Updated: Nov 20
As the nation commemorates Veterans Day, it is a time to express gratitude and admiration for the men and women who have served in the military. However, beyond the parades and tributes, it’s important to acknowledge the difficulties that many veterans encounter, especially today. Here is a Florida veterans and active military guide for 2023.
As the nation commemorates Veterans Day, it is a time to express gratitude and admiration for the men and women who have served in the military. However, beyond the parades and tributes, it’s important to acknowledge the financial difficulties that many veterans encounter. For some, the prospect of bankruptcy or foreclosure looms large, casting a shadow over their lives. For others, the priority lies in protecting their family with sufficient insurance coverage or creating an estate plan in the event something happens to them while on duty or even after service. Regardless of what your unique situation is, here at The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A., we are committed to supporting veterans in overcoming these challenges by providing them with legal guidance in Florida.
Part I - Veteran Finances / Understanding the Unique Challenges Facing Veterans
Part II - Insurance Policies for Veterans, Active Duty Military, and First Responders
Part III - Estate Planning for Veterans, Active Duty, First Responders, and Reservists
Part I - Veteran Finances
Understanding the Unique Challenges Facing Veterans Today
Veterans often face a myriad of financial challenges as they transition from military service to civilian life. The process of reintegrating into civilian society can be fraught with obstacles, including finding stable employment, accessing healthcare, and securing affordable housing. These difficulties can be further exacerbated by service-related medical issues, making it even more challenging to transition to civilian life again.
As a result, many veterans unfortunately find themselves teetering on the edge of financial hardship, grappling with the possibility of bankruptcy or foreclosure. To provide assistance, it is crucial to recognize the distinct financial struggles that veterans encounter and to provide them with the necessary support to navigate through these adversities.
Legal Options and Resources for Veterans in 2023
Navigating the legal landscape can be daunting, especially for veterans who are facing financial turmoil. However, there are specific legal options and resources available to veterans that can offer a lifeline in times of financial distress. From specialized veteran’s benefits to legal protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), there are avenues through which veterans can seek assistance and safeguard their financial well-being. Understanding these legal provisions and utilizing them effectively can make a significant difference in preventing the slide into bankruptcy or foreclosure.
Here, at The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A., we strive to advocate for veterans’ rights and can provide personalized guidance to help veterans navigate the legal intricacies and secure their financial future.
The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. is Committed to Providing Veterans with Reduced Fees On All Legal Services
By equipping veterans with the knowledge of their legal rights and the support they need to access resources, we aim to instill confidence and resilience in the face of financial challenges. Through personalized consultations, veterans can gain a deeper understanding of the legal avenues available to them and the steps they can take to protect their assets and livelihood.
Whether you choose to hire our offices to assist you with bankruptcy, foreclosure, estate planning, or if you have been in an accident -- we are committed to reducing our legal fees to veterans, Reservists, and active duty military not just for Veterans Day, but always.
Be Informed Before Taking Financial Steps as a Veteran in 2023 and Protect Your Assets
Debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts into a single loan or credit account, often with a lower interest rate. This approach allows you to streamline your monthly payments and potentially save money on interest charges.
There are several methods for consolidating debt, including:
Personal Loan: By obtaining a personal loan, you can pay off your existing debts and focus on repaying a single loan with a fixed interest rate. Personal loans usually offer lower interest rates than credit cards, making them an attractive option for debt consolidation.
Balance Transfer Credit Card: Some credit card issuers offer balance transfer credit cards with promotional 0% or low-interest rates for a specific period. Transferring high-interest credit card balances to a balance transfer card can help save on interest charges. However, be cautious of balance transfer fees and ensure that you can pay off the transferred balance within the promotional period.
Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): If you own a home and have built up equity, some will even consider using a home equity loan or HELOC to consolidate existing debts. These options allow to borrow against the value of a home and use the funds to pay off high-interest debts. However, be aware that using your home as collateral puts it at risk of a foreclosure if you fail to make payments.
Before pursuing debt consolidation, carefully assess your financial situation and determine which method aligns best with your needs and goals. Consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, fees, and your ability to qualify for the desired consolidation option. To explore your options -- it is best to consult with an attorney that handles debt cases. If you are in Orlando, Florida, or the surrounding areas, The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. can guide you -- call us today at 407-376-2229 or 386-224-6544. Our offices are located near Orlando in Winter Park and Daytona Beach. Cons of Debt Consolidation:
Necessity for Good Credit: Qualifying for favorable terms, such as low interest rates, often requires a good credit score. If your credit score is low, you may not be eligible for the most beneficial debt consolidation options.
Potential for Additional Fees: Some debt consolidation methods, such as personal loans or balance transfer credit cards, may come with fees, such as origination fees or balance transfer fees. Be sure to factor in these costs when evaluating the potential savings.
Risk of Default and Collateral Loss: If you use assets, such as your home, as collateral for a debt consolidation loan, failure to make payments could result in the loss of those assets, including a foreclosure.
Addressing Underlying Financial Habits: Debt consolidation alone may not address the root causes of your debt. It's essential to examine your spending habits and develop a budget to ensure long-term financial stability.
