A beautiful wedding dress, party, family gathering together in celebration. Is the celebration important? It may be. But, what does that marriage means in legal terms?
After a presentation the other day, someone exclaimed: Now I understand why gays were so concerned about marriage. It was much more than just “getting Married” it was about legal consequences.
It does not matter if you are in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, the consequences of not being married and not having the right plan in place could be catastrophic.
Ana (not her real name) had been with Tom for years. They had two children together. Tom had three adult children from a prior marriage, two of whom had no relationship with their dad.
Tom always provided for his wife and children while Ana was a housewife. Since he was the breadwinner, he purchased the house under his own name and investment accounts were only under his name. Ana and Tom never married. They felt married because of the years they were together. However, they never “legally” married.
Florida does not recognize “common law marriage” or marriage after a certain period of cohabitation absent signed and legalized documents. If you do not have the legal documents signed and recorded, you are not married in Florida.
Tom died after a sudden truck accident.
Ana thought she was financially protected because Tom had build some wealth and a paid roof for her and the children. But, this was just a wishful thought.
Tom never did any planning. He never felt it was important or necessary so he had no Will or Trust in place.
When you do not create a plan for yourself, the law has one drafted out for you. In this case, everything Tom had was to be divided among his five children. Ana had absolutely no right to his money or the house. What’s more, since Tom and Ana’s children were minors, Ana had to open a guardianship case in Court to be able to receive the money for the children. This means, Ana has no freedom to spend the children’s money except with court approval. Once the children turn 18, mature or not, ready or not, they will receive their money to spend in whatever way they want.
Ana on the other hand, felt betrayed and depressed. Tom had the best intentions but did not take the right actions.
Marriage would have solved part of the problem. If Tom and Ana would have been married, Ana would have had the right to half the house or she could have chosen to live in the house until she died and only then it would go to Tom’s five children. She would have received half of all moneys Tom had under his name and the children would have received the other half (equally shared by the five children).
If Ana had been married, things would have been much better. However, if Tom had taken the time to create an estate plan, everything could have been different. He could have arrange to provide for all his children but also for his “wife.” He was the one who never let her work, but he also was the one who left her on the street.
So marriage may be part of the solution but the real solution is having the right estate plan in place.
If you feel you are in a similar situation, give us a call. We will be glad to answer all your questions.
Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Life Planning & Beyond
Every case is different, and each person has different needs or desires. Not all plans fit everyone, and each plan is drafted with your specific goals in mind. Have your specific situation reviewed by a competent attorney and your questions answered before you make any decision about your plan.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney? Is it enough to make medical decisions?
First and foremost, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney (also known as Health Care Directive or Health Care Proxy) are two different documents.
A Durable Power of Attorney: This document lets you grant another person the authority to act as your LEGAL representative. Common powers granted by this document, among many others, are: authority to access your bank account, write checks, pay bills, contact the home insurance or mortgage company, rent, sale, or manage real estate or a business, communicate with governmental institution, sue or defend a lawsuit against you, and much more.
The term “durable” means that it does not have an expiration date on it and it is valid from the moment that it is signed. You do not have to be incapacitated for the document to become valid. In fact, a document with such a provision is not valid in Florida. The Durable Power of attorney is valid immediately and even after you are incapacitated. This is a very powerful document and must be safeguarded and precautions be taken to protect it because it can be used by the agent or person granted the authority immediately!
You can also grant only a specific authority to an agent and create a Specific Power of Attorney. For example, if you are selling your house and you will be traveling the day of the closing, you can leave a power of attorney to an agent to sign on your behalf. These powers are only for the specific purpose.
A Health Care Power of Attorney: This document gives a person the right to make MEDICAL decisions for you. In order for an agent under this health care power to make decisions for you, you must be legally incapacitated and unable to make the decision for yourself. For example, if you are unconscious after an accident and there is a need to decide what doctor, what procedure, what hospital, etc., the agent would have the right to make the decisions. However, if you have the legal capacity to decide, no one can decide for you regardless of being in possession of a Health Care Power of Attorney signed by you.
Note that a Health Care Power of Attorney is not a Living Will. Through a Living Will, you decide, in advance, your end of life decisions.
At Yahima Suarez, PA, we do not emphasize the documents as part of our planning for clients and we concentrate on the planning itself. There is a lot more to estate planning than just printing out a form online and signing it. The contents, working and editing of those “forms” is essential so the documents reflect your intent and your wishes.
So we say that the documents are the product of the planning.
Planning your “estate” during life is more than just deciding who will inherit your home when you die, it is about protecting your health and your life first, protecting your loved ones if you are incapacitated for any period of time and protecting your assets — your income, your home, your business. The second part of the planning is about leaving your assets and certainly, your legacy.
