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

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

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

A Will Can Protect

Justifying Your Legacy With A Will

Here’s the truth – you have a legacy that should be protected. Unless you own absolutely nothing and have no possessions, then you have a legacy to care about. The second thought, and one that we often avoid is, “What would happen to everything you own upon your death?” We can attest to the fact that many who have gotten a will with us have all mentioned the same thing: “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” We believe that’s because people do not fully comprehend the complexities that can occur when you die without a will.

We are the Orlando Law Group, an 11-year-old, full-service law firm located in Central Florida helping our community with all of their legal matters. In this blog, we will discuss the merits of having a complete estate plan, and how that can protect your legacy and its transference to your loved ones. No one wants to think of what would happen if they passed away, but it is necessary to make sure your possessions get passed along the way you prefer, and not caught in the convoluted purgatory of probate.

What Happens When You Die Without A Will?

Dying without a will is called dying “intestate.” If you die intestate the Florida Intestacy Statutes will determine the distribution of your assets at death. This was brought into the mainstream news when Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away in August of 2020. He, after a four-year battle with colon cancer, died without a will, with an estate at an estimated value of $938,500, according to papers filed in Los Angeles County probate court. The truth is it isn’t uncommon to die intestate. In some situations, you may be content with the plan that the lawmakers determined for you, and in other situations, you may not be so happy with it. Along with not being able to decide who gets your property after you die, there are many other pitfalls that come with dying without a will that you may not be able to foresee.

Time Consuming Constraints

While dying with a will does not mean that the distribution of your property is a quick and painless process, dying without a will is surely a long, drawn-out process. If you die without a will in Florida and probate is required, a Personal representative (commonly known as an “Executor”) must be appointed. If you were to die with a will, you would have designated a personal representative in the will. Without a will, you do not get to choose your Personal Representative. This could potentially open the door for disputes among the beneficiaries as to who should be appointed as Personal Representative. They will quiet literally be forced to guess what your wishes would have been.

Expenses Rising

When you create your will, your attorney will discuss ways to avoid probate. Although probate is not especially expensive or complicated, the fights over who will administer your estate and be in charge of distributing your assets most certainly are, not to mention the fact that they can cause permanent rifts in the family. The cost to not having a plan that comes from you can be grave, and that is where so much of the value in having an estate plan can help. It takes the pressure off of your loved ones to wonder what you would like done with everything you own. Now, instead of guessing and speculating, they can carry out your wishes to specification. For many families, it is a way to come together to make sure your will is carried out, rather than argue and battle over what they thought you would have wanted. Probate is a complicated matter, but if you would like to read more about probate, we discuss exactly that in our blog right here.

Alleviating a Stressful Situation

We at The Orlando Law Group like to look at an estate plan as a gift from you to your family. It sounds odd, and the truth is that they will not realize it’s a gift until they’ve seen what can happen without one. When you observe families that have gone to literal legal war over estates, you realize that it all could have been avoided with the power and authority coming from the deceased. They could have set the record straight on how they wanted their possessions handled, but because they did not, their family is left to try and figure everything out. Emotions become raw, and greed can get the best of even the best of us when we are emotionally vulnerable.

It does not have to be this way. For the most part, having a comprehensive estate plan and someone designated to carry it out creates peace during a time of grieving. You want your loved ones focused on remembering what a beautiful life you lived, not worried about what you would have wanted your estate plan to be. With all that we have gone through in the last year, we know first-hand how precious life is. We fully comprehend how fast a situation can change, whether that be through an unexpected diagnosis or through a freak accident. We say this to help everyone understand what we understand: that a will is not for the dying, but rather for the living.

If you have questions about anything discussed here or involving estate planning, probate, or any of your legal needs, feel free to give us a call at 407-512-4394. You will reach our Waterford Lakes office, which can connect you to any of our other numerous locations. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience when it comes to what is involved in a comprehensive estate plan, and they would be happy to answer any questions that you have. Thanks for reading, and if we could leave you with one thought it is this: “Your legacy matters, so don’t wait to take measures to protect it.”

If you have a child with special needs, you know that the most important thing is that they lead a happy, productive life – especially when they are at school. Individual Education Plans are developed to assist your child with specific needs they may have, but you may be asking yourself, what can you be doing during the summer to maximize the effectiveness of your child’s IEP? When it comes to making sure a student with special needs gets what they deserve to succeed, grow, and feel confident doing so, Cherice Fleming Togun takes the responsibility seriously. The IEP can ensure your child’s success in the classroom and make a huge difference in your child’s life. That is why we want to be thorough and considerate to any needs they may be having.

