VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Crystal River Florida Legal Blog

Ending guardianships in Florida

Florida residents who ready are to relinquish their guardianship duties should make sure that they take the proper steps. Guardianship duties can be relinquished if the court restores some or all of the ward's capacity or rights. It will be necessary to file with the court a suggestion of capacity that stipulates the ward has the abilities to responsibility exercise the rights that have been taken away by the court.

In cases in which a full restoration of the ward's rights are granted, the termination of the guardian's duties can begin with the completion of certain steps. In situations in which only some of the rights have been restored, it will be necessary for the guardian to submit an updated guardianship plan to the court that addresses the rights that still held by the guardian.

AAA study shows drivers overrate abilities of car safety tech

Automotive safety technologies continue to advance, and the positive effect they are having on car accident rates across the world is a real one. Their influence can, however, be overstated. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that many drivers in Florida and across the U.S. do not understand the key limitations of automotive safety features.

For example, 29 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control say they feel comfortable "engaging in other activities" (that is, driving distracted) when it's on. Other drivers put a dangerous amount of confidence in blind-spot monitoring with 80 percent unaware of its limited ability to detect approaching cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. About 25 percent never look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

Definitions and laws in estate planning

Some people may think of writing a will as a fairly straightforward process, but there can be a number of nuances in the process. For example, like most states, Florida does not recognize either holographic wills or nuncupative wills. The former is a will that has been handwritten and signed by a person without witnesses while the latter is an oral will.

A will can be challenged on the grounds that the creator lacked what is known as testamentary capacity. However, it is important to note that the burden is on the challenger in these cases, and adults are generally presumed to have this capacity and to be capable of creating a legal will. Passing away without a will is known as dying intestate, which means that the state will be responsible for distributing a person's possessions. It's also important to be familiar with the executor, who has to administer the will.

Some common sources of estate conflicts

As Florida residents enter the later years of life, they might think about creating an estate plan. This process frequently involves writing a will, but people should be mindful of how their heirs might respond to their decisions. Squabbles and outright legal battles among siblings, surviving spouses or other heirs could emerge from unequal bequests or inadequate executors.

Siblings left differing amounts of an estate might resent each other and fight after the death of a parent. Parents often have valid reasons for dividing an inheritance unequally among their children. They might reason that a financially successful child does not need as much money as one who has struggled. A child who provided care and attention during a parent's illness and decline might reasonably be rewarded with a larger share. Although parents might not wish to discuss their motivations with their heirs, they could prevent lifelong anger among children by explaining their reasons while they are still alive.

AAA: drivers rely too much on car safety systems

Florida motorists who rely on driver assistance systems to be safe on the road will want to be careful. A report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that many drivers do not understand the limitations of these safety features. For example, 80 percent of study respondents overestimated the ability of blind-spot monitoring to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

This leads many to engage in unsafe behavior. With blind-spot monitoring, 20 percent of drivers fail to look for oncoming cars when changing lanes. Nearly 30 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control think they can engage in other activities while it is activated. Others are unclear about the function of certain features. According to AAA, 40 percent of drivers do not know the difference between forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

Small business owners can benefit from estate planning

The recent deaths of prominent and even legendary musicians has emphasized the importance of estate planning to many in Florida. Aretha Franklin died in August without a will, despite having an estate worth approximately $80 million and a valuable music catalog with years of revenues to come. She was not alone, of course; Prince passed away in 2016 without a will, despite a $300 million estate and one of the most iconic music catalogs of all time. Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur and Bob Marley all passed away without wills, leaving it up to others to distribute their assets.

While a small business owner may not have the wealth and fame of these celebrities, they have particular reasons to care a great deal about how their property is distributed. In order to continue to thrive and survive the passing of its owner and founder, a small business needs a succession plan. This means that a will or other form of transfer should lay out in detail who will receive the business and in what shares. In addition, discussing the plan in advance can help to get all family members on board and supportive of the eventual outcome.

Leaving a portion of an estate for charity

A Florida resident who is creating an estate plan might want to leave a portion of their assets to charity. However, it's important that they do so in a way that lowers the overall tax burden.

As an example, a person might have three major assets that are worth $1 million each. The person might leave the home and the IRA to the children along with $900,000 from an after-tax account. The remaining $100,000 of the after-tax account would go to charity.

What drivers should know about hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is an ever-present threat when it rains in Florida. When there is too much water on the road for vehicles' tires to handle, the tires will push that water underneath them. The thin layer of water that develops between the tires and road will cause the tires to lose traction. They are, in effect, floating above the road.

Vehicles can slide or skid uncontrollably as a result, leading to sometimes serious crashes. Drivers can largely avoid hydroplaning, though, if they slow down and avoid large puddles. They especially want to be careful during the first 10 minutes of rainfall; this is the most dangerous period because the water immediately mixes with the oil residues on the road and creates a slippery surface. After this, the residues start to be washed away.

The importance of estate planning at any age

According to a new survey from, nearly 80 percent of millennials do not have a will. It's also common for younger or childless and unmarried individuals in Florida to procrastinate or not see the importance of making estate plans. Part of the reason for this may be a desire not to face the unpleasant facts of life or make decisions at a time when it seems unnecessary to do so. However, dying intestate, a legal term meaning without a will, results in many distribution decisions being made by the courts.

The basic document that's part of the estate planning process is a will. With this particular document, who gets what is clearly spelled out and an executor is named to handle the transfer or assets. Single, healthy millennials may also benefit from a durable power of attorney to determine who will take care of financial matters should incapacitation become an issue. An advance medical directive spells out end-of-life wishes in regard to such matters as life support and comfort measures. If an individual falls into a persistent vegetative state, the default decision is usually to sustain life artificially.

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