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Florida Probate, Trust and Estate Blog

New Rule Effective January 1, 2012 Clarifies What Orders Can Be Appealed in Probate and Guardianship Litigation

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.110(a)(2) currently governs what orders can be appealed in probate and guardianship litigation and authorizes appeals of "orders entered in probate and guardianship matters that finally determine a right or obligation of an interested person as defined by the Florida Probate Code."

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Reformation of a Will to Correct Mistakes

In a dramatic change from previous law, the Florida Legislature has enacted Florida Statute section 732.615 to allow the reformation of a will. Previously under Florida probate law, a trust could be reformed for a mistake of fact or law, but a will could not. The new statute allowing the modification of wills is effective as of July 1, 2011 and reads as follows:

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Life Insurance Trusts with Crummey Powers and New Case Law

Many clients have or are considering using an irrevocable life insurance trust to minimize estate taxes. Assets properly held in irrevocable trust are not subject to estate tax. Annual gifts can be made to the trust to pay life insurance premiums, subject to beneficiaries’ rights of withdrawal of such assets, known as a “Crummey” withdrawal right.  

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Florida's New Power of Attorney Statute

On May 4, 2011, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 670, which revises the power of attorney statute, Florida Statutes Chapter 709.   Effective, as of October 1, 2011, power of attorneys will be subject to new rules. A power of attorney is a written instrument to which an individual (the “principal”) grants power to another (the “agent”) to act on behalf of the principal. Florida recently revised its power of attorney statute to more closely conform to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act enacted by many other states. After October 1, 2011 (the “Effective Date), the following rules will apply to any powers of attorney executed in Florida. 

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New Probate Fight Song from Pistol Annies

The country music supergroup, the Pistol Annies, just released a new album, titled Hell on Heels, with a song titled "Family Feud," which describes how a typical probate dispute gets started.  Here are the lyrics:

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Florida's New Intestate Share for Surviving Spouses

Florida has made an important change in its inheritance law for surviving spouses. In the absence of a will, under current Florida law, an existing spouse of a deceased Florida resident is entitled to $60,000 plus 50% of the decedent’s estate if all the decedent’s children are also children of the existing spouse. However, effective October 1, 2011, Florida law has been amended so that, if all of the decedent’s children are also children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to 100% of the estate.

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