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Santa Rosa Beach Law Blog

What are the basics of "probate"?

There are many legal terms that Florida residents have probably heard before, but perhaps they are not too familiar with. "Probate" is likely one of them. When it comes to estate planning and end-of-life needs, probate is an important term to learn. So, what are the basics of probate?

Well, for starters, "probate" refers to the transfer of a person's assets to other entities or individuals upon a person's death, as well as the process of addressing outstanding debts and paying taxes. It is a legal process that is overseen by a court, in most cases.

Divorce rate on the decline in America

Each year thousands of Florida residents go through a divorce. Some couples are able to do so in an amicable fashion, working out most of the details of their divorce out-of-court and then submitting an agreement to a family law court for approval. However, others are not so fortunate, and instead go through highly contentious divorce proceedings. Whether easy or hard, the numbers for how many divorces occur in Florida and throughout the country fluctuate each year, but is the overall divorce rate now in decline in America?

According to a recent report, that answer might be "yes." The report noted a study completed by the University of Maryland, in which the results found that between 2008 to 2016 the divorce rate in America declined by 18 percent. That is enough to catch the eyes of plenty of family law experts, mainly because they want to determine why such a decline is occurring.

Can a timeshare be part of your estate plan?

Florida residents need to consider a wide variety of assets when they are putting together an estate plan. From houses to retirement accounts, investments to personal property, estate plans can lay out a person's desires for how those assets should be passed on to others. However, here in Florida especially, there may be many people who are wondering, can a timeshare be part of an estate plan?

The short answer is, "it depends." First, you will need to know how you own your timeshare. As a recent article pointed out, many timeshares are owned just like other types of real estate - by way of deed, which shows the conveyance of the property to the owner. A specific timeshare will show ownership of a certain unit - a condo unit, apartment, etc. - during a certain week of the year. If that is the case with your timeshare, ownership of this asset can most likely be passed on in an estate plan just like many other types of assets can be.

Know the basics about estate planning

Florida residents want to protect their families. However, many times, these protective thoughts don't include estate planning. Why? Well, perhaps it is because some people think that the estate planning process is too complicated, or they think they don't need any estate planning documents because they don't have significant assets. Those thoughts are wrong, on both accounts.

For starters, almost anyone can benefit from having estate planning documents drafted and executed. These plans are not restricted only to benefitting the ultra-rich. Many people have more assets than they even realize: homes, automobiles, pensions, retirement accounts and much more. Having a plan in place to direct a probate court on how to distribute these assets can protect family members.

Tips for handling a homeowners' association

Imagine saving up for years to make a down payment on your first home in Florida. You find the perfect house in a neighborhood in a good school district. The only drawback is the homeowners' association, but how bad could it be? You will have to make payments to the association for the upkeep of the neighborhood and maybe attend the occasional homeowners' meeting. It seems like a small price to pay to be able to live in a nice, well-kept area.

Unfortunately, there are some common problems that many people experience when there is a homeowners' association involved. Some people have found themselves embroiled in bitter disputes with their homeowners' associations. By knowing about some of the common issues that many homeowners experience, you can be better equipped to handle disputes with your homeowners' association.

Real estate litigation may be necessary in disputes with HOA

Millions of Americans live in neighborhoods or other locations where they must be a member of a homeowner's association - and pay dues to belong to the HOA. Florida is not immune to the presence of these organizations and, for the most part, many people are willing to pay their dues in order to provide for the maintenance of common areas, landscaping throughout the neighborhood and even community-use pools. However, it is not uncommon for homeowners to, at times, be at odds with the rules and regulations established by an HOA. When a dispute with an HOA occurs, real estate litigation may be necessary, even if it is a last-ditch option.

But, how would a dispute develop? And how would it get to the point where it cannot be resolved out-of-court and litigation is necessary? Well, there really is one simple way: you want to do something on your property or to your home that the HOA will not allow.

Know your options when it comes to complex family law issues

There are thousands of people in Florida who find themselves in family law court for the first time and don't know what their options are. From divorce to child custody and support to alimony issues, there are many family law cases that can become complex in a hurry. Knowing your options can help when it comes to navigating family law courts in Florida.

Divorce cases can be, without a doubt, some of the most complex family law cases a person might experience. Many divorce cases involve families with children, which just adds a whole other layer of issues and potential disputes to resolve. A couple without children might just be at odds over the division of property, but a couple with children may experience disputes over the right amount of child support to be awarded and the right child custody arrangement for the spouses and children alike. In the worst of cases, there may even be allegations of domestic violence involved.

What do Florida residents need to know about the probate process?

Many Florida residents begin the estate planning process with a variety of goals in mind, but with one in particular of importance: avoid probate as much as possible. However, depending on how an estate plan is drafted, it may be inevitable that heirs and beneficiaries will need to be involved with the probate process in some respect. So, what do our readers need to know about the probate process?

Well, for starters, it is important to realize that the probate process is in place to ensure that a deceased person's assets are passed on in a valid and legal manner to a valid and legal heir or beneficiary. To ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible, a will can direct a probate court - and the executor of the estate - as to how assets should be divided among heirs and beneficiaries. During the process, the full extent of the assets owned by the deceased person is examined, as is the person's debt, and then those debts and taxes are addressed before assets are distributed to heirs and beneficiaries.

Even young people can benefit from having an estate plan

There are many Florida residents who may think that estate planning is a task for "old" people to take care of. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, everyone - young, old, married, single, rich, poor - could benefit from having an estate plan in place. Young couples, in particular, could benefit from having an estate plan.

A recent article noted some of the advantages for young couples who decide to craft an estate plan. For starters, an estate plan can help a young couple plan out their financial priorities and what it will take to protect what is important to them. Life insurance, for instance, may be a purchase that is made as couples look into estate planning. When they really take a look at the financial devastation that could be caused by the sudden, unexpected death of a spouse, many people see the sense in being protected by a life insurance policy.

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