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Jacksonville Legal Blog

Estate planning includes certain valuable legal protections

Estate planning in Florida is an important task that can put some powerful tools into one's personal arsenal for the retirement years and beyond. The traditional last will and testament serves to designate how one's assets will be distributed and specifies other vital directives to take place after one dies. One kind of tool in estate planning that is arguably as important in its own right is the durable power of attorney.

The power of attorney will essentially only kick in when its maker becomes incapacitated and unable to care for him or herself. A person is appointed in the legal instrument to serve as one's authorized agent with the power to sign one's name and take necessary action regarding a wide host of financial matters both short-term and long-term. Obviously, this means that the person chosen to be the agent will have to be trusted and competent to handle such matters.

Personal injury claims are tied to negligent left-turn accidents

Improper left turns take a great toll in terms of traffic accidents and injuries in Florida. Personal injury and death occur far too often due to the careless driver who does not safely negotiate a left turn. Where a driver makes a left turn from a major roadway, attempting to get onto an intersecting road, the driver who is turning in the face of oncoming traffic must be very careful to avoid turning when it is unsafe to do so.

The oncoming traffic generally has the right of way and that is especially true, of course, where there are intersectional controls and the oncoming traffic has a green light. The person turning left must wait until there is no oncoming traffic and then make the turn. In many cases, there is a green arrow that will tell the driver when it is appropriate to make the left turn, though it is prudent to exercise caution under any circumstances. Where such controls are not present, however, the driver nonetheless must always take great care when attempting a left turn in the face of oncoming traffic.

3 Thanksgiving co-parenting tips

With Thanksgiving coming up, it is time to think about how you will co-parent during the holiday. It is likely that both you and the other parent would love to spend time with your children on this special day. After all, it is typically a family-centric celebration. 

But when you are no longer a nuclear family, it can be hard to figure out how you will manage the situation. Here are some pieces of advice for successfully co-parenting on Thanksgiving:

Estate planning maximizes life insurance proceeds to beneficiary

The question of life insurance often arises in Florida and elsewhere when planning an estate. The usual estate planning rule is that the death proceeds of a life insurance policy should be passed on to a beneficiary listed in the policy or an attachment to it. That specified beneficiary will receive the proceeds directly from the insurance company without it being subject to estate administration through the probate court.

In some states there is an inheritance tax that the probate process requires to be paid when an estate is processed and closed. Avoiding an inheritance tax by leaving the insurance proceeds to a specified beneficiary is an important reason for not paying the life insurance proceeds to the estate. However, some states (including Florida) do not have an inheritance tax or have done away with it in recent years.

Estate planning can make a difficult time easier for loved ones

Writing a will is not necessarily a happy task. Though death is inevitable, few people really want to contemplate it in Florida. Failure to contemplate estate planning long enough to write a will can result in an even more painful task for one's heirs, who may have to guess at one's last wishes and deal with the hassles and expense of making those wishes happen. According to AARP, two out of five Americans older than 45 do not have a will or trust in place.

The recent passing of Aretha Franklin brought this issue to the forefront, as she passed without a will and has an estate valued at over $80 million. If a person dies without a will or trust, that person's assets will have to go through probate in order to be distributed to beneficiaries. Legal costs involved with probate can be significant. If no valid will exists, a court will often appoint an executor, and that person may be a stranger to the family who has no knowledge of what the decedent's wishes might have been.

Criminal defense: Florida man charged with first-degree murder

A 38-year-old man wanted for murder was apprehended and arrested recently. The Florida resident, who hails from Interlachen and was arrested, will need an aggressive criminal defense to fight the charges levied against him, including the first-degree murder of a 37-year-old woman. Police say the woman died from multiple stab wounds.

Police identified him as a suspect. They found the woman's missing truck badly burned and believe the accused set it ablaze before stealing another vehicle to flee to Jacksonville, where he was arrested. He apparently tried to leave the area hitching a ride with a truck driver, but the two got into a fight, causing the accused to break his leg. After being taken into custody he was taken to hospital for treatment.

Family law: Custody conflicts may be resolved through mediation

Whether residing in Florida or another state, celebrities have an especially challenging task in raising their minor children. The family law challenge is increased substantially when a celebrity couple have divorced and are trying to work out child custody and visitation issues on their own. They may in that circumstance turn to mediation to try and find a resolution of their conflicts.

Child custody conflicts have arisen for two stars, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, who got divorced about two years ago. An agreement by the parents regarding custody and visitation matters is always subject to later modification and court review. Stefani and Rossdale have acknowledged that they have turned to mediation as an attempt to confront the problem.

Family law: Planning the school year helps children and parents

When a divorced couple in Florida has minor children, many challenges may continue for them after the divorce is final. With two households, the normal needs and complexities of the new school year may bring stress and worry to the former spouses. But there is a benefit to the experience because a plan for goals and responsibilities can be established, giving each family member direction and a sense of organization going forward. Family law courts readily support and encourage such cooperative parenting plans that give the children a sense of continuity and extra security.

One subject to preplan deals with financial issues. There are always extra expenses not covered by child support payments. The former spouses can communicate together and with the children to set certain budgetary items and agree on how each extra will be financed. Taking care of planning for such practical items as registrations, tickets, social expenses and the like can spare the parties from the chaos that can occur when no expectations are in place. The process has the added benefit of inculcating financial responsibility in the children as they grow up.

Criminal defense: Florida teen charged with 2nd-degree murder

Police have arrested a 16-year-old male in connection with a fatal shooting at a Florida school recently. About 4,000 people were gathered to watch a football game at Raines High School in Jacksonville when the accused minor allegedly opened fire in the crowd at about 10 p.m. A 19-year-old male was killed and two other students were wounded. The accused will need to mount an aggressive criminal defense to fight the charges of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder brought against him.

Police, who said the minor will eventually be charged as an adult, indicated that the victim, along with the 17-year-old male who was wounded, were apparently direct targets of the suspect. The 16-year-old female who was wounded just happened to be in the line of fire. The male was hit in his upper body and is in the hospital in stable condition, while a bullet hit the female in the lower body. She was treated at a hospital and released.

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