle their situation. Their ability to take a step back and assess their situation and what can be done to modify the outcome may allow them enough time and resources to change what happens. 

According to HGTV, one option that people can consider is filing for bankruptcy. While this decision will impact their finances in some ways, it will also enable them to maintain their property without the fear of foreclosure happening. Experts also suggest that people contact their lender to see if they can work out an agreement that will allow them to continue paying their mortgage on modified terms. Sometimes, when people are honest and explain their reason for being unable to pay their mortgage, they can effectively negotiate a new agreement with their lender to suspend the process of foreclosure. 

What should I consider when choosing a health care proxy?

Choosing the right health care proxy is just as important as having one in the first place. The person you choose must be willing to see your wishes through, even if they have a close personal connection with you. Because this decision is so important to your well-being, Forbes offers the following advice on selecting the right health care proxy. 

Consider how hectic an emergency medical situation can be. Medical staff will be working diligently to provide care, which means the information will be coming at a rapid pace. Your health care proxy will be thrust into the middle of this situation and must act accordingly to ensure your wishes are honored. This entails asking questions of medical staff, who can be intimidating to lay people. The person you choose will also need to take the information and make split-second decisions on your behalf. Medical knowledge helps in this case, but most importantly your choice must be assertive and willing to confer with doctors and nurses freely. 

Who takes immediate possession of estate property?

The first question that many have after one passes away in Hernando County is "What next?" If you have been selected to serve as the personal representative or executor of a family member's or friend's estate, you might have the exact same inquiry. The important thing to remember is that your first order of business once the estate has been submitted to probate is taking an inventory of its assets. 

That will likely require you to take possession of many of those assets so that you can determine what is available to help settle the decedent's outstanding liabilities. Section 733.607 of the Florida Probate Code gives you the right to possess such assets (minus the decedent's homestead). In the case of the homestead, the decedent's immediately family may need it to remain as their residence as the estate is being administered. That does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell the home if that it what is needed to settle the estate's debts; it simply means that the decedent's immediately family has the right to remain in it until such action is taken. 

Detailing bankruptcy filing limits

A common misconception that many in Hernando County may have regarding bankruptcy is that the laws and regulations governing it are easily abused. By extension, the opinion that those same people have of those who file for bankruptcy is that they are simply overspenders looking to get away with not having to pay their bills. Yet in reality, many of those seeking bankruptcy protection are ordinary people who have seen unfortunate circumstances land them in some dire financial straits. As many know, such circumstances can arise multiple times during one's life. 

Chapter 7 remains the most popular form of personal bankruptcy thanks to the benefit it offers of having debts discharged. Indeed, the American Bankruptcy Institute's data shows that, as recently as the second fiscal quarter of 2018, more than 63 percent of non-business bankruptcy filings in the U.S. were made under Chapter 7. A Chapter 7 case can typically last between three to six months. Yet what if unforeseen misfortunes or other scenarios cause one to experience debt difficulties later on in their lives. How long would they half to wait if they needed so seek a Chapter 7 bankruptcy again? 

How can you keep your entire 401k?

You put a great amount of individual effort into your employment in Hernando County; why, then, is your ex-spouse entitled to a portion of the benefits that come from that effort (such as your 401k)? First, it should be remembered that the money that funds your 401k account comes from your employment income, of which any earned during your marriage is considered a marital asset. Thus, it should come as little surprise then that your 401k is also considered a shared asset. Yet your ex-spouse's interest in it is limited to only those contributions made during your marriage. 

While a number of methods exist to share their portion with them without incurring any significant tax penalties, you may be wondering if there is a way for you to keep the full amount of your 401k account. One way would be to stipulate in a prenuptial agreement that whatever is paid into an existing 401k during your marriage remains separate property. If you failed to draft a prenuptial agreement with your spouse (or to include your 401k in it), your right to its full value would be equally as enforceable if you stipulated that in a postnuptial agreement or modification. 

During divorce, timeshares may present unique challenges

Timeshares are often an effective way for ordinary people to enjoy the jet setter lifestyle. After all, for just a fraction of the cost of buying a vacation property, you have access to a piece of paradise a few days each year. While you may love sharing your timeshare with your spouse, deciding what to do with its ownership after your divorce may present some unique challenges. 

If you purchased your timeshare interest after your marriage, there is a good chance it is marital property. As such, you and your spouse likely have an equitable interest in the timeshare. During your divorce, though, you must think about what you plan to do with that interest. Here are some ways your timeshare may complicate your divorce: 

Business owners, litigation and personal bankruptcy

Whether you run a retail business or a company that deals with manufacturing, finance or any other field, you may face many challenges each day. As a business owner, being taken to court is one of the most difficult problems that you may encounter. Not only can litigation damage the reputation of your firm, but it may lead to serious financial repercussions too. In some instances, the financial impact of a business lawsuit may be so severe that a business owner may be pushed into bankruptcy.

Sometimes, business owners are unable to secure a favorable outcome when they are taken to court, for various reasons. This can lead to financial pressure that pushes them into bankruptcy. If you do decide to file for bankruptcy, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of your different options. There are various forms of bankruptcy and some are more preferable than others, in certain instances. You may also be in the middle of a bankruptcy claim while you are taken to court by a competitor or staff member, which can raise additional legal concerns.

Do you need to change your estate plan after divorce?

Who is the main beneficiary of your estate? If you were married, chances are that that person would be your spouse. Here is a related question: Would you want your ex-spouse to inherit your money, even after you were divorced?

Of course, your answer is probably that you would rather have your estate pass to your children, your biological family members or even a new spouse. Thankfully, Florida law understands this common desire and has some sections that could protect your legacy.

The end of marriage and health problems

When a couple splits up, they may be dealing with many different challenges. Those who bring their marriage to an end may be struggling with child custody issues, or they may have concerns about what will happen to their finances during and after the divorce. Moreover, people may be going through other challenges which can make their divorce even tougher, such as health issues. From a cancer diagnosis to immobility following a car crash or a heart attack, there are all sorts of health concerns those going through a divorce may have, and it is especially important for people in this position to work through their divorce carefully.

Sometimes, a difficult divorce can bring on certain health concerns, such as high blood pressure. However, approaching divorce properly can be very beneficial from a health standpoint. With lower stress and less time dealing with legal matters, taking the right approach to your divorce is crucial and may help you work through a health crisis more efficiently. If you are experiencing a serious health problem, you may feel as if you cannot handle the divorce process at this time. It may make sense to wait until your health improves, but you should not feel stuck in a dysfunctional marriage solely because of your health issues.

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