Probate Section Report
by
Larry E. Ciesla

The probate section continued to meet during the summer months. In no particular order, here are some of the topics discussed at recent meetings.

Larry Ciesla introduced Evan George, a new member of the probate section. Evan was born and raised in Gainesville. Following graduation from UF Law School, he practiced immigration law with a firm in Manhattan. After three years, Evan came to his senses and moved back to Gainesville. He is sharing office space with Larry Ciesla and is continuing to practice immigration law. In addition, he is maintaining an "Of counsel" relationship with the Law Office of Larry E. Ciesla, where he is assisting in guardianship, probate and real estate matters. Welcome and best wishes to Evan for his new law practice.

Judy Paul announced that Ryan Hulslander is no longer a staff attorney at the courthouse, having gone into private practice with Patrice Boyes. Best wishes to Ryan in his new endeavors. Ryan's former position as guardianship staff attorney is being covered by Mary Ellen Cross, who is also serving as staff attorney for domestic relations and adoptions. Due to the budget problem, the hiring of a replacement for Ryan has been put on hold for an indefinite period of time. Judy Paul will be covering guardianships in the outlying counties.

Richard White reported on a new initiative of the RPPTL Section known as "FLASH". The idea is to provide pro-bono consultation to homeowners facing foreclosure who may be able to enter into a forbearance agreement or other restructuring of their mortgage. Anyone interested in participating should contact Richard White (rmw@gate.net).

Michael Tillman attended the July meeting. Michael indicated that he recently closed his law practice and is now concentrating on running his money management business (Tillman Hartley, LLC). Michael invests clients' funds through Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), which, according to my understanding, uses primarily a low-cost, index fund approach to investing. Anyone interested in discussing this approach in further detail can check Mike's web site, www.tillmanhartley.com.

Richard White and Wharton Cole participated in a discussion regarding the current difficulties clients have been encountering in obtaining homeowners' insurance coverage for properties owned through an LLC. Apparently, the insurance industry is using LLC ownership as yet one more excuse to not write a policy or to charge sky-high premiums to owners of investment properties.

From time to time the question arises as to whether a spouse may lawfully waive his or her homestead rights by executing a short document entitled "Waiver of Homestead," or something similar, as opposed to executing a full-blown nuptial agreement. This seems to be especially prevalent in the Medicaid planning context. I have personally felt doubt as to the enforceability of such a "stand alone" homestead waiver if it should be seriously challenged in court. A recent entry in the May 2008 Fund Concept seems to support my thinking. In a "Title Q & A," the Fund states that a quit-claim deed executed by a husband in favor of his wife, containing a statement that the deed is being given so as to waive the requirement for the husband to join in a later conveyance by the wife, may not be relied upon to eliminate the requirement that the husband join in a later conveyance by the wife.

The probate section continues to meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. in the 4th floor meeting room in the Civil Courthouse. All interested practitioners are welcome to attend.

 
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