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Author: Matthew Shapiro

The holidays are here. A time for family, for friends, and for gathering around the table to feast. But what would a gathering be without certain taboo topics? No, not politics. I’m talking about inheritance and estate planning. Who is in the Will, who has been omitted, and who has work to do if they want to stay off the naughty list?
When it comes to estate planning, the primary goal of most clients is to eliminate the need for probate. Although a jack of all trades, probate is primarily a court proceeding designed to lawfully transfer certain assets previously owned by a deceased person. Probate is by no means a terrible undertaking, but it can be costly and time consuming. The good news is that not all assets need pass through probate.
Under Florida law, a personal representative (sometimes referred to as an “executor”) has a duty to pursue a wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s survivors. There are two key takeaways from this edict.
Following the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, substantial scrutiny will be applied to the condominium association’s board of directors, and perhaps rightfully so. But as an attorney who focuses a large portion of his practice on condominium law (I have the thinning hair to prove it), I would say this catastrophe is merely a symptom of the greater disease – a broken system asking too much from its directors.
It is not uncommon for me to come across clients who claim that family members wrongfully received property from a loved one prior to their passing. This “gift” often contravenes provisions founds within a decedent’s Last Will and Testament. An example would be a son finding his way onto mom’s bank account despite mom’s Will leaving everything to daughter. Does brother have a right to keep the claimed gift?
Family members can become vulnerable. This can be hard to accept, but oftentimes those we love fall ill or otherwise reach an advanced age where their mental capacities are diminished. They do not recognize that they may be a target for someone who is pretending to love them or care for them with the ulterior motive of gaining a quick inheritance.
Florida law requires that a person be of “sound mind” in order to make a Will. This is also known as having “testamentary capacity.”
The personal representative, sometimes referred to as executor, is the person appointed by the court to be in charge of the administration of a deceased person’s probate estate.
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and affection. Many individuals show their love and affection by purchasing flowers, candy, or even a slab of beef pounded into the shape of a heart.
In almost all civil lawsuits, once an individual is served they have twenty days to file a formal response with the court. If they do not, they risk having a default entered against them whereby they lose the right to formally defend the action brought against them.