La'Rae H. Hendrix P.A.

Jacksonville Legal Blog

New tax laws may change family law negotiations dramatically

Change sometimes has a delayed reaction during which people react against new rules or ways of doing things. For many years, the normal standards in tax negotiations between divorcing couples in Florida and nationwide have included the basic premise that alimony is deductible to the payer and is income to the recipient. This has been the policy for so long that it may take some time for attorneys and clients to adjust their thinking about family law divorce negotiations.

The new rule is that alimony payments will not be deductible and will not be income to the recipient. It does not, however, go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. For divorces executed and finalized on or before Dec. 31, 2018, they will remain subject to the current tax rules relating to alimony. Some experts predict that may cause a stampede of divorces in 2018 for couples who want to get divorced under the existing tax laws. There is one other point to keep in mind: those couples who are already divorced or who get divorced in 2018 may choose to go under the tax regulations that begin in 2019 if they both agree and sign to that effect.

How drug court works in Florida

When someone commits a drug offense due to addiction, sending him or her to jail punishes the crime but may not do much to prevent further violations. Based on this understanding, many states, including Florida, have established drug courts that offer treatment as an alternative to a prison sentence for some types of drug offenders.

If you face drug charges in Florida, you may be wondering whether drug court would offer a good option for you. Your attorney can explain eligibility requirements and advise you as to whether such a program would benefit you.

Personal injury crash leads to 5 injuries, 1 arrest

Five pedestrians recently suffered injuries in a car crash in Florida. Two of these pedestrians were infants. The personal injury accident, which took place on a Sunday afternoon, also led to the arrest of the man who reportedly caused it.  

Police said the 29-year-old man was driving his car north along an avenue and suddenly entered the opposite traffic lanes. He then allegedly went onto the sidewalk and struck the five pedestrians. All of the pedestrians were transported to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Living trusts and wills serve separate uses in estate planning

In Florida many people do estate planning through living trusts and others make a will to distribute their assets after death. The two are different types of legal instruments that generally serve different purposes.  The trust is an estate planning technique that deals with the owner's assets during life. The assets are placed in a revocable living trust by the owner.

The owner may serve as the trustee and because it is revocable, the trust can be dissolved or changed at any time. The assets are held by the trust until a distribution is made during life or at death. There are many uses of a trust in that respect, depending on the needs and desires of the owner. When the assets are distributed after the owner's death, the assets do not go through probate, which is considered by some to be a major benefit of using a revocable living trust.

Is it safe to put your elderly mother in a nursing home?

As your mother's age goes up and her health goes down, you may find yourself facing difficult decisions about her care. Caring for her yourself or hiring in-home care may not be viable options, so perhaps you are considering putting her into a nursing home.

Before you start the process, be aware of the safety concerns surrounding these facilities so you can protect your elderly mother from harm and injury.

Probate litigation common in estate planning for step families

With a large population of seniors, Florida gets a substantial number of decedent estates for administration in its courts each year. A small portion of those matters will require probate litigation for the sake of resolving intractable family disputes. Many of the disputes arise among a decedent's children and their stepmother, concerning issues of favoritism and undue influence during estate planning.

These two groups often have conflicting needs and constituencies after the father's death. Such disputes may also involve stepfathers and stepchildren, but since women often outdistance men in lifespan, there are more stepmothers available for these circumstances. It appears from studies that most stepchildren and stepmothers do not get along well. That is not the exclusive reason why disputes arise, but it does make it easier for the triggers to go off.

Pedestrian fatalities increase, growing concern

A Florida man was struck and killed earlier this month while walking or standing in traffic during night time hours in Orange Park, becoming the latest pedestrian fatality in our state. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities have steadily increased through the years, alarming city and community leaders, safety experts and the public.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States in 2016, representing an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The jump in pedestrian deaths outpaced other traffic-related fatalities.

Nursing home may be liable for personal injury, death to resident

Florida's climate and natural resources make it a haven for retirees and senior citizens. The state also has many nursing care facilities and medical assets to care for incapacitated elderly persons. Like in all states, however, a problem exists regarding nursing homes that fail to provide adequate care for their residents. When personal injury occurs to a resident due to staff negligence or abuse, the nursing home will likely be liable for economic damages to the resident or to a deceased resident's estate.

In another state, the estate of a deceased 99-year-old man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home for negligent care that allegedly caused his death. The complaint alleges that the man fell out of bed and suffered a broken hip just two days after entering  the home. That injury is asserted to have caused the man's death about a month later.

Family law negotiations do not have to be adversarial

Florida domestic relations procedures are similar to those that are implemented in most of the other states. Although one may have a family law attorney leading the negotiations for a divorce settlement, the client must understand the basics and participate in the process to obtain a successful result. In current practice, where the spouses agree, it may be possible to engage in a mediation or other collaborative law procedure as opposed to a contested divorce.

In those alternative procedures, the emphasis is on trying to find common ground and coming to an agreement through an amicable procedure instead of an adversarial one. Where one's family law attorney offers such alternatives, this can be an attractive option for some people. However, collaborative procedures demand that the parties can communicate with each other on a non-emotional basis and with an objective frame of mind.

Do not overlook your needs when making your estate plans

When creating your estate plans in Orange Park, you may become so focused on leaving your loved one an inheritance that you overlook the most important person in the process: yourself. There is nothing wrong with looking out for your family members and doing what you can to ensure they receive your assets and legacy when you die. But if you do not make provisions for yourself that will protect you if you live longer than you expect and fall ill, you could end up needing their inheritances for yourself. 

Estate planning is a process that you must take seriously. You may not want to think about how dependent you may be on others or how much care you may require should you become incapacitated. But the earlier you start, the more time you will have to prepare and plan. Here are some key things you should include in your estate plans for yourself. 

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