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Category: FAQs

Florida Power of Appointment

FAQs Jul 28, 2021
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A Florida Power of Appointment might mean that you inherit millions. Or not. Certain family members and heirs may be entitled to know about these odd “creatures” hidden in a Florida Trust Document. If you don’t inherit under a power of appointment, you may or may not have rights to find out WHY you did not inherit. One of the most frustrating things about them may be that your mom or dad has the right–the power!– to give you money or property. A January, 2021 case from Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal discusses this legal topic. To learn more, read on. Where Can I Read More about Florida Power of Appointment? To read about Florida Power of Appointment, there are two places to start. First, start with Part 1 of Chapter 709 Florida Statues. Most people think of Chapter 709 as dealing with Powers of Attorney, like a durable power of attorney. That’s Part 2. Part 1 deals with Florida power of appointment. Second, did you know that someone with a power of appointment can bind other beneficiaries or even family members? Read a very specific part of the Florida Trust Code. Read 736.0302, Florida Statutes. This is super important. Why? Understanding the Basics A person who creates, or gives, or grants, a power of appointment is called the power creator. A power of appointment is the right, but not necessary an obligation, to give away property. To “appoint” certain property, or a property interest, to others. A person […]

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Probate Malpractice Florida

FAQs Jul 25, 2021
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Can you sue for probate malpractice Florida? Understanding WHO can sue is important. Perhaps more important is understanding WHAT you can sue for. What is PROBATE MALPRACTICE FLORIDA? And how do you exercise your rights when you have been damaged? Probate malpractice is very similar to, or may be described as, Estate Planning Malpractice. If you have been harmed in an estate or Florida probate, read on. Probate Mistakes, Wrongs and $$ Everyone is stuck with the probate process, right? I mean, Florida law says that when people die with property, you have to “jump through these hoops.” Why? ….Well, that’s the law ! The deceased Florida resident’s property has to be gathered properly. That’s what Florida probate lawyers call “marshal.” And then the deceased person’s debts need to be paid. IRS, last federal income taxes, the CPA, credit card bills, auto loan, pool cleaning, water bill, cable, FPL, HOA, etc. etc. And then, funeral expenses and the estate lawyers need to be paid. Yes, there are “expenses of administration.” And all of these get paid before a Florida beneficiary sees a dime of inheritance. Don’t like it? Sorry, folks. That’s the law!! And, what is left over, goes to the BENEFICIARIES! But, you have to be an “interested person” to sue. You have to be personally damaged. THAT’s who can sue for probate malpractice Florida. An interested person is generally defined as a beneficiary or a creditor of the estate. It can include certain children, spouses, and heirs. Now, […]

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Estate Planning Malpractice Florida

FAQs Jul 25, 2021
post about Estate Planning Malpractice Florida

The rights of non-clients to sue your parents’ estate planning lawyer seem to be increasing. At least in Florida. A recent Florida Appeals Court opinion on estate planning malpractice Florida helps guide family members and heirs. This legal commentary will discuss whether you can sue your grandmother’s trust lawyer. Understanding Florida Malpractice Legal malpractice is a cause of action, or lawsuit, that is brought against a Florida lawyer. It is often referred to as professional negligence. A Florida lawyer commits malpractice when their standard of care, their services, or failure to provide services, fall(s) below the standard. What standard? The standard of a reasonable attorney in that particular geography. Providing bad legal services can be as simple as not telling your client that she has rights. Or a cause of action against someone. But, can a trust beneficiary, heir, son or daughter sue mom or dad’s attorney who wrote the wills and trusts? Estate Planning Malpractice Florida Many times, family members or adult sons and daughters want to sue mom or dad’s estate planning lawyer. But, many times, heirs are prevented from suing for estate planning malpractice Florida. Why? Three of the most common defenses to professional negligence include blowing the statute of limitations. You didn’t sue fast enough. The statute of limitations for legal malpractice is 2 years. Read Chapter 95.11 (4)(a), Florida Statutes. (To read about stopping or “suspending” or tolling that time period and the computation of time, read the entire CHAPTER.) And remember: a letter won’t […]

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Florida Trust Code — what you need to know

