Welcome to the NEWSLETTER of
Fisher’s Law Office, providing you with legal information you can use
in your everyday life. If you have questions about what you read in
this newsletter, please call us today.
1. TREAD CAREFULLY WHEN
MAKING A HOME PURCHASE OR BORROWING MONEY.
(a) Before you commit to
buying, always have the home fully inspected by a licensed contractor
or home inspector. (b) Find out what maintenance is necessary on
the property and whether permits were obtained for past work done
on the property.
(b) Get a termite and roof
inspection as well as a land survey.
(c) Learn the history of
the property by reading the seller’s disclosures attached to
the contract and interviewing neighbors and investigating county
(d) Obtain an environmental
(e) Get a property tax estimate
from the tax assessor. (Remember, under the Florida Constitution,
taxes will be much higher on any new home purchase if the seller
homesteaded the property and lived on the property for a number of
(f) If the seller or a real
estate agent is in a hurry to make you sign a contract, there’s
probably something wrong with the property.
(g) Don’t sign anything
until you’ve waited at least a few days to think about your
decision after you’ve completed your due diligence inspection.
(h) Inspect schools in the
area and visit the property at different times of day. Are there
planes overhead or loud traffic in the area? Are the neighbors well
(i) Ask a real estate professional
unconnected with the deal whether it is a good idea to make the purchase.
(j) Lastly, never buy property
without homeowners insurance and don’t let the seller hold
your mortgage (he could die thereby complicating your title!)
(1) The above rules apply
to any large purchase or loan, whether it is a car, RV or a house.
2. WATCH OUT FOR THE LENDER’S
FAVORITE TRICK-“THE YIELD SPREAD PREMIUM”!
If you are refinancing your
home, watch for the “yield spread premium”. Here’s
how it works: the mortgage broker convinces you to pay a higher interest
rate than you deserve. Then the mortgage broker sells your loan to
a large financial institution and makes a profit on selling your loan.
• For example, if the
market interest rate for your mortgage is 5% per year and you agree
to pay 6%, the mortgage broker can make a profit by selling your
note for a “premium”. Moral to the story? If your loan
is going to be sold, find out if the mortgage broker will make a
profit on the “yield spread premium”. If he will, negotiate
a lower interest rate on your loan.
3. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED:
A UNITED STATES “DOLLAR CRISIS” HAS BEGUN!
Be careful holding United States
dollars. On December 31, 1972, there were 1,121 U.S. dollars in circulation
for every ounce of gold held by the United States government in reserve.
As of the end of 2003, there were 116,000 U.S. dollars in the economy
for each ounce of gold held in reserve by the United States government.
The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve continue to dilute the value
of United States currency by flooding the economy with printed currency.
Moral to the story? Expect our debt laden government to continue to
print trillions of dollars without any more gold in reserve. Also expect
inflation to increase dramatically.
4. HERE ARE SOME TRENDS
IN PROBATE AND DIVORCE
(a) Due to changes in medical
records privacy laws, heirs are having a difficult time obtaining
medical records for their loved ones. Such records are often necessary
to make life insurance claims. As a result, what were formerly simple
probates (family and summary estates) have become full-blown administrations
of estates requiring bonds, Letters of Administrations and other
(b) Some examples of the
difficulties our clients have found in getting divorced:
• One of our clients
is involved in a child custody case. She has waited months after
a court order was entered for the “custody home study” to
• Mediation is now
mandatory. As a result, even temporary support hearings require
the parties to attend a time consuming mediation conference before
a hearing can be scheduled.
• The Mediation Department
of the Clerk of the Court is requiring prepayment for mediations
and payment for past mediations before a mediation will be scheduled.
• The mediation fees
are no longer based on income. Fees are $75.00 in Hillsborough
• Filing fees continue
to increase. When Fisher’s Law Office, P.A., began business
in the mid 1980’s, the clerk of the court’s filing
fee for a simple divorce was approximately $30.00. Now the clerk’s
filing fee for divorce is approaching $300.00.
• Courts are now requiring
parents to attend “divorce school”. Divorce schools
are expensive, difficult to schedule and classes are often filled
before “students” can enroll.
• Domestic violence
allegations are at epidemic proportions. Meanwhile, many good and
decent Judges are afraid to deny or dismiss domestic violence injunctions
for fear of being the subject of a negative article in the newspaper
if one of the parties hurts the other.
• It has become difficult
to schedule a contested divorce hearing.
• Clients often find
their cases can’t be heard for months and months.
• Once they arrive
at the courthouse on the day of the trial, many clients discover
the hearing does not take place on time. Many of our clients have
been forced to wait for hours for their scheduled hearing time
to take place.
• Hearings often get “continued” because
the time allotted wasn’t sufficient. More hearing time takes
months to obtain because of judges’ crowded calendars.
• Judges are often
forgetful as to what took place in a trial. Fisher’s Law
Office recently had a case in which a judge became ill after the
divorce trial. Months later, the judge confessed that he had no
memory of the trial.
• The requirement
to make financial disclosures has become burdensome for some clients.
The rules now require all persons involved in a contested divorce
case to produce numerous financial documents.
Moral? Always try to settle
your case. Uncontested divorces only require Financial Affidavits
be exchanged before a final hearing is scheduled.
5. SOME GOOD NEWS FOR FAMILY
The “Unified Family Court” is
close to realty. Senate Bill 586 will allow one judge to hear divorce,
dependency and domestic violence cases for a family beginning in 2005
or 2006. In the past, families appeared before up to four different
judges thereby creating conflict between the court’s juvenile,
dependency, divorce and domestic violence divisions.
