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Brevard County, Florida, legal blog

Wrangling over potentially valuable murderer’s estate continues

Virtually no one mourned Charles Manson when he died late last year at age 83. The cult leader who was convicted of murder back in 1971 and spent the rest of life in prison.

Though he clearly earned very little in his life, Manson left behind a potentially lucrative estate. Because he did not have a will, several men have been vying to control the estate, including purported grandson Jason Freeman. The Florida man had Manson’s body cremated and then spread the remains after a private funeral two months ago.

Do you need to worry about a no contest will clause in Florida?

When your aging loved ones pass away, there are many things to occupy your mind. There's the grief of losing someone you care for, as well as all the practical aspects of handling an estate. Sometimes, there's also the shock of realizing that a parent, grandparent or other family member altered his or her will in one's last days, reducing or eliminating the inheritance for family members.

In that situation, it's only natural to wonder about the validity of those changes. This is particularly true if someone disinherited children in favor of a late-in-life spouse or perhaps a caregiver, such as a live-in nurse. Those changes could be a sign of undue influence or even duress experienced by your loved one. You may feel like challenging the will in probate. However, the presence of a no contest clause could leave you worried about losing your inheritance.

A good estate plan will keep your family together

The larger your estate and the larger your family, the more likely your asset distribution plan will end up in dispute after your death. For this reason, Florida residents with significant assets and diverse families should build a water tight estate plan -- one that doesn't leave any room for family disagreements to get in the way.

Disagreements about estate distribution can destroy the continuity of a family, and in many cases, these families never fully recover. Examples of situations like this can be seen in the aftermath that followed numerous celebrity deaths. One of the most recent was the death of Alan Thicke.

Where there’s no will, Florida law has its way

When a person sits down with their estate planning attorney to draft a will, there are often many factors to consider. The factor that comes first to mind for many of us is that a will enables us to decide who will get what. That is, a will tells the state which beneficiary will get certain assets from your estate.

But a will also has other important qualities, including its ability to help you and your family avoid conflict. By making your wishes clearly known, a properly drafted will can minimize disputes.

Planning for the unavoidable (death and taxes)

They say that the only things certain in this life are death and taxes. Of course, with an Individual Retirement Account, you can put money away tax-free to build a nest egg. The money in an IRA can be passed on to heirs as well, growing for them as it grew for you.

In order to take advantage of an inherited IRA, it's important to understand some rules and deadlines for both spouses and non-spouses, a recent article by Kiplinger states. Before any of that takes place, however, an IRA owner must be certain to name the beneficiaries -- especially critical if you want to bequeath your IRA to a non-spouse.

4 tips to help avoid inheritance fights among your children

Parents often feel like they spend much of childhood trying to keep their kids from fighting, encouraging them to just get along. Unfortunately, that does not always end when childhood ends. In fact, many siblings will fight over the estate after their parents pass away.

Maybe you already see some signs that the kids will not get along. They tend to bicker at family events. They do not live near one another, so they do not see each other too often. They have very different personalities, and you watch them clash. Perhaps some of those old childhood relationships are still alive and well, from the younger child who resents the older child to the child who feels neglected, as if you had a favorite all along.

Protecting your family and your digital assets

It can be difficult to think about death, especially your own. But imagine for a moment that the worst has happened. What would happen to your digital assets? For many people, a more relevant question would be: What are digital assets?

Think of online banking information, stock portfolio information, social media passwords, cryptocurrency accounts, your digital wallet and other online accounts. There is a growing need for people to ensure that important digital assets are dealt with as part of comprehensive estate planning that protects your family.

Two important reasons for avoiding Florida probate: time, cost

A Florida lawyer who writes an advice column for a Treasure Coast newspaper wrote recently that people know that they want to avoid probate, but they are not sure why. He noted that probate likely doesn’t sound difficult at first, but that it can a time-consuming, expensive process that is best left to an attorney who understands the law and court procedures.

Just to be clear, probate is a court proceeding in which a judge declares a will valid and appoints an executor (also known as a personal representative) to carry out estate administration.

Probate court to decide if Florida shooter is rich or broke

A little more than two months ago, Florida and the nation were shocked and saddened by the senseless murders of 17 people in a shooting at a Parkland high school. The shooter's public defender recently said in a hearing that Nikolas Cruz could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars inherited from his late mother.

The attorney asked the court to wait to decide if taxpayers should be billed for his defense until probate has been completed. Both Cruz and his mother's estate face multiple legal claims that complicate the question of whether or not he is indigent and eligible for a tax-funded defense.

What will happen to my debts when I die?

When you pass away, it does not mean that your debts will necessarily disappear. Your creditors — like the banks that issued your vehicle loans, home loans and credit card companies — will be able to make a claim on your estate for the money you owe them. At the end of the day, it's likely that most of these debts will be collected.

However, if your debts add up to more than your estate is worth, the remaining debts will die along with you.

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