During this time, it can be stressful, and many points get lost in the fast-paced fun of the summer. Preparing can indeed take that stress away, and we at OLG always employ lists to keep our best tips and tricks at the top of our priorities. In this blog, we will detail some great recommendations for you to improve the effectiveness of your child’s IEP, all from Cherice, one of our excellent paralegals, and a mom with extensive experience on the matter.

Tip Number 1: Create A Bio for Your Child‘s Individualized Education Plan

Of course, you will have the legal document provided by the public school, but we think just talking about your child, their personality, likes and dislikes can really provide a lot of personality as well as provide your direct contact information. This opens the line of dialogue and helps humanize what can sometimes be reduced to a black and white document.

Sometimes, what can happen during these meetings – through no fault of anyone’s – is that, as you are dissecting the child’s needs, the details and nuance can become lost. Furthering that human connection with the teacher really creates that team mentality that betters comfortability, confidence, and an intricate understanding of that student. We recommend to include information about the child’s favorite foods, what they enjoy doing at home as well as how you like to reward them and some of their favorite interests. What is so fantastic is, as your child gets older, they can participate in this and help write their own bio, playing an active role in the team’s objective: which is to make learning fun and effective.

Tip Number 2: When Going to Meet the Teacher, Connect

Have copies of the bio available for the teachers and for the staff. Email works as well, but truly getting to know these individuals and helping them to get to know your student will make a world of a difference. In a school system, there are so many moving parts that, unfortunately, details concerning your child’s Individualized Education Plan can become lost in the processes. It is vital to, what we call, stand out amongst all of the noise that expectedly takes place, especially at the beginning of the year. Having these bios printed off will allow the staff and teachers to have the information readily available in order to focus on understanding your child and their story.  Creating an empathetic relationship where you connect with the teachers will reinforce the fact that you’re a team.

Tip Number 3: A Good Individualized Education Plan Maintains Open Lines of Communication

Effective communication solves problems. It is vital to being able to bridge the gap between home life and school life. Having documented communication can truly help as well. Do not have all your conversations via phone, only because many times certain aspects that we said can be interpreted differently. By having open email communication, you inherently will be able to tell who you talked to, what was said, and when the conversation happened. This is all extremely helpful if an issue comes up in the future. We recommend to always err on the side of, “This is what appears to be happening…” versus accusatory language. Of course, it is so easy to become fighters in this scenario because these are our babies we are talking about! We must remind ourselves we are a team consisting of the child, the parents, and the teachers/ faculty. We all must work together to build a future for this student and have that process be enjoyable.

Generally, the team is not going to want to meet until 8-9 weeks into the school year, that way they have some viable data on your child’s life at school. Get an appointment on the books as soon as possible, and if anything must change to modify that, it can.

Tip Number 4: Get any third-party evaluations if needed

If, for some reason you’re not happy with evaluation the school’s psychologist completed, or even if you have some reports that need to be updated, summer is a perfect time for that. We’ve had schools say they don’t need that much documentation, but if you’re the type of parent that likes to be more thorough than less, then you will want to have more documentation to communicate all the details necessary to make the best decisions for the child’s needs. Our children are complex puzzles, and having solid psychological and medical evaluations will help the teachers and staff to stay in-tune with what that student needs specifically. It eliminates any possible confusion or misunderstandings in the future.

Tip Number 5: Try to Keep The Meeting Light Hearted

Let’s get real: these meetings can be hard. It can feel like you are being attacked, but the truth is that to create an effective plan, we need to be decisive and work together. Keeping things light and letting others feel comfortable in your presence opens a world of possibility for everyone to work as a team. If feel you need a lawyer’s help, reach out to us directly or read out step-by-step process right here. It may sound odd, but we truly believe that first impressions set a tone that reverberates for a long time. That is why we want to be careful and really cultivate a sense of confidence, comfortability, and connectivity.  

As always, if there is a problem where you feel like you need someone to advocate on your behalf, we’re here to help you. You know your child better than anyone else, and many times it can help to get a third, objective party involved. What we recommend is being completely honest about the situation. You do have to let the school know that you will be bringing in someone to assist with a legal background. This can help to recalibrate your objectives, which should always revolve around the betterment of the child. It can truly be a beautiful thing when everyone comes together to work for your child’s best interest, and you really get to see your child blossom and perform to their fullest ability.

