Welcome to the NEWSLETTER of Fisher's
Law Office, providing you with legal information you can use in your
everyday life. In this issue, we discuss wartime legal issues that might
impact your life. If you have questions about what you read in this
newsletter, please call us today.
1. DO I NEED
A WILL DURING WARTIME?
Everyone over age eighteen in Florida should
have a current up-to-date Will. Here are some points to remember in
preparing to write and reviewing your Will.
A Will should state clearly the name of the
person or persons you want to inherit your property when you die.
Say what percentage of your estate each heir will receive by law,
your spouse must inherit at least 30% of your estate when you die.
Avoid listing specific assets in your Will
because you might not own the item when you die.
You must sign your Will at the end of the document.
A Will must be witnessed by two people.
Fisher's Law Office only charges $200.00 to
write a simple Will.
2. WHAT IF YOU DIE WITHOUT
(a) If you die without a Will, you die "intestate".
(b) If you die intestate, Florida law provides
for who receives your property when you die.
(c) Generally, if you die without a Will, your
spouse gets the first $20,000.00 of your estate and the balance is
split equally between your spouse and children.
3. SHOULD I HAVE A "LIVING
Yes, everyone who wants to prevent life-prolonging
procedures should have a Living Will.
A Living Will is a written statement directing
your caregivers to cease all care if you are terminally ill.
A Living Will prevents anyone from doing anything
to keep you from dying.
To be binding, a Living Will must be signed
in the presence of two witnesses. One of your witnesses may not be
a blood relative or spouse.
If you are disabled, someone else can notify
the nursing home or your doctor of the existence of your Living Will
and give them a copy of it.
Your Living Will is a part of your medical
records and should be given to the hospital and doctor (see Florida
Statutes Section 765.302).
4. SHOULD YOU CARRY A CONCEALED
(a) Florida Statutes Chapter 790 allows Floridians
and certain non-residents to carry concealed weapons within the State
(b) In order to carry a concealed weapon or
a firearm, you must obtain a license from the Department of State.
(c) To obtain a license, you must fill out
a form and show that you are a resident of the U.S., at least twenty-one
years of age, have no physical disability that prevents you from holding
a gun, have not been convicted of a felony, have not been "committed"
for the abuse of drugs. You may not be addicted to alcohol and you
must have only one DUI on your record.
(d) In addition, you must pass a firearms course
as set forth in Florida Statutes Section 790.06(h).
(e) You must not have been adjudicated incompetent
or committed to a mental institution or been convicted of domestic
violence within the last three years.
(f) People who have current injunctions to
prevent domestic violence in force cannot obtain a concealed weapons
(g) There are other technical requirements
such as providing fingerprints and photographs.
(h) Over 200,000 Floridians currently have
concealed weapons permits.
(i) Concealed weapons permits do not allow
you to bring your gun into a bar, the legislature or a courthouse.
There are other places that you cannot bring your gun even if you
have a concealed weapons permit (such as airlines!).
5. TIPS FOR DRIVING WITH A
GUN IN YOUR CAR
Fisher's Law Office is often asked by clients
what the requirements are to to carry a weapon in their automobile.
Under Florida Statutes Section 790.25, it is lawful for a person eighteen
years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm in a car without
a license if the gun is securely incased or otherwise not readily
accessible for immediate use. Rifles being transported for lawful
use (going hunting) do not have to be securely incased.
6. WHAT DOES THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION
SAY ABOUT THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS?
Section VIII of the Florida Constitution, Right
to Bear Arms, states:
"The right of the people to keep and
bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of
the State shall not be infringed except that the manner of bearing
arms may be regulated by law."
Section VIII also states:
"There shall be a mandatory period of
three days excluding weekends and legal holidays between the purchase
and delivery at retail of any handgun."
Note: The three-day waiting period to buy a
pistol does not apply if you possess a valid concealed weapons permit.
7. FUNERAL PLANS ARE ESSENTIAL
Since we never know when we will die, many
believe that "pre-need funeral insurance" is a good investment.
Such insurance is regulated by Florida Statutes Chapter 497. Here
are some points to keep in mind regarding pre-need burial plans:
(a) Under Florida Statutes Section 497.401,
pre-need burial plans are exempt from the Florida Insurance Code.
Therefore, always be cautious when you buy a pre-need insurance plan.
