LRS Panel Descriptions
Elder law became designated as a separate “certified” area of the law in 1995 by the Florida Bar due to the specialization elder law attorneys have regarding many transitional issues affecting the elders and disabled persons. As elders, and sometimes not so “elders,” suffer from mental capacity issues, such as developmental disability, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, an experience attorney can assist that person or couple with estate planning, long term care planning, care facility placements, establishing “special needs trusts,” guardianships (and avoidance of guardianships with advance directives), probate (and avoidance of probate), and applying for government benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability, and Veteran’s benefits. An elder law attorney is experienced in protecting, and when applicable, asset repositioning to assist with the application for government benefits and to avoid the necessity of court intervention in guardianships and probates.
The preparation of the durable power of attorney, designated health care surrogate, living will, preneed guardian directive, beneficiary designations, trusts and last wills and testaments.
The preparation of the Medicaid application and the planning for eligibility through asset repositioning and agreements that properly reduce the estate.
Special Needs Trusts
The preparation of special trusts that allow the individual to continue with government benefits and at the same time, making funds available to improve the quality of life while the participant is on Medicaid.
The planning and preparation of petitions that initiate court interaction that allow a court to oversee and protect the incapacitated person (“the Ward”). The court appoints a guardian for a person deemed incapacitated and then oversees the management of person and the person’s property.
Along with trust and estate lawyers, the elder law attorney often has involvement in or the transitioning of the estate in probate.
Is one of the most important documents in your estate plan. A will designates who will be the personal representative of your probate estate and it directs where assets titled in your name are to pass at death. A properly drafted will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Without a will, your assets will be distributed pursuant to Florida’s intestacy laws.
Trusts: There are many different types of trusts but all trusts are either revocable or irrevocable. Trusts can be used as a vehicle for transferring your assets to intended beneficiaries during your life and/or at your death. Perhaps the most common trust is a revocable trust. These trusts are often used to hold title to assets so that those assets are not subject to probate administration at your death and are not subject to guardianship proceedings should you be determined incompetent. These trusts offer some privacy over wills which must be filed with the clerk of the court at your death.
Estate & Gift Taxes
These taxes are imposed on the privilege of transferring property either during life in the form of a gift or at death in the form of a bequest. These taxes are calculated based on the value of the asset transferred either during life or at death. The Federal government imposes these taxes and many states also impose their own estate and gift taxes. Under current law, Florida does not impose an estate or gift tax. Although under current law there was a brief hiatus from Federal estate tax during 2010, the Federal estate tax resumes in 2011. There are certain thresholds that must be exceeded before the Federal estate or gift tax is imposed. Under current law, beginning in 2011, bequests in excess of $1 million are subject to Federal estate tax (although this threshold is likely to change should Congress amend the law). Under current law, cumulative gifts to any one person during a year in excess of $13,000 are subject to Federal gift tax. No Federal tax gift tax is due, however, if a taxpayer’s combined lifetime taxable gifts are less than $1 million.
Estate Tax Planning
This is a process designed to structure how a person’s assets are owned and how those assets pass either by gift or by bequest to minimize and, in some cases, to eliminate a person’s Federal estate or gift tax liability.
This is a court proceeding designed to appoint a person, called a “guardian” to manage the affairs of a person, called a “ward,” who is not competent to manage their own affairs. The ward can be a person who is either declared incompetent or is a minor. There are two types of guardianships: “guardianship of the person” and “guardianship of the property.” A guardianship of the person is for the purpose of managing the daily life of a person who is not competent to manage their own affairs and includes decisions regarding healthcare, food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene of the ward. A guardianship of the property is for the purpose of managing the assets of a person who is not competent to manage their assets. The guardian of the property is responsible for decisions regarding the real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income of the ward.
