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Yearly Archives: 2020

Florida Appeals and Voluntary Dismissal

Uncategorized Aug 24, 2020
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What is an appeal? When can you file an appeal in Florida? When do you need to consult with a West Palm Beach appellate attorney? What does the voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit have to do with an appeal? If you voluntarily dismiss a Florida probate lawsuit, can you later appeal a trial court ruling that occurred during that lawsuit? Why is it important to consider the possibility of an appeal during litigation? Florida Inheritance Litigation and Civil Appeals Florida lawyers know that some trust or estate cases can lead to an appeal. If you disagree with a final judgment or order, you may be able to file an appeal. Also, if you win a Florida probate case, the other side may choose to appeal. Therefore, it is important to anticipate the possibility of having to hire a West Palm Beach appellate attorney. If you are in the process of hiring a Florida law firm to assist you with probate or trust litigation, you may want to look for a firm that is experienced in both litigation and appeals. If you hire a law firm that limits its practice to civil litigation and appeals, you may end up at advantage. Florida attorneys with both litigation and appellate experience know what to do during trial to ensure that issues are preserved for appeal. In addition, having experienced trial lawyers and appellate lawyers in one firm is beneficial because you may save time and money during an appeal due to the fact […]


Florida Homestead – 6 months to get half the sale money for a widow

Uncategorized Aug 20, 2020
post about Florida Homestead – 6 months to get half the sale money for a widow

Florida Homestead – 6 months to get half the sale money for a widow Every Florida probate lawyer from Miami to Palm Beach knows that the homestead rights of a spouse can be very, very valuable. But, did you know that one of the most valuable probate rights that a widow has must be exercised within six months of death? That’s right. In Florida, a surviving spouse has a right to make an ELECTION to get half of the homestead sale proceeds. Therefore, if your wife or husband dies with a $5 million condo on the ocean in Sunny Isles or Aventura, you can ask for $2.5 million. BUT, you only have 6 months to make a proper election under Florida Probate Code Section Florida Statute 732.401. Surviving Spouse Homestead Rights in Florida Florida Statute 732.401 explains that a surviving spouse in Florida takes a life estate in the homestead property UNLESS the surviving spouse elects to, instead, take an undivided one-half interest in the homestead as tenants in common. This Florida rule is very important to be familiar with if you are the surviving spouse, and there is a homestead property in Miami or West Palm Beach. Would you rather be allowed to live in the property and have control of the property until you pass away, or would you rather own an undivided interest in half of the property? Owning half of the property means that you would be co-owners with the decedent’s adult children or entitled heirs. You should […]


Attorney-Client Privilege and Miami Trust Lawsuits

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2020
post about Attorney-Client Privilege and Miami Trust Lawsuits

What is rule 4-1.6? What do Miami lawyers need to know about this rule? What do trust lawsuits have to do with attorney-client privilege? What is a waiver of consent? What information can your Miami lawyer disclose without your consent? Can you compel a nonparty to disclose privileged information? Disclosure of Trust Documents in Your Miami Lawsuit Rule 4-1.6 is one of the rules regulating the Florida Bar. This particular rule is very important as it is addresses a Florida lawyer’s duty in regards to the confidentiality of his or her client’s information. Specifically, this rule states that ” a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by Rule 4-1.6(b).” If you are involved in trust, estate, or even business litigation in MIami, you should consider reading this rule in its entirety. That way, you can understand your lawyer’s responsibilities when it comes to attorney-client privilege. Miami Litigation and Florida Statute 90.502 In addition to becoming familiar with rule 4-1.6, you may want to read  Florida Statute 90.502. This is the Florida statute that attorney-client privilege is governed by. Per the statute, as a client of a Miami lawyer, you have “a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications when such other person learned of the communications because they were made […]


The “Business Records Exception” to the Hearsay Rule in Florida

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2020
post about The “Business Records Exception” to the Hearsay Rule in Florida

Are you in a lawsuit where business records are at issue? Like a Florida trust case involving bank account statements or cell phone records? Then you may need to satisfy what Florida probate lawyers call the “business records exception” before the court will even let the documents into evidence. Failing to meet the requirements of the business records exception found in Section 90.803 of the Florida Evidence Code (which you can view for free here) could sink your case. Last month, the Florida Supreme Court decided an important foreclosure case on the business records exception, overturning a prior Florida appeals court case. Read on to hear what Palm Beach trial lawyers have to say about this important case and the business records exception. What is “hearsay” and why does it matter? “Hearsay” is any statement, except for the testimony of a live witness, which is offered to a court in order to prove that what the statement says is true.  Hearsay is defined by Florida Statutes Section 90.801, which you can view for free here. Hearsay is generally inadmissible and will NOT be considered by a court unless there is an exception to the hearsay rule. For example, in an auto accident case that depends on proving whether a traffic light was red or green, a witness can testify that she saw that the light was red. However, that same witness would NOT be allowed to testify that a police officer told her that the light was red. Why the […]


Sumner Redstone Dies: Who Will Inherit?

