The Orlando Law Group

Litigation

Our attorneys have extensive experience in a wide range of civil litigation, including actions involving personal injury, insurance, professional liability, real estate, construction, and more. While we believe in settling when it is appropriate for our clients, we also believe that there are some cases that should not be settled. Our lawyers can handle all aspects of litigation.

Our attorneys have past experience practicing insurance defense. They defended hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and surgery centers in medical malpractice claims. They also defended insurance companies regarding slip and falls, product liability and car accidents. Because of this experience, we know how insurance companies think. Additionally, we have the experience to effectively and aggressively litigate your case.

It is important to remember that there are statutes of limitations that apply to personal injury cases. This means that there is a time limit in which you can pursue a lawsuit. For this reason, it is recommended that you contact an attorney without delay to protect your right to file a lawsuit.

Service Offerings:

  • Appellate
  • Business Disputes
  • Landlord Tenant Litigation
  • Mortgage Foreclosures
  • Construction Litigation
  • E-Discovery & Information Management
  • Employment Litigation
  • Insurance Litigation
  • Products Liability
  • Premises Liability
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • State & Local Litigation
  • Trusts, Estates, Guardianship & Other Fiduciary Litigation

Meet Your OLG Attorneys

Jennifer A. Englert

Jennifer A. Englert
Attorney & Managing Partner
(407) 512-4394
jenglert@theorlandolawgroup.com

Kimberly E. Hosley

Jeffrey W. Smith

Sophia Dean

Wendy Hernandez O’Donnell

Wendy Hernandez O’Donnell
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
wodonnell@theorlandolawgroup.com

Nicole Rofé

Jarrod Etheridge


Jarrod Etheridge
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
jetheridge@theorlandolawgroup.com

Marsha Summersill


Marsha Summersill
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
msummersill@theorlandolawgroup.com

Erika De Jesus


Erika De Jesus
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
edejesus@theorlandolawgroup.com

M. Florence King


M. Florence King
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
fking@theorlandolawgroup.com

Dan Sanders


Dan Sanders
Attorney
(407) 512-4394
dan.sanders@sanderslegalsolutionspllc.com

Adam C. Herman

Adam C. Herman

Director of Litigation
Chief Operating Officer

(407) 512-4394
Aherman@theorlandolawgroup.com

Bankruptcy is a bad word, but it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t scare us. We at The Orlando Law Group believe in breaking the bad connotations these words grow into by giving you an informed outlook, as well as the information that no one talks about. Sophia Dean has a vast wealth of experience when it comes to bankruptcy, and we wanted to ask her some of the questions we commonly receive regarding the matter.

Why do you think that people wait to file bankruptcy?

There’s a couple of reasons that might be causing someone to wait. I think people tend to avoid their problems. It is a lot of paperwork so some people might be dreading that aspect of filing. Usually, I imagine it is a multitude of things, such as having money coming in that the client does not want to lose. One example I can give is that of the stimulus checks. People keep putting off filing because they keep receiving their stimulus checks. It creates an environment where one might be thinking, “There will be a stimulus check or tax refund around the corner that I don’t want to forfeit.” Through bankruptcy, you can only protect certain amounts of money. This includes $1,000 personal property as well as your home, if you own it. If you do not own a home you get a wild card, which protects $4,000 of personal property. Waiting for any reason could potentially mean that you fall outside of the financial bracket needed to file bankruptcy, and that’s why you need to file at the time when you talk to the attorney, if the time is right.

What are some factors that quality for the time being right?

The first thing we will figure out is if you do qualify for bankruptcy. For example, let us say you have a job where you are making under the threshold, and you qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Step two is, you have debts you cannot pay. You may not be in default yet, but you are struggling to pay your debt, and you are living paycheck to paycheck. The main two factors are your income and your debt. Let us say suddenly you get a raise, and that affects your income. That could potentially put you out of the range for qualifying for bankruptcy. There is a very small window for you to file, and that is why it is so important to commit to the decision if both factors indicate so. When considering criteria, there is a window of six months where we will look back to see what has happened to your income. If you wait to file and something happens to affect that income, you could potentially be exempt from declaring bankruptcy and clearing your debt.

