How Property Passes on Death.

BaskinFleece lawyer Jay Fleece

Attorney Jay Fleece

When someone dies, their property, be it real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, automobiles or whatever that person owns must pass to someone legally entitled to those assets. There are three basic ways property passes on death. Each way depends on how the particular asset is owned or titled at the time of death.

1. Probate. If someone owns an asset in his or her own name at the time of death, that asset should pass to the deceased beneficiaries that are specified in his or her will. If the decedent did not have a will, then the property owned by the decedent will pass under the laws of Probate lawyerintestacy. In other words, the state of Florida makes a will for the decedent. This doesn’t mean all of the decedent’s property passes to the state but rather to individuals depending on their relationship to the decedent.

Florida statutes 732.102 and 732.103 set forth the statutory scheme for intestate succession. For example if a man dies without a will but is survived by a spouse and children of that marriage, then the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $60,000.00 of assets and anything over that amount is equally divided between the surviving spouse and the children.

When property passes by the terms of a last will and testament or by intestate succession, the process by which this transfer is accomplished is called probate. Probate is essentially a court supervised process whereby a decedent’s property is transferred in an orderly fashion to the ones legally entitled to those assets.

trusts and estate plans2. Trusts. Some people elect to create a revocable “living” trust during their lifetime. Here, the trust assets are typically titled in the name of the trust. The grantor, the one creating the trust, has full power to change, modify and revoke the trust during his or her lifetime. After the death of the grantor, these trusts usually terminate and the disposition of the property held in the trust will be governed by the terms of the trust. These type of trusts typically contain language very similar to language used in a last will and testament, which specifies how and to whom the decedent’s property will pass. A successor trustee named in the trust document would then have the responsibility of effectuating the terms of the trust and to make sure the intended beneficiaries receive what the decedent intended. The administration of the trust is also similar to the probate process but is not subject to court supervision.

Estate expenses: The personal representative’s compensation is usually determined in one of five ways:3. By contractual provisions. Assets subject to contractual provisions pass outside the probate process and the trust process. These assets pass directly to the recipients designated in the contract that governs that asset. The most prevalent type of asset that passes by contract would be a joint bank account. Typically a bank account titled in two or more names will pass to the survivor. Other type of contractual bank accounts include the payable on death account, or the “held in trust for …” account, a Totten trust as these types of accounts are sometimes called. Other forms of contractual arrangements which pass property directly to a named beneficiary include life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities.

Why someone should engage in estate planning. While each of these areas are discussed in greater detail in other articles, this basic outline should illustrate how important it is to make sure that you understand how your assets are titled and how they will pass on death. The unintended consequences of improperly titling your assets could have a devastating effect on your estate plan. For those with substantial wealth, estate planning from a tax perspective can save on income and estate taxes.

To schedule an appointment with a BaskinFleece attorney, call (727) 572-4545. For more information about BaskinFleece, visit www.BaskinFleece.com.

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

BaskinFleece was Named One of the Best Law Firms …

U.S. News… in US News & World Report’s 2017 rankings, receiving a tier two distinction for the Tampa metro area in the field of trusts and estates litigation. Firms included in the list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.” Selection is based on lawyer and client evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys, and review of additional information provided by the law firm. To be eligible, firms must also have at least one lawyer listed in the 19th edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

personal representative feeBaskinFleece handles trust litigation, probate litigation, and guardianship litigation cases in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, and throughout Florida, from the pre-suit stages – including mediation – all the way through trial, both jury and non-jury, and at the appellate level, if necessary. In addition, the firm assists clients with estate planning from the drafting of a simple will to complex tax planning and wealth transfer matters for high-asset estates. BaskinFleece handles all aspects of probate and trust administration as well, accomplishing the process capably, competently, and in a timely fashion for the benefit of heirs, beneficiaries and all parties involved.

BaskinFleece also provides legal services related to real estate and business law, both transactional and litigation.

In all matters, the client is and remains the firm’s main focus. Aspects of litigation such as cost, emotional impact and timeliness are all important to the client, and the firm strives for an end result which leaves the client feeling that justice was accomplished in an efficient and effective manner.

For related help, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Personal Representative Compensation

Personal representative CompensationThe personal representative, the attorney, and other professionals whose services may be required in administering the probate estate (such as appraisers and accountants), are entitled by law to reasonable compensation.

 personal representativeEstate expenses: The personal representative’s compensation is usually determined in one of five ways: (1) as set forth in the will; (2) as set forth in a contract between the personal representative and the decedent; (3) as agreed among the personal representative and the persons who will bear the impact of the personal representative’s compensation; (4) the amount presumed to be reasonable as calculated under Florida law, if the amount is not objected to by any of the beneficiaries; or (5) as determined by the judge.

estate expenses and feesThe fee for the attorney for the personal representative is usually determined in one of three ways: (1) as agreed among the attorney, the personal representative, and the persons who bear the impact of the fee; (2) the amount presumed to be reasonable calculated under Florida law, if the amount is not objected to by any of the beneficiaries; or (3) as determined by the judge.