None of the documents above deal with the second part of the planning!
Make sure to understand the difference and do not rely solely on online information when creating your estate plan. Do yourself a favor and consult with an estate planning attorney and not a general practitioner.
Yahima Suarez, PA
The information herein contained shall not be construed as legal advice and should only be used for reference. Please consult your specific case with an attorney. All cases are different!
About two years ago I had a client walk into my office with very little difficulty. He was 97 years old. He was ready to put his estate plan in place. The conversation turned more into his cardiologist (the one who over twenty years ago had to put a pacemaker on his heart) did not schedule him for a follow-up visit. He was fine. His only complaint at this age, but a slight loss of balance, but no walker yet.
A few months later I also had the privilege to help update the estate plan for a 97-year-old lady who complained about all her health issues. She was, however, looking very well. She did use a walker but needed minimal assistance to move around.
Just three days ago, I met my oldest client to-date. This one is going to be hard to beat. My client is 102 years old. You would say that at that age, there is no longer legal capacity and faculties have deteriorated and he probably came pushed in a wheelchair.
I am very happy to announce that this gentleman is in best health than probably most of us. His mind as sharp as his young great-grandson and not even a walker!! He knew what he wanted and how he wanted it and his grandson was entitled to an opinion but just that. Ah, no hearing aids and NO Glasses — and a great attitude too 🙂
He turned in his driver’s license about a year ago at the insistence of family members. He claims he can still drive perfectly.
I learned about his family history, from the times of Cuba to now and the things he enjoyed and disliked. I learned about his family dynamics and family tree. He knows exactly what’s in the bank and what are his numbers, to the detail.
I am impressed and I feel glorious of being given the opportunity to serve him.
I am adding myself to his next birthday party for sure . . .
Friends: Appreciate life. Live it to the fullest. Do not stress too much. Get your planning in place (do not wait until you are 100– this is an exception, not the rule). Enjoy peace of mind.
Love and Health to you and your family!
Yahima Suarez, PA
Tel. #: 305-456-7158
So often people come to my office because they want a “Living Will.” After questioning what they want, it happens that what they want is a “Will” or also known as Last Will and Testament. A “Living Will” and a “Will” are not the same thing and have very different purposes.
A Living Will is the directive by which the person decides if they want to be kept alive by artificial life if there is nothing medically possible to be done to save their life. This directive can be extensive or very general. It can express the person’s wishes with every detail or simply express the desire to not receive artificial life. Some may want to stay on artificial life for a reasonable period or a specific period of time may decide to continue on nutrition and pain medications, or any other specificity.
A Living Will is a very helpful document and, more than anything, it makes a decision in advance so that loved ones do not have to bear this burden at the most difficult moment.
On the other hand a “Will” or “Last Will and Testament” refers to the document that disposes of the person’s assets once the upon that person’s death. The Will provides for a Personal Representative (to administer the estate), which is the person who hires the attorney and manages the assets while the case is in court until the assets are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries named under the Will. So, yes, the Will names who the person wants to receive the assets, what assets, amounts and in what manner.
A Living Will works when the person is still alive, while a Will or Last Will and Testament comes into effect when the person dies.
Thus, there is a big difference between the two documents and shall not be confused!
If you had any questions about this subject or still are confused about the two, feel free to leave the question below or email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would like to hear from you!
Life Planning & Beyond
Attorney-client privilege is a legal term that can be complicated but it is very important and so I want you to know what it is and what it can mean/affect you and/or your family.
The communication between an attorney and a client is confidential. The attorney cannot reveal the information received by the Client to third parties and in many instances, not even to a Court!
The confidentiality is owned by the client, which means that only the client can reveal or authorize for the information to be revealed.
The attorney cannot reveal client communication. This privilege also covers the attorney’s staff (assistants, secretaries, paralegals, etc.).
As it related to Estate Planning . . .
What the Attorney-Client Privilege means to you, as the client? As the client, you know that your attorney cannot disclose your wishes and desires with your family members, friends, or anyone else without your consent. So, if you want to case/estate plan to be private, the attorney must keep it private.
In Estate Planning, we encourage clients to be open and inform family members of their intentions because we truly believe that this avoids bigger conflicts in the future, but ultimately, it is the client’s decision.
What the Attorney-Client Privilege means to you, as the family member? The family member must understand that it is not the attorney’s fault that they did not know about their parents or close family member’s wishes until the Will or Trust is administered (at this time, it is too late to make changes). So, again, we encourage open communication with close family members about your own estate plan and about their estate plan!
What he Attorney-Client Privilege means to the attorney? The attorney must follow the rules and ethical standards of the legal profession. As an attorney, we are put in a difficult situation. Attorneys can often be victims of false accusations and complaints by unhappy family members who do not realize that the attorney is only complying with a very important rule – attorney-client privilege. The attorney is only doing her job by protecting the secrecy and confidentiality of the client that trusted the attorney. “Whatever the client says to the attorney, stays with the attorney!”
