Call for an appointment today (239) 443-1094

Archive

Posts Tagged ‘tom shipp’

Who Is In Charge Of An Estate When There Is No Will?

April 28th, 2012 Comments off

On February 29, 2012 the Second District Court of Appeals issued an opinion involving the appointment of a Personal Representative (sometimes referred to as an executor or administrator) for the estate of a decedent who died without a Will.  When a decedent has made a valid Will, this document will normally nominate a person or bank to be Personal Representative.  What happens when there is no Will?

The Florida Probate Code specifies that there is a priority of preference that is to be followed in determining who will be Personal Representative.  A surviving spouse comes first, followed by a person who is selected by a majority in interest of the heirs.  A “majority in interest” means a person or combination of people who get at least 51% of the value of the assets of the estate.  The third preference is an heir nearest in degree (meaning essentially the closest relative or someone from a group of people who all have the same relationship to the decedent).

In the February ruling the court was confronted with a situation where a surviving spouse requested that he be appointed Personal Representative of his late wife’s estate.  The request of the surviving spouse was challenged by the decedent’s mother (the spouse’s mother-in-law).  The mother asked to be appointed Personal Representative and made allegations against the spouse of a “serious nature” in her petition to the court.  The published opinion does not specify what those allegations were, but the appellate court confirmed that person’s preference in appointment is subject to their being fit to serve.  A person is not fit to serve if the individual “lacks the necessary qualities and characteristics”.

The important point in the appellate ruling is that because the trial court appointed the mother of the decedent simply on her allegations and without her presenting any actual evidence of the spouse‘s lack of fitness, the case was sent back for a hearing where such evidence must be presented.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from this case.  First, in contested estates, suspicions and allegations are not enough to win.  You have to prove wrongdoing or lack of fitness with facts.  Second, a person is not a Personal Representative simply because they were nominated in a Will.  The Will has to be admitted to probate (ruled valid) and the nomination approved by the Court.  Third, the approval of a nomination is subject to that person being fit, an adult, mentally competent, not being a convicted felon, and either being a resident of Florida or being related to the decedent within a definition in the Florida Probate Code.

Creditor Claims for Florida Probate Estates

February 13th, 2012 Comments off

One of the purposes of the probate process is to manage debts owed to creditors of the deceased andto see that creditors are paid – to the extent that is legally and financially possible. The legal procedurefor probate provides a process to manage and cut off claims against the deceased that are filed morethan three months after the publication of a Notice To Creditors in the newspaper, or more than thirtydays after service of the Notice on a creditor, if that is later. Most debts of the deceased are barred andunenforceable after two years from the date of death. Recently the Second District Court of Appeals inFlorida issued a ruling that emphasizes the need to properly follow the claim procedure if you are owedmoney by the deceased. Watch the dates as you read the following paragraph.
Edward Caulfield died on December 18, 2006. A probate administration was started and on November16, 2007, a Notice To Creditors was published. The court opinion dos not explain why so much timewent by before publication. Under Florida law the end of the creditor claim filing period was February16, 2008. A creditor, Mr. Lubee, filed a late claim on December 18, 2008, ten (10) months after theclose of the claim filing period. Note, this is the point after which the two year bar on collection of adecedent’s debts also takes effect. Then Mr. Lubee sued the estate on February 5, 2009, no doubtbecause payment had not been forthcoming. Judgment was entered in favor of the estate at the CircuitCourt level and affirmed on appeal. Why? Because Mr. Lubee didn’t file a claim within the three monthsand never asked the probate court for permission to file a late claim within two years of the death ofMr. Caulfield.
What can we learn from this case? First, if a deceased person owes you money, get legal advice about how to enforce that claim. Second, as a creditor, time is your enemy. You can even file a caveatwith the court to get notice when a probate administration is started, before a Notice To Creditors ispublished. If you are filing late, you must first ask for the Court’s permission. Third, if Mr. Caulfield hada revocable trust based estate plan and the trustee saw no need to file a probate and if Mr. Lubee fileda suit within two years of Mr. Caulfield’s death, he might have been able to collect. Trusts do not bnefitfrom the two year cutoff in probate law.

Experienced estate planning attorney joins firm

January 10th, 2012 Comments off

Via NEWS-PRESS – LEE COUNTY, Fla.-  Written by Nancy Oben  noben@news-press.com

For Thomas E. Shipp Jr., some of his best days are when clients write him a note saying thank you.

Shipp, an attorney with more than 30 years of experience in wills, trusts and estate planning, said he works with families dealing with difficult situations when a loved one passes.

“They’re relying on their confidence in me,” Shipp said.

Shipp, who has worked in Southwest Florida since 1980, recently joined the Martin Law Firm’s principal office in Cape Coral. He said he’s very happy with the new affiliation.

“It’s very exciting to go from a history of a solo practice and small partnerships to an organization that’s a group practice where a client can get many services under one roof,” Shipp said.

The Martin Law Firm is run by husband and wife team Steven E. Martin and Eviana J. Martin. The firm also has offices in Fort Myers and Naples. Steven Martin said he’s glad to have Shipp’s level of experience added to his firm.

