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Yearly Archives: 2022

Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

FAQs Dec 28, 2022
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Do you really need a lawyer for the Florida Probate that you are involved in? You may not, after all. Find out some secrets from the experts to help you stay informed, up to date, and to receive your inheritance. (Yup, that’s right: it should not be that difficult!) For more perspective on this topic, click HERE. Florida Probate Process Explained Previously, we have written about the whole “estate-probate-inheritance” process. To read more about this topic, you can click here. But, let’s quickly go over some basic, important aspects that you NEED to know. First, if there is no will, then “heirs” inherit through intestacy. This includes the surviving spouse unless he signed a prenup or some waiver of inheritance rights. Second, in an intestate estate, adult children — NOT just minor children– inherit. And maybe even some grandkids. Intestacy is the passing of property from an estate to heirs. It’s a process with its own special rules. Why talk so much about this topic? Because today, lots and lots of people die without a will. Even those who had the money to afford an attorney to write one. It happens all the time. Third, to get your inheritance, you probably need to “open” a probate. Why? Because you probably want two things: first, a “personal representative” appointed to administer the estate; and two, orders from the probate judge that say you inherit. (This is true especially for real estate or homestead. When you go to sell it, the title […]


Florida Intestacy — understanding it in 5 steps

Probate Information Dec 25, 2022
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Family members inherit if there is Florida intestacy. But understanding how much you inherit, and how you inherit, are both important. You may get more than you expect! But, remember: there is no will ! Understanding Florida Intestacy OK, here are the 5 main points that you need to know about Florida intestacy. And, to read or learn more about this Florida inheritance topic, there is a list of resources at the end of this blog. No will !! Intestacy means that the probate administration of a deceased Florida resident’s estate is done according to the Florida Probate Laws on intestacy. The estate will be administered as an “intestate” estate. There is no will. So, any “interested” person can ask the probate judge to “run” or administer the estate. Any property which is not disposed of by a will “goes” according to those special Florida intestacy laws. Family inherits— including short term 2nd spouses. (see next bullet point). Who inherits in a Florida Intestacy? Family members do. What the statute or law calls “descendants”. Like the spouse and the children. For children’s share, see Florida Probate Law 731.103. For the spouse’s share, see 731.102. And these inheritance rights are NOT limited to minor children. ADULT children inherit under the Florida intestacy laws. What if a child is dead? If a deceased child leaves children or grandchildren, those family members inherit the deceased child’s share. Or, it goes to the estate of the deceased child. (It depends when the child passed). […]


Intestacy in Florida

Probate Information Dec 25, 2022
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Intestacy in Florida means that someone dies without a will. The “heirs” inherit. Who is an “heir“, and what to do about old wills, are keys to understanding who inherits. What about old wills? In Florida, most people open a probate when someone dies. Opening a probate means that you file a Petition for Administration for the estate of the deceased person. You can have a “testate” estate, meaning someone died with a will. In the case of a valid last will, the estate gets administered according to the will’s terms. The will tells us who inherits. (Note: you can’t disinherit a Florida spouse absent their consent, like a prenup or a postnup or waiver). Or you can have an “intestate” estate. This means the person died without a will. That’s intestacy. In that case, the spouse gets either half or all of the estate depending on children. See Florida Probate Code 732.102. (Unless there’s a valid waiver or contract). Note: adult children can inherit A LOT and have valuable property rights. Especially for second or 3rd marriages. But, many times family members come forward claiming there was an old will. What about those old wills? If you have the original will, you should file it. Where? With the probate clerk for the county of the deceased Florida resident. What is there are multiple wills? If the wills are originals, file them. Let the probate court sort them out and handle it. What if you only have copies? That’s a […]


