We are pleased to announce that Janet Martinez won the Mujeres Destacadas award for 2013 Professional Business Woman of the Year! The honor was awarded for her work with migrant workers in Northwest Volusia as well as for her volunteer service to the Orlando Hispanic Chamber. La Prensa Newspaper, the oldest Hispanic media outlet in Central Florida, presented Janet Martinez with the 2013 Professional Business Woman of the Year award at its Signature Event, Mujeres Destacadas which acknowledges the exemplary work of Hispanic women in diverse roles.

Janet-Martinez-Attorney-Award Janet-Martinez-Professional-Business-Woman-of-the-Year

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – ShuffieldLowman welcomes recently added attorney Charles J. Abrams as an associate with the firm’s real estate section. Abrams is a former legislative intern with the Florida Senate’s Committee on Transportation, Agriculture and Education. In addition, he brings experience in private practice from Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Abrams earned his Juris Doctor degree, with honors, from Florida State University College of Law. While there, he also earned a Business Law Certificate, was president of the Dispute Resolution Society and clerked with a Tallahassee law firm. Abrams holds a Bachelor of Science in Business degree, with a major in finance and a minor in business statistics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Abrams is admitted to the Florida Bar and is also admitted to practice in federal court before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida. He is a member of the Business Law and Real Property Sections of the Florida Bar.

Shuffield, Lowman & Wilson, P.A. located in downtown Orlando in the Gateway Center building, and in the heart of Lake County’s Downtown Tavares, is a full service law firm practicing in the areas of corporate law, securities, banking & finance, bankruptcy & creditors rights, land use & government law, real estate, commercial and civil litigation, labor and employment, health law, immigration, estate planning and probate, guardianship & elder law, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, patent licensing, trademarks & copyrights, tax law, planning for high net worth families with closely held businesses, and environmental law.

If you are contemplating marriage, you should be aware that in Florida, spouses have certain legal rights to each other’s property in the event that one spouse dies, just by virtue of the fact that they have walked down the aisle.

A surviving spouse’s property rights are guaranteed by Florida law and cannot be altered unless the surviving spouse has waived them. One of these rights is the right to an interest in the deceased spouse’s homestead property. If a person is a permanent resident of Florida and owns and resides in a residence in Florida, then that residence will typically be considered “homestead” for legal purposes. A surviving spouse is entitled either to the right to live in the deceased spouse’s homestead for his or her life (which is referred to as a “life estate”) or to an undivided one half (1/2) interest in the deceased spouse’s homestead. This is the case even if the surviving spouse does not own an interest in the homestead property. In some situations, a surviving spouse may even be entitled to a fee simple interest in all of the homestead property. In practical terms, this means that the deceased spouse cannot disinherit the surviving spouse of his or her homestead rights without the surviving spouse’s consent.

Florida law also provides that a surviving spouse has the right to an elective share in the deceased spouse’s estate unless this right is waived by the surviving spouse. By law, the surviving spouse can elect to receive thirty percent (30%) of all of the deceased spouse’s assets, including real estate, cash, securities, revocable trust assets, some irrevocable trust assets, life insurance policies, pension and retirement plans. The elective share is in addition to the surviving spouse’s right to the deceased spouse’s homestead property. As with homestead, Florida law on elective share prohibits the deceased spouse from disinheriting the surviving spouse without the surviving spouse’s consent.

Consent of the surviving spouse can be given either through a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage or through in a postnuptial agreement after marriage. If the surviving spouse waives his or her right to homestead property and elective share in such an agreement, the deceased spouse may legally devise his or her assets to whomever he or she chooses without limitation.