(b) Anyone who sells pre-need burial contracts
must have a certificate of authority from the State of Florida (see
Florida Statutes Chapter 497.405).
(c) Certificate holders are required to file
an annual statement as to the activities of any trust it establishes
to hold the money to be used to buy people in the future.
(d) Pre-need burial contracts are protected
by the Pre-need Funeral Contract Consumer Protection Trust Fund (see
Florida Statutes Section 497.413). Moral to the story? Be very cautious
whenever you pre-purchase a funeral. Make sure that the salesman is
licensed and that the reports and laws are followed.
8. MY WIFE JUST DIED. DO I
HAVE TO PAY HER BILLS?
No, in general debts of decedents do not have
to be paid by others. However, during probate the estate's debts have
to be paid before distribution is made to the heirs. There are exceptions:
(a) Homestead property passes to a spouse even
if the decedent had substantial debts. Mortgages on homestead property
must be paid but any other debts do not attach to the homestead property.
(b) Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA'S)
pass to the beneficiary named on the IRA.. The beneficiary receives
the proceeds of the IRA despite any debts the decedent may have had.
(Warning: Estate taxes "follow the asset" so make sure they
are paid before you accept IRA proceeds!)
(c) 401K Plan beneficiaries receive the amount
of the 401K without any debts attaching to the amounts.
(d) Estates under $1,000,000.00 do not owe
estate tax beginning January 1, 2002.
9. MY SPOUSE WENT AWAY TO
FIGHT AND WAS LOST IN COMBAT. HOW CAN I ADMINISTER
(a) Under Florida Statues Chapter 747, any
person who serves with the Armed Forces of the United States who is
missing in action is considered an "absentee" under the
(b) The court has the power under Florida Statutes
Section 747.02 to allow a spouse to act on behalf of the absentee
as it relates to properties or businesses the soldier had before disappearing.
(c) After the court is satisfied that the person
is truly an absentee (missing in action or otherwise), the court has
the power to appoint a conservator of the absentee's property subject
to further order of the court
(d) The court may require a bond. If it is
determined that the missing soldier has died the court shall terminate
the conservatorship and transfer the property of the deceased absentee
to the executor named in the soldier's Will.
10. NEW CENTRALIZED DATABASE
MAKES COLLECTING JUDGMENTS EASIER
As of October 1, 2001, all Florida judgments
should be recorded in Tallahassee, Florida, so that the judgment acts
as a statewide lien on all personal property of the debtor. Under
a major change in the law, all judgments are recorded with the State
of Florida in a single database accesible on the internet. If a debtor
owes money through a judgment, this information is easily accessible
by credit reporting agencies and anyone who is thinking of extending
credit to a debtor. Also, it will be easier to record a judgment in
order to levy on property of a debtor as a result of this change in
the law (see Florida Statutes Chapter 55.501).
11. WHAT IF YOU LOSE YOUR
JOB IN WARTIME?
When you leave your employment, make sure that
you do not "burn your bridges" with your former employer.
The reasons for this are as follows:
You may need a reference from your employer.
Your professional reputation could be damaged
if you leave on bad terms.
If anything is wrong or a computer file is
missing, you could be blamed if you left on bad terms.
You could be sued.
It is always best to leave your former employment
on good terms.
12. WHAT IF YOU CAN'T FIND
Under Florida law, you are entitled to unemployment
compensation of approximately $275.00 a week if you worked for the
minimum amount of time at your old job. Always apply for unemployment
Warning: You owe income tax on your unemployment
compensation and, generally, unemployment compensation does not have
income tax withholding.
13. DO I HAVE TO PAY CHILD
SUPPORT AFTER LOSING MY JOB?
Yes, but you can get it reduced. If you are
paying child support and you lose your job, make sure that you file
your petition to lower your child support immediately. Remember, the
child support is reduced from the date the petition is filed, not
from the date that you lose your job. Therefore, whenever your income
goes down substantially, you should immediately ask the court to reduce
your child support and not wait.
14. FUNNY CASE OF THE MONTH
Our client was charged with careless driving
for hitting a deer on Deer Run Road. Result: She'll be more careful
when driving on Deer Run Road.
* PRICE LIST FOR FISHER'S LAW OFFICE *
consultation for a Will through 12/31/01
Family Power of Attorney
of Marriage Consultation
*Subject to change without notice