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Category: FAQs

Florida Charging Lien

FAQs Sep 9, 2023
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Many lawyers incorrectly assume they automatically have a Florida charging lien. Here’s what you need to know about this weird legal concept. To read more about this topic for free, you can CLICK HERE. Florida Charging Lien Some lawyers in Florida let a client “float” and not pay their bills for a while. Others are more “business-focused” and want invoices paid monthly. Many lawyers will file a motion to withdraw when they don’t get paid, or are fired by the client. Regardless. When a lawyer ceases work, and she is owed money, what can she do? Most lawyers file a charging lien. (For a short free video: click here). Some have said that there are 4 elements to a charging lien. Often, those elements can be demonstrated, or proven, by a legal services contract and simple emails (notices and communication). Attorney John Pankauski, managing partner of Pankauski Lazarus, gave a Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education course webinar on this subject. Understanding Florida Law A recent 4th District Court of Appeal opinion dealt with this issue. (scroll to Case 22-1827 to read it for free). This recent Florida charging lien cases involved a contingency fee. There are distinct differences for charging liens for CONTINGENCY cases vs. so-called “hourly” cases. And if a client fires the lawyer, was it “for cause” or not? A fired attorney, and the successor counsel, may need to resolve “who gets what”. Often times, the discharged, fired or withdrawn attorney will file a notice of charging lien […]


Palm Beach Trust Attorney

FAQs Aug 7, 2023
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When do you know if you need a Palm Beach Trust Attorney? And when should you have one who handles trust litigation? If you need someone who does more than “writes trusts“, read on. The key to your trust matter may just be selecting the “right” “firepower.” (If you believe that you need a trust litigator, you can read (FREE) more about what you may be looking for by CLICKING HERE.) Trust Lawyering So, to be clear, there are some really, really good Florida trust lawyers who write trusts. They do estate planning. They draft wills, powers of attorney, health care documents like health care proxies, and surrogates. And Living Wills. That’s NOT what we are talking about here. If you need a revocable trust, or a living trust, you need an estate planning lawyer. You don’t need a litigator who is in the “trenches” of lawsuits and litigation. If you have a trust issue, dispute, lawsuit or challenge, read on. Palm Beach Trust Attorney — understanding the trust” holy trinity” The type of Palm Beach Trust Attorney that you may need should be one who has the “firepower“. The experience in courts, trying cases. Handling Trust Appeals. SERIOUS trial experience. You need someone who not only understands the Florida Trust Code, Chapter 736. But also the Evidence Code, Chapter 90. And the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Why? Because if you are involved in a trust dispute over an accounting, an inheritance or a revocable trust, you may need […]


Palm Beach Guardianship Lawyer

FAQs Aug 6, 2023

How do you find a good Palm Beach Guardianship lawyer, and, what, EXACTLY, is one? (For free, helpful videos on Florida Guardianships, click HERE.) Palm Beach Guardianship Lawyer For good or for ill, guardianship cases have exploded. If you asked me 20 years ago if I would be handling contested guardianships, I would have guessed “no.” But, now, contested guardianships are a vital and important part of the probate litigation practice at Pankauski Lazarus. And, I’m proud to say, we have built up a stellar reputation, Florida-wide. To read more about our guardianship practice, click HERE. It may assist you in determining whether you need to file for a Florida guardianship or not. Let’s discuss the “two” “main” types of Palm Beach Guardianship lawyers. Contested vs. Un-Contested Guardianships in Florida There are two types of guardianships: contested and un-contested. You don’t need me for an uncontested guardianship. That’s where everyone gets along and there are no disagreements. The truth is that there are many fine guardianship lawyers out there who do a good job. At much lower rates that a guardianship trial lawyer like me. They know Florida Guardianship Law and are effective at assisting families. But, what if you don’t agree? What if you disagree?……………………….a LOT!? Disputed Matters When parties to a Palm Beach Guardianship do not agree, we call it a “contested” guardianship. There are two things which may be contested. First, whether or not someone, the alleged incapacitated person (AIP), is competent or not competent. Do you […]


Right of First Refusal Florida

FAQs Jul 22, 2023
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A lot of real estate changes hands in Florida. A recent case deals with a right of first refusal Florida. If you are a tenant, or have a ROFR via a contract, you need to read that case. Florida Real Estate So, there is a LOT of interest in Florida real estate. Vacant land, office towers, apartment complexes and plain old homesteads and residences can change hands multiple times over the years. (But….remember…. ROFRs are NOT for just real estate.) Many times, a tenant may have a right of first refusal Florida. This gives the tenant a right to purchase a particular property upon certain terms when the seller intends to accept an offer from another. Many times, though, a right of first refusal Florida is not found in a lease. But in a private contract. A deal. Because a potential buyer wants to know if the seller is going to sell. But this property right places obligations on the seller or owner of the real estate. She needs to give notice, and proper notice, to the person who has, or holds, the ROFR. Failure to follow the ROFR can get the owner/seller into legal trouble. A recent case from Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal discusses this very issue. But, first, let’s get some bullet-point-advice from a Florida trial attorney who handles lots of clients, litigation and appeals over homestead, real estate and plain old Florida real estate. Florida Right of First Refusal