Florida Probate Process — 6 steps

Probate Information Dec 23, 2022
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What is the Florida Probate Process and how long does it take? Background OK, here’s a concise background to the Florida probate process. When a Floridian dies, there are different rules. Why? Because that’s what the legislature says ! Leaving property at death is serious stuff. After all, you are not around any more to tell us what should really happen to your property. So, the “signing” of a will requires witnesses and an entire procedure that must be followed for the will to be valid. See Florida Probate Law 732.502. Otherwise, you may have an objection to will. The rules are different when you are not here. They are different, than, say, during your lifetime, when one makes lifetime gifts. Same for the post-death probate process of dealing with a will or intestacy. It’s serious stuff to get property in the correct hands. And there’s special rules. So, what are these rules? Well, there are two main things to read. The Florida Probate Code is a set of statutes and laws. The Florida Probate Rules are (as you guessed!) a set of rules to guide you through the Florida probate process. To see a short video on how revocable trusts work with a will, click HERE. For info on what out of state beneficiaries and family members may need to know, click HERE. The Florida Probate Process God knows that you could talk for days about the probate process. Will contests, creditor’s claims, prudent investing, duties of a fiduciary. […]


What is an Interested Person in Florida Probate?

FAQs Dec 18, 2022
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To raise an objection, to object to a will, or file something in a Florida probate, you must be an interested person. And while we have discussed this “weird”, obscure, estate concept previously (click HERE to read more for free), we are going to explain this in 5 easy steps or lessons. Heirs vs. Interested Persons What’s the difference between an “heir” and an “interested person?” To read about Florida heirship for free, click this LEGAL LINK. Heirs inherit the property of a Florida resident who dies without a will. That’s called intestacy. Or “intestate succession.” (For a free Florida video, click here. ) You can also read the legal definition at Fla. Probate Code Section 731. 201 (20). That’s DIFFERENT than an interested person. Yup……………….. the answer to your question that you are thinking about is “yes.” (An heir might not be an interested person). Why Does It Matter ? Well, first of all, you might want to participate in the probate. And, if you are an “heir”, and there is no will, you inherit! (probably !!) There is a special statute on what family members inherit. Actually there are two. See 732.102 and 732.103. Heirs who are a surviving spouse have one statute. Other heirs have another. Think of heirs as the surviving spouse + descendants or “blood” relatives. When you die without a will, that’s called “intestacy.” Think it’s not possible? Think again says Palm Beach probate lawyer John Pankauski. “I can’t tell you how many estates […]


Palm Beach Probate Lawyer

Our Attorneys Dec 17, 2022
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Knowing when you need to “lawyer up” to get your inheritance may be tricky. After all, you have to balance spending money on a Palm Beach probate lawyer vs. going it alone. Is it worth the money? Inheriting from a Florida Probate If you inherit from a Florida probate, you should expect to get your money within a year. After all, estates are supposed to be “expeditiously” administered. (Read Florida probate law 733.602). Find the assets, pay the last expenses, and distribute everyone’s inheritance. But some people want their own lawyer. Their own advocate or pit bull or “firepower” to stand up and fight. Fight for what? Candidly, in some cases, you don’t need to fight. You need the Florida Probate Code explained to you. The process. The Florida Probate Rules can be read for free online. Heck, you can read all about the Florida probate process online for free. You don’t need a Florida probate lawyer for that. But, if there’s a will contest, or some “contested” matters, you may want your own counsel. When do you need your own Florida probate lawyer? First of all, if you trust the person running the estate, why do you need to pay for a lawyer? The personal representative will have her own lawyer and pay for that lawyer from the estate. But many times, information is with-held. Or things are going nowhere. The “PR” is not disclosing information about the assets, the estate, and what she is doing with YOUR money. […]


Palm Beach Estate Lawyer Helps Out of State Families

Our Attorneys Dec 12, 2022
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Many times, a relative passes away in Florida with a lot of out of state beneficiaries. Do you need a Palm Beach Estate lawyer to get your inheritance? Do you even need to come to Florida? The probate process may be easier than you think to get your inheritance. To learn a lot right away, consider reading the Florida Probate Code. The Florida Probate Process Lots of Floridians pass away each year. Often, family members and beneficiaries are located outside of Florida. “Many of my clients do not live in Florida” says John Pankauski, a Palm Beach estate lawyer who helps clients get their inheritance. “The truth is that you really don’t need your own lawyer if you trust the person running the estate.” That’s what they call the “personal representative” in Florida. Sometimes called an “executor” in other states. In truth, you don’t even need to come to Florida to get your inheritance. And you won’t need to if the estate is run correctly. However, if there are objections or “contested” matters, you may need to testify. Whether you can do that from your home via Zoom, or whether you have to come to Florida depends. It all depends on what you want to do, and what the personal representative is doing –or not doing. Who do you trust? The personal representative, or “PR” for short, is supposed to be a fiduciary. She has fiduciary duties to work for the family and beneficiaries. Part of her duties is to […]


