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Florida Probate, Trust and Estate Blog

Governor Signs Florida Guardianship Overhaul Bill Into Law (HB 5)

Florida Governor Rick Scott today signed into law a bill (HB 5) which significantly changes Florida guardianship law.  The Act explicitly amends the text of seventeen Florida Statutes and creates two new statutes altogether. 

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Power of Attorney Not Authorized for Self Dealing

A power of attorney is a legal document is a legal document delegating authority from one person to another.  Recently, the Supreme Court of South Dakota provided yet another example of how important the language contained within this document truly is. Studt v. Black Hills Federal Credit Union, 2015 SD 33.  While a power of attorney has many uses and legal effects, certain powers, if desired, must be expressly spelled-out.

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2015 Amendments to Florida Probate Code and Florida Trust Code

The Florida Probate Code and the Florida Trust Code govern the administration of estates and trusts under Florida law.  These codes establish the mechanisms and procedures for the collection and subsequent distribution of assets to the beneficiaries of wills and trusts.  The legislature recently amended the Probate Code and the Trust Code concerning the following areas: attorney fees and costs; personal representatives; and the notice of administration.

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Supreme Court Holds 401(k) Plan Trustees Have Ongoing Duty To Monitor

All too often pension-plan participants (employees and retirees) are left in the dark about the fees and expenses associated with the mutual funds selected for their company’s plan, whether it is a 401(k) savings plan or otherwise. Unlike general market fluctuations, employers can control these fees and expenses.  In fact, the exercise of such control is required under federal law.

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Trust Can Be Reformed to Add Beneficiaries

Can a trust be reformed to add beneficiaries where the trust as originally drafted fails to include any beneficiaries?  According to a recent Florida trust case, yes, the trust can be reformed to add a residual beneficiary clause. 

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Waiver and Consent in Estate and Probate Administration

Probate—the process by which an estate is administered—is fraught with obscure and complex rules which must be followed in a precise manner in order to ultimately distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries.

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Partition Actions in Florida

Partition actions are often used to force the sale of jointly owned property when the owners cannot agree amongst themselves what to do with the property.  Florida law provides a general framework on how a partition action is to proceed, but the details are left to the discretion of the trial court.

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Virtual Adoption Not Undone By Developing Relationship With Natural Father

The Georgia Supreme Court recently held that once a child has been virtually adopted by an adopted father, the subsequent relation between the adopted child and the natural father does not sever the previous virtual adoption.

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Bank May be Liable for Failure to Stop Elder Abuse

In what may be a first in Florida, a bank can be held liable for the failure to stop elder abuse arising from the draining of a senior's bank account by an abuser. 

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Probate Court Has Jurisdiction to Review Attorney Fees | Burden of Proof on Attorney

If an attorney for a personal representative of an estate charges allegedly excessive fees, the probate court has the jurisdiction to review the propriety of such fees, and the burden of proof is on the attorney to establish that such fees are reasonable.  The probate court may review attorney fees even if paid from nonprobate assets. 

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