Importance of Trust Protectors in Florida Estate Planning

FAQs Jun 3, 2023
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What’s the importance of trust protectors in Florida when many Floridians already have an estate plan? They have a POA, a living will, a will and a revocable trust. Where does a Trust Protector fit in? Understanding Basic Florida Estate Planning Documents Let’s start with a basic Florida estate plan: Trust Protectors Florida A trust protector is the creature of “hard thinking” trust lawyers. There’s no one definition for a trust protector. In the Florida Trust Code, the word “trust protector” is only used once. And not even defined. And, candidly, lawyers who “write” trusts have different takes on trust protectors and what they do or should do. Here’s a broad overview:


Who Are Heirs in Florida?

FAQs Jan 18, 2023
post about Who Are Heirs in Florida?

Heirs can inherit an entire Florida probate. Like….. all the property of the dead Florida resident. BUT, there are rules. To learn more about whether you are an heir or not, keep reading, or click here. Florida Probates + Family Who are heirs in Florida? That class of “legal actors” are those who inherit under the laws of intestacy. There is a Florida statute right on point in the Florida Probate Code. Check out Florida Statute 731.201(20). These can include the surviving spouse (if any), adult or minor children, and, maybe, grandchildren (children of deceased children). To read more about intestacy, click here. Quick note: an heir may be different than an “interested person.” Remember, not everyone can participate in a Florida probate. You need some connection. That’s an interested person. And remember: often, one’s house or homestead is very, very valuable. So, find out how the house “goes” and see if you get a share. Who Are Heirs and What Do They Inherit? In Florida, a person has the right to dispose of her wealth as she sees fit. That means that she can leave it all to whomever she wants. You just can’t dis-inherit your spouse completely. A surviving spouse has a LOT of inheritance rights. Unless they signed a prenup. Children…………..that’s a different story. But, if there is no will, that’s called intestacy. Heirs inherit the entire estate in an intestacy. What some call an “intestate estate.” But remember, heirs only get paid after all the creditors, […]


Homestead Appeal

FAQs Jan 13, 2023
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A homestead appeal often means that there are millions of dollars on the line. So, you need a probate lawyer who understands both the intricacies of Florida homestead and also appeals. (To read about getting attorneys fees for your appeal, consider reading this). Experience Counts Let’s face it. Experience Counts. Homestead law is confusing. So are appeals. And sometimes there is “tension” between a 2nd, 3rd or 4th spouse and the deceased Florida resident’s adult children. But, in Florida, a surviving spouse or widow has VERY VALUABLE PROPERTY RIGHTS. Unless you signed a prenup. But even then, folks “fight” over what the prenup says. What its terms are. Who gets what? That’s why it makes sense to find a law firm that has handled appeals for years. And specifically homestead litigation and appeals. Here is a recent homestead appeal that got the client millions of dollars. The adult children of the deceased Florida resident “fought” the surviving spouse, who signed a prenup. The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the Palm Beach County probate judge (who gave the spouse nothing). The DCA agreed with the lawyers for the spouse –she should get half of the homestead. When the appeal finished, the real estate market was on fire. The residence was worth millions. And the spouse got millions. Homestead Rights So, the surviving spouse has very valuable homestead rights. This includes a right to live in the deceased Florida resident (spouse’s) home. See Florida Probate Law 732.401. Or, under limited 6 […]


Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

FAQs Dec 28, 2022
post about Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

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 […]


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 […]


Notice of Trust Florida

FAQs Aug 23, 2022
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What is a notice of trust? Learn the two types, who is entitled to this, and what you should look out for if you are a beneficiary. To see a short video on this topic, CLICK HERE. What’s the big deal? A trustee is required to tell her beneficiaries that she is a trustee. A trustee should send a writing to a Florida trust beneficiary within 60 days. This is the first notice of trust which we will discuss. You can also read the Florida Trust Code Statute 736.0813(1). What’s the purpose of this document? It tells the beneficiaries: The existence of the trust. That there is a trust which you are a beneficiary of. It identifies the trustee with an address. That way you know who is in charge of your money and who to contact. Why would you contact your trustee? To ask for money, accountings and other relevant information about YOUR trust. Annual accountings. It also tells you that you are entitled to a complete copy of your trust agreement. Just ask the trustee. What other relevant information might a trust beneficiary want? How about… Financial statements. Copies of sale documents for real estate that is sold. A list of all trust assets How much compensation the trustee is taking from your trust. Beneficiaries have a lot of RIGHTS. Trustees owe you a lot of DUTIES. Notice of Trust in Probate Court When the creator, or “grantor”, of a trust dies and the trust becomes irrevocable, there […]