Estate Planning

Do I need a Lawyer to create my Will?

This is a question many people ask before hiring an estate planning lawyer. The short answer to the question is: certainty. Having your will prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney means that you will be certain that your wishes will be carried out.

It is not advisable to prepare a will on your own, because if a will is not properly prepared, your assets will not pass to the people you would prefer. Without a will or with an improperly prepared will, your assets will pass to your “heirs at law.”

Consider the following example:

A 60 year old woman decides she would like to leave her home to her favorite grandson. Like many people, her home is her most valuable asset. However, her self-prepared will either wasn’t prepared properly, she lost the original, or never had a will prepared at all. So instead of the her home passing to her favorite grandson, the property will pass to her “heirs at law.” No big deal, right? Wrong!

In this example, the 60 year old woman had five children, three of whom died before she did. Those three children that predeceased her each had three children of their own. This means that because there was no will or the self-prepared will was inadequate, there are now 11 heirs at law who after a probate proceeding will all be co-owners of her home together. Those 11 people will have to agree to sign a deed to transfer her property to the grandson or to sell the property. If they don’t agree, there are other costly legal proceedings that are required before the property can be sold.

This is but one example of how a lack of estate planning can frustrate your attempts to provide for your loved ones upon your passing. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you navigate this and other pitfalls that arise in estate planning.

Call or email us today to find out how we can help.

During September and October 2011, the North Florida Regional Medical Center’s (NFRMC) pond was decorated with a big pink ribbon surrounded by many floating pink flamingos. The pink flamingos symbolized the many patients and survivors that have received care or treatment for breast cancer at the hospital.

Education is extremely helpful with the prevention of breast cancer, so NFRMC is trying to educate the public. On September 30, 2011, the event opened with several speakers who talked about breast cancer and urged the public to take a stand against it. Spectators were encouraged to remain aware of breast cancer and take steps to schedule regular physician visits, perform self breast exams and take care of themselves to minimize the risks of getting the disease. Survivors of breast cancer are more common than ever, but the key to surviving is prevention and early detection. Literature about breast cancer was also available during the event.

If one of your family members has cancer or has had the disease in the past, you may be more likely to take the steps to ensure that you are in good health by obtaining the necessary information and scheduling regular examinations. However, breast cancer can strike anyone. Therefore, it is important to prepare for the unfortunate possibility that you could be diagnosed with breast cancer or another terminal illness. Preparing for  a life-threatening disease also requires making sure your wishes are clear if the illness disables you or takes your life.

The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates can help you with your estate planning needs. We can draft wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other similar documents. Our estate planning attorneys can discuss your goals and concerns, so we can recommend and draft the documents that will help ensure that your wishes are carried out.

The Pew Research Center indicates that 25 percent of fathers do not reside with their children. As a result, many fathers may not play an active role in parenting. Despite these unfortunate findings, some fathers in the Gainesville area still manage to share quality time with their children.

Fathers who make spending time with their children a priority enjoy a wide range of activities with them. They may help their children with homework, attend sports events, help with carpooling and participate in other activities their children enjoy. Some fathers even volunteer to spend time with children who are not their offspring. These volunteer activities are varied, but they can include coaching, mentoring students, acting as a homeroom parent and volunteering at the child’s school. Dads who volunteer have the opportunity to make an impression on children who may not otherwise have a positive male role model in their lives.

Many fathers cherish spending time with their children because children grow up quickly. However, being a responsible dad is not just about sharing time with your children; it also involves planning for the future. Parents need to make sure that they have a plan in place in the event a tragedy occurs that prevents them from caring for their children.

Caring for your children is essential to their well-being. The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates can advise you of the documents necessary to protect your children in the event of a tragic accident or death. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can assist you by drafting a will, creating a trust, or preparing other documents that will protect your children. The ages of your children, your assets and other details about your finances and family circumstances will help our attorneys assist you in drafting the documents that meet your children’s needs and will ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Thinking about your death may be uncomfortable, but preparing for the future allows you to protect your children financially and arrange for their care. The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates has been helping parents plan for the future for years. Consult with our experienced Gainesville attorneys today.

Retailers and consumers should be aware that Florida ranks second for receiving complaints about stolen identities and consumer fraud. The areas with the highest volume of complaints were the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Port St. Lucie areas.

