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Stephanie Sauer Woods

Stephanie Woods’s Answers

431 total

  • I live in Polk County, Florida. My roommate, who is on the lease with me is planning to breach it; can i sue him; where?

    8 months left on apartment rental lease. Roommate's balance: $3884 for balance of his portion.

    Stephanie’s Answer

    I suggest that you set up a consultation appointment with an experienced landlord/tenant attorney to discuss your rights and options. There may be better options available for you to explore before seeking to file a lawsuit. Make sure to bring your lease agreement to the consultation appointment so that the attorney can review it.
    Lawsuits can be quite costly, whereas you may just need a consultation appointment with an attorney to advise you of your various options and the costs associated with each option.

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  • I have a WILL with a Witness sign and the notary signed as a Witness is that a legal WILL in FLORIDA.


    Stephanie’s Answer

    As all the other attorneys have stated, the Will could very well be legal/valid, but it won't be self-proving. If the Will is not self proving, then additional steps must be taken before the probate court can admit/accept the Will as a valid Will. These additional steps include having a witness go down to the Courthouse and take an Oath before the Clerk stating that the legal requirements for a Will to be valid were in fact done at the time of execution. Not only do these additional steps cause delay with proceeding with the probate administration and the appointment of a personal representative, but they can be problematic when a witness cannot be found or is unable to go to the Courthouse or has passed away.
    If this is your Will that you are asking the question about, then I would suggest that you get the Will updated and executed properly with the self-proving portion done properly so that the additional steps would not be necessary when it is time to probate your estate. I strongly suggest that you hire an estate planning attorney to do your Will so that it is executed properly.

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  • Can an Attorney-in-fact and successor on a Revocable Trust Deed with Will, take possession of the trust?

    I'm the trustee to a Revocable Trust Deed, that was created by the grantor together with a Will to assure that I'll be the beneficiary of that property at time of grantor's death. The grantor also created a durable power of attorney naming the so...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You should set up a consultation appointment with an estate planning attorney to review the Deed and Trust, as well as, the Durable Power of Attorney if you have access to that document. Your question is a bit confusing, but it is possible that the Deed may have been a life estate deed wherein the property was transferred to the individual for life, with the remainder going to the Trust for which you are Trustee. If that is the case, then the son may very well have the ability to transfer, sell, convey, mortgage, etc said property. That would all depend on the authority given to the attorney-in-fact pursuant to the Durable Power of Attorney.
    A Trustee is not necessarily a trust beneficiary. A Trustee is the person/entity that will administer and manage the trust assets in accordance with the Trust document. Not only will the Trust document state how the trust assets are to be administered and managed, it will also state who the beneficiaries are and when they become beneficiaries, as well as, state who the Trustees are and when they become trustee.
    Bottom line: you need to have an experienced estate planning attorney review the Deed, Trust, and Durable Power of Attorney to be able to properly answer your questions.

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  • What should I do if I learn a little too far into my pockets I need counsel who specializes in Trust and Estate Law?

    I filed a lawsuit against the trustees and personal rep of my fathers trust and estate. This being the first time I have ever hired a lawyer or been involved in a lawsuit, I am learning as I go.My boyfriend owns a successful business and asked his...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    I highly recommend that you consult with an attorney who practices in Estate and Trust Litigation where the trust is being administered. If you started out in MASS, then consult with an experienced Estate and Trust Litigation attorney there. However, it may be beneficial to consult with an experienced Estate and Trust Litigation attorney in FL as well. If you are stuck in MASS, then it might not be a bad idea for you to hire an experienced Estate and Trust Litigation attorney in FL for your attorney to consult with and seek and assistance with navigating through the FL laws that are applicable to your matter.
    Bottom line: If you are not pleased with the attorney you hired and you don't feel that he has sufficient experience with your matter, then you need to find another one.

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  • What specialty would address issues about a will.

    My mother passed away 5 years ago. My brother is the administrator of the estate. He has never filed income tax returns for her or the estate. Also, she had savings bonds (in her name only) that he has never properly dealt with.

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You need to consult with a probate attorney who is licensed to practice in the State where your mother's estate is being administered (likely to be the State where your mother lived when she passed away - however there are times where the probate will occur in a different state for various reasons). Although it is not always necessary, it is often times preferable that you consult with a probate attorney who practices in the particular county where your mother's estate is being administered (again likely to be the county where your mother lived when she passed away).