Exploring Bankruptcy as a Veteran
When debt becomes overwhelming, bankruptcy may be an option. Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides individuals and businesses with a fresh start by eliminating or restructuring their debts. Veterans and military do have some protections available under Here's an overview of the two most common types of bankruptcy for individuals:
Exemptions for Pensions in Florida in Bankruptcy:
The following types of pensions and retirement funds are exempt in Florida
Tax-exempt retirement accounts, including 401(K)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans and traditional and Roth IRAs to $1,512,350 per person are fully exempt (valid for bankruptcy cases filed between April 1, 2022, and April 1, 2025). (11 U.S.C. 522(b)(3)(C); (n); Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.21.)
Public employee retirement benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 121.131, 121.055(6)(e).)
State and County officer and employee retirement system benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 122.15.)
Firefighter pensions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 175.241.)
Municipal police pensions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 185.25.)
Teachers' retirement benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 238.15.)
Exemptions for Public Benefits in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
You can exempt the following public benefits as a Veteran in Florida
Veterans benefits, social security benefits, reemployment assistance, and local public assistance benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.201)
Workers compensation and unemployment compensation benefits are exempt. (Fl. Stat. §§ 222.201, 443.052, 440.22.)
Crime victims' compensation benefits are exempt unless the debtor seeks to discharge debt for treatment of a related injury. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 960.14.)
Asset Evaluation: A court-appointed trustee assesses your assets to determine which can be sold to repay your debts. Certain assets may be exempt from liquidation, such as your primary residence, necessary household items, and tools used for work. Attorneys may apply state specific or other available bankruptcy exemptions to protect your assets. At The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. -- our offices can guide you -- call us today at 407-376-2229 or 386-224-6544.
Debt Discharge: Once and/or if, your non-exempt assets are sold, the proceeds are distributed among your creditors. Any remaining unsecured debts, such as credit card balances or medical bills, may be discharged in a bankruptcy, relieving you of personal liability for those debts.While Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers a fresh start, it's important to note that not all debts are dischargeable. Non-dischargeable debts include student loans, child support, alimony, certain taxes, and debts resulting from fraudulent activities. Considerations Before Filing for Bankruptcy as a Veteran: While bankruptcy can provide relief from overwhelming debt, it's crucial to consider the potential consequences before proceeding:
Credit Impact: Filing for bankruptcy will have a significant impact on your credit score and remain on your credit report for several years. This may make it challenging to obtain new credit in the future.
Limited Financial Options: Bankruptcy can restrict your access to credit and may impact your ability to secure loans, such as mortgages or car loans, at favorable interest rates.
Potential for Asset Loss: Depending on the type of bankruptcy and your jurisdiction, you may be required to liquidate non-exempt assets to repay your creditors. It's essential to understand the potential impact on your personal property before filing.
Part II - Insurance Policies
for Veterans, Active Duty Military, and First Responders
As a Veteran, you and your family have made immense sacrificies for our country whether its is because of assignments, deployments, base assignments, and more. The last thing you and your family need is additional stress here at home. As a service member or veteran, it is likely that you use insurance companies that provide military or first responder discounts. This is great for your overall policy, but sometimes, accidents do occur. It is important to make sure you also know what exactly is covered under your policy.
Your insurance agent may have helped you, but the truth is that most insurance companies won't tell you the other driver's available policy limits. This is why it is always important to hire a law firm that is familiar with the practices of the insurance company you may have.
PIP Coverage in Florida:
First, let's start with the coverage that is required by law in Florida, Personal Injury Protection, or PIP for short. PIP covers the policyholder and passengers in their own vehicle for medical expenses and lost wages in case of an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage provides medical expenses and lost wages for you and your passengers in case of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
PDL Coverage in Florida:
Along with PIP, Florida drivers are also required to have Property Damage Liability coverage, or PDL. PDL covers damages to someone else's property in the event of an at-fault accident. This coverage protects you in case you are at fault for an accident and cause damage to someone else's property.
Optional Florida Auto Insurance Policy Coverage - Don't get Caught Off Guard:
Now that you are prepared to know the required basic types of car insurance coverage in Florida, your optional coverage can be used in the unfortunate event where the at-fault driver was not insured at the time of the accident, if your injuries/damages are more than the policy limits, or even in a situation where there has been a hit and run. This is why it is extremely important for you to add on optional coverage to have peace of mind.
BIL Coverage - Optional Coverage in Florida:
Bodily Injury Liability coverage, or BIL, helps pay for medical expenses and damages for others if you cause an accident. This coverage is especially important if you have assets that could be at risk in case of a car accident lawsuit. If you are a business owner or have substantial assets -- it is very important for you to consider adding this coverage in the event you are personally sued.
UM/UIM Coverage - Optional Coverage in Florida:
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, or UM/UIM, is also an optional coverage in
Florida. This coverage protects you in case you are in an accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance to cover the damages.
This UM/UIM can also kick in when you have been victim to a hit and run. Here, at The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. -- we have fought hard for veterans and service members that have been victims in hit and runs and ultimately demanded that the insurance companies provide the maximum possible compensation.