FAQs Apr 19, 2021
post about Florida Trust Code — what you need to know

The Florida Trust Code is a set of statutes. It sets the groundwork for all Florida trust matters. Everything from the trustee-beneficiary relationship. Creating and ending trusts. And, of course, judicial proceedings like lawsuits and removal actions. To get a plain-English background of this body of Florida law, keep reading. We will point you to the most important parts of the trust code. Whether you are a beneficiary, trustee, or adult child of a beneficiary or trust creator. And, yes, if you got cut out of a trust, there’s information for you, as well. If you would like to see a number of focused, informative Florida Trust & Probate Videos for free. Click HERE for an outstanding video library on important Florida estate and trust legal topics. Now, let’s show you what to read in the trust code, and we’ll name specific statutes for your to read. This is “user-friendly”. There is a link to more information on the part we are writing about, so you can read or learn more on a particular topic if you want. The Background First, you should know the background. The Florida Trust Code is a set of statutes. These statutes are found at Florida Statutes Chapter 736. The trust code is similar to the Florida Probate Code and the Florida Guardianship Code. How? They set forth what our legislature wants you to know about those particular topics. Why mention them? Because they can all interconnect. If you have a guardianship of a wealth […]

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Florida Trust Challenge: what is it?

FAQs Apr 16, 2021
post about Florida Trust Challenge: what is it?

To watch a FREE VIDEO about a Florida Trust Challenge, CLICK HERE. Trust lawsuits in Florida seem to be on the rise. That could be because Florida residents use POUR OVER WILLS that leave their money to a trust. Increasingly, these days wills are, in many ways, “just “a method to transfer property to a trust. Many times, a trust is the real entity that leaves inheritances. You may have a probate or an estate, but the REAL money is in the trust. Admittedly, beneficiaries can be concerned. After all, who is being put in charge of YOUR inheritance and millions of dollars? To read about a Florida Trustee Being Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, CLICK HERE. To learn more about a Florida Trust Challenge, keep reading. Oh yes, here’s a tip. If you have a pour over will and there is a probate. Objecting to just the will may not be enough. You may have to file a second lawsuit. A Florida Trust Challenge. Defining a Trust Challenge “A Florida Trust Challenge is typically an attack on the validity of the trust” says Florida Trust Litigator John Pankauski. The attack can be on the entire trust, or just a part of it, like a specific inheritance. Sometimes, family members or beneficiaries file a challenge to who is going to be the trustee or successor trustee. To read about REMOVING A TRUSTEE or SUSPENDING A TRUSTEE, click on those links. But a trust challenge is often synonymous with a […]

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Florida Breach of Fiduciary Duty

FAQs Apr 15, 2021
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A Florida breach of fiduciary duty is serious stuff. It can bring damages to beneficiaries or an estate or a trust. And a whole lot of trouble to a bad trustee or personal representative or POA. We have previously written about excessive compensation and removing or suspending a trustee. We have also written about this topic of FIDUCIARY DUTY before. Now, let’s lay it all out there in plain English. And from a standpoint that other Florida Legal Blogs may not take . What is a Fiduciary? Before we define Florida Breach of Fiduciary Duty, let’s make sure you have the background. First, a trustee owes DUTIES to her beneficiaries. Same for a PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE. Trustees and personal representatives are fiduciaries. Fiduciaries are those who volunteer to perform certain tasks for others. I say “volunteer” because no one can be forced to serve others or be a fiduciary. Even if you are nominated or named in a will or trust. If you don’t want to serve, decline. Fiduciaries, most of the time, are entitled to reasonable compensation. A Power of Attorney, also called an attorney-in-fact, is also a fiduciary. Don’t be confused. Even though the Power of Attorney Law uses the word “agent”, a POA is a fiduciary. Standards of a Fiduciary There are certain “rules of the game.” Standards. If a personal representative or trustee acts badly or steals money or takes secret fees, they can be SURCHARGED. But civil theft is not necessary for a fiduciary to be […]

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Does a Trustee Own the Property?

FAQs Apr 14, 2021
post about Does a Trustee Own the Property?

Trust beneficiaries have a lot of rights under Florida law. That’s because Florida Trustees owe a lot of duties to their beneficiaries. Sometimes, beneficiaries don’t trust their trustee. Sometimes, beneficiaries think the trustee is stealing from the trust. When they are not. There is often confusion about the trustee “owning” property. Let’s discuss and explain in Plain-English does a trustee own the property? We have previously commented on REMOVING a trustee, a trust SURCHARGE and also beneficiary RIGHTS. Now, let’s focus on ownership of trust property. Trust Property + Bank Accounts A trustee holds “legal” title to trust property. That has also been described as “record” title. Usually in the context of trust owned real estate. But who really owns trust property? The beneficiaries may think that they do. And of course, the trustee is the one in charge. A trustee is the record owner. Her name should appear on any deeds to trust-owned real estate. And Bank Accounts or financial accounts. It’s proper to identify the title of “trustee,” and to identify the trust by its name and date, in the title on the account, or the deed. An example of this is: “Jane Smith, IV, Trustee of the Emma Smith Trust, dated October 1, 1967.” That tells the world that the trustee does not own the bank account or real estate individually or personally. Sometimes, new beneficiaries freak out. “The trustee is putting her name on the deed!” they complain. Or, ” The trustee is taking the bank […]

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What is a contingency fee?