6. HOW THE PEOPLE ARE RESPONDING
TO DIVORCE DELAYS!
Because of the difficulty in
getting divorced, we have encountered a trend in which some clients
are performing “fake wedding ceremonies”. These clients
never actually never obtain a marriage license and instead simply carry
on as if they were married by living together and writing Wills that
include the other. • Warning: If you decide on such a plan, see
a lawyer first!
7. HERE ARE SOME HINTS TO
HELP YOU IN MAKING A DECISION REGARDING MEDICAID.
Many people believe that it
is proper to give away all of their assets to their loved ones so that
they can then qualify for a federal program known as “Medicaid”.
Medicaid helps pay for medical treatment and nursing home stays. Fisher’s
Law Office discourages people from giving away their assets to qualify
for Medicaid for the following reasons:
• There is a “look
back” period of three years (five years for Trusts) in which
the state of Florida investigates to see if you gave away any of
your money. If you gave away assets during the 3-5 year time period,
you could be disqualified for Medicaid benefits.
• Once you’ve
given away your money, you have no money to pay for nursing home
care if Medicaid isn’t available.
• Medicaid reimbursement
is so low that many nursing homes will not accept Medicaid patients
even if they qualify for the program.
• If you are placed
in a nursing home that accepts Medicaid, there’s no guarantee
you’ll be allowed to stay at the nursing home. For example,
if you are hospitalized, your Medicaid bed may be given to someone
else while you’re in the hospital.
• If you are on Medicaid,
you generally cannot afford to have someone come into your home to
care for you even though this might be your best care option.
• The law can change
at any time lengthening the “look back period” described
Important tip: In Florida, you
are allowed to keep your primary home, car and jewelry and still be
on Medicaid. Therefore, never, under any circumstances, give away your
house, your car or your jewelry if you are planning to apply for Medicaid.
Ironically, the gift of these “exempt” items can disqualify
you for Medicaid.
8. DOCUMENTS THAT EVERY
FLORIDA ADULT NEEDS
Every adult in Florida needs
the following essential planning documents:
(a) A well written Will that
sets forth who receives your property when you die. Always have an
attorney assist you in writing your Will.
(b) A Health Care Power of
Attorney (often called a “Health Care Surrogate”).
(c) A “Living Will”.
This document allows for the termination of life support if your
condition is terminal and two doctors agree.
9. NEW INFLATION COMING
It’s been over twenty
years since inflation has wrecked havoc on America. Unfortunately,
inflation is on the rise again. Here are some key factors that could
cause inflation to skyrocket:
(a) The social security and
medicare programs are underfunded by over fifty trillion dollars.
The government refuses to deal with this issue so expect the government
to simply print money to pay social security benefits to the seventy-seven
million (77,000,000) baby boomers when they retire beginning in 2008.
(b) The United States government
owes over $1.6 trillion to foreigners. Some are predicting that this
endless stream of easy financing must end soon. When that happens
(or when it slows down), watch out. U.S. interest rates will skyrocket
and prices of everything will increase dramatically. The price of
oil has already began its historic rise.
(c) China, Japan and other
Asian countries have kept tight controls on the flow of money to
prevent their currencies from appreciating against the U.S. dollar.
When these controls are eventually lifted, expect their currencies
to go up dramatically and the cost of U.S. imports to skyrocket.
(Most consumer products for sale at stores such as Wal-mart are imported
(d) The U.S. government’s
six trillion dollar debt is so onerous that it must be “monetized”,
that is, paid for with printed money. It’s the only way out
for the U.S. Treasury and it means huge inflation in America’s
10. WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT
Consider the following:
(1) Own a home. Try to pay
down as much of your home mortgage as possible, even if you have
(2) Keep a portion of your
savings in a stock mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks and
(3) Pay down consumer debts
(credit cards, car loans, etc.).
(4) Reduce your energy consumption.
Energy and fuel costs will continue to increase in the future.
(5) Write down what you spend
for a month and ask yourself what you can do to reduce your consumption.
(6) Participate in a continuing
education program even if you’re in a secure job. You don’t
know when you might need new skills in the new “inflationary
economy” where no one’s job is secure.
11. CHECKLIST FOR CUSTODY
The following should be considered
any time custody of children will be decided by a court:
(a) Know your children’s
teachers by name and visit them often. People that care about their
children visit teachers and keep up with children’s school
(b) Visit your child’s
doctor and show interest in your child’s health and development.
(c) Find out the names of
your children’s friends and get to know their parents.
(d) Become knowledgeable about
your children. A concerned parent who deserves custody should know
their children’s favorite colors, favorite video games, favorite
T.V. shows and other details about their children’s interests.
(e) Read to your children
and write them letters.
(f) Open up a college fund
and carry health insurance on your child.
(g) Give your child an allowance.
(h) Spend time with your
children doing things they like whether it’s sports, reading
or playing outdoors.
(i) Never ever say anything
bad about the child’s other parent. Remember: Judges care about
the child, not you. Don’t make the case about you and your
feelings but about the children that you love.
12. DON’T BE A STRANGER
Please let us know if we can
help you. If you would like a legal consultation on any of the following
areas of law, please contact Fisher’s Law Office at (813) 949-2749.
Family Law, Mortgage Foreclosures, Paternity, Personal Injury, Custody,
Contract Disputes, Collections, Employment Contracts, Bankruptcy, Wills,
Probate and Tax Issues.