Although there are many aspects to the probate process, its primary function is to link title from a decedent to his or her intended beneficiaries. The probate process is a court proceeding designed to appoint a person (called a “personal representative”) to gather all of the decedent’s assets; notify creditors, pay any valid, timely claim; and then distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s intended beneficiaries. Along this process there can be disputes over, among other things, the validity or amount of a claim, the validity of a decedent’s estate planning documents (such as a will or trust), or disputes over the administration of the probate estate by the personal representative. The probate court proceeding is designed to address the probate process and cope with these disputes.
Types of Probate
There are three types of probate: formal administration, summary administration, and ancillary administration. A summary administration is typically used for small estates with probate assets of less than $75,000.00 or if the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years. Summary administrations are more streamlined and do not have significant time lines and steps to take as do formal administrations. Formal administration is necessary for larger estates. These administrations are designed to address significant or unusual assets and creditor claims. Formal Administration can take longer to complete than summary administrations but may be necessary due to the value and/or nature of the decedent’s assets. Ancillary administrations are for decedents who were domiciled in another state but have assets located in Florida. An attorney should be consulted to determine which procedure is appropriate.
Will or Trust Contests
This is a court proceeding where one or more interested persons challenge the validity of a will or a trust by asserting that such document was not properly executed, the decedent did not have mental capacity to make the will or trust, or that the decedent was susceptible and subjected to the undue influence of others.
Social Security Law
Social Security Law concerns claims for Medicare, Medicaid, social security disability insurance (SSDI), and supplemental security income (SSI).
A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree on one or more of the issues in their divorce case. Most contested areas include spousal support, division of property and debts, and issues relating to minor children. An attorney should be familiar with Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes which sets forth the parties’ various rights and what the Court should consider when making a determination on issues such as alimony, equitable distribution, timesharing with minor children, child support etc.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties have agreed on how to resolve all of the issues arising out of their marriage. Typically an Agreement or Consent Final Judgment is prepared which outlines the agreement between the parties. There is only one final hearing where brief testimony is taken from one party to inform the Judge of the parties’ agreement and establish the other legal requirements necessary to get a divorce in the state of Florida.
Child support is based on the parties combined net income which is defined under Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes. A mathematical formula to calculate child support is set forth in Chapter 61. The area where most people disagree regarding child support is the other party’s income. Often the argument of imputation of income comes into play in cases involving child support.
The Florida Legislature has moved away from using the term “custody” and now refers to “Timesharing” and “Parenting Plans”. Cases regarding child custody typically involve two components. The first is the amount of time the child or children spend with the respective parents. This is the physical aspect of custody. The parent who is awarded the “majority” of time with the minor child or children is referred to as the “Majority Timesharing Parent” and it essentially has the same effect as the old terminology “primary residential parent”. The other aspect of child custody involves “parental responsibility”. Typically the Court orders “shared parental responsibility in most cases. Parental responsibility refers to each parents responsibility to keep the other parent informed regarding the minor child and to involve the other parent in major decisions effecting the minor child such as medical treatment, school selection etc. Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes sets out different factors that the Court must consider in determining who should be the majority timesharing parent and a timesharing plan.
Paternity cases involve two people who conceive a child outside the bonds of marriage and who are not married at the time the minor child is born. Paternity cases typically involve limited issues relating to medical expenses associated with the birth of the minor child and future medical expenses, expenses associated with the pregnancy and birth of the child, child support, timesharing and shared parental responsibility. Paternity cases are governed by Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes.
There are different types of adoptions under Florida law. The first and simplest type of adoption is a step-parent adoption. Step-Parent adoptions occur when a biological parent’s rights to the child are terminated by consent or after a contested hearing. In those cases the step-parent of that child steps into the shoes of the biological parent whose rights have been terminated. There are also “relative adoptions” which most often occur between grandparents or aunts and uncles of the minor child who is the subject of the adoption. A standard adoption is where an unrelated person or persons petitions the Court to become the parent or parents of a minor child. In all cases of adoption, the person or persons adopting the minor child are treated as if the minor child was their biological child and the child has all of the rights of a child naturally born to the person adopting. Adoptions are governed under Chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes.
