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Yearly Archives: 2020

Florida Probate Litigation and Disclaimers

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2020
post about Florida Probate Litigation and Disclaimers

What is a disclaimer? When might you be asked to sign a disclaimer in your Florida probate case? What should you do if a disclaimer is presented to you by the opposing side? How can a probate lawyer help you to decide whether or not to sign a disclaimer? What constitutes a valid disclaimer in Florida? A January 23,2019 Third DCA opinion discusses a disclaimer in a Florida inheritance case, and what makes a disclaimer valid or invalid. Know What You Are Signing This may seem obvious but, before you sign ANYTHING, make sure that you read it and understand it! You would be surprised how many times our West Palm Beach probate law firm gets calls from beneficiaries who accidentally signed away their rights. Sometimes, these beneficiaries don’t even realize what they did until it is too late. In the probate world, disclaimers are common. For example, if a beneficiary does not want to have interest in , or inherit, a property, they will most likely be asked to sign a disclaimer. Before receiving an inheritance, beneficiaries are also usually asked to sign a disclaimer. In order to avoid any mistakes, and to avoid accidentally giving up valuable inheritance rights, you should have your Palm Beach inheritance lawyer review the disclaimer and go over it with you. Florida Law: Disclaimer of Property Florida Statute 739.104(3) explains what is required for a Florida disclaimer of property to be effective. The following must be met: The disclaimer must be in writing […]

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Florida Inheritance and Guardianship Litigation: Can a Guardian pay ward’s debt after ward’s death, despite objection by a beneficiary?

Uncategorized Jun 11, 2020
post about Florida Inheritance and Guardianship Litigation: Can a Guardian pay ward’s debt after ward’s death, despite objection by a beneficiary?

What is a Florida guardianship? What is ward? What happens when a ward dies in Florida? Is the Florida guardian able to pay the ward’s debt? Does the guardian have to provide notice of proceedings regarding payment of ward’s debt to the beneficiaries of the ward’s estate? Why would the beneficiary of a Florida estate sue the decedent’s guardian? Adult Guardianships in Florida At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, we handle many guardianship cases throughout Florida. When we refer to “guardianships”, we are talking about guardianships over adults, not minors. Commonly, children of the elderly file a guardianship to protect their mom or dad who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, certain disabled or injured adults may benefit from a guardianship if they are incompetent and unable to take care of themselves. West Palm Beach guardianship courts take guardianship proceedings very seriously because these proceedings can result in a ward’s rights being taken away. The “ward” is the person subject to the guardianship who has been determined to be incompetent or incapacitated. It is important to remember that, even if somebody is deemed incapacitated by a probate court judge in Florida, the court may not appoint a guardian if there’s a lesser restrictive alternative that adequately addresses the incapacitated person’s needs. For example, a power of attorney and a revocable trust may prove to be sufficient. In Florida, guardianship law is governed by Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes. If you are involved in guardianship litigation in West Palm Beach, or […]

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Invoking the Relief of Certiorari in Your Florida Probate Case

Uncategorized Jun 6, 2020
post about Invoking the Relief of Certiorari in Your Florida Probate Case

What is a petition for certiorari? What should your Palm Beach probate attorney know about petitions for certiorari? When can you file a petition for certiorari in your inheritance lawsuit? What must you demonstrate to invoke the relief of certiorari in a Florida probate lawsuit? Should I file a petition of certiorari or an appeal? Probate Litigation and Petitions for Certiorari If you are in the middle of a heated probate battle in the Florida courts, there may be a time where you strongly disagree with an order from the trial court. What can you do if you believe that the trial court incorrectly entered an order? Do you have to wait to file an appeal? What if the order is non-appealable? Florida appellate lawyers know that, generally, you can only appeal final orders. However, there are exceptions. In limited circumstances, your Florida probate lawyer can seek certiorari review 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. Hiring a Florida Lawyer to File a Petition for Certiorari Invoking the relief of certiorari is not easy. Therefore, your probate lawyer should be experienced and knowledgeable about the process. […]

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When is a Florida Guardian Entitled to Compensation?

Uncategorized Jun 3, 2020
post about When is a Florida Guardian Entitled to Compensation?

