Fine Tune Your Will

Posted on Sun, Feb. 19, 2006



People are living so long these days that you might decide that your 90th birthday would be a good day to draft your will. Bad idea.  Whatever your adult age, it's wise to have a will. Go to a lawyer as soon as you can and write a will, or update the one you have if it's more than 3 years old.  Here are some do's and don'ts about wills: • Do hire a lawyer to draft your will -- and your spouse's.  Yes, you can write a will yourself, but if you make just one slip, your will may be worthless.  • Do get witnesses.    Most states do not accept wills or trusts that have not been vouched for by witnesses.    Don't ask a beneficiary to be a witness; the will may be legal, but the beneficiary could lose his or her legacy.    In Florida, two witnesses are necessary, Miami probate lawyer Frank L. Hollander said. It's also best that the witnesses are not also beneficiaries.  ``In Florida under the Carpenter Doctrine, if a claim of undue influence is made, the burden of establishing that there was not undue influence shifts to the beneficiary.'' • Don't put your will in a safe-deposit box. Some states require that a safe-deposit box be sealed when the holder dies, and it takes time to get the will released. Hollander agreed it wasn't a good idea. Placing a will in a safe-deposit box can create a catch-22, he said, because to open a probate process in court a will is needed, but the safe-deposit box can't be opened without opening the probate case in court. • Do review your will once every three years. Review it more often if there is major new tax legislation or a significant change in your family status. You may want to change some bequests. • Do revise your will if you move. This is important particularly from a common-law state to a community-property state, or vice versa. In a community-property state, almost any assets acquired during a mrriage are jointly owned by both partners except for gifts and inheritances. In a common-law state, assets are owned by the person who buys them. Florida, according to Hollander, does not recognize common law or community-property, but has an ''elective share'' law, which allows a surviving spouse to take 30 percent of the decedent's probate estate property. He recommends anyone who has moved to Florida from another state to rewrite their will. Miami Herald business writer Monica Hatcher contributed to this report.

(04-18-03) St. Augustine Record. Citing a family history of bipolarity and murder, the attorney for accused killer Terry Gray says Gray will rely on an insanity defense. Citing a family history of bipolarity and murder, the attorney for accused killer Terry Gray says Gray will rely on an insanity defense.  Miami attorney Frank L. Hollander filed a notice of that defense in the St. Johns  County Courthouse on Wednesday... The 49-year-old St. Augustine South man was arrested on a murder charge by the St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies after his wife, Jeannine Gray, was killed on April 1. Hollander, in an interview with The St. Augustine Record, said he will push for a change of venue once he puts all the facts together. He said he won't go into his defense strategies nor how the insanity pleading will affect them. He said he thinks the court would treat the accused fairly, but Jeannine was popular and well liked. Everybody seems to know everybody, he said.  "It's just too tight knit," Hollander said. The area is nothing like Miami, where Hollander represented Gray's older brother in a recent murder trial. Jack Gray, 54 who slayed his aunt. Among Hollander's concerns are the connections that the Grays had to the St. Johns County Courthouse. Terry Gray was hired on Sept. 19, 2000, as a mail carrier for the clerk's office. He worked in part under Carlton Moore, the ex-husband of the woman Gray is accused of killing.  Two months later, Gray's older brother Jack stabbed their elderly aunt to death inMiami. Jack thought she was hiding his pain-killer prescription, Hollander said. He is now a free man and is currently in "Loving Care," a facility in Miami Beach. "You're dealing with a disturbed family," Hollander said.  Families and Histories The girl told deputies that Gray pointed the gun at her after shooting her mother, according to Hollander. She called 911 from a neighbor's home. Minutes later, Gray called 911 as well and was coached through an unsuccessful attempt at CPR,  Hollander said. Deputies found him in the home. WhenHollander investigated the crime scene on Wisteria Street in St. Augustine South, he found Gray's unfilled prescription order for Tegretol in a car,  he said. Gray hadn't been taking his medicine. Hollander said "the evidence is clear that he killed her," but he has not seen awritten admission. "You can't confess to a crime that hasn't been charged," Hollander said. Prior to the killing, Gray had been refusing to take medicine for his bipolarity, possibly because taking it caused sexual dysfunction, Hollander said. He had been seeing a psychiatrist for at least 10 years, he said.  "I thought it was important for the state to know ... as early as possible, that he has issues. He's extremely paranoid," Hollander said. "I don't know why he had a gun in the house. He should not have had a gun," he said.  Hollander was in Europe when he received a call this month from Larry Gray, the middle of the three Gray brothers. Larry got to know him while Hollander spentsome two years defending Jack in Miami. The family needed his services again.

