Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Cape Coral and Fort Myers Residents
Managed by the husband and wife team of Steven and Eviana Martin, the Martin Law Firm is a family business that is proud of serving the community where we have nurtured strong roots. We are committed to assisting ordinary people who find themselves in need of legal representation at critical times in their lives. Our attorneys never represent large businesses or other entities. Instead, we roll up our sleeves to assert the rights of individuals and families with the dedication that they deserve. People throughout the Fort Myers region can consult our Cape Coral lawyers for bankruptcy, family law, estate planning, probate administration, personal injury, or wrongful death matters. We also maintain offices in Fort Myers, Naples, Tampa, and Miami, from which we serve thousands of people across South Florida.Knowledgeable Representation in Bankruptcy Proceedings
The bankruptcy system was designed to provide debtors with the possibility of a fresh start, free from their debts. Most individuals file under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 may be appropriate for people who can meet what is called “the means test.” In this type of bankruptcy, you can keep some necessities, but other property may be sold to pay back your creditors to the extent possible. The process takes several months, and you will receive a discharge at the end of the process. A few types of debts, such as alimony and student loans, are generally not dischargeable.
The main alternative process, Chapter 13, is also known as reorganization bankruptcy. With this type of bankruptcy, you would need to reorganize your debts and pay them back over a period of three to five years. The goal is to receive a discharge at the end of this process, which lasts much longer than Chapter 7 but usually allows you to keep more of your assets and restore your financial health more gradually.Compassionate Guidance for Family Law Matters
It is unfortunately true that many marriages do not last as long as a couple initially expects. If you choose to pursue a divorce, you will need to show that either you or your spouse has lived in Florida for six months before filing for divorce and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There are two types of divorce in this state: simplified dissolution of marriage and regular dissolution of marriage. Simplified divorce is only permitted if there are no minor children from the marriage and the wife is not pregnant. The spouses will need to sign a financial affidavit and a property settlement agreement.
By contrast, a regular dissolution of marriage can be either contested or uncontested. In some cases, couples are able to agree on certain matters but cannot agree on other issues, such as child custody. When this happens, a court may need to resolve those matters. The key standard for determining child custody arrangements is the best interests of the child, which includes many factors. Generally, courts will grant joint custody of a child, which means that each parent will continue to spend a substantial amount of time with the child and have an impact on key decisions related to the child’s upbringing.Crafting a Valid Estate Planning Instrument
Estate planning offers a broad range of methods to ensure that your wishes will be followed if you become incapacitated or pass away. In many cases, these documents may allow you to spare your family the expense and time associated with the probate process. Common instruments used in estate planning include wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, and designations of health care surrogates.
Wills provide for the distribution of a decedent's assets and name an executor. Without a will, any property not transferred by another means, such as a living trust, passes to the decedent's heirs under Florida's intestacy laws. A testator finalizing a will must sign the will in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses will also need to sign the will.
Meanwhile, living trusts are generally used to avoid probate and reduce taxes. The trust instrument specifies who inherits property in the trust and names a trustee. It should be signed in front of two witnesses and a notary public. Property placed in a trust will need to be transferred into the name of the trustee of the trust.Navigating the Probate Process
Generally, formal probate starts when an executor asks the court to be appointed as the personal representative of a decedent's estate. Both beneficiaries and heirs are given notice of probate so that they have the opportunity to object. The personal representative is given the authority to settle the estate with Letters of Administration. This individual will be tasked with gathering the decedent's assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining proceeds to the heirs or beneficiaries of a will.
A will must be filed with the probate court and proven valid through witnesses or by being self-proving. Wills are self-proving in Florida if the witnesses signed a statement in front of a notary public when they watched the person making the will sign it. The probate process may last between six months and one year.Pursuing Compensation through a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury lawsuits may arise out of many different types of accidents, including motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, and construction mishaps. They are usually based on a theory of negligence. To establish negligence as an accident victim, you would need to show four elements: the defendant's duty of care, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each of these elements needs to be proved only by the preponderance of the evidence. This is a relatively mild standard that means that the victim’s version of events is more likely than not to be true.
Damages that may be available for injured individuals often include medical bills, the costs of future treatment, lost income and earning capacity, property damage, and pain and suffering. Even if a victim contributed to causing an accident, he or she still may be able to recover some damages from any defendant that was also partly responsible, based on Florida’s generous pure comparative fault rule.Take Legal Action after a Fatal Accident
Tragically, a careless or reckless action may end an unsuspecting victim’s life. When this happens, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought on behalf of certain family members and the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative of the estate is entitled to bring this claim. Damages that may be sought through a wrongful death action may include the value of lost support and services, the loss of companionship and guidance, medical or funeral expenses paid by a family member, the victim’s conscious pain and suffering before death, and other losses based on the relationship of the victim to his or her loved ones. Wrongful death claims must be filed soon after a fatal accident, so it is important to lose no time in exploring your options and asserting your rights.Consult an Experienced Lawyer in the Cape Coral and Fort Myers Areas
There are many pivotal crossroads in life at which the advice of a trustworthy attorney can give you peace of mind. If you are trying to navigate a legal matter involving bankruptcy, personal injury, wrongful death, estate planning, probate administration, or family law in the Fort Myers area, the Cape Coral attorneys at the Martin Law Firm may be able to help you. With our compassionate team on your side, you will no longer feel alone. Call us toll-free at 844-465-4357 or use our online form to set up a free consultation. We also advise and advocate for people in other South Florida cities, such as Naples, Fort Myers, Miami, and Tampa.