Do court appointed guardians get paid? What criteria does the court consider in determining an award of fees to a guardian? When is a guardian entitled to compensation? What is Florida Statute 744.108? Can a West Palm Beach guardianship lawyer assist me in guardianship litigation regarding fees? Is a Florida guardian entitled to attorneys fees? Who pays for the attorneys fees in a Florida guardianship? Guardian and Attorney Fees and Expenses If you are about to become a court appointed guardian in Florida, or are considering filing for guardianship of a vulnerable adult, you may want to read Florida Statute 744.108 in its entirety. This statute discusses the compensation of a guardian and sets forth the criteria to be considered by the Florida guardianship court in determining an award of fees to a guardian. In Florida, a guardian, or an attorney who has rendered services to the ward or to the guardian on the ward’s behalf, is entitled to a reasonable fee for services rendered and reimbursement for costs incurred on behalf of the ward.   What are the criteria the Florida guardianship court considers when fees for guardian or an attorney are submitted? Florida Statute 744.108 lists the following criteria: The time and labor required The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill required to perform the services properly The likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment of the person The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar services;(e) The nature and […]

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When is a Disclaimer of an Interest in a Florida Estate Invalid?

Uncategorized Jun 2, 2020
post about When is a Disclaimer of an Interest in a Florida Estate Invalid?

How can a person give up his or her inheritance rights in Florida? What can I do if my mom left me a house in a will and I don’t want to inherit it? Can I sign away my rights to an inheritance? When should I hire a Florida probate lawyer? What is a disclaimer of interest? if you are involved in a probate or trust dispute, you may want to read a January 23, 2019 Third DCA opinion, Lee v. Lee. Lee v. Lee Here, Nicole Lee disclaimed her interest in the decedent’s Florida estate. She did so by executing a document prepared by the personal representative’s attorney. This document was called ” Disclaimer of Interest in Property of Estate.” The disclaimer was properly witnessed and notarized. However, when the personal representative of the Florida estate filed a petition for discharge seeking distribution of the estate’s assets, Ms. Lee objected. She argued that the disclaimer she had executed was not valid. The probate court court determined that the disclaimer was not valid. The probate court explained that the disclaimer was legally insufficient under section 739.104(3) of the Florida Statutes and violative of the statute of frauds because the disclaimer did not identify the real property being disclaimed. Florida Statute 739.104(3) explains what is required for a Florida disclaimer of property to be effective. The following must be met: The disclaimer must be in writing The disclaimer must declare that the writing is a disclaimer The disclaimer must describe the […]

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Florida Lawsuits: Injunctions and Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult

Uncategorized May 27, 2020
post about Florida Lawsuits: Injunctions and Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult

Unfortunately, Florida guardianship lawyers encounter many cases involving financial exploitation of the elderly or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Palm Beach guardianship lawyers and estate attorneys frequently receive calls from concerned relatives or friends regarding an elderly person being financially exploited or abused. What are the different ways that an elderly person may be financially exploited? How can you detect if your mom or dad is being financially exploited? What should you do if you believe that your elderly relative is being taken advantage of by a caretaker or “friend”? When do you need an experienced West Palm Beach guardianship lawyer? Alzheimers and Dementia Many financial exploitation of the elderly or exploitation of a vulnerable adult cases involve elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Due to their vulnerability, exploiters view people with mental illnesses as easy pray. If you suspect that your elderly parent, or disabled friend, is being exploited by his or her caretaker, you may want to read Florida Statute 825.103. You may also want to learn about Florida guardianships. Florida Adult Guardianships A family member can file a Florida guardianship for an adult who is no longer able to care for himself. A Florida guardianship can protect an elderly person or disabled person from being financially exploited as long as the appointed guardian can be trusted. In Florida, guardianship law is governed by Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes. Soldatich v. Jones A January 22, 2020 Fourth DCA opinion, Soldatich v. Jones, is a great example of a Florida […]

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Does the Florida Appellate Court Have Jurisdiction Over the Appeal of Your Probate Order?

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2020
post about Does the Florida Appellate Court Have Jurisdiction Over the Appeal of Your Probate Order?

Do you need to appeal a judgment in Florida? When do you need a West Palm Beach appellate attorney? What do appeals have to do with my Florida probate case? What are the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure? What is Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.170? You may want to read a recent Third DCA opinion, Maercks v. Maercks, to learn more about Florida probate appeals. Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.170 (b) Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.170(b) discusses what Florida probate and guardianship orders are appealable. It is important to consider whether the Florida appellate courts can even hear an appeal regarding the order you disagree with. If you try to appeal an order that is not appealable, the appeal may be dismissed due to the appellate court’s lack of jurisdiction. An experienced Florida probate appellate attorney, like Rob Hauser, Esq. at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, can help you determine whether or not you can appeal a certain probate order. For a free consultation, call (561)514-0900 ext.101. Maercks v. Maercks Maercks . Maercks is a good example of a Florida appeal involving a probate order. Here, a will was admitted to probate. There was another document that the decedent had executed regarding the distribution of her assets. The personal representative, who was also a beneficiary, petitioned to have the second document admitted to probate as a codicil even though he had not included it initially. After the trial court admitted the codicil to probate, another beneficiary appealed. Did the […]