Then on the debt side, your case could go to a debt collector quickly. You can file bankruptcy, but they will still be garnishing your wages. For example, let us say you meet with us to file for bankruptcy, but for whichever reason you do not follow through and times goes by. One day, you could potentially wake up, and all your money could be withdrawn from your bank account because the courts had filed a judgement and garnished your bank account entirely. These are the repercussions of waiting to file for bankruptcy. What we try to help our clients understand is that, at some point, if you do not pay your debts it will result in bank account garnishment. We have no way of knowing when that time will be, but we cannot depend on it happening eventually. We need to act like it is going to happen right now because it could.

How Does Bankruptcy Protect Me?

A lot of people try to continue to pay their debts, and then they come back later and try to file. This does not help because, many times, they do not qualify at that point for bankruptcy, whereas they could have before. Bankruptcy acts as a forcefield, and it is not only a way to wipe clean your debt, but it’s also a way to protect your assets. Filing could be the singular act that stops you from losing money and possessions in the long run.

Why Researching Online Can Mislead You

We spoke to a client who had been doing their own research on google. They moved here from another state and were under the impression that they could not file bankruptcy in Florida for two years. That is wrong, but that is the answer they found on the internet. If you have just moved here, you must be here for 91 days to file in the state. The exemptions, which can all be sorted out with an attorney, is where that client was seeing information about waiting for two years. That has nothing to do with you being able to file for bankruptcy, and because of a misinterpretation of information, they did not qualify for a Chapter 7 because they got a raise in the interim. If they he called me two months earlier, they would have qualified. Therefore, acting immediately can be in your best interest, and why doing your own google research can be misleading.

When I File for Bankruptcy, Are All My Debts Wiped Clean?

Not all debts, but most of them. Exceptions include student loans as well as certain types of tax debt, and certain types of criminal debt. Credit card debt, medical debt, loan debts are all wiped clean. Even mortgage debt is wiped clean, and if you do not want to pay that debt, you do not have to. You will not be able to keep the house, of course, but it will allow you to hit a reset button on your bills. Bankruptcy is a tool that is used to help people who have fallen victim to a circumstantial debt through no fault of their own, and it’s there to help you get back above water.

Should You File Bankruptcy Before You Get A New Job?

Yes. If you are considering bankruptcy, an increase in wages could potentially push you outside of the qualification for filing. We see this many times because there is not enough information educating individuals. Not only that, but you do not want to have to try and stall you getting hired because you are trying to qualify. The best practice would be to go ahead and file, and then begin your job search. Your income level will determine which type of bankruptcy you qualify for, so it is very important that you talk with one of our attorneys before any major changes happen that could affect your income/debt ratio.

Can I File For Bankruptcy If I Am On Unemployment?

One of the questions we get a lot is if you can file bankruptcy if you are on unemployment, and the answer to that is yes, you can. Unemployment does not affect anything regarding filing for bankruptcy. If you are receiving unemployment and you expect to start a job soon, now is the time to give us a call.

Another life change that can alter your ability to file is a change in marital status. Let us say you are getting married, but both of you have debt and want to file for bankruptcy. If you wait and try to file after you are married, then you are counted as having a joint income. This could prohibit your ability to file for bankruptcy and stand in the way of your wiping clean your debt. It may seem obvious, but we have seen situations like this, and because there is not enough education on bankruptcy as a tool, facts like these get overlooked or perhaps are not even considered in the first place.

Can I File Twice?

Whether you can file for bankruptcy does depend on if you have filed before and when that took place. There is an eight-year filing period between two Chapter 7 Bankruptcies. The best practice you can have is to treat this like a one-time situation, even though we have known clients that were looking to file twice. In that situation, unfortunately they would have to wait, but the good news is that, by having the discussion, we can plan in the coming years and work hard to prepare.

In Conclusion

The cost of waiting to file is so much higher than the cost of filing for bankruptcy. Attorney’s fees are small in comparison to the fact that your debts, which you are struggling to pay at the time and may never conquer, could potentially be wiped away. My initial consultation is free, so make sure you have your questions prepared and information ready to discuss in that first consultation, and I would be happy to help anyone erase their debt and start fresh. That is what bankruptcy truly is, not a bad word, but instead a tool to help you reset your ability to live your life free of debt and full of possibility. If you are considering it, let me help you make the journey just like I have for so many others. You are not alone in your struggles, and bankruptcy may just be the solution you are seeking. 