While many people associate identity theft with credit card fraud, the bulk of complaints involve using fraudulent documents or information to obtain government benefits. Examples of this type of fraud could cheat the victim out of social security money, tax refunds, government funded food or other benefits. Scams involving electronic transfers are typically used to commit this type of fraud.

Consumers can reduce their chances of becoming fraud victims by limiting the personal information they make available on the Internet. They should also refrain from responding to fishing expedition email requesting information about bank accounts or passwords. This type of email message also typically mentions an electronic transfer.

Similarly, consumers should only share credit card information on a secure website or call in their payment information. Paying via Paypal can also help reduce distribution of credit card numbers. Consumers should be aware that credit card theft can occur even if the consumer still has his credit card in his possession. The vital information on the credit card is all that is needed to make fraudulent purchases. Review credit card statements regularly for unusual charges and periodically check your credit history to ensure that it remains strong.

Retailers and banks can also do their part to protect against fraud. Employees should request identification before cashing checks or accepting credit cards.

If you learn that you are a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, immediately close any bank accounts that are affected. Contact your credit card company and follow their procedures. Alert the fraud departments of credit bureaus to your situation and request reports. The Florida Office of Attorney General’s website can provide additional ways to minimize the effects of identity theft and fraud.

A devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Although more than 3,000 deaths have been confirmed, the number of people missing suggests that the death toll is likely to be greater than 10,000. In addition to the deaths, the earthquake and tsunami have affected millions of people in a variety of ways. Homes have been lost and irreparably damaged, people have been injured, and many have lost their livelihoods.

As a result of this natural disaster, several explosions occurred at a nuclear plant, which caused high levels of radiation to leak into the atmosphere, particularly along the northeastern coast. The majority of the radiation entered the air as steam from boiling water, which was caused by a fire in Unit 4. Those living in the Fukushima Dai-ichi district were cautioned to remain indoors and to keep their windows and doors closed to minimize radiation exposure. When radioactive material leaks, there is a potential for fatalities depending upon the amount that escapes. While the Japanese government does not currently anticipate fatalities from the radiation leak, there has been cause for concern and radiation levels are being monitored.

The nuclear plant explosions, the earthquake, and the tsunami emphasize the importance of having your affairs in order before an unexpected disaster occurs. Floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters can happen anywhere in the world at any time. Even when people are ill and death is imminent, it is impossible to know precisely when they will lose their lives. Preparing for your demise by creating a will or trust is essential to help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. It is important not only to think about the distribution of your assets, but also to designate guardians or other care for your children, pets, and other dependents. Life is filled with tragedies, both expected and unexpected, but being prepared can make it easier for those left behind. The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates has experienced attorneys who can help you with your estate planning and probate needs. Start thinking about your future and the futures of your loved ones. Contact us today.

John and Carole Rio breed and raise animals at Rosegrove Thoroughbred Farm in Ocala, Florida.  Both husband and wife grew up around animals and enjoy participating in day-to-day farm activities. Additionally, they enjoy taking the time to give their animals plenty of personalized attention, which means they get to know the animals very well. This year, the Rios’ care, knowledge and breeding abilities have caught the attention of judges, resulting in some of their animals receiving champion status.

The Rios were delighted when their dog, Marlex Classic Red Glare, was awarded first place at the 2011 Westminster Dog Show in the miniature pinscher category. In addition to Marlex Classic Red Glare’s recent win, the Rios have had two other dogs win top spots for their breeds in past Westminster Dog Shows.

Less than a week after Marlex Classic Red Glare’s victory, one of the Rios’ horses, Mucho Macho Man, won the Risen Star Stakes Race, advancing him on the list of Kentucky Derby contenders. The Rios acknowledge that the combination of Mucho Macho Man’s lanky physique and his June birthday made him difficult to sell initially since colts born closer to January who have a more athletic, solid appearance are favored. Mucho Macho Man is currently owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing Stable, but the Rios still have a minority share in this special horse. Given Mucho Macho Man’s proven speed, his owners have already rejected sales offers well over two million dollars and are excited by his new rank on the list of possible Kentucky Derby winners.

Whether your pet is valuable to you financially or because of your companionship, you want to make sure that your pet is always cared for. The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates has years of experience preparing pet trusts. Plan ahead by designating funds and a caretaker for your pet in the event that your pet outlives you. No one can anticipate the future, but providing for your pet’s care in the event of your death will ease your mind and ensure his well-being. Please contact the Law Office of Knellinger & Associates to see how we can help.