In conclusion, the main goal of an Individual Education Plan is to enhance your child’s potential to learn in a positive environment where they feel comfortable and confident. Many times, it takes a proactive approach on the part of everyone involved to have the IEP work effectively. If you have any questions at all, we have experienced attorneys, and we have staff that have worked hard to make their children’s, and their client’s children’s IEPs the best. We’re here to help you, and care so much about this aspect of what we do. A great Individual Education Plan can make a huge difference in your child’s daily life, so if you’re not getting the most out of your child’s IEP, we will make sure that you and your child do.

Divorce Does Not Have To Be Difficult

Change is inevitable. Things comes together, and many times, very naturally, things come apart. This is not to say that change is not complicated, and we all know that those processes can be as intricate and arduous as we see fit. Many times, it is about beginning with the right perspective, and regarding divorce, the way you begin can truly set the tone for the journey ahead.

That is why it is crucial to consult with someone who has experience helping others make divorce work for their life. Marsha Summersill has spent years helping others through the journey, and in this blog, we will take a deep dive into the most asked questions regarding divorce, and how being creative plays a role in the process.

When going through a divorce, what would you say is the top concern for your clients?

It is equally money and kids. If they have minor children that usually would be the big topic of how they are going to work that out. Obviously, if they can work out something ahead of time that is good, but if there is a dispute it can get a little dicey. The finances are comingled with the responsibility of the kids, so they come together in certain aspects. The equitable distribution of the divorce, of the financial piece, might or might not be considered income and can become enmeshed with balancing factors within the divorce. You need to be sure this is the direction you want to go.

What are some determining factors to take into consideration when beginning the divorce process?

Each state has its own laws, and we exist in our own pocket of laws when it comes to divorce. I would say what to consider is exactly how your stuff is going to be split. Really consider the best interests of your kids. If they are elite athletes or a super scholar, really put their needs first with respect to their activities and life. Be flexible and maintain the objective of communicating well throughout the process.

What does the timeline look like for someone filing for divorce?

If you truly do not need to litigate all your issues, then it potentially could take a handful of months. If there are many items to litigate, then it could take years. The more the parties know that is real and legally sound, the faster they will get to a realistic compromise. I think the issue we encounter as family law attorneys, many times, is the friend that wants to chirp in their ear or even the information google gives them. That sends them down an illogical path that does them no favors.

Other determining factors will be the party’s cooperation, compromise, and realistic views on how to get the sorting solved, and then other times it could be their legal counsel. There absolutely has been times when the opposing attorney continued the battle, even when both parties could have solved the situation and walked away.

What are some factors that could prohibit me from retaining rights to my children after the divorce?

You always have rights to your children. The only agency outside of you signing over your rights is the Department of Children and Families. In the state of Florida our public policy is both parents have equal rights to enjoy raising their kids. The judge has about 25 factors that they can consider. They do not have to consider all of them, but what is important to understand is that those factors are common sense stuff. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and many times I have clients that get super creative. Sometimes they have jobs where they travel, so the family must maximize and divide their time. When thinking about the child first, a two-year-old does not need to go seven consecutive days without seeing their parent.

To establish that bond, it is important that the child spend time with both parents. For older kids, they usually do not like going back and forth. Dicing up a week for a high schooler can be tough, so that is a situation where we may want to divide time differently depending on the needs of the children. Even though you are getting a divorce, you still must be a team when it comes to how you parent. It serves as a great example to other individuals who want to waste time and energy battling each other.

Let us say that I started a business while we were married, and it became successful. Is my spouse entitled to any of that business?

Probably. There are so many factors that we must consider, but the reality is that spouse is going to get something. I had a case where this person worked and worked and grew their business to a highly successful endeavor. The offset of that is really determining what is the marital portion of the business. That is where the fighting can start. The definition of what is marital and what is non-marital, what’s personal good will and what’s enterprise good will can really determine the outcome. Once we discover the amount of money that is the business and then the value that you bring to that business, we can achieve that number but, of course, every business is specifically different.

My recommendation: marry your equal. Then, if they did not earn it, they will not want it. That will simply be their personality type, but of course sometimes it is a complicated, intricate scenario. That is why a prenup can be a completely fair thing. If you do something together, that can become marital property. A prenup does not state that, “You don’t get anything.” What a prenup does say is, “I don’t want to be punished for working hard and achieving a lot of things.” There should be no issue with signing it because it is just being fair.