Palm Beach Trust Lawyer

Our Attorneys Dec 11, 2022
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Many Floridians are leaving your inheritance in a revocable trust. Here are some steps to help you find a Palm Beach Trust lawyer. You should first consider whether you even need one at all. Why and when? Why do you need a Palm Beach trust lawyer? The truth is that you may not. Confident and experienced trial lawyers will tell you this. Not to be coy or play hard to get. It’s because they have the business and law practice to be upfront with potential clients. And, most will tell you that if you can avoid litigation, you should save a lot of money, time and angst. If you are inheriting from a trust, ask yourself: do you trust your trustee? If your trustee is responsible, attentive and responsive, you probably don’t need a lawyer. However, if you need to understand your rights, or file a trust contest or objection, consider whether you can afford the time and patience needed. After all, trust litigation takes time, is costly, and some people find it anxiety-ridden. Sometimes, people have different interpretations over a trust or want to void a trust amendment. (To read the Florida Trust Code, click here.) Yes, many trust beneficiaries want some so called “fire power”. A pitbull on their side who can explain and advocate for them. But try working things out with your trustee first. She is supposed to give you information about your trust and inheritance. Communicate. Be reasonable. Try to avoid the time and expense […]


Inheriting Homestead

Probate Information Dec 10, 2022
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The rules of homestead in Florida are complicated. But heirs may have more rights than you realize. You may end up inheriting homestead which is valuable. Don’t worry if you don’t get along with your family co-owners. You can sell the property even if others disagree. File a partition action. Your rights If you inherit part of your mom’s house, and you don’t want to live there, sell it ! And take your inheritance from the sale proceeds. How? Read on…. Any part of a decedent’s estate that does NOT pass by a will, passes according to the laws of intestacy. Intestacy means that someone died without a will. Under the intestacy laws, heirs inherit. Who are heirs? Heirs are those who inherit under the laws of intestacy. Sound circular? Heirs include descendants and the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then the descendants inherit. What about homestead? It has its own rules and laws. Inheriting homestead — the “ugly” (confusing) truth Homestead is the one true house of the dead Floridian. You know, that place where she always returned after being away. Sometimes, a Florida resident has multiple residences. But only one homestead. You can inherit by selling it, even if your co-owners don’t want to sell it. And even if they are living in it. So, you can file a petition to determine homestead. Homestead is generally considered OUTSIDE OF PROBATE. And not a probate asset. (Click HERE for commentary about the probate process). Although you […]


Understanding a Florida Estate Claim

Probate Information Dec 10, 2022
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Do you know how to make your Florida estate claim? Filing the proper paperwork is crucial. You need to know the difference between filing objections and a creditor’s claim. Florida Estate Claim — the basics When you have a probate, the “executor” or personal representative will “run” or administer the estate. This involves gathering assets, paying the decedent’s last expenses, dealing with the will and beneficiaries, and creditors. There’s a difference between objecting to a will and filing a creditor’s claim. If you are an “interested person” in the Florida probate, you can object to an improper or incomplete accounting, or inventory or petition. Heck, you can even object to a will. You can also object to who is the executor. Yes, you can even object to a creditor’s claim. What is a creditor’s claim? What is a Creditor’s Claim? A creditor’s claim is a statement, or a claim, by someone who is owed something. From the dead person. It might be money. The most common example of this is. The dead person borrowed money from me and I want to get paid back. Or, you could have rights which you want to exercise. Such as rights under a contract, a prenuptial agreement, or an operating agreement for an LLC. Get in the Game There is a whole process to correctly filing your objection or estate claim and getting what you want. A creditor’s claim has an entirely unique process with very short time frames. Not all creditors are created […]