 

CBD and Marijuana Laws

We have a saying here at OLG. “Some laws stay the same, and others are always changing.” For Businesses and Consumers alike the world of CBD and Marijuana Laws are evolving within States and Federally. As of March 2019, a bill was passed that allowed smokable medical marijuana to be sold in state-certified medical marijuana treatment centers to patients with a medical marijuana card. Additionally, as of January 2020, the sale of CBD and Hemp products for consumption or application containing less than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration became legal for anyone over the age of 18 and to be sold without a medical marijuana dispensary license.

Marijuana at the Federal Level

Early in December of 2020, the House of Representatives passed the MORE (Marijuana Reinvestment and Expungement) Act. While this act is unlikely to pass in the Senate, the movement towards federal acceptance of marijuana use and sales continues to trend upwards; however, ultimately it should be noted that on a Federal Level, marijuana remains illegal as a schedule 1 drug for high potential for abuse and little to no medical benefit. In 2018, under the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice announced that Federal Prosecutors can pursue criminal cases wherever state and federal marijuana laws conflict. However, this policy has largely been symbolic thus far. Law enforcement officers make a majority of their marijuana arrests under state, not federal law.

Marijuana in Florida

As previously stated, in March of 2019, Florida passed a bill that allowed medical marijuana to be sold in state certified medical marijuana treatment centers to patients with a medical marijuana card. Additionally, Florida legislators are working on drafting regulations to allow edible marijuana to be consumed with a medical marijuana card, but at this time only smokable marijuana is legal. To be a qualified patient, you must be a resident of Florida and receive a diagnosis from a qualifying physician for a qualified medical condition (for example; cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.). Patients and their caregivers will then be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry by their physician. After this, patients and their caregivers must apply for a Registry Identification Card. Once all these steps are completed, your order for medical marijuana may be filled at a state-approved medical marijuana treatment center upon prescription by your doctor.

CBD and Hemp in Florida

In 2018 the Farm Bill was signed into law bringing sweeping changes to how we grow and consume CBD and Hemp products. The Farm Bill created a process that helped state and tribal governments establish Hemp Programs in which individuals could legally cultivate hemp. CBD and Hemp are legal to both cultivate and consume in the state of Florida for anyone over the age of 18 so long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC content. While no licensing is required to consume hemp products in Florida, licensing is required for those who wish to be grow and/or sell hemp products.

To sell CBD/Hemp in an ingestible manner, whether prepackaged or not you must have a food establishment permit. Additionally, there is further licensing requirements if your products have dairy or frozen components. Topical CBD application is considered a cosmetic and so long as you are selling the topical in or into Florida in its original packaging no license is required to sell. To grow and cultivate Hemp plants, you must not only apply for a license, you must also include fingerprints, environmental containment plans, transportation plans, and follow specific hemp cultivation site statutes, among many other requirements. 

What Does Having a Medical Marijuana License Prevent?

If you’re looking to get a CWFL (Concealed Weapons and Firearms License), there may be some conflicting elements. Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner, Nikki Fried recently addressed the subject on the podcast The Marijuana Solution. Her logic is that, due to many alcoholics and those addicted to prescription drugs owning guns, medical marijuana license holders should be able to as well, but from a legal perspective, this may not be as solid as one might assume. On top of stating that the Department of Agriculture would, “not be taking anyone’s concealed weapons permit, or refusing to issue a CWFL,” Nikki also publicly announced that she herself has both licenses. The incongruency lies in the fact that marijuana is still considered an illegal substance according to Federal Law, and that conflicts with those in possession being able to legally own a gun. Fried did mention that she plans to lobby congress about the issue, but truly only time will tell how the Federal Government plans to treat marijuana as a substance.

We recommend trepidation at every stride, and an innate understanding of your rights. Due to the fact that these laws are changing over time, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer immediately when you have questions. We’re here to help, and will make sure to keep you updated with the laws as they evolve, which we guarantee they will. If you’re ever seeking answers, make sure to contact an experienced attorney for your needs today.