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  • As a parent, do I need Guardianship of the estate of my minor child if he became the beneficiary of a large insurance policy?

    My child is 8 years old, his Dad passed away suddently leaving him an insurance policy over $200K. We bought these policies while we were married. When we got divorce 4 years ago, it became part of our marital settlement, we will each keep the pol...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    My condolences to your son for sudden loss of his father.
    A guardianship will be required and in Orange County there will need to be a hearing on the matter. There is a bit more paperwork necessary than just a petition, but an experienced guardianship attorney will know exactly what to do for this matter.
    You, as the mother, have preference in being appointed as the guardian. There are certain things that would disqualify an individual from serving as guardian, but they likely will not be an issue with you.
    The Court does not keep the money; once a guardianship is established and a guardian is appointed, the guardian will be required to establish a guardianship account and the funds will be deposited into that account. A guardian is required to provide the Court with an annual accounting every year showing all activity that has taken place with the guardianship funds. When your son turns 18 years old, the guardianship will have to be closed and the guardianship funds will need to be released over to him.
    The law requires that a guardian be represented by an attorney, so you will need to consult with and hire an attorney to represent you in this matter.

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  • If one of our mother's grandsons lives in her house free while she is in assisted living, will he have any claim to the house ?

    The mother has Alzheimer's, and the grandson's dad (one of mom's sons) has been taking money from her bank account for years. I am afraid they are up to something with the latest request to have their son live in her house.

    Stephanie’s Answer

    It all depends on how the house is titled, as well as, what her estate planning documents state as to her wishes and desires for her estate and house.
    It is advisable for you to set up a consultation appointment with an elder law attorney to discuss your mother's situation in detail.
    You may also want to contact adult protective services regarding any abuse or exploitation that is taking place.

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  • If I'm on the deed and my parents passed away and leave the house to my sister in the will do I have to leave


    Stephanie’s Answer

    The ultimate answer to your question is no. At least not at this moment.
    To further answer your question we would have to know the type of ownership you had with your parents on the deed. If it was joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the house is yours. If it was tenants in common, then your sister would have ownership in the house as well which may require for you to buy out her interest or sell and split the proceeds according to the ownership interest.
    It is best for you to schedule a consultation with an attorney to review the deed and Will in order to see what the situation is now that your parents have passed away.

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  • My father in law passed away Friday. My wife is executor of the will which was filed this AM. Is probate required.

    Some funds did not have POD listed nor beneficiaries, the will stipulates 50/50 split between her and her brother. There is no property involved, her father sold the house years ago and was living in an independent living facility. We reside in Il...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    My condolences to you, your wife, and the family.
    If there are any assets that remained in your father in law's name after his passing (ie that did not have a beneficiary designation [POD, TOD, ITF] or was not jointly owned with rights of survivorship) then said assets will have to go through probate. From what you have written it does appear that a probate is likely. Depending on the nature and value of the assets that will require probate, as well as, potential creditors, it may be possible to do a summary administration of the probate estate. My suggestion would be for your wife to schedule a consultation appointment with a probate attorney while you are still in town to discuss the situation in detail in order to determine the type of probate administration that would be required for your father in law's estate. Once the type of probate administration is determined, the attorney will be able to give you an overview of the process and a projected timeframe.

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  • Is a quitclaim deed the right option to help my widowed mother save her 2 homes (only assets). Needs long term facility care.

    Dad is deceased. Mom's current retirement income is too much for Medicaid, not enough to pay out of pocket though. Both homes are in both of their names. His name hasn't been removed from anything. One home is a rental property the other is our pr...

    Stephanie’s Answer

    You need to meet with an elder law attorney ASAP. There are options available (such as special deeds, special trusts, living will, durable power of attorney, etc.) that can resolve this matter but you will need the assistance of an attorney to properly accomplish what needs to be done.
    There are so many damaging effects of doing quit claim deeds that it is strongly not advisable to proceed with that action, including but not limited to, tax implications, loss of homestead rights and protections, disqualification of Medicaid, etc.
    Please consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney ASAP and before you take any action that could cause grave harm to the situation.

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