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Florida Lawyer Jim Martin Blog

Sad Stories Make Good Lessons
James W. Martin

Sad stories make good lessons. Don’t text and drive. Don’t share your passwords. And don’t spit in the wind. To those I’ll add this one: don’t buy real estate without title insurance. A story in today’s paper tells the sad story: man buys beachfront condo at foreclosure sale; condo has two mortgages, not one; foreclosure…

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Florida Changes Intestacy Law for Certain Spouses
James W. Martin

When a Florida resident dies without a will, the decedent is said to have died intestate, and the Florida Probate Code states who will inherit the estate. If there is a surviving spouse and no descendants, then all goes to the surviving spouse. If there are descendants and no surviving spouse, then all goes to…

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All Original Wills Must Be Filed When Someone Dies
James W. Martin

Everyone knows that it’s the “last” will that someone makes before they die that counts. But it’s really the last “valid” will that counts. So who’s to say what’s the last valid will? The probate court gets to decide that. And for the probate court to decide, it needs to have all the wills that…

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Legal Ways To Preserve Wealth In Florida
James W. Martin

Legal Ways To Preserve Wealth In Florida The word is out on Tampa Bay: sunny skies, white sandy beaches, water all around, and the world’s best airport; the arts, culture and music; state-wide cell phone coverage; high speed cable modem Internet access. What a great place for the High Tech to live! What is not…

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Don’t Ignore Formal Notice Of A Florida Probate Proceeding
James W. Martin

Formal notice of a Florida probate proceeding must be served by a means of delivery requiring proof of delivery. Formal notices are sent along with copies of various probate documents in order to legally bind the person being served. The formal notice in a probate proceeding is similar to a summons in a civil proceeding.…

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An Alternative To Percentage Probate Fees: Hourly Fees
James W. Martin

One of the reasons people try to avoid probate, besides the obvious one, is to avoid percentage probate fees. Florida, like many states, expressly allows attorneys to charge attorneys fees based on a percentage of the value of the probate estate. But there is an alternative: hourly fees. An hourly fee more directly compensates the…

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When Does A Trust Avoid Probate In Florida: Never?
James W. Martin

People often create revocable living trusts in Florida to avoid probate. And some of those people actually transfer assets into the trust to fund it. And it’s true that the trust’s assets are not assets of the probate estate when the person dies. But probate is still required for another reason: clearing possible claims of…

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When Is A Car Not An Asset But A Liability?
James W. Martin

Putting your name on the title to a car, truck or other motor vehicle in Florida makes you personally liable for the negligence of the driver. The dangerous instrumentality doctrine extends liability of the driver to become personal liability of every owner of the vehicle. This should give pause to parents before putting their names…

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All Florida Entities Must File an Annual Report
James W. Martin

The Florida Annual Report (formerly known as the Florida Uniform Business Report) is the annual report that most Florida corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies (LLC) must file with the Florida Division of Corporations of the Florida Department of State in order to remain an active legal entity. The form must be filed no later…

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Social Purpose Corporations and Benefit Corporations may be Formed in Florida
James W. Martin

On June 20, 2014, the Florida Governor approved a new law to allow the formation in Florida of social purpose corporations and benefit corporations. These organizations fall between for-profit corporations and nonprofit corporations by allowing the boards of directors to consider public benefit goals in addition to making profits. There are occasions when real estate…

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