Mediation is an informal process where a third party mediator, usually a family law attorney, acts a facilitator to try to help the parties and their attorneys resolve all or some of the issues in their family law case. Most cases are successfully resolved at mediation and never have to go before a judge. The Courts, in almost every instance, order parties involved in contested family law cases to attend
Civil Appeals – Family Law
After a court decides a case, a party may or may not be satisfied with the decision. Sometimes, a party may wish to challenge the decision, and the process for this is called an appeal. Matters regarding alimony, child support, child custody, property sharing, and other issues relating to family law, can be appealed, and this panel is meant to deal specifically with these issues.
Many individuals are unfortunately involved in accidents and incidents that cause them injury. These accidents can take many forms, including slip-and-falls, automobile accidents, work injuries, product liability, professional liability or malpractice actions, neglect, and wrongful death. Many people become confused by the various legal, medical, and emotional issues that arise once they are hurt. Obtaining the right legal representation can help provide guidance regarding your insurance coverage, the litigation process, and even help identify medical providers. In many instances, you can find an attorney without paying any money up front. Jacksonville lawyers practice at every level, including County, Circuit, state, federal, and appellate courts throughout the state of Florida.
This is very likely the most frequently occurring cause of personal injury. Accidents involving motor vehicles can also include pedestrian accidents, one-car accidents, or incidents involving a “phantom” driver. Many people are confused about the types of insurance coverage that are available to them, and can be intimidated by the insurance company maze. Some lawyers can also help you find the right medical provider or doctor to treat your injuries.
From workers’ compensation issues to third party liability, many legal issues arise out of construction accidents. This can also include improper construction defects, poor design or architectural issues, and also on-the-job injuries.
Some injuries arise out of medical treatment. Cases for malpractice against doctors, hospitals, nurses, nursing staff, chiropractors, and other medical specialties arise when there are allegations that the care rendered did not rise to the community’s standard of care.
Nursing Home Abuse
Elderly loved ones are often entrusted to the care of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, also known as ALFs. Some injury types include bed sores, poor hygiene, falls, or general neglect. In some instances, there are also reports of suspected abuse of nursing home residents.
Dangerous Products / Products Liability
Some products are ultimately determined by state or federal regulators to be unsafe. Either the product itself is defective, meaning that it does not work correctly according to manufacturer’s guidelines, or the product can be used in an unforeseen way that can cause injury or death.
Personal Injury Defense
Sometimes an accident is just that, an accident, and the people who cause accidents need an attorney as well. Lawyers in this panel are experienced in defending those who need protection from overzealous attorneys and insurance companies.
Injuries resulting in death is also actionable. There are statutory rules in Florida regarding who may recover in a Wrongful Death Suit. These individuals, or “survivors”, may recover under certain circumstances if death has been caused by someone else’s negligence.
Also known as maritime law, this distinct set of rules governs questions and offense concerning maritime issues – that is, issues related to the sea.
Bank law are a form of government regulation which subject banks to certain requirements that creates transparency and fair dealing between banking institutions and their customers, whether they be individuals or legally created entities like corporations or limited liability companies.
Bankruptcy matters concern issues when one person or entity owes money to another person or entity. The person who owes money is called a debtor, the person to whom money is owed is called a creditor, and the money which is owed is called a debt.
This is a legal status of a person or business that owes money to another person or business. The legal status of bankruptcy can only be imposed by a court. Usually, the debtor cannot repay the money owed to the creditors, so the debtor initiates a legal proceeding called a bankruptcy. In the process, the debt is either eliminated by selling the debtor’s assets or reduced by setting up a payment plan whereby the debtor pays the creditors in a payment plan. In some cases, the debt is eliminated, the debtor can “start over” financially, and the creditors can no longer attempt the collect money from the debtor.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
This is a type of bankruptcy, usually the quickest and simplest form available, where a person or business sells off their available assets and gives the available money to the creditors to whom money is owed in a process called liquidation. This usually eliminates the debt completely, even if only a portion of the debt is paid to the creditors.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
This is a type of bankruptcy is also known as wage earner bankruptcy. It includes rehabilitation of the debtor with a payment plan for individuals with a regular source of income by setting a payment plan to repay all or part of their debts.
