Jacksonville Family Law And Estate Planning Blog

Accounting for digital assets in the afterlife

When a Florida resident or any other individual passes away, it may mean that he or she has left behind a variety of online accounts. These online properties may range from bank accounts to a Facebook or Twitter page. However, there is rarely a clear answer when it comes to how a family member or other person may access these accounts after a person has passed away.

To determine if someone can legally access a deceased person's online accounts, it may be necessary to determine what the deceased intended to do with them. If there is no record of those intentions, it may be necessary to defer to state law or the policies of the companies that hold those accounts. In most cases, the law prevents a person from accessing another person's computer or internet accounts without permission.

Going through a divorce with kids during the holidays

For Florida parents who are in the process of separating or divorcing, the holidays can be very difficult, especially for their children. As such, it is imperative that parents think about the well-being of their children when making decisions about how they will handle the holidays.

Parents should consider how they have celebrated specific holidays in the past. For example, if the family has always celebrated with one spouse's family on one day and the other one's family the next day, parents may want to consider following this tradition to provide stability for the children. However, if this simply will not work due to the separation or the divorce, this is also a good time to create new traditions with input from the children.

The importance of updating beneficiary designations

Florida residents may want to make a habit of periodically reviewing the beneficiaries on any applicable assets. While the person listed might make sense today, that may not be the case in a year, five years or 20 years later. It is possible that a parent could remarry or that a spouse listed as a beneficiary is an ex-spouse at some point in the future.

Therefore, allowing the wrong person to receive money in an IRA or similar account could completely upend estate planning goals. Since such assets go directly to the beneficiaries upon a person's death, it may not be possible to dispute the transfer. In most cases, the process of changing a beneficiary is a simple one. It generally involves providing basic information about the account to whichever entity holds it.

Entrepreneurs and divorce

When entrepreneurs in Florida end their marriages, the fates of their businesses are often uncertain. This is because the company and its assets may be subject to division in the divorce settlement.

There are several reasons why entrepreneurs may need to take specific steps to protect themselves at this time. The first is that a business may be the entrepreneur's primary source of income. If the company must be sold or divided, it can be difficult for the entrepreneur to reestablish him or herself financially. The second issue is that many business owners have a strong emotional involvement in their enterprise.

Parental responsibility: Cooperating with your ex

During a divorce, it can be all too easy for parents in Florida to become so caught up in trying to gain the advantage over each other, they fail to realize how their actions can affect their kids. It may seem like arguing is the only way to get points across and wishes heard. But the inability to work together can cause the courts to make arrangements that go against your wishes. 

To protect your kids from the effects of your divorce, you must know when to pick your battles. If you and your former spouse cannot come to terms amicably, you could end up with a parenting agreement that is inconvenient and difficult for everyone. 

When to stay married to help a child

Florida residents may feel as if ending their marriage is in their best interest. However, they may be conflicted as to whether it is in the best interest of their children. While there may be long-term impacts on a child after a divorce, there may also be long-term impacts on a child who grows up in an unstable home. Typically, it is never a good idea to stay in a relationship if abuse occurs.

Abuse could take the form of physical violence or the form of emotional manipulation. It may also be a good idea to get out of a marriage if even the kids can plainly see that there are issues between parents. It may be worth staying in a relationship if a couple is willing to learn about the root causes of their discontent. Doing so may make it possible to work through those issues and create a stronger marriage.

Planning to divorce? Review estate plans

In Florida, some people make the mistake of drafting estate plans and then failing to make changes when they undergo major changes in their lives. One such scenario that should prompt a review and possible modification of an estate plan is a pending divorce.

It is important for people who are planning to divorce to change their estate plans so that their wishes will be followed if they die before the divorce is finalized. This can help to ensure that an ex-spouse does not receive the estate instead of the person's family members.

Domestic violence among service members

Spousal abuse is a problem that plagues countless families in Florida and across the country. Having family members in the armed forces, you should know that there are military-related issues that may contribute to or exacerbate a domestic violence problem.

Each year between 2009 and 2014, there are about 8,000 domestic violence complaints reported among families with one or more active-duty members in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. If you have been the victim of domestic violence by a spouse in the military, you are aware of the fear and anxiety this situation can bring, which may be different from abuse situations that civilian families endure. Domestic violence involving a spouse in the military may include the following factors:

  • Frequent moves from place to place or deployments causing upheaval and stress in the family
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder contributing to anger and violent episodes
  • A spouse with combat training and use of deadly weapons

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of divorce

When Florida couples head to the altar, they rarely think about what could go wrong in their future lives as spouses. Marriage is never guaranteed to be easy because it is a very close relationship; as such, it is subject to the vicissitudes of the human condition.

Years of research by psychologists and relationship counselors have established certain behavioral patterns that should be approached as risk factors that could lead to divorce. These factors tend to strain marital relationships in the long run. In some cases, couples do not have control over these risks, but spouses can always choose to work together and overcome these negative factors.

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Rachel Rall, Attorney at Law, P.A.
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