813 225 1918
1010 N. Florida Ave. Tampa, Fl 33602


florida debt collection attorney

Recently, the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, quipped that OJ Simpson was not welcome in Florida. Simpson’s attorney hit back hard saying his client was moving to Florida no matter what.

But Simpson’s attraction to Florida likely goes well beyond the fact that he may have relatives here. Among the States, Florida has some of the most broadly worded protections available to debtors wishing to shelter their assets from creditor attachment. With these protections, Simpson and others facing pressure from creditors often move to Florida to ensure their assets are judgment proof.

The primary Florida exemption is the homestead exemption. In Florida, a debtor’s homestead is completely protected from attachment by an unsecured creditor. To obtain homestead status, the debtor must merely register to vote from the Florida address, get a driver’s license with the Florida address and intend to reside at the property full time. Other criteria may help, but these are the main criteria for qualification for the exemption. So when Mr. Simpson buy’s his big house in Florida and piles all of his cash into it, these funds are very likely exempt from attachment by any unsecured creditor.

In addition to the homestead exemption, pensions and other 401k interests are completely exempt from attachment. Thus, if you have a 401k with 2 million in it, except in certain circumstances, a creditor cannot attach this money to pay that 100,000 judgment. This also applies to cash value of life insurance policies.

Regular wages used to support a family are also exempt from attachment in Florida to a certain extent.

Finally, Florida has a very broad marital exemption, making jointly held marital property difficult for a creditor to attach if the debt is due by only one spouse.

Now for the good news. There are ways to attack money that a debtor has moved into “exempt” assets. Collections attorneys who have experience know how to use the Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer act and other such actions in Florida to attack transfers by a debtor into exempt assets. Such transfers may be reversible in certain circumstances. Furthermore, transfers to a spouse may also be reversible if done to defraud a creditor.

Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. is a creditor’s rights attorney firm specializing in the collection of debt. Our services cover debt collection in the Central Florida Area including Hillsborough County debt collection, Polk County debt collection, Pasco County debt collection, Pinellas County debt collection, Sarasota County debt collection and Manatee County debt collection among others. Call us at (813) 676-9082 if you need a judgment collection in Florida.


Theodore J. HamiltonWetherington Hamilton founding attorney, Theodore J. Hamilton, has over 20 years of experience in handling real estate transactions and litigation. Attorney Hamilton has particular experience in matters involving complex litigation and complicated real estate matters having represented title insurance companies and individuals throughout the state of Florida. He can be reached by phone at (813) 676-9082 or via email at


ancillary estate floridaFlorida has a large population of snowbirds. Many people own a winter home in Florida and enjoy the sunshine from October to April, and then spend their remaining time in another state they call home. As a probate attorney, I have had the opportunity to probate many “ancillary” estates. An ancillary probate administration is required when the decedent is a resident in another state, but owns real property in the state of Florida. An ancillary estate administration is required because an out of state court does not have jurisdiction over real property in Florida. Only a Florida court has jurisdiction over real property in Florida.  Therefore, a personal representative who is appointed by an out of state court has no authority to sell the real property located in Florida and a Florida probate must be opened.

The ancillary estate is opened in the county where the real property is located. To open the estate, the personal representative must file the same initial documents that are typically required in a domiciliary proceeding in Florida; the personal representative must also submit authenticated copies of so much of the proceedings in the domiciliary estate as required under Florida law (whether it is a testate or intestate estate). Authenticated copies must be ordered from the Clerk of Court of the domiciliary estate. Authenticated documents differ from certified copies of court documents, so it is important to obtain the correct documentation.

Once opened, the ancillary estate is administered following the same steps as a domiciliary administration. Depending on the value of the estate, the estate may be a summary administration or a formal administration. If it is a formal administration, [the value of the Florida property is greater than $75,000], the personal representative must file and serve a notice of administration, an inventory, publish a notice to creditors, file and serve a statement regarding creditors, and a final accounting and petition for discharge, along with any other applicable documents. Unfortunately for the interested parties, the Florida administration is not simplified merely because it is an ancillary proceeding.

Clients often ask whether they can serve as personal representative if they are not Florida residents. An out of state personal representative may serve in Florida if he or she is related to the decedent, as defined in Florida Statutes, Section 733.304. In addition to being related, the personal representative must be otherwise qualified under Florida law to serve. Therefore, he or she must be at least 18 years of age, is mentally and physically able to perform the duties, and has no history of a felony conviction.

Because a second estate must be opened, the court costs and attorney fees are also incurred twice. Additionally, the time to close both estates may become drawn out. Being that is more expensive for the estate, cumbersome for the personal representative, and lengthy for all interested persons, any person who owns property in more than one state is a great candidate for a trust, or another tool, such as an enhanced life estate deed, to avoid multiple probate administrations.


Estate Planning Attorney

Elaine N. McGinnis is an established Estate Planning attorney with nearly fifteen years of experience handling Estate Planning, Probate, Trust Administration and Elder Law cases. Elaine’s clients depend on her to understand their individual needs, discuss goals, and prepare the documents appropriate for each case. Call today to schedule a consultation at (813) 676-9082 or via email to


professional courtesy in law

Have you heard why sharks won’t attack lawyers? Professional courtesy! (insert laugh here). We have all heard jokes about lawyers referencing their behavior as aggressive, unprofessional, offensive, shady, etc. This may come as a surprise to some, but as attorneys, we are bound by Rules of Professional Conduct. In order to become a member of the Florida Bar, in addition to passing the bar exam and an extensive background check, each new attorney takes an Oath of Admission. In 2011, as a result of concerns over increased lack of civility among those who are members of the legal profession in our state, the Florida Supreme Court added the following language to the Oath of Admission**:

“…To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications;…”

I was surprised to learn that this language was being included in the Oath of Admission of such a noble profession. I remember the day I learned that I had passed the Florida Bar as being one of the best days of my life; I was being admitted to a respected and noble profession! To me, common sense would dictate acting with fairness, integrity and civility. I try to live my personal and professional life this way, and enjoying professional relationships with other attorneys is one of the many reasons I enjoy the practice of law. Just this afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking with opposing counsel on a case that is set for trial next month. The conversation was pleasant and professional as it should have been, and we are attempting to resolve the case without the need for trial. This type of professional dialogue with other professionals is one of the many reasons that I enjoy the practice of law.

I have dealt with many personality types during my tenure as an attorney. Fortunately, most attorneys with whom I have dealt practice law with fairness, integrity and civility. Of course, there are those who do not, which is unfortunate. But this noble profession, like all others, has its good eggs and not so good ones. The attorneys at Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. practice law with the utmost professionalism, including fairness, integrity and civility…nothing less!


**Supreme Court of Florida, No. SC11-1702, In Re: Oath of Admission to the Florida Bar, September 12, 2011


Collections Attorney Tampa

Joan W. Wadler has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1991. Her practice concentrates on Collections and Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation and Associations Law. She can be reached at (813) 676-9082 or


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