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2020
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On August 12, 2020, The New York Times reported that renowned media mogul Sumner Redstone had passed away. He was best known for his ownership roles at both Viacom and CBS, which today are merged as ViacomCBS. Who will fight over Redstone’s wealth in probate court? What does his estate consist of? Who will inherit? Lawsuits Regarding Mental Capacity and Inheritance During his lifetime, Redstone was frequently involved in litigation. Litigation regarding his massive estate had already began prior to his death. For example, Sumner was involved in a long legal battle with a former girlfriend, Menuela Herzer. Here, Herzer challenged his mental capacity. She had originally been a beneficiary in his will and, according to a recent article in the The New York Times, she stood to inherit as much as $50 million, plus his Beverly Hills house, before she was removed from his will. In Florida, according to Florida Statute 732.501, a testator must be “of a sound mind” when executing or amending a will or trust. Therefore, at the time of an estate plan change, a person must have, in general, understood the “nature and extent of property to be disposed of and testator’s relation to those who would naturally claim a substantial benefit from will, as well as general understanding of practical effect of will as executed.” In re Wilmott’s Estate, 66 So. 2d 465(Fla. 1953), 40 A.L.R. 2d 1399. How do you challenge a Florida estate plan change if someone is not competent? Proving that someone lacked the mental capacity to change their Florida […]



Uncategorized Aug 11, 2020

Are you owed money or property from someone who is deceased?  Do you need to file a Florida estate lawsuit against a deceased person?  If so, you may need to file what West Palm Beach probate lawyers call a “statement of claim” with the court handling the estate.    For more on that, you can check out the Florida Probate Code for free.  Read about Florida creditor claims by clicking here. A recent Florida appeals case in a probate tells us more about making a claim to get property from a Florida estate. But, what if you inherit from a trust? Ask your Miami estate litigator about the “trust exception” under Florida probate law. What is a statement of claim? If you are owed money or have rights against a Florida resident, then you may be what Palm Beach estate lawyers call a “creditor.”  If you are owed something, you may have less time to make a claim then you realize.  Read Florida Probate Law 733.702 on creditor claims to find out how much time you have. A statement of claim is a document filed by a “creditor” of a deceased person.  You don’t need to have a lawyer to file a statement of claim.  A probate statement of claim notifies the estate of the amount and nature of the claim.  Florida law has several requirements that must be followed to ensure the claim is validity made.  For example, statements of claim must be in a certain form, filed with the […]


Suing a Trustee: Individually and as Trustee of a Miami Trust

Uncategorized Jul 27, 2020
post about Suing a Trustee: Individually and as Trustee of a Miami Trust

Are you involved in a lawsuit against a Florida trustee? Do you wish to sue a Florida trustee as trustee of your dad’s trust? When should you sue a Florida trustee individually ? When should you sue a trustee both individually and as trustee of a trust in Florida? Why is it important to acknowledge that suing a person who happens to be serving as a trustee is different than suing that person in his or her capacity as trustee? Florida Trustee Duties Under the Florida Trust Code, a trustee has the following duties: Duty to Administer the Trust in good faith and accordance with its purposes and the Florida trust code. Duty of Loyalty. A trustee cannot engage in self dealing for its own advantage of profit, it must be loyal to the trust and beneficiaries. The trustee violates the duty of loyalty any time a transaction is entered for the trustee’s own advantage or benefit. These are general voidable by the court.  Duty of Prudence. The trustee must administer the trust as a prudent person would after considering the purpose of the trust, its terms, what the circumstances of the trust and market are etc. The trustee also cannot incur unreasonable expenses. Duty of Special Skills means that a trustee with special skills will be held responsible to utilize those skills. For example, if a person serves as a trustee who is a lawyer or accountant, that person will be held to a hire standard. Duty to control, collect and protect the trust property, and assets.  Duty of Impartiality. If a […]