“Tom’s been in practice for 30 years and we haven’t,” Martin said. “It’s exciting for us to get Tom’s depth and breadth of experience.”

Eviana Martin agreed, adding, “It’s important to get someone with experience in wills and trusts.”

Shipp, who has been at the firm for almost two months, said with a laugh that he’s getting all the old man jokes in the office. He said that in some firms, lawyers can be territorial but at the Martin Law Firm it’s more like a family.

“What’s really impressed me here is Steve and Eviana created a tight team, working together and helping each other out. I think it’s very unique,” Shipp said.

Although he jokes around in the office, Shipp is serious about his profession. He said that he focuses on the needs of clients in order to gain their trust because they rely on him to make the proper arrangements. He said you don’t get that reassurance when you prepare the documents yourself on the Internet.

“I want to be here when a person decided I need an attorney for a will or a trust,” Shipp said. “It’s part of the ability (of the client) to sit down and get personal advice from someone you have confidence in. With us, you don’t get a printed set of directions, or a toll-free number to call, you get a person.”

Shipp said some of the hardest hurdles he has to overcome are documents that were not properly prepared and he said these documents often affect the family members who have been left behind.

“It’s not just about the money the people inherit based on those documents,” he said. “It’s about the relationship of the family and how conflict can tear those relationships apart or how this moment could bring people closer together.”

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012301010024

Experienced estate planning attorney joins firm

January 2nd, 2012 Comments off

For Thomas E. Shipp Jr., some of his best days are when clients write him a note saying thank you.

Shipp, an attorney with more than 30 years of experience in wills, trusts and estate planning, said he works with families dealing with difficult situations when a loved one passes.

“They’re relying on their confidence in me,” Shipp said.

Shipp, who has worked in Southwest Florida since 1980, recently joined the Martin Law Firm’s principal office in Cape Coral. He said he’s very happy with the new affiliation.

“It’s very exciting to go from a history of a solo practice and small partnerships to an organization that’s a group practice where a client can get many services under one roof,” Shipp said.

The Martin Law Firm is run by husband and wife team Steven E. Martin and Eviana J. Martin. The firm also has offices in Fort Myers and Naples. Steven Martin said he’s glad to have Shipp’s level of experience added to his firm.

“Tom’s been in practice for 30 years and we haven’t,” Martin said. “It’s exciting for us to get Tom’s depth and breadth of experience.”

Eviana Martin agreed, adding, “It’s important to get someone with experience in wills and trusts.”

Shipp, who has been at the firm for almost two months, said with a laugh that he’s getting all the old man jokes in the office. He said that in some firms, lawyers can be territorial but at the Martin Law Firm it’s more like a family.

“What’s really impressed me here is Steve and Eviana created a tight team, working together and helping each other out. I think it’s very unique,” Shipp said.

Although he jokes around in the office, Shipp is serious about his profession. He said that he focuses on the needs of clients in order to gain their trust because they rely on him to make the proper arrangements. He said you don’t get that reassurance when you prepare the documents yourself on the Internet.

“I want to be here when a person decided I need an attorney for a will or a trust,” Shipp said. “It’s part of the ability (of the client) to sit down and get personal advice from someone you have confidence in. With us, you don’t get a printed set of directions, or a toll-free number to call, you get a person.”

Shipp said some of the hardest hurdles he has to overcome are documents that were not properly prepared and he said these documents often affect the family members who have been left behind.

“It’s not just about the money the people inherit based on those documents,” he said. “It’s about the relationship of the family and how conflict can tear those relationships apart or how this moment could bring people closer together.”

 

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012301010024

Thomas E. Shipp Jr. joins team at Martin Law Firm

November 17th, 2011 Comments off

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2011) Thomas E. Shipp Jr. has joined the attorneys at Martin Law Firm announced firm principal, Steven E. Martin.  An estate planning attorney based in Cape Coral since 1980, Shipp will add his expertise in the services of creating wills, trusts and other estate planning administration to the Martin Law Firm.

“We had been referring clients to one another,” said Martin. “It seemed natural to add his expertise to the services we offer our clients, making it more convenient to them to utilize our attorneys for all of their business and personal needs.”

The addition brings Shipp’s 30-plus years of experience to the firm’s estate planning practice, which also includes expertise in Bankruptcy, Family Law, Corporate and Business Services, and Real Estate Administration.  Shipp earned his law degree from St. Louis University and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1977. He is a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust section of the Florida Bar.

Following the Martin Law Firm’s history of commitment to community service, Shipp is a member and past president of the Lee County Planning and past President of the Lee County Chapter of the International Association for Financial Planning. He has served on Executive Council of the Lee County Bar Association and is the President of the Cape Coral Bar Association. He is a Director and past Chairman of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Investment Committee of the Cape Coral Community Foundation and past President of the Rotary Club Cape Coral Goldcoast.

Martin Law Firm is a group of attorneys founded by Steven and Eviana Martin, a husband and wife team focusing on estate planning, civil litigation, corporate and
business planning, family law, personal injury and real property law. Their offices are located in Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Naples. Members of the firm are admitted to
practice in the state of Florida and in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida.