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Mr. Pankauski is the Firm’s Managing Member and a Senior Trial Attorney. He is rated AV®Preeminent by independent legal authority Martindale Hubbell. Mr. Pankauski’s AV®Preeminent ranking is the highest rating available and means that his peers, lawyers and judges rank him at the top for professional excellence based upon legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communications and legal experience. He has been selected as one of South Florida’s “Top Lawyers” in the field of trusts & estates (Legal Leaders, 2015). Mr. Pankauski was also selected as a “Super Lawyer” in 2022 by his peers

He spends most of his time in the courtroom trying cases and in evidentiary hearings. When he is not in the court room, he devotes considerable time to detailed trial preparation & intense litigation strategy, including high level, high dollar negotiations on behalf of clients. His practice is restricted to “probate litigation”: disputes, controversies, litigation & lawsuits involving wills, trusts, estates, inheritances and guardianships.

His extensive experience involves litigating over jewelry, joint bank accounts, lifetime gifts, family owned businesses, real estate, inter-vivos transfers, Florida Homestead, beneficiary rights to trusts & estates, and rights of surviving spouses. Mr. Pankauski’s, and the firm’s, practice also includes defending Florida trustees and Personal Representatives of Palm Beach estates, and advocating on behalf of family members and spouses in litigated family guardianships. Some of the legal issues which he has been involved in include: Palm Beach will contests, undue influence, lack of mental capacity, insane delusion, Dementia, rights of family members & heirs, tortious interference with an inheritance, a widow’s Florida elective share, validity and claims of prenuptial agreements, challenges to wills & trusts, investments and Florida’s prudent investor rule.

Mr. Pankauski has over 20 years of legal experience. He is a member of the Florida Bar’s Trial Lawyers Section and the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section as well as the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section.

Pankauski’s Approach to Probate Litigation

The firm believes in

  • highly focused, very serious, trial strategy — a detailed plan with the ambition and attitude to advance
  • building leverage & strength through exceptional service — the force to move things forward
  • gaining important advantages for clients through relentless application of the law, and the rules of procedure and evidence, intended to resolve your probate dispute or lawsuit in a timely manner–there’s hope that your probate case will end.

Estate & probate lawsuits should not linger for years and years, but should be resolved. He is usually the first lawyer in a Palm Beach estate lawsuit to set the matter for trial and feels that very focused, detailed, discovery helps clients learn the facts, find the truth of what happened, and understand the Florida probate & trust law which needs to be applied. Recognizing that wealthy, successful clients often prefer privacy, sometimes – but not all the time — disputes over inheritances may be better off negotiated or resolved in a private mediation than tried in a public courtroom. Negotiate from strength or try the case.

Personal (Who is John ?)

John Pankauski was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1967 and grew up in nearby Peabody where he was a standout lacrosse player and Commonwealth Scholar. He is the grandson of Polish and Lithuanian immigrants who came to America at the turn of the last century.

John’s parents survived the Depression and WWII, where his father proudly served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific, having volunteered after Pearl Harbor at the age of 17. John’s parents instilled in him the values of hard work and thrift, and a desire to advance from the immigrants shores his grandparents landed on. Never idle a minute. ® He attended the University of Massachusetts – Amherst where he studied liberal arts and political science and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

He studied law at Suffolk University Law School on Beacon Hill where he obtained a law degree and the University of Miami School of Law where he obtained a graduate degree or LL.M. John’s personal interests includes playing softball and tennis, cooking and collecting wine, and travel. He follows New England sports teams and is a season ticket holder to the University of Miami Hurricanes basketball & football teams. John holds an annual charitable wine tasting fundraiser each February in downtown West Palm Beach: www.pankauskipour.com. Look for John’s upcoming books on family wealth, trusts and what he describes as the probate wars or inheritances wars.

April 18, 2014
When Worlds Collide: The Interplay Between Family Law & Probate Administration
Northern Trust, Boca Raton, FL

January 2014
Same Sex Couples Now Have Inheritance Rights
15th Annual Estate Planning Supplement to Palm Beach Daily News

October 1, 2013
10 Things Estate Planners & Probate Attorneys Need to Improve & Protect Their Practice
South County Florida Bar Association, Delray Beach, FL

October 2, 2013
10 Things Estate Planners & Probate Attorneys Need to Improve & Protect Their Practice
Broward County Bar Association, Fort Lauderdale, FL

August 15, 2013
Florida Probate Litigation for Estates, Trusts & Guardianships
Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Atlantic City, NJ

July 25th, 2013
Ethics and Estate Planners: Protecting Your Clients and Preserving Your Practice
Florida Bar Course # 1305095N, Palm Beach, FL

March 19, 2013
The Clash Between Estate Planning and Family Law: When ‘Til Death Do Us Part Becomes ‘Til Divorce Do Us Part
ABA Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Online Webinar

January / February 2013
When Worlds Collide
Probate & Property, American Bar Association, Section of RPET Section

December 14th, 2012
Guardianship Litigation: Hot Topics & Trends
PBCBA Elder Law Committee, West Palm Beach, FL

December 13th, 2012
A Look at Amending, Altering & Changing Estate Plans
SunTrust, Boca Raton, FL

October 18, 2012
A Looking at Amending, Altering & Changing Estate Plans
Sun Trust, West Palm Beach, FL

September 15, 2012
Contesting, Correcting & Changing Your Estate Documents: Why Your Documents are Alive Even After You’re Dead!
ABA- Section of Taxation , Boston, MA

July, 2012
Accessory After the Fact: Fixing Will & Trust Mistakes in Court
ALI-ABA , San Francisco, CA

May, 2012
The Ethics of Probate Planning in Family Law: When ‘Til Death Do Us Part Becomes ‘Til Divorce Do Us Part
ABA Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law, New York, NY

January 15, 2012
They Can Change My Will After I’m Gone? Really?
Palm Beach Daily News Sunday Supplement

November 2011
Let’s Make a Deal- Small Firms find Big Deals on Office Space
ABA Journal

September 26, 2011
Hot Topics in Probate Litigation
Tri-State Trust Forum of the Main, New Hampshire & Vermont Bankers Association, Manchester, New Hampshire

May / June 2011
Punitive Damages Against Fiduciaries, Probate Cases, & Equitable Relief
Probate & Property

November 2010
Punitive Damages Against Fiduciaries: Leaving Hoppe Behind & Allowing Punitive Damages Where Equitable Relief is Sought, Part I
The Florida Bar Journal

November / December 2006
Looking for the Exits- a Fiduciary’s Sell Strategy Under the Prudent Investor Act
Probate & Property