This area of law concerns creditors and their attempts to collect money from debtors, whether the attempt to collect money is made by the creditors or other third parties, which are usually called collection agencies. This specific panel is aimed at protecting the rights of creditors and collection agencies, and their attempts to collect debts.
Similar to the collections panel above, but this one is aimed at protecting the rights of debtors and preventing unfair and illegal harassment by creditors and collection agencies.
A lien is an interest in property, created by an agreement or by law over assets, to secure the performance of an obligation—usually the payment of a debt. A construction lien is claim made against a property by a contractor or other professional who has supplied labor or materials for work on that property. Construction liens are design to protect professionals from the risk of not being paid for the services or materials which they render.
Consumer protection is a group of laws and organization designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed (1) to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competition and (2) to provide protection for the economically disadvantage and those who are unable to take care of themselves.
This body of law is also known as commercial law, and it applies to rights, relationships, and the conduct of those engaged in commerce, merchandising, trade, and sales. It concerns many aspects of other areas of law such as the establishment of a business, mergers and acquisitions, land sales, environmental issues, intellectual property, contracts, hiring practices, and the manufacture of sale of consumer goods to name a few.
These are a set of rights meant to safeguard a person’s freedom from governments and other private organizations. They are meant to ensure one’s ability to participate in civil and political life without discrimination or repression.
A contract is an agreement between parties. A contract is composed of a procedural component and a substantive component, and in short, a valid contract requires offer, acceptance, and consideration. The procedural component requires that one person or entity make an “offer” to do or exchange something and another person or entity to accept that offer. When an offer is accepted, it is called “acceptance.” The procedural components of a contract are the offer and acceptance. This can be done verbally on in writing.
The substance of a contract concerns the subject matter of the offer and acceptance—i.e. what goods, services, or money will be exchanged between the parties. The subject matter of a contract is often called “consideration” and can pertain to many different legal subjects, such as real estate transactions, prenuptial agreements, intellectual property matters, business transactions, financial transactions, and many more.
This area of law usually pertains to the drafting or reviewing of a contract and it terms, whatever the subject matter may be.
A contract spells out the manner in which two or more parties are supposed to act by agreement. Sometimes, things do not always go as planned, parties become unsatisfied with how a contract does or does not play out, and they end up taking the matter to court in order to solve the problem. Going to court and making legal arguments in front of a judge is called litigating a matter, and when a contract needs to be litigated, we refer clients to attorneys listed on this panel.
Intellectual property is a legal concept which refers to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognized. Intellectual Property generally concerns, copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. The process of registering a copyright or trademark with the government, or obtaining a patent is called “prosecution”.
Copyrights and Trademarks
A copyright is a form of protection provided by law to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, and is available to both published and unpublished works. A copyright prevents others from reproducing the work, among other things. A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any work, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to indicate the source of the goods or services by identifying and distinguishing the goods or services of one seller or provider from others. This panel concerns issues related to copyrights and trademarks including (1) prosecution (2) licensing and (3) protecting infringement of these rights through litigation and other means.
A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. This panel concerns issues related to patents including (1) prosecution (2) licensing and (3) protecting infringement of patent rights through litigation and other means.
Criminal Law Defense
This area of law pertains to crime and prevents people from threatening or harming others. When the state brings a criminal charge against an individual, attorneys who practice criminal law fight for the rights of the accused.
Criminal Law Appeals
When a defendant has gone through a criminal trial and is unsatisfied with the outcome, attorney’s on this panel may appeal the decision of the Court.
This area of law regulates the interaction between people and the natural environment.
This is a type of personal injury law where a person claims that an injury or disease was the result of exposure to a chemical or other substance.
ERISA & Disability Insurance Denial
ERISA is short for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA, among other things, regulates insurance companies and their approval or denial of health care claims. This panel concerns issues related to insurance denials and ERISA.