What you need for probate

When a loved one passes away, the grief one feels drowns out the ability to execute on the necessary actions to preserve their wishes. The legal tools by which we do so are often overlooked and misunderstood, and that is mainly due to the fact that there isn’t enough education on how to protect and pass on your assets effectively.

Probate is the process of transferring your assets into the name of the beneficiaries you wish to provide said assets to, upon your death. It also provides creditors with an opportunity to make a claim against your estate for any unpaid debts.

Assets such as a home, a vehicle, or a bank account will have to be provided in an itemized list to the Court. More often than not, someone will pass away without an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, thus eliminating the ability to pass on their home outright to their desired beneficiaries. Probate is necessary to transfer specific interests of an estate into the name of the selected beneficiaries properly.

It is also important to note that the size of the estate will determine the type of administration that will occur.

Some of the items that will be required to complete the probate process are:

1. The Original Certified Death Certificate

2. A statement reflecting that the Funeral home was paid in full

3. The Original Last Will and Testament

4. A List of creditors/ debtor’s name, the account number, and the amount due

5. List of assets including a description and their estimated value; bank account info including bank name, account number, balance; and the address of the homestead

6. The Beneficiary names, addresses, and relationship to decedent

7. Who will be Personal Representative and their address

8. If any ancillary probates have been opened in another county or state

We will then draft the initial probate documents, which include but are not limited to the following:

The Petition for administration, a notice of designation of email addresses for service of document, Oath of Personal Representative/Designation of Registered Agent and Acceptance, a proposed order admitting the will to probate which appoints the identified individual as personal representative, letters of administration, waivers of service of the notice of administration, consent to probate, and a notice to creditors, which provides them with a certain period of time in which to make a claim for any debt owed by the descendant.

If the home was/is homesteaded, we will need to draft:

  1. Petition to Determine Homestead Status
  2. Proposed Order
  3. Creditors need to be served via certified mail

If the estate requires a formal administration, we will then draft:

  1. Publication of notice to the creditors;
  2. Proof of publication;
  3. Notice to the department of revenue/department of social security with death certificate and notice to creditors;
  4. Proof of service of notice to creditors;
  5. Inventory;
  6. Affidavit of no estate tax due;
  7. Statement regarding creditors;
  8. Waiver of accounting;
  9. Petition for discharge with estate assets and plan of distribution;
  10. Order for discharge

The Importance of a Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is essential when outlining how you would like your assets to be divided upon your passing, especially any digital assets such as photos, crypto currency, media platforms and revenue derived from such.

Take the untimely and unfortunate death of Chadwick Boseman as an example where a last will and testament was not created:

  • Chadwick Boseman, known for his roles in the “The Black Panther,” “Get on Up,” and “Marshall,” passed at the young age of 43 due to colon cancer. He died intestate, which means that he passed without leaving a Last Will and Testament behind outlining how his estate would be distributed or who would be nominated as the administrator of such.
  • His wife, Taylor Simone Ledward petitioned the court to be appointed as administrator of his estate and the distribution of assets would be subject to the intestacy laws of California, which provided for his spouse and his parents to be apportioned their interests in accordance with such.
  • In this instance, had his probate matter taken place in the state of Florida, the intestacy statute would have provided the entirety of Chadwick’s million dollar estate to his spouse, since he passed without any descendants (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc.).
  • It is important to note that legal fees are removed from the totality of the estate, as well as costs and court fees that are incurred in furtherance of the probate matter itself.

Our Ultimate Point?

Do yourself and your loved ones the favor of planning ahead of time. The complication of, not only wondering what your wishes were, but also relying on the courts to settle the matter in probate is so much stress to put your loved ones through. Having a comprehensive estate plan does them a favor by knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt where you want your assets to go.

If a family member does pass away, with or without a will, then reach out to us. We will do our best to help you through that process so that their wishes are carried out.

So much of our objective here at The Orlando Law Group is about preventing complication before it happens. With an estate plan, you also achieve significant peace when concerned about the future, which is always, to some degree, unknown. Your legacy matters, and you deserve to have full control over it. If you have not completed a full estate plan, make sure to contact us and we would be glad to help.

© 2020 The Orlando Law Group.