A Hollywood company that sold Internet kiosks to investors is the target of  several Broward Circuit Court lawsuits alleging fraud and racketeering, and has  been ordered to repay investors in at least three arbitration cases.  Miami attorney Frank L. Hollander represents three groups of Nationwide Cyber Systems investors who have sued the company and its principals in Broward Circuit Court. They allege deceptive business practices, fraud, unjust enrichment, violation of the state’s fraudulent practices act and violation of the state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  A second corporation, Transnet Wireless, also is named as a defendant in the suits filed by Hollander. The suits describe Transnet as a subsidiary of Nationwide Cyber Systems incorporated to hold its “ill-gotten gains.” 

Frank L. Hollander: "They promised excellent customer service and support after the sale and that was totally false." Attorney Frank L. Hollander represents still more - unhappy investors. He has filed a lawsuit that accuses Nationwide Cyber Systems, its officers and employees with everything from deceptive and unfair trade practices to fraud. Frank L. Hollander: "These people did guarantee you would get your money back if you requested it. Carmel Cafiero: Did they give it back? Frank L. Hollander: They absolutely did not."  Seven News has learned there is now a criminal investigation of what went on here. The State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - which has 93 open complaints - has opened a criminal investigation of Nationwide Cyber Systems. It is looking at possible violations of Florida's Business Opportunity Law.

The Scam Du Jour 

A few years ago, South Florida’s ubiquitous telemarketing boiler rooms were focused on selling foreign exchange investments. Now it looks like the turnkey “biz op” is the scam du jour, solidifying the area as one of the nation’s capitals for silver-tongued thieves.  Miami attorneyFrank L. Hollander, who said he has represented dozens of those ripped off in biz op scams, said many of his clients are retirees. One lost close to $400,000. Others have lost their homes and had their marriages fall apart in the wake of financial ruin.  Hollander said he was able to get injunctions to drive the fly-by-night firms out of Miami. “We took care of that cancer on society,” he said.  Hollander said he still is pursuing a man he calls the “kingpin” of one of these companies to pay a $100,000 judgment. “He’s living in a mansion,” Hollander said. “He’s driving around in a Lamborghini and has a Swiss bank account.”  In a May indictment against a firm called Pantheon Holdings, nine defendants are accused of running a scam involving Internet kiosks. Four defendants associated with Pantheon have pleaded guilty. Pantheon promoted its business to consumers across the country in TV ads.  Pantheon’s take: $17 million from 700 investors.

The Wall Street Journal MIAMI -- ...WLQY-AM a Creole program on radio a "musical variety show." was actually part of a fraud, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Scam artists used the radio for two years to promote an investment scheme that ensnared 631 Haitian immigrants and cost them nearly $6 million, a federal court ruled after an SEC complaint..  The program run by a now-defunct Florida company called Focus Development Center Inc.  offered listeners a "unique opportunity":  Focus principal, Aiby Pierre-Louis, is contesting the SEC's allegations, and the case may go to a civil trial. Mr. Pierre- Louis's lawyer, Frank L. Hollander, says the other partners "stuck all this stuff in front of him and had him sign it."

Cut and Run

In June 2006, U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore ordered two of the companies' principals, Montinard and Max François, to pay "disgorgement of ill-gotten gains" to the tune of $5.9 million plus interest. This past November, Moore also found a third man, Aiby Pierre-Louis, liable. To date, none of the trio has admitted wrongdoing, nor has anyone been charged criminally in this case... "His only crime is trusting the wrong people," says Pierre-Louis's lawyer, Frank L. Hollander. "He has no criminal guilt.... He was a pawn." 

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