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Jacksonville Legal Blog

Personal injury claim changes to wrongful death if victim dies

In Florida and all other states, a driver who rear-ends a stationary vehicle on the roadway is liable for the injuries and damages that flow from that act of negligence. The operator or passengers in the struck vehicle have a right to bring a claim for personal injury damages against the driver of the offending vehicle. If a victim dies as a result of the rear-end collision, the deceased person's estate may bring a wrongful death claim for damages against the wrongdoer.

These principles will be put to the test as a result of a recent accident in Ocala where a Florida woman was arrested for DUI after crashing into the rear of a car on U.S. 27 on May 10. The 60-year-old driver of the struck vehicle was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center where she died on May 14. The perpetrator, a 44-year-old female, tested with a blood alcohol level that was more than twice the legal limit.

Estate planning may include instructions for final arrangements

In Florida and elsewhere, funeral arrangements and similar details are not usually included in an individual's will. Such matters are secondary to the legal issues contained in the will, and it can be problematic to include such information. Furthermore, the will is often not obtained and read until after the funeral so that it is counterproductive in estate planning to use the will to convey information about funeral, religious services or burial instructions.

Some states provide for a Funeral Planning Declaration to be executed by the testator. It appoints a trusted person to carry out the final arrangements and includes all the necessary details. The FPD is similar in purpose to a simple letter of instructions to the person who will take care of the final arrangements. Such letters have been used for many years in estate planning.

Warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect

The time arrived when you had to make the difficult decision to move your elderly loved one into a nursing home. You did your research to make sure your chosen facility is up to par. Unfortunately, incidents of abuse and neglect can happen even in well-run, high-quality homes. Keeping an eye out for red flags can help you identify potential problems.

Some of the warning signs listed here can result from causes other than abuse or neglect. However, noticing them should always be a reason to look further until you do learn exactly what happened. Speaking with an experienced attorney can shed more light on the best way to protect your loved one's legal rights.

Family law divorce negotiations face changing tax rules in 2019

The Tax Reform Act of 2017 contains changes for Florida residents who obtain a divorce after the end of 2018. At that time, the federal rule that makes alimony taxable as earned income to the recipient and a deduction to the payer will be eliminated. The new rule for family law practitioners to contend with will simply abolish the deduction to payers and eliminate the income requirement to recipients.

The current rule has served the realm of divorce negotiations successfully for many past decades. It is a bedrock of negotiations and has often served to accelerate the decision to enter into an agreement for both parties. The rule that gives a deduction from income to payer has generally been a welcome benefit that convinced many alimony payers to accept a proposed agreement. By making the recipient treat it as income, it also provided a way for the couple to shift income to the lower-income party and thus reduce the overall tax burden to both parties. 

Estate planning through a professional precludes costly mistakes

Florida baby boomers and their nationwide counterparts are currently engaging in a massive transfer of wealth as they pass on their assets to the younger generations. The increase in the lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption is facilitating that transfer and creating a favorable environment for keeping substantial wealth within the family. However, in a country where more than half of adults don't have a will, the failure to engage in basic estate planning can be a costly miscalculation.

Speaking of wills, not having one and/or a living trust is a mistake that can create a lot of unnecessary heartache and expenses for one's heirs. If that failure is combined with a lack of other instruments, such as a power of attorney and health care proxies, the estate can suffer substantial unnecessary expenses that could have been avoided. These mistakes can lead to a variety of costly procedures, such as having to appoint a guardian to provide for an incapacitated person or to establish one's legal relationship to a deceased person, and so on.

Estate planning after a divorce is important for many reasons

Many estate planning attorneys, including here in Florida, recommend that their clients who have completed a divorce action should meet with the attorney after the divorce to go over various important planning issues. One important reason is that a thorough review of all beneficiary designations is critical at that point in time. Many policies and pay on death accounts may still have the former spouse's name on them as the beneficiary. Other factors may contribute to the need to review the estate planning landscape. 

In order to start, one should work up a complete list of all assets owned. Wherever a pay-on-death provision is involved the beneficiary should be checked to see if the designation still makes sense. Not only could the divorce have changed the circumstances, but death and other changes could have occurred unrelated to the divorce.

Family law: Married women must participate in family finances

A trend in divorce law in Florida and other states is becoming apparent. A report released by a global wealth management company confirms a general perception that about 56 percent of married women leave financial planning tasks to their husbands. The result is that they are at a disadvantage in the event of a separation and divorce. Given that middle-age divorces have doubled in past several decades, the effect on divorce settlements in the family law arena has been significant and many divorced women today may be suffering the consequences.

The reports that have verified this phenomenon have had the effect of accentuating how important it is for women to take a more proactive role during marriage with respect to investing and retirement planning. According to Bloomberg, the trend exists also in younger marriages. About 61 percent of millennial women  also leave investment decisions to their husbands. In accordance with current cultural changes, women who have gone through the process regret not taking a larger role in their marital finances.

Will DUI charges affect your Florida divorce case?

As you go through divorce, the intense emotions may cause you to turn to drinking to cope with your situation. Next thing you know, you are facing DUI charges. You may be worried about how this situation will affect your divorce proceedings.

Generally, the consequences will depend on the details of the DUI and your divorce, as well as your ex's reaction. The following are likely problems you may encounter after a DUI:

Florida personal injury: Accident injuries 2, kills 1 in Florida

Most people are aware of the potential of being injured in a car accident while traveling on Florida roads. As a result, the majority of drivers take precautions in an attempt to avoid being involved in such an incident. Unfortunately, even the safest drivers are sometimes unable to avoid the negligent acts of others. The victims of a recent crash -- including the surviving family members of a deceased woman -- may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit.

The incident happened just before 6:30 p.m. on a day in early April. According to reports, a 35-year-old male was attempting to perform a U-turn when his pickup truck pulled into the path of a sedan. The force of the collision is said to have caused the sedan to turn onto its roof.

Family law options include mediation for negotiating an agreement

In Florida and nationwide, collaborative law is increasingly becoming a part of the fabric of legal practice, including in the process of negotiating a divorce settlement. Many family law attorneys now embrace the use of mediation for their clients. In general, many divorcing couples who choose mediation have an improved chance of obtaining an enduring agreement for less cost. One word of caution: whether mediation is the right strategy in a particular case is something to be discussed thoroughly with one's divorce attorney prior to going in that direction.

There are some general principles for success in mediation that skilled mediation attorneys recommend. One beginning guideline is to refrain from the temptation of demonizing the other side. The converting of the other side's faults and arguments into personal hatred can stop the process before it gets off the ground. Everyone is subject to change, moderation of their views and agreeing to something, for example, that may be for the welfare of the children overall.

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