Personally, I highly value my client’s trust and I accept this responsibility with pride!
What is not covered by the privilege: As with every rule, there is an exception. An attorney cannot keep confidential information about the intention of the client to commit a crime. In Florida Estate Planning cases, after the client passes away, the attorney may be compelled by a Court to disclose the client’s intentions if there is a Will/Trust contest.
To avoid future conflicts, I highly encourage you to talk about your estate plan with your family!
Any questions, send us an email: ysuarez@YSLawyers.com or give us a call at 305-456-7158.
Yahima Suarez, JD
Yahima Suarez, PA
Dear Clients, friends, colleagues,
It is my pleasure to announce that we are moving, as of July 1, 2018 (next Monday we will be already in our new office! We trust it is a more convenient location that will only enhance our outstanding services to you!
900 West 49 Street, SUITE 326
Hialeah, FL 33012
Any questions, our phone number continues to be the same: 305-456-7158.
Estimados amigos, clientes, colegas,
Con alegria les comunico que nos mudamos, a partir del 1ro de Julio del 2018 (el proximo lunes ya estamos en la nueva oficina)! Es una localizacion mas centrica y estamos seguros que solo mejorara ya nuestros servicios para usted.
900 West 49 Street, SUITE 326
Hialeah, FL 33012
Cualquier pregunta, el numero de telefono sigue siendo el mismo: 305-456-7158.
Warmest Regards / Cordiales Saludos,
Yahima Suarez, PA
Ph. #: 305-456-7158
Today is Tuesday. What’s so special about today?
Every day is a present day. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is to come. We celebrated all weekend long — two birthdays in the family and all the Fathers. Then Monday came along and today is already Tuesday.
But Tuesday is as good or as special as any other day because we are here right now and we want to make sure that this is the best day ever, just because it is today 🙂
So Happy Tuesday to all my friends! 🙂
Hope you had a wonderful weekend and celebrated you if you are a dad, and all the dads in the family. Thank you, dads, for making a big difference in your children’s lives.
School is almost out! I do not know about you, but for me, the year flew by very fast. This was Daniela’s first school year and although it was challenging and tedious at times, it was also rewarding and very productive. But now . . .
Now comes Summer! Oh yea, but we moms still have to work. We do not get summer off like our kids. (We should, right!?).
So what do you do with your kids over the Summer? Summer Camp? Day Care? What are the best and the not so good options? How does money work into this equation? How do you choose the place for your kids to spend their summer and learn at the same time?
I was doing some research and I came across options like the local public school, local daycare centers, but also places like the Zoo, Seaquarium, local children museum, church groups, and more. The options are endless. I was surprised at the many options but also of the difficulties some would entail. For example, the Miami Zoo was a very attractive option for my daughter, but it would entail driving from Hialeah to SW Miami on peak traffic time in the morning and again in the afternoon for a total of easily 3-4 hours of driving a day. So, we passed. (Well, I passed!)
We are interested in knowing what you decided to do with your kids for the Summer and why you chose those options . . .
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post in June — Father’s Day and Grad’s Month is Approaching . . . !
Five years and five months ago I was blessed with the biggest, most wonderful gift of all: motherhood. My daughter was born December of 2012 and as I always say, it is the most demanding but most rewarding job of all.
Is it really a job? If you think about it the answer is no. You do not get paid for working at this “job” and you cannot just leave sick and not come back for two days. You will not be fired and you cannot quit. Employment laws don’t cover you even though you are required to work 24-hour shifts, every day. Even when your children start school, your mind cannot disconnect. You are always thinking of them.
So, for this hard job we moms do and we do with so much pleasure and pride, I wanted to treat Moms this month to a special gift. Well, two gifts:
Gift #1: If you would like to learn how you can make sure your children are cared the way you want by the people you want under any and all circumstances, if you want to protect your children from creditors and predators, and if you want to enjoy a bit of peace of mind, I invite you to come speak to me. If you come in for a Life Planning & Beyond Session (FREE) with me this month, I will waive the session fee (a value of $250).
Gift #2: As a way of appreciation for your hard work, I want to know you get some pampering and time for yourself because you deserve it! The first Seven Moms that schedule a Life Planning & Beyond Session with me this month will receive a Mani/Pedi Gift Certificate (a value of $30).
So give us a call at 305-456-7158 and take advantage of our gifts to you . . . because we moms deserve it!
May you have a blessed and wonderful Mother’s Day surrounded by your children, your mom, your family, and friends!
Yahima Suarez, JD
Yahima Suarez, PA