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Carol Anne Johnson
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Carol Johnson’s Answers

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  • Widow - FL Homestead Rights - is it abandonment?

    My mother moved out the day of my father's funeral. He had a will and in his will, he left me the house we lived in. I had moved out, but moved back before my father passed to take care of him when he fell ill. My mother filed for the 30% share (e...

    Carol’s Answer

    There is a lot more information needed to give a cogent answer; did your father own the house before he married his wife? Was there a waiver of homestead signed by your mother? Generally speaking, your mother can elect to take a LE interest in the property (although the election period has probably passed) or get a 50% ownership interest, but that is only if she is not already on title as tenants by the entireties or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. In either of those cases, the house now wholly belongs to her and was not your father's to devise. Abandonment pertains to child custody - not home ownership. If you are not happy with your current attorney, you should hire someone that you trust to handle your situation. Based on the information provided, the best answer I can give is "It depends."

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  • When does a trust become effective. Is it when the person dies or when the trust documents are read?

    Also, as a beneficiary of a revocable trust, am I entitled to receive all documents including previous versions of the trust?

    Carol’s Answer

    A trust becomes effective as of the date of creation, presuming it was validly executed, and funding. Trusts are not like wills, and, actually, neither document is "read". Wills must be filed within 10 days of the death of the testator, but trusts, particularly revocable trusts, are instruments that are used by the Grantor to maintain their assets for their own benefit and, following their death, to direct the distribution of the remaining trust assets. Since the Grantor of a revocable trust retains the right to amend or revoke the trust at any time prior to death, you do not have any rights to an accounting of how they chose to use their own trust fund assets. If you are a beneficiary of the (now) irrevocable trust, you have a right to an annual accounting of the assets in the trust and any documents that pertain to you.

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  • How do I find a trust fund for myself if the trustor has passed away

    When I was growing up, I clearly remember hearing that my paternal grandmother had a trust fund set up for me to be able to go to college. She developed Alzheimer's as she got older, so asking her wasn't an option. My father (her son) passed away ...

    Carol’s Answer

    Generally speaking, such a fund would have been established through an attorney or with a bank. At the time her estate was probated such a trust would have most likely come to light. Without more than "hearing" about it to go on, the trust either was NOT set up or was spent on other things for the benefit of your grandmother. If you know who her estate planning attorney was, you might want to check with his office, but I would imagine that the trust fund would have shown up by now.

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  • In Florida how long does the executor of the will have to distribute funds to heirs?

    Estate consists of one house that is to be divided equally among four heirs. One of the heirs is the executor. She is holding the house for one year before putting on market.

    Carol’s Answer

    I am presuming that the home was the homestead of the deceased? If so, the Personal Representative will have to put the creditors on notice (even for homestead property - the courts require it) and then file for a Determination of Homestead, which will cause the court to issue an order conveying the property as indicated in the will. Then, it can be sold. That shouldn't take too long, but a year is allowed. Be aware that the attorney for the PR is NOT also the attorney for any beneficiaries. If you feel that something is not being done correctly, you will need to hire your own attorney to protect your interests.

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  • Can a trust be formed to do the following:?

    I would like to put monies in a trust to buy a house. This house is to be lived in by me and my husband. My husband is tax exempt due to veteran disability. He is also bi-polar and cannot be trusted to outright own property because if he's on a...

    Carol’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I don't often disagree with my colleagues, but here in Florida, the Homestead laws are a matter of Constitutional right. So long as you and your husband are married and residing in this property, it is treated as your (and his) homestead. You really need to speak with an elder law attorney who has experience with FL real estate and homestead law. There are ways to make sure that he gets a LE, which you have mentioned, and also ways to do a transfer while still maintaining your homestead property tax exemptions - but, that requires some very specific language in the deed. You should also think about what other provisions you want for your husband, should he survive you - is the trust to be for his primary benefit? Are the funds being used marital funds or non-marital? A good attorney can help guide you into the correct instrument for your particular situation. Good luck.

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  • Do i have to pay her anything?

    me and young lady had a child he died of sids. the funeral was $3,700.00 and hospital bills less than $2,500 from what i have been told and have seen. her brother paid(in full) for the funeral as gift to help out even though she raised $4,100.00 o...

    Carol’s Answer

    Your child just died and you are whining about paying for his funeral expenses and that you have not received any money from his death??? Wow. Wow. I am speechless.

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  • Real estate, leaving the home in the decedents name lady bird deed , child support. Already checked and a trust can be seized.

    My mother is buying a home. Wants the deed to be in her name only. I have already checked that even with a trust the home still could receive a lien and be auctioned. She wants to leave it to me through lady bird deed. But I have child support arr...

    Carol’s Answer

    The State of Florida MAY attach an equitable lien against your property if the plaintiff can establish fraud or reprehensible conduct on your part prior to creating the homestead and AFTER going into arrears on your child support (which is apparently the case here). If such is the case, they can then foreclose on it to satisfy the debt. I disagree with both my colleagues who claim differently. See the Florida Bar article on this very topic below. In this case, it would be fraudulent to continue to claim that your mother is the owner of the property and holder of the homestead once she has passed.

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  • Florida, Lady bird deed with homestead exemption, child support lien on property for inheritor

    my mother wants to buy a home. put me as to inherit it under a "lady bird" deed. we have homestead exemption in Florida. I owe 76,000 in child support. when the home is transferred to me when my mother dies. can they put a lien on the house or auc...

    Carol’s Answer

    You say "I owe 76,000 in child support" - you are making payments on that, correct?? If not, the homestead property is the LEAST of your worries! Florida can and often does a) garnish wages, b) freeze bank accounts, c) place a lien against property, d) issue an order of contempt, or e) order jail time pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

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  • DO I need Separate revocable Trusts for separate property vs marital property? This is just for regular estate planning purposes

    My Husband & I have both separate real estate & joint property. We have a homestead and a vacation home in both our names & we also have a piece of income producing Real estate in my name and another piece of real estate in my HUSBAND's name. We ...

    Carol’s Answer

    If you want all the properties in trust, then, yes - you will need to hold the separate property in separate trusts. Otherwise, it will be seen as "commingled" marital property. If you don't need a trust for the properties, you can also do your own joint trust and specifically exclude the individual properties, which can be then devised by your LW&Ts.

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  • If I have two documents signed and notorized that contradict each other. Which one will hold up if needed to go to court?

    Had a baby with married man..his wife found out. She wants a doc drawn up I will not come after her husband for child support. Him and I want to get a second doc drawn up that she knows nothing about that states if he defaults on our verbal agreem...

    Carol’s Answer

    First off, child support is for the benefit of the child. No documents can be drafted which denies the child the right to parental support from its father. The wife's interest in having a legal document drafted is not enforceable and the father has a DUTY to pay for the child. Period. Why on earth would you care what she wants now??? The child's needs trumps all others. Tell her "forget it". This is not a Wills question, so I am moving it to Child Support.

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