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Florida Probate Appeals and Homestead Property

Uncategorized Apr 25, 2020
post about Florida Probate Appeals and Homestead Property

When do I need an appellate lawyer in Florida? What type of appeals may you encounter if you are involved in Florida probate litigation? Did you know that the other side in your lawsuit may file an appeal if they disagree with the trial court’s decision? Why should I hire an appellate attorney who also does probate litigation for my probate appeal? Hiring a Florida Probate Lawyer If you are in the process of hiring a Florida probate litigation firm, you may want to look for a law firm that is experienced in both estate litigation and appeals. In the early stages of litigation, many people fail to consider the possibility of an appeal being filed. However, in the probate world, appeals do occur. What if you win your Florida probate case and the other side decides to appeal? You need to make sure you have a powerful appellate attorney, who is also knowledgeable about the Florida Probate Rules, ready to assist. At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, one of the law partners, Robert Hauser, has been named a Board Certified Specialist by The Florida Bar in Appellate Practice. Because our firm’s focus is litigation and appeals, our trust lawyers know what to do during trial to ensure that issues are preserved for appeal, if necessary. In addition, having focused trial lawyers and appellate lawyers in one firm is beneficial because you may save time and money during the appeal due to the fact that the firm is already familiar with your case. […]

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COVID-19, Florida’s Stay-at- Home Order,and Depositions

Uncategorized Apr 3, 2020
post about COVID-19, Florida’s Stay-at- Home Order,and Depositions

What is a deposition? How are West Palm Beach lawyers holding depositions while social distancing? If I have a deposition scheduled, will it be canceled because of the Coronavirus Disease(COVID-19) pandemic? How has technology made depositions possible during social distancing? Are my West Palm Beach estate lawyers still able to take depositions and attend hearings while this is all going on? Depositions in Florida A deposition is where someone is placed in front of a video tape and/or a court reporter, and asked questions by opposing counsel. The person being deposed is required to answer the questions truthfully and under oath. Florida trial lawyers know that depositions can prove to be one of the most important events during a civil case, aside from the trial itself. It is an opportunity to gather important information from both people who may benefit a case and opposing parties. Probate and business litigators may choose to depose people who may know relevant facts to the case. For example, in a probate case, a witness to a Florida will or POA document may be deposed. In an undue influence case, a doctor who has knowledge of the victim’s Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia may be deposed. Social Distancing and Depositions How can West Palm Beach probate lawyers hold depositions while staying safe during this pandemic? Under some circumstances, depositions are done telephonically. However, at the very least, the notary or person swearing in the witness is physically with the witness. The Florida Governor’s stay-at-home order, effective April […]

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Practicing Florida Law and COVID-19

Uncategorized Mar 28, 2020
post about Practicing Florida Law and COVID-19

How are Florida lawyers practicing law and social distancing? How has the Coronavirus Disease(COVID-19) affected Florida law firms? Can I still hire a Florida probate litigator to help me with an inheritance dispute? How has technology made practicing law possible during times like these? Are my West Palm Beach estate lawyers still able to take depositions and attend hearings while this is all going on? Are probate and business lawsuits still being filed? Florida Law and Technology As West Palm Beach trust and inheritance lawyers, the attorneys at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus know the importance of staying focused and productive, even while the world is experiencing a pandemic. Because of the CDC social distancing recommendations and requirements, many Florida law firms, including our litigation firm, are relying on technology to seamlessly continue to work on cases. The good news is that many lawyers today frequently utilize technology in their everyday practices. Therefore, they are familiar with the programs that allow them to virtually lawyer. For example, CourtCall allows Florida lawyers to easily attend hearings via telephone. Our attorneys are very familiar with CourtCall because we represent clients throughout the state of Florida. Therefore, appearing telephonically can, sometimes, be the most cost effective and convenient way. Furthermore, our Florida litigators are able to conduct telephone conferences, rather than in-person meetings, with both clients and each other. Zoom is being used for video depositions and some hearings. Plus, on April 1,2013, e-filing became mandatory throughout Florida. Therefore, petitions and court documents are filed via […]

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