FAQs Apr 10, 2021
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A contingency fee has been described as the “keys” to the courthouse. They can help clients who might not otherwise afford an experienced attorney, to hire one. But a Florida client should know the ups and downs, pro’s and con’s. So, what is a contingency fee? For a FREE VIDEO on Florida Contingency Fees, CLICK HERE. Will He Take My Case? Hiring an attorney is tough. After all, how do you know that she is competent and will work hard for you? But, that’s true of any service provider, right? I mean, whether you are hiring a dry cleaner, an architect or a lawyer, you do your homework. But when it comes to Florida estates and trusts, some family members need a probate lawyer that they can’t afford. In many instances, they need a lawyer who specializes in FLORIDA PROBATE LITIGATION. And, you know what I’m going to say next. Some clients want an experienced, smart, aggressive PROBATE TRIAL ATTORNEY. That’s understandable. But the traditional method to pay lawyers is expensive ! And those probate trials take time. With all the discovery, hearings, witnesses and evidence. If there were only a way to hire a good probate litigator in Florida who would take your case and get paid later. That helps you start to understand what is a contingency fee. Why a contingency fee? Let’s define a contingency fee. A contingency fee is when the Florida lawyer takes a % of your recovery or inheritance or damages which you may […]

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What is Standing in a Florida Probate?

FAQs Apr 10, 2021
post about What is Standing in a Florida Probate?

Understanding what is standing is a key to Florida probate proceedings. Want to contest the will? Well, you need standing. Do you want financial information about the probate assets? Same comment. You need standing. We have previously discussed HEIRSHIP in Florida probates and who can CONTEST THE WILL. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this legal definition of standing in Florida probates. The Florida Probate Code The Florida Probate Code is found HERE in the Florida Statutes. You can read all about probate and personal representatives and accountings. But there is very little information about standing. What is standing is a legal concept. Explained and defined by the Florida Appellate Courts. Think of it as the “connection” someone must have to a lawsuit or legal matter. After all, not everyone can participate in a Florida probate. Or a lawsuit. They don’t have a right to. Some “Jane” or “Joe” can’t just walk in off the street and get involved. You need some connection to the deceased Florida resident, her property, or the people who are involved. What is Standing Defined In Florida probates, you have to be an “INTERESTED PERSON” to participate. An interested person means that you are going to be affected by what’s going on. Now, interested person is different than an “indispensable party.” An interested person in the Florida Probate Code means any person who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved. You can read all the definitions at […]

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Is a Trust Accounting Order Appealable?

FAQs Apr 4, 2021
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Trust beneficiaries want to know their rights. How much do they get from the trust? And trustees have an obligation to give their beneficiaries relevant information and annual accountings. So, what if a Florida Probate Judge orders the trustee to complete an accounting? What if the trustee does not want to do that right away? Is a trust accounting order appealable right now? A March 31, 2021 appellate opinion from Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal sheds light on trust appeals. We have previously provided solid, insightful Trust Law Commentary on BENEFICIARY RIGHTS, Removing a Florida Trustee, and even Suspending a Florida Trustee. Florida Trust Code Whether or not you can appeal a trust case order depends on two things. First, you need to understand Florida Trust Law. Florida Trust Law is found in the Florida Trust Code at Chapter 736. To watch some great FREE TRUST VIDEOS on beneficiary rights and getting information about your trust, CLICK HERE. The other thing you need to understand is the Florida Appellate Rules. Read the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Focus on Fla. R. App. Proc. 9.170. That appellate rule creates opportunities and potential pitfalls. Some trust orders must be appealed within 30 days or you lose your right to have them reviewed later. If you miss the deadline, then the order you don’t like becomes a final, non-appealable order. But understanding whether or not you can appeal now can be less than clear. Florida Trust Accounting Appealable Now? In this March […]

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