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Hernando County Law Blog

Reviewing the cost of probate

We here at The Day Law Office often see clients who have recently had loved one pass away in Hernando County and are now fearful about having to deal with the probate process. As you have delved deeper into your own estate planning, you have probably heard many experts say that probate should be avoided if possible. This advice is not necessarily due to problems with the process itself, but rather the costs associated with it. Probate expenses are paid directly from an estate's assets. Thus, an estate that you may be party to could see its value diminished from being probated. 

At first glance, the costs associated with probate may seem fairly straightforward; after all, the state has established a fee schedule that attorneys must follow when working through probate. According to Section 733.6171(3) of Florida's Estates and Trusts Code, probate attorney fees depend on the compensable value of the estate. The fee schedule breaks down as follows: 

  • Estates valued at less than $40,000: $1,500
  • Estates valued between $40,000 and $70,000: $2,250
  • Estates valued between $70,000 and $100,000: $3,000
  • Estates valued between $100,000 and $1 million: $3,000 plus 3 percent of the value above $100,000
  • Estates valued between $1 million and $3 million: $30,000 plus 2.5 percent of the value above $1 million
  • Estates valued between $3 million and $5 million: $50,000, plus 2 percent of the value above $3 million

How can credit counseling affect a bankruptcy case?

Like many in Hernando County, you may be surprised at being asked to go through credit counseling prior to seeking personal bankruptcy. The reason for this requirement is three-fold; first, according the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, it is a federal requirement. Second, the hope is that you'll be able to avoid the issues that led to you struggling with debt in the future, and education such as this (as well as that which comes from the required debtor education you have to complete prior to your bankruptcy being discharged) should help with that. Finally, pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is to help both you and the courts understand if bankruptcy truly is your best option. 

As part of your credit counseling, the provider you work with will typically develop a debt repayment plan. This plan is created considering only those assets available to you right now, and does not take into account the potential of you filing for bankruptcy. You may have already considered repayment options on your own, yet credit counseling professionals can often contribute advanced knowledge and expertise to the process which can either verify that your potential to repay your debts is unlikely or make the prospect appear more probable.

How can I handle a contentious divorce?

While divorce is rarely easy for couples in Florida, in some cases it can be extremely contentious. When marriages end because of infidelity or financial dishonesty, it can be hard for both parties to move on in a healthy manner. Psychology Today offers the following advice in this case, which can help you deal with the stress of a toxic divorce.

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Having a will does not mean you avoid probate

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about estate planning. One misunderstanding is that having a will helps you avoid probate. However, the truth is, having a will does not mean you avoid probate. In fact, the assets in your will go through the probate process.

You may want to avoid putting your family through probate because it can be expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient. Here are a few methods for transferring your assets outside of probate:

Can you get a lien removed on your property?

If you have a lien on your property in Florida, it could prevent you from being able to sell your property and pose a threat to your standing with your creditor or lender. If left unattended for too long, it could also begin to affect your credit and create problems that are much more complex to deal with than if you had initially taken care of the lien when it appeared. Fortunately, with a little work, you can get a lien removed on your property so you can regain your good standing. 

There are several ways in which you can get a property lien removed. According to SFGATE, perhaps the most dramatic route you could take is to file for bankruptcy. This decision, while seemingly convenient in some senses, can also disrupt your financial stability and take years to recover from. You could also go through the process of attaining a court-ordered void of your lien, but you would have to wait out your statute of limitations. 

What’s the difference between divorce and annulment?

While divorce and annulment are similar in the sense that they spell the end to a marriage, there are significant legal differences between the two. Understanding these differences is crucial if you believe you may qualify for an annulment, which entails meeting certain, usually rigid, criteria. VeryWellMind.com offers the following information so you can determine whether an annulment is right for you.

Financial aspects

Terminating parental rights in Florida

The main goal of family court officials both in Hernando County and throughout the rest of Florida is to keep the family relationship intact. Having said that, there may be instances where it is believed to be the in best interests of a majority of those involved to terminate one's parental rights. Such a drastic step is often only viewed as a last resort, yet in some cases, parents may indeed believe it to be the best option to protect their children. 

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the circumstances under which one parent may often ask that the parental rights of the other be terminated include: 

  • That parent abandoning the child
  • That parent being incarcerated for what would constitute a majority of his or her kid's childhood, or for crimes of a violent or sexual nature, or if the court determines that a continued association would be harmful to the child
  • That parent abusing the child
  • That parent murdering or seriously injuring another child
  • That parent having a history of substance abuse
  • That parent acting in a way that threatens the life, safety or emotional or physical well-being of the child

Paying your personal representative

Many from Hernando County often come to us here at The Day Law Office with a wealth of questions about everything they will be asking those that they choose as their personal representatives to do. With the awesome responsibility that a personal representative assumes also comes the question of his or her compensation. If you are concerned that you will asking your personal representative to handle way too much for far too little of a reward, you will be pleased to know that he or she can be compensated for everything he or she does. The question then becomes which is the best way to do it? 

The state has set up its own fee schedule determining personal representative compensation. Its details can be found in Section 733.617 of Florida's Probate Code. Per this statute, your personal representative is entitled to following compensatory rates: 

  • 3 percent for the first $1 million of the estate's compensable value
  • 2.5 percent for every subsequent $1 million in value (up to $5 million)
  • 2 percent for every subsequent $1 million in value beyond $5 million (up to $10 million)
  • 1.5 percent for everything over $10 million

What are the different types of heirs?

You have likely been told more than once that the time to start your estate planning is now. One of the main reasons behind this advice is to the ensure that you retain control over who in Hernando County benefits from your estate. Typically, your beneficiaries will come directly from your pool of heirs. This might seem confusing given that like many, you may think the words "heir" and "beneficiary" are synonymous. Not only are they not, but there actually different types of heirs. 

Beneficiaries are those that you designate (in your estate planning documents) to receive your estate assets; heirs, on the other hand, are any people entitled to inherit a portion of your estate by law. So while your spouse, children and grandchildren are your heirs, only your spouse and your children are considered to be your beneficiaries if you bequeath your estate assets to them. 

What about my pets after I die?

Like other responsible Floridians, you have a solid will or trust in place to protect your assets in case you become incapacitated, and to give your loved ones a respectable inheritance. However, you didn’t think to include Spot in your will. Your daughter and beloved pup love each other, so you assume that if you outlive your pet, your daughter will take over his care.

However, what if Spot has medical needs and a special feeding regimen your daughter doesn’t know about? What if your daughter moves away, has children who are allergic to dogs or is otherwise unable to care for Spot as you’d planned? You might consider leaving a note in your will about your dog’s care, or – even better – creating a pet trust to ensure he gets the specialized care you would want for any of your loved ones.

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