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage in Florida:
Finally, Comprehensive and Collision coverage are options to consider if you want to fully protect your own vehicle. Comprehensive coverage covers damages to your vehicle from incidents such as theft, natural disasters, and other non-collision events. Collision coverage, on the other hand, covers damages to your vehicle from a collision with another vehicle or object.
In Florida, we are all too familiar with flooding, hurricane damage, and other natural disasters. It is important to consider adding this coverage in the event that your vehicle is damaged due to mother nature.
Stay safe on the road, and drive with peace of mind.
Part III - Estate Planning for Veterans, Active Duty, First Responders, and Reservists
If you are an active duty service member, veteran, reservist, or even first responder -- you know first hand how life for anyone can completely change within a matter of seconds. To protect your family and even yourself, having an estate plan, regardless of your current age, is important. Having a lawyer that will attempt to do their best to understand your sacrifices and concerns is important. In addition, not many lawyers and/or law firms are out there that stay up to date with technology. For instance, estate planning considerations should always include technological advances to cover accounts in crypto currency, social media accounts, NFTs, intellectual property; children; spouses; and, even pets.
Last Will and Testament - Unique Considerations with Active Duty Military, Veterans, Reservists, and Law Enforcement/Paramedics/EMTs/Firefighters/Nurses:
Special considerations when preparing estate plans for veterans, active duty military, reservists, first responders, and even medical personnel is critical. Whether you are a service member protecting our country or a first responder/medical professional serving our communities--you are making a sacrifice to protect others. That's why it is important to have a lawyer that understands the implications of a serious injury, illness, or even death related to your service.
A Last Will and Testament outlines the testator’s (the person named on the will/future deceased) wishes after death. The goal of a Last Will and Testament is to carry out the wishes by assigning individuals, known as Personal Representatives, who is responsible for distributing assets accordingly. In a Last Will and Testament, a Florida estate planning attorney may be able assign certain responsibilities individuals of the testator’s choosing, create trusts, protect minors and their assets; provide specific funeral instructions, protect pets, specifically disinherit individuals, and more.
Many people opt to draft their own Last Will and Testaments. This can be problematic because language in a Last Will and Testament can easily become ambiguous or/and unclear based on Florida law. As a result, those that believe that they have a right to the estate can contest the contents of the Last Will and Testament before the court. This, in turn, creates tension, stress, and high attorney fees for families in trying to dispute and decipher the intentions of testator in the Last Will and Testament. The only way to avoid such a scenario is to consult with an attorney that can prepare the Last Will and Testament according to governing Florida state law.
Power of Attorney - Considerations With Veterans and Military Service Members:
A Power of Attorney is an essential legal document that allows you to grant authority to an individual, called the “agent,” that you appoint to handle typically financial and/or transactional matters as your representative.
Many have a General Power of Attorney in the event they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to act on their own behalf.
Oftentimes, a Limited Power of Attorney is used to grant an agent a limited scope of authority for a specific purpose or limited timeframe. ;;
During your Florida estate planning – it is a good idea to have both a Power of Attorney and a Last Will and Testatement prepared together. For military, veterans, and first responders -- there are special considerations in the language of the Power of AttorneyH that should include language regarding life insurance policies, TRICARE benefits, disabled veteran benefits, retired veteran benefits, first responder specific retirement plans, and more. Here, at The Law Offices of Carolina Nunez, P.A. -- we will do our best to protect you and your family.
Advanced Medical Directives and Healthcare Surrogates:
What about major medical decisions in the event one is not able to make medical decisions? Protecting our country comes at a huge sacrifice, oftentimes, veterans and active duty members deal with health implications at a very young age due to service related injuries.
This is where Advanced Medical Directives ower of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogates play a major role. Healthcare Surrogates appoint an individual that one may trust to make medical decisions, discuss care with medical professionals, and access medical records. The Advanced Medical Directive states when to stop or continue medical intervention. These documents make it clear to loved ones as to what your wishes are.
Florida Ladybird Deeds:
A Florida ladybird deed (also called an enhanced life estate deed) is a form of life estate deed that gives the current owner continued ownership and control of the property until his or her death. The deed names the beneficiaries of the property to be transferred to upon the owner's death. Proceeding the owner's death, the property is then automatically transferred to the new owners listed as the beneficiaries without the need for probate. With the assistance of a Florida estate planning lawyer, the ladybird deed is an inexpensive way to transfer property after death.
Thanking You for Your Service
As we reflect on the sacrifices and contributions of our veterans, it is essential to recognize the tangible ways in which we can support them in their post-service journey. By addressing the specific financial challenges that veterans face and offering them the legal expertise and resources they need, we can ensure that their transition to civilian life is marked by stability and security.
Here, at The Law Offices of Carolina Nunsz, P.A., we do our best to understand your veteran and military background. With our personalized service, we have helped clients feel heard and understood. Call us today at 407-376-2229 or 386-224-6544. Our offices are located near Orlando in Winter Park and Daytona Beach.
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