West Palm Beach Inheritance Disputes and Petitions for Certiorari

Uncategorized Jul 26, 2020
post about West Palm Beach Inheritance Disputes and Petitions for Certiorari

What is a petition for certiorari? How are petitions for certiorari different than appeals in Florida? When can you file a petition for certiorari in your Florida probate lawsuit? What must you demonstrate to invoke the relief of certiorari in a trust and estates lawsuit? When should you seek certiorari review in a West Palm Beach trust case? Certiorari Review and Florida Estate Lawsuits During Florida trust litigation, or during a probate lawsuit, you may disagree with a trial court’s order.Can you do anything about the order while the lawsuit is still going on, or do you have to wait to file an appeal? Generally, you can only appeal final orders. However, there are exceptions. In limited circumstances, your Florida trust lawyer can seek certiorari review of an order from the appellate court. Certiorari review only becomes an option when, during litigation, the trial court “departs from the essential requirements of law.” There are three requirements that must be demonstrated to invoke the relief of certiorari: 1) you have to establish a departure from the essential requirements of the law 2) resulting in material injury for the remainder of the case 3) the injury can’t be corrected on post-judgment appeal. Basically, you must prove that the trial court made a legal error that caused irreparable harm and, therefore, you need a remedy for it now. Invoking the Relief of Certiorari Invoking the relief of certiorari is difficult and your Palm Beach probate lawyer should be experienced and knowledgeable about the […]


West Palm Beach Settlement Agreements and Privileged Communications

Uncategorized Jul 24, 2020
post about West Palm Beach Settlement Agreements and Privileged Communications

What is a settlement agreement? When do settlement agreements come into play during a probate battle? Whens should you sign a settlement agreement? What should you know before signing a settlement agreement in Florida? What should your Miami trial lawyer tell you before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement? When does litigation occur to enforce a settlement agreement? What happens if you do not comply with the terms you agreed to in a settlement agreement? In Miami, how can you compel compliance with a settlement agreement? Florida Litigators and Settlement Agreements At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, our attorneys handle civil litigation and appeals throughout Florida. Our trial attorneys handle probate, guardianship, and business disputes. The cities we practice in, to name a few, include Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. Although business litigators frequent the courtroom, they must also handle other aspects of litigation. For example, outside of the courtroom, experienced trial lawyers prepare for depositions, negotiate settlement agreements, prepare petitions, etc. Another part of a business lawyer’s job is to provide client’s with legal options. Some clients choose to be more aggressive than others. For example, some clients want to have their day in court at a trial, while others prefer to end their inheritance dispute as quickly as possible. Some probate and business lawsuits are resolved with a settlement agreement. An experienced Florida lawyer can help you to negotiate settlement terms, explain to you what the terms in the agreement actually mean (prior to […]


West Palm Beach Trust Lawsuits: When is an Evidentiary Hearing Necessary to Determine Relevancy?

Uncategorized Jul 22, 2020
post about West Palm Beach Trust Lawsuits: When is an Evidentiary Hearing Necessary to Determine Relevancy?

Are you involved in a West Palm Beach trust lawsuit? Have you, as the beneficiary of a Palm Beach trust, recently sued a Florida trustee? Can a Florida court compel the disclosure of trust information? What must the court consider if financial information from a nonparty is requested? How should I choose a West Palm Beach lawyer for my complex Florida trust battle? Choosing a Palm Beach Trust Lawyer If you are the beneficiary of a trust, or even the trustee of a Florida trust, you may find yourself in need of a trust lawyer. Trust litigation happens often and having a powerful trust attorney representing you is important. When interviewing Florida lawyers for a trust lawsuit, you may want to consider how many years of experience the lawyer has practicing trust law. For example, has your lawyer just began practicing law or does he/she have over 20 years of experience like the partners at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus do. Also, you may want to make sure that your trust lawyer is extremely familiar with Florida’s Trust Code and the Florida Statutes pertaining to trust and civil lawsuits in Florida. Lastly, look for a lawyer who limits his or her practice. If trust and estate litigation and appeals is one of the firm’s main practice areas, the lawyers at the firm have probably been in front of a Florida judge in many other trust lawsuits. Trust Lawsuits and Evidentiary Hearings Florida trust lawsuits can involve many different issues and topics. For […]


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