Cinderella’s Sad Story of Garnishment

Once upon a time, Cinderella had a money judgment entered against her.  She thought nothing of it at the time because she could no more pay her debt than go to the ball.  Then along came her Fairy Godmother and next thing you know, Cinderella had won the Prince Charming lottery. Right in the middle of happily ever after, a creditor garnished Cinderella’s newfound wealth.  Her brand new great big mound of money was swept clean from her account, just like that—poof!—it was gone.  “Surely you would not take my good fortune from me!” Cinderella protested. “The judgment is good for 20 years,” replied the creditor.  And thus Cinderella went from rags to riches and back to rags again.   A Money Judgment is just a piece of paper, EXCEPT a creditor may watch your bank account over the next 20 YEARS.  If your credit score goes up, that creditor might reappear.  With a Money Judgment, he may get your car, your real estate (except homestead), or garnish your bank account without prior notice to you, freezing any good fortune you come into. Everybody should pay their debts; however, certain incomes are exempt to prevent a choice between paying the […] Read More

Cinderella & the Meth Lab

The house was clean when Cinderella left to go to the ball.  She met the Prince, fell in love, and they married to live happily ever after in his castle.  Meanwhile, the Stepmother and Wicked Stepsisters started a meth lab in Cinderella’s father’s house.  Though the house was clean when Cinderella left, Prince Charming got stuck with the clean up of his wife’s father’s property. It takes about six pounds of toxic waste to make one pound of meth…and the clean up is not cheap.  Generally anyone who has touched the property or can be associated with it becomes liable for the cleaning bill—that can include someone who has married into the family and / or an investor buying the tax deed. For investors, it can be advantageous to take title in a brand new company.  By forming an LLC (limited liability company), investors can limit their losses should their new property turn out to be an old meth lab location.   Read More

Wills Need Witnesses

Once upon a time, Cinderella had two loving parents, her mother and her father.  Sadly, her mother died, so Cinderella got her dad to write a new will leaving everything to her, but she did not get it witnessed and guess what?  When Cinderella’s dad died, everything went to his new wife, Mrs. Wicked Stepmother. You can write a will on toilet paper, but you have to have it properly signed.  The most important thing about a will is to make sure it is executed properly.  In Florida, a will can be typed or handwritten, but in order for it to be valid, it must be signed in front of two witnesses who sign in the presence of each other.  (This rules out video or sound-recorded wills.)  A notary public can join in to make the will “Self-Proving,” meaning the validity of the witnesses should not be challenged when it is time to admit the will to probate. Where there is a will…I want to be in it!  A will lets you control how your assets are distributed once you assume room temperature, but depending on your circumstances, you may not need one. Seek competent legal counsel to discuss whether […] Read More

Once Upon An Intestate Will

Once upon a time, Cinderella lived with her dad on a grand estate which he owned.  Then two very unfortunate things happened.  The first was that her father remarried, wedding a gold-digger who was a terrible stepmother.  And then the father died intestate, which meant that Cinderella shared ownership of the estate with her stepmother. Not everyone needs a will.  If you pass away without a will, the State has one for you; it is called an Intestate Will.  Without a will, the State runs up and down your family tree until they find an appropriate heir.  In the absence of a spouse or descendant, property can pass to a parent or sibling.  If there is none of the above, then a person who is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or first cousin may become a beneficiary. However, depending on your circumstances, you may want to control how your assets are distributed once you assume room temperature.  You may want to override an Intestate Will by writing a will of your own. Without a will from Cinderella’s father, the stepmother took her ‘share’ of the profits from the estate, and gave Cinderella charge of all the upkeep.  Cinderella was a clever […] Read More

Cinderella & the Suppression of Evidence

Prince Charming had a whole wardrobe full of fabulous ball gowns, but his father, the King, insisted on him wearing the masculine cut of a suit—black pants, black tie, black shoes…Boring, boring, boring thought the Prince.  He would have preferred a warm chiffon graced with a diamond tiara.  His father preferred that he give the tiara to an eligible young lady. No one of any class accepted the invitation to the Prince’s ball.  The Wicked Stepmother came with the two Ugly Stepsisters and the Prince thought he would be bored all evening, for none of the town’s bachelors were on the list.  Then in walked this little thing, surely dressed by a fairy godmother, right down to the delicious glass slippers.  She was everything Prince Charming wanted—same waist size, shoulders, and inseam.  She was his exact match in every way, and he loved her instantly, more for her attire than anything. “I must have your dress,” the Prince whispered as they were dancing, but Cinderella escaped his grasp and fled from his unwanted advances on her clothes.  In her haste, however, she left behind one of her shoes.  The Prince took the glass slipper and put it on his own […] Read More