What about social security benefits? Is there a way I can take advantage of their Social Security benefits if they have always earned a greater amount of money?

Yes. The common law knowledge we operate under is that, if your marriage is ten plus years and the one spouse is not remarried at the time that they decide to select social security and their social security is less than what their spouse’s was, then they will either be able to offset it or get one that is a little bit higher than it would be on their own.

How does mediation play a role in the divorce process?

Mediation honestly saves so much financially, emotionally, and in many other areas. It is a huge benefit. In our location, it is required. Not in all statutes, but in family law, it is. You cannot even go to court without mediating. The question is, “Do you have a qualified mediator working with you?” It is a task to get certified in areas, but it does not take any specialization, so if you are looking at a divorce, post-divorce, or paternity case, it is best to work with someone who has good experience or someone like me, who is a family attorney.

What if I want to move to another state with the kids after the divorce?

No. This is about getting your mindset right from the very beginning. We do have a relocation statute that is automatically the law. If you get a divorce and decide to move later, the best option is that you and the other parent get to an agreement to see if that is something that will work for the kids. It cannot be, “I want to move to live closer to someone I met on the internet,” which has happened before.

 Moving is a tough one because it must be looked at from the child’s best interest. That is how the court looks at it and that is how the law looks at it. If the parents can get to an agreement and have a long-distance parenting plan, then we file with the court. If one parent says no, then you will be required to litigate that. How our law works to calculate maximum distance is – 50 miles as the crow flies. If you go over 50 miles, then you have opened the relocation statute. This is all why it works best when both parties can retain a cordial relationship with each other. Odds are that you will indeed have to work with that person in the future to handle these scenarios. It is all about compromise for both parties involved, and always about what is best for the children.

What are some determining factors when it comes to who will pay child support – and what does that support entail?

That is written in the law. It is how much money your gross income is, accounting for all your deductions, taxes and insurance, mandatory pension, and unions. You do get those credits and deductions. It is important to clarify that you do not get credits and deductions to account for your spending habits. The way time-sharing factors in is that it cost money to take care of kids. Timesharing is based on income incorporated with the amount of overnights, plus the proper credit for child expenses. If the child goes to an expensive school, and they are paying 100% of it, they need some sort of credit for that.

Define equitable distribution and how does it play a role in the outcome of the divorce?

It is huge. A lot of people jump to marital assets, but you also have marital debt. All of that is incorporated, and we do a specified spreadsheet. In cases where I am dealing with a lot of assets and/or a lot of debt, I am going to get the one-sheet, and we go back and forth until there is an agreement. We look at a number that aims at equalizing or offsetting payment or equalizing or offsetting debt.

What determines marital property?

Many times, those are the big items that we will argue over. If you acquire anything during the marriage, then there is a high likelihood that it is going to be considered marital and will be subject to an equal split. There is pre-marital, meaning you had a house before you were married. There is this belief that if you do not put your spouse’s name on the house, then it is not marital. This is not necessarily the case. The equity you have in the house at the date of marriage is yours, but as you make improvements over time, the house becomes marital. Whether or not your spouse’s name is on it is irrelevant, so that is something we would caution someone on.

Inheritance is another item people need to be careful about. Inheritance is technically non-marital until it is deposited into an account that is sharable. You cannot comingle the money or use it for marital needs if you want it protected. If you need to take a portion out, take it out at the time that you receive the inheritance, but make sure to put the rest into an account where it is clearly not being used for marital purposes.

How can a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) be of benefit during the process?

CPAs are highly valuable – I work with two that are amazing. Obviously, as lawyers, we have limits. CPAs know so much about values, stocks, and constructing an in-depth chart that considers all the angles of value for a certain item or category. The CPAs we work with are usually forensic accountants, and they know how to calculate enterprise and personal good will on a high level. I get my spreadsheet, opposing counsel gets their spreadsheet, and we compare to see how close we can get to meeting in the middle. When you find a good CPA, they are literally such a valuable piece of the puzzle.

If someone is thinking about divorce right now, what would you want to be able to tell them?

If you have the resources, always seek therapeutic guidance. Sometimes religion plays a role in helping you be certain, but the point is to find resources to make sure that you feel very secure in the decision you are making, especially if you decide to pursue a divorce. When I do my consults, we talk and make sure that you are confident in the decision that is being made and gain that acceptance before the process begins. That can truly help.

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