U.S. NewsBaskinFleece was named one of the Best Law Firms in US News & World Report’s 2017 rankings, receiving a tier two distinction for the Tampa metro area in the field of trusts and estates litigation. Firms included in the list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.” Selection is based on lawyer and client evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys, and review of additional information provided by the law firm. To be eligible, firms must also have at least one lawyer listed in the 19th edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Some of the content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

Proper Execution of a Will and What Happens When a Will Is Lost?

Estate Planning will signing listA will cannot dispose of any of the decedent’s property until it is admitted to probate. In order for a will to be admitted to probate, it must be executed in accordance with the formalities required by Florida law. The testator must sign his will at the end in the presence of two attesting witnesses. The attesting witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator. If the testator attaches a self-proof of will, the will may be admitted to probate without further proof. Without a self-proof of will, an oath of one of the attesting witnesses may be required before the will is admitted to probate.

What Happens When a Will Is Lost? Upon the testator’s death, if a will, executed by the testator and kept in his possession, cannot be found, there is a presumption, absent other evidence, that he destroyed it with the intention of revoking it. However, this presumption may be overcome and the will may be admitted to probate if an interested person is able to establish the full and precise terms of the lost or destroyed will. The content of the lost or destroyed will may be proven with a correct copy of the will and the testimony of one disinterested witness. Without a correct copy, the content may be established through the testimony of two disinterested witnesses.

Related video: Estate Planning documents you must have…

Baskin Fleece handles all aspects of estate planning, probate administration, and litigation. To schedule an appointment with a BaskinFleece attorney, call (727) 572-4545. For more information about BaskinFleece, please visit www.BaskinFleece.com.

April 1st – This Day in History: BaskinFleece Became One!

Jay Fleece and Hamden Baskin

Attorneys Jay Fleece and Hamden Baskin

April 1, 2004 – Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III, and Hamden H. Baskin, III, decided to combine their extensive knowledge and experience to create a unique law firm that was focused mainly on contested estate, trust and guardianship matters. Their philosophy was simple: leverage trial skills with the knowledge of probate and trust law to provide consistent, efficient and effective representation for their clients – resulting in positive outcomes. Congratulations to Jay Fleece, Hamden Baskin and their team for serving the community and its clients since 2004.

In addition to the formation of BaskinFleece, here are other interesting and historical events that happened on April 1st:

Estate expenses: The personal representative’s compensation is usually determined in one of five ways...April 1, 1778 – Creating this icon made sense: New Orleans businessman Oliver Pollock creates the “$” symbol.
April 1, 1789  The US House of Representatives had it’s first full meeting in New York City, and F. Muhlenberg is the first Speaker of the House.
April firstApril 1, 1970  Cigarette advertising was banned and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Here’s a classic ad featuring Ronald Reagan endorsing Chesterfield cigarettes.
April 1, 1985 – 47th NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Villanova beats Georgetown 84-75
April 1, 1970 AMC introduced the Gremlin, one of the first sub compact cars way back in 1970, before many realized gas prices would be a critical factor in future car buying. The car cost $1,879. Car imports were just starting to have an impact on the US market including the Volkswagen Beetle and the new generation of Japanese imports like the Datsun.

You can contact BaskinFleece on, before, or after April 1st at 727.572.4545.

Attorney Colleen Carson Achieves the AV Preeminent Rating

Attorney Colleen Carson

Congratulations to BaskinFleece attorney Colleen Carson for achieving the highest level of Professional Excellence rating from her peers, the AV Preeminent from Martindale-Hubbell. The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings™ have been the gold standard in attorney ratings for more than a century. Attorneys looking to refer a client, as well as individuals researching lawyers for their own legal needs, use these ratings to identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for their legal issue. A Peer Review Rating contributes to the comprehensive view of a lawyer and benefits the entire legal community.


AV Preeminent Peer AwardAV Preeminent®:
The highest peer rating standard. This rating signifies that the lawyer’s reviewed peers rank attorney Colleen Carson at the highest level of professional excellence for her legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.

5 Reasons to Review Your Estate Planning Today:

  1. Pay-on-death beneficiaries sometimes fail. Due to a change in computer software or a merger, it is possible for a financial institution to lose your pay-on-death beneficiary designations. As such, it is good practice to confirm designations with your financial institution at least once per year.
    estate planning
  2. There may be out-of-date contact information for the individuals named on your advance directives. Further, those individuals, due to a change of circumstance in their own life, may no longer be able to act on your behalf. In such a case, it is important to choose new fiduciaries with the ability to serve.
  3. Your intent may have changed. For example, as your children get older, they may become more viable candidates to act as fiduciaries during your lifetime or upon your passing.
  4. You are forced to locate your documents. It is important that you know where estate planningyour original estate planning documents are held, as well as any copies that have been produced. In an emergency situation, being unable to locate your advance directives could cause a delay in making important health care decisions. Additionally, upon your passing, the inability to locate your estate planning documents could cause a delay in probating your estate.
  5. Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    A change in life situation, such as a change in wealth, relocation, divorce, birth or death, could drastically alter your estate planning. It is important to review your estate planning documents to ensure that they still reflect your wishes in light of any life changes. As your life evolves, so should your estate plan.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.