Summer 2004
Fisher's Law Office

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.


(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 records.

(d) Obtain an environmental inspection.

(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 years.)

(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 behaved?

(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.


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.


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.


(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 legal documents.

(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 even begin.

• 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 County, Florida

• 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.


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.


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!


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 above.

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.


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.


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 from Asia.)

(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 future!


Consider the following:

(1) Own a home. Try to pay down as much of your home mortgage as possible, even if you have to sacrifice.

(2) Keep a portion of your savings in a stock mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks and precious metals.

(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.


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 progress.

(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.


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.