In the 2015 session, the Florida legislature passed some very important bills applicable to guardianships, health care surrogates, minors, estate planning and probate. Here are a few of those with links to the actual bills:
1. HB 5, which has been signed by the Governor and takes effect on July 1, 2015, addresses guardianships. The guardianship law has been amended to provide better protection for those named as agents under a durable power of attorney. If you are named as an agent, then you should be given preference as guardian if a guardianship is otherwise required. Prior to the new law, an agent’s power was immediately revoked upon the filing of the guardianship.The new law will NOT immediately revoke the agent’s powers IF the agent is the parent, spouse, child or grandchild of the individual who is the subject of the guardianship, until there is a hearing and motion on the revocation.
This new law also added a new Section 744.359 to address the abuse, neglect or exploitation by a guardian.
2. SB 630, effective July 1, 2015, once signed by the Governor, affects custodial accounts for minors. Generally, if you want to create a custodial account for a child, the child must receive the monies at either age 18 or 21. The new law now permits certain accounts to be held until age 25. There are some restrictions for estate tax purposes and requirements of notice to the minor but this may help in those instances when you do not want your child to get all the money at age 18 or 21.
3. HB 961, effective July 1, 2015, once signed by the Governor, provides for electronic filing of a trust accounting. Bankers and trust companies have been pushing for this for a long time. This is very important to beneficiaries that receive trust accountings as well as those who represent those beneficiaries. Under Florida law, a trust accounting is required unless the beneficiary waives the accounting. If the accounting is electronically delivered to the beneficiary and the beneficiary does not object within 6 months of such delivery, then the beneficiary will be barred from bringing that objection in the future. So if you are reviewing the documents electronically, be sure that you carefully review the accounting and immediately discuss any issues you have with your attorney. Carefully read the statute to confirm what procedure starts the 6 month clock ticking when the trust accounting is delivered electronically.
4. HB 7, effective July 1, 2015, once signed by the Governor, provides an exemption from public records requirements for any documentation relating to the settlement of a claim on behalf of minor or ward.
5. HB 889, effective July 1, 2015, once signed by the Governor, provides for health care surrogates to act for minors. Further, the law provides that a health care surrogate can act for an individual who is not incapacitated. Many individuals want someone to act for them or obtain medical information while they are still perfectly able to make decisions. Language in the documents should now include “THE HEALTH CARE SURROGATE DESIGNATION IS NOT AFFECTED BY MY SUBSEQUENT INCAPACITY EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN CHAPTER 765, FLORIDA STATUTES”
6. SB 872, effective July 1, 2015, once signed by the Governor, applies to the probate code and provides for directions on whom to collect attorney fees from if there is litigation in the estate, defenses when the personal representative misleads the beneficiaries, addresses situations when the personal representative is not qualified to act and is appointed, and a complete rewrite of the Florida estate tax apportionment statute, primarily to clarify and make it easier to read.
ADVICE: This new legislation should be reviewed with your attorney to be sure that the legislation does or does not affect your current estate planning, particularly in the area of health care surrogates and trust accountings.
New Word of the Week: Statute of Limitation…A law that bars claims after a specified time. Linda is in a car wreck and hurts her leg. If the law provides that all personal injury lawsuits must be brought within 2 years of the accident and the accident occurs on May 1, 2015, then the statute of limitations is 2 years or May 1, 2017 to bring a lawsuit.
GENEROSITY IS A KEY TO HAPPINESS …REACH OUT AND HELP SOMEONE TODAY!