When you need legal help, it is important to make informed decisions. While you are waiting for your free initial consultation, we encourage you to review our attorneys’ answers to these frequently asked questions about estate planning, probate, guardianship, personal injury and wrongful death matters in Florida:
Estate Planning FAQs
- What needs to be included in my estate plan? There is no “right” answer when it comes to preparing an estate plan. Everyone’s situation is unique, and while a will might be enough for one person, someone else may need a will, revocable trust, power of attorney and other estate planning tools.
- What happens if I don't have a will or trust? If you die without an estate plan, the property you own at death will be distributed according to the law of “intestate succession.” This is rarely in anyone’s best interests, and it is one of the main reasons to have an estate plan.
- How much will it cost to create a will? Everyone’s situation is unique and the costs involved will depend upon the number and complexity of issues that need to be addressed in the will.
- Do I really need a lawyer for my estate planning needs? While having a lawyer prepare your estate plan is not a legal requirement, it is highly recommended. With the importance of your estate plan and the complexity of the laws involved, preparing an estate plan is not something most people can do correctly on their own.
- Can I create a will online? There are online forms and “legal service” providers out there, but neither of these is a substitute for seeking advice from a qualified estate planning attorney.
- What is probate? Probate is the legal process used to administer a person’s estate after death. In Florida, the probate courts also hear cases involving guardianship and determinations of incapacity.
- Why is probate necessary? In the context of estate administration, probate is necessary whenever a person dies either: (i) without an estate plan, or (ii) with an estate plan that includes a will.
- I'm a personal representative. What does that mean? If you have been designated as someone’s personal representative, this means that you have been chosen to take responsibility for administering his or her final affairs through the probate process.
- Why does the personal representative need an attorney? Most personal representatives have never been through the probate process. If you have been designated as a personal representative, an attorney will be able to help you carry out your duties while avoiding mistakes that could result in legal liability.
- What rights do I have as a surviving family member during probate? Your rights as a surviving family member are too many to list. At a very basic level, you have the right to understand the terms of your loved one’s estate plan, and you have the right to protect your inheritance through the judicial process.
- Is probate expensive? While probate can be expensive, it does not have to be. Especially for smaller estates, probate can be a relatively quick and straightforward process.
- How can I challenge a will? Formally challenging a will involves filing a petition in court. However, before you decide to challenge a will, you should be sure to discuss all of the potential implications with an experienced attorney.
- Who may have a guardian appointed to manage his/her affairs? In Florida, minor children and adults with incapacities are eligible for guardianship.
- Who can be a guardian? Any adult Florida resident can serve as guardian of a minor child and/or an adult with incapacities. A family relationship is not required.
- How is it determined that a person needs a guardian? Establishing the need for guardianship of an adult with incapacities involves what is known as a Determination of Incapacity Proceeding. Read more about Determination of Incapacity Proceeding.
- How can I be appointed a guardian? In order to be appointed as a guardian, you must file a Petition to Determine Incapacity in the appropriate court. You are required by law to have legal representation, and you will need to convince a panel of experts that you are an appropriate guardian for the proposed ward.
- What are the different types of guardianship? There are several types of guardianship in Florida. Generally speaking, however, a guardian can either have authority over a ward’s finances, healthcare or both.
- How long will it take to be appointed a guardian? It depends. If your Petition to Determine Incapacity is strong and you thoroughly prepare for the expert panel, the process can be fairly efficient. If you run into issues or face guardianship litigation, it can take significantly longer.
Personal Injury FAQs
- How do I know if I am entitled to compensation? If you have been injured in an accident, you need to speak with an attorney right away. Your attorney will be able to assess your case and determine if you have a claim for compensation.
- What kind of compensation is available? In Florida, accident victims can seek compensation for past and future medical bills, past and future loss of income, scarring and disfigurement, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of support and companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, and other accident-related losses.
- How can an attorney help me after an accident? There are several reasons to hire an attorney after an accident. Your attorney will be able to calculate your losses, help you avoid settling too soon, help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your recovery, and prepare your case for trial if a fair settlement is not on the table.
- Is a personal injury attorney expensive? In fact, at Miguelez Lorenzo LLP it costs you nothing out of pocket to hire our attorneys. We only get paid if you win, and our fee is calculated as a percentage of your financial recovery.
Wrongful Death FAQs
- How do we commence a wrongful death action? In Florida, wrongful death actions must be commenced by the deceased’s personal representative. The personal representative files the action on behalf of the deceased’s estate and any eligible surviving family members.
- Who is entitled to recover under Florida’s wrongful death statute? Family members who are eligible to recover compensation under Florida’s wrongful death statute include: the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and dependent blood relatives or adopted siblings.
- What type of accident can lead to wrongful death? Any accident that can support a personal injury claim can also support a claim for wrongful death. This includes vehicle collisions, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, construction accidents and premises-related accidents.
- How is the allocation of damages determined in a wrongful death action? In a wrongful death case, damages are generally awarded to each family member based upon his or her own actual losses, and any damages awarded to the estate are distributed according to the decedent’s estate plan or the law of intestate succession. However, there are several specific (and complicated) rules, and to understand your rights you will need to speak with an experienced attorney.
When Is the Right Time to Talk to a Lawyer?
If you think you might need a lawyer, now is probably a good time to talk to one. In certain circumstances (such as after an accident or a loved one’s death), waiting too long to seek legal help could jeopardize your rights. When you schedule a free initial consultation at Miguelez Lorenzo LLP, we will be happy to help you understand if you need legal representation.
How Do I Choose the Right Lawyer to Represent Me?
When choosing a lawyer, you want someone who has years of experience helping clients with your type of legal issue. It is also a good idea to look for favorable reviews from past clients and referring attorneys. In addition, you will typically want someone who is local, not just to Florida but specifically to the Miami area.
More Questions? Talk to a Lawyer in Miami, Florida for Free
To get answers to your specific questions, contact Miguelez Lorenzo LLP in Miami to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our phone number is (305) 967-7412 and you can contact us online 24/7. We respond to all inquiries as soon as possible.