FLSA-Wage and Hour Claims
FLSA is short for the Fair Labor and Standards Act of 1938, and concerns labor law and the fair payment for time spent working.
FMLA-Family Medical Leave Claims
FLMA is short for the Family Medical Leave Act, and it requires employers to provide employees job-protection and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons, such as personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child.
Real estate is property consisting of land and the building on it, along with other natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water.
Real Estate – Litigation
This panel concerns real estate issues that go to court, like who owns a piece of property or disputes related to the positions of property boundaries.
Real Estate – No Litigation
This panel concerns real estate issues that do not concern the court, such as drafting a land sale agreement.
Commercial Real Estate
This panel concerns real estate issues between commercial businesses.
Homeowners Association: A Homeowners association is a corporation formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling of homes and lots in a residential subdivision. It grants the developer privileged voting rights in governing the association while allowing the developer to exit financial and legal responsibility of the organization, typically by transferring ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling off a predetermined number of lots. This panel concerns interactions between homeowners and the homeowners association and legal problems arising therefrom.
Zoning is a device of land-use planning used by local governments, and this panel concerns issues arising therefrom.
When a landowner leases out the rights to occupy a piece of property, the landowner is called the landlord, and the occupier is called the tenant.
Landlord/Tenant – Litigation
This panel concerns landlord-tenant issues that go to court, such as evictions.
This panel concerns landlord-tenant issues that do not go to court, like drafting a practical lease agreement between parties.
A foreclosure is a specific legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the sale of the asset used as the collateral for the loan.
Attorneys who practice this area of foreclosure law are concerned with helping those people against whom lenders have initiated, or threaten to initiate, a foreclosure.
Attorneys who practice this are of foreclosure law are interested in bringing an equitable solution to both parties.
General practice attorneys have sufficient background in the basic areas of many types of law to be able to properly research and address any type of legal issue. They are especially helpful when an individual has a unique legal problem not readily classified as any one particular type of law.
Immigration is the movement of people into a different country in order to settle there. Immigration law deals with the regulation of these movements, and this panel concerns those regulations.
Insurance is the planning of risk management. An insurer will sell insurance to a person (the “insured”), so that when some sort of incident occurs requiring money, such as an accident or death, the insurance will pay for the associated costs instead of the insured. This panel concerns issues that arise when insurance companies deny claims or do not pay them in full.
This area of law concerns individuals under the age of eighteen (18) years of age.
Labor and Employment Law
Labor and employment law regulates the relationship between workers employers, trade unions and the government.
Labor/Emp with EEOC RTS
This specific area of labor law deals with rules and standards promulgated by the equal employment opportunity commission.
Labor/emp with a Contract
Sometimes when an employee works with a business, the terms of employment are spelled out in a contract signed by the business and employee. Contracted employees usually have special rights included in these contracts, and this panel deals with these rights.
Securities, Stocks, Bonds, etc
A security is a tradable asset and can be placed in three broad categories: (1) debt, such as banknotes and bonds; (2) equity securities, such as company stock; and (3) derivative contracts, such as forwards and futures. Trading and dealing in securities can be very complex, and attorneys on this panel have the understanding and experience to handle such matters properly.
Attorneys on this panel can help you with a variety of different issues, from DUIs to speeding tickets.
After losing a job, a person may be entitled to receive money from the government. Attorneys in this panel have experience in helping you get this money.
Many countries, including the United States, give special treatment to military veterans because of the sacrifices they made during war. Veterans also are subject to illnesses directly related to their military service, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This panel concerns the relationship between veterans and these government programs.
Wage & Hour
The department of labor wage and hour division administers the wage, hour, and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor and Standards Act. Major areas of law in Wage and Hour concern minimum wage, overtime pay, and fair pay.
When an individual is injured while working on the job, a business may be responsible for providing benefits to the injured person while they cannot work. Attorneys on this panel are familiar with the intricacies and difficulties of gaining worker’s compensation benefits.