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Category: FAQs

Is the Florida Will Valid: a free legal video for family members, heirs & beneficiaries

FAQs Mar 28, 2021
post about Is the Florida Will Valid: a free legal video for family members, heirs & beneficiaries

Heirs, adult children and beneficiaries of Florida probates + estates have asked for this ! A definite guide + legal commentary that answers the question: is the Florida Will Valid? For a free video on this Florida probate topic, CLICK HERE. What Makes a Will Valid? Under Florida law, a will is valid if it was signed properly and the person signing knew what she was doing. 2 witnesses are needed. The person signing the will and the two witnesses must all sign at the same time in “the presence of each other.” The person making the will needs to have a general understanding of what she is doing. This means that they should understand that the document is a will, that they are disposing of property at death. Leaving property at death. When they die. One should have an idea of what property they own, and who their family members are. Not only is mental competency important. But the will signer must be free of any pressure, force or UNDUE INFLUENCE. A will that is caused by an INSANE DELUSION or fraud is void. For more commentary on how to sign a Florida Will, CLICK HERE. Florida Probate Code The Florida Laws on wills are found online, free of charge. Just google Chapter 732, Part V. Or, you can CLICK HERE. This part of the total Florida Probate Code sets forth the rules for valid wills. Those laws tell you who may make a will in Florida. And how […]

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What is a Florida Revocable Trust?

FAQs Mar 27, 2021
post about What is a Florida Revocable Trust?

Everyone has a Florida Revocable Trust ! Billions and Billions of dollars are put into them. And family members, in-laws, outlaws, heirs and mis-fits all inherit from revocable trusts every day. So, what really is this estate planning tool or vehicle? For an authoritative, easy-to-understand, Plain English and FREE “one stop shop” on revocable trusts, CLICK HERE. To read more about Family Trusts, consider reading John Pankauski’s book, Pankauski’s Trustee’s Guide: 10 Steps to Family Trustee Excellence. Want more, including a recent revocable trust opinion and statutes? Keep reading. 2020 Palm Beach Trust Case A revocable trust is often an important part of one’s Florida Estate Plan. Like a Last Will, it can leave money and property to select beneficiaries. It has been described as an instrument, an estate planning vehicle, a document. A revocable trust is all of that and more. Most wills today are POUR OVER WILLS which leave everything to a rev trust. The rev trust then distributes inheritances out. The creator of a trust is called the “grantor” or “settlor.” Typically, you are your own trustee when you create such a trust. When you are longer a trustee, you can appoint a successor in your trust document. On August 5, 2020, the Palm Beach Appeals Court issued an important opinion. This appeals court is known as the 4th District Court of Appeal. They issued their opinion on Florida Revocable Trust in the case of Schlossberg v. Estate of Kaporovsky. This trust appeal explained what a revocable […]

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What is Florida Trustee Discretion?

FAQs Mar 27, 2021
post about What is Florida Trustee Discretion?

Billions of dollars are in Florida trusts. And most trustees have the discretion to give beneficiaries money — or not ! What is Florida Trustee Discretion? We have previously provided commentary on Florida Trustee Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Now let’s consider the power of a trustee to exercise its discretion to give you trust money. Florida Trust Code Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes is the Florida Trust Code. It tells you all about the law of trusts in Florida. This law also speaks about a trustee’s discretion. “There are two important things for any beneficiary to read” says trust litigator John Pankauski, author of Pankauski’s Trustee’s Guide– 10 Steps to Family Trustee Excellence. “One is the trust document itself. The other is the Trust Code.” Specifically, Pankauski says to read Florida Trust Law 736.0814. This trust law talks about a trustee’s discretionary powers. Pankauski knows a thing or two about trust lawsuits. His firm of expert litigators and appellate lawyers restrict their practice to litigation and appeals of trusts and estates. “A lot of out of state trust beneficiaries need assistance reading the trust document” says Pankauski. “And understand whether their Florida Trustee acted properly.” We have previously provided commentary about SUSPENDING your trustee vs. REMOVING your trustee. Now, let’s focus on Florida Trustee Discretion. Appealing Trustee Discretion What are the rules if you don’t like a trustee’s decision? Let’s say that the trust document says the trustee may distribute money to you for health, education, maintenance and support. […]

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Florida Probate Fraud

FAQs Mar 25, 2021
post about Florida Probate Fraud

What is Florida Probate Fraud? What can you do to protect yourself once you have discovered it? To read Florida Probate Law Commentary on Overturning a Will Based Upon Fraud, CLICK HERE. To read more about this estate topic, continue reading. Fraud in Florida Fraud is a cause of action in Florida legal proceedings. “Generally, if something is caused by fraud, it is void” says probate litigator John Pankauski, who wrote a Probate Litigation Guide. He wrote about 10 common probate mistakes. We recently provided commentary on Fraud on the Court in Florida. That is not what we are talking about here. “When you speak about Florida Probate Fraud” continues Pankauski, “most people think about two things.” First, a will or trust caused by fraud is void. Read Florida Probate Law 732.5165. Second, if a trustee or executor is hiding or stealing assets, that is fraud. Whether you can sue for Civil Theft or Breach of Fiduciary Duty depends on your facts. “And” Pankauski points out “it depends on the type of fraud, too.” Yes, there are different types of fraud in Florida. “Knowing what type of fraud occurred is important” says Pankauski. And that will help you understand how to exercise your rights when you face Florida Probate Fraud. (To read more about Inheritance Theft, CLICK THIS LINK.) Exercising Your Rights If you believe that a will or trust was caused by a lie or undue influence, you need to ask a judge to make that ruling. You can […]

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Florida Next of Kin Law: what is an heir?

FAQs Mar 19, 2021
post about Florida Next of Kin Law: what is an heir?

Lots of family members, or kin, expect to inherit when family members die. That’s understandable in some instances. But the truth is that how much kin inherit from a Florida estate actually depends on whether there is a valid will or not. Kin, or heirs, inherit if there is no valid will. They inherit from an intestate estate. We previously provided commentary about INHERITANCE RIGHTS of kin. Candidly, the word “kin” is not really used in Florida probate law. So, Florida Next of Kin law can really be thought of as Florida Intestacy Law. Florida Inheritance Law A valid will will be “probated” under the Florida Probate Code. If there is no valid will, then the Florida resident is said to have died “intestate.” Intestacy simply means that there is no will. Or, no valid will. In that circumstance, the Florida Laws of Intestacy tell you who inherits and how much. To know how much you may inherit, read Florida Probate Code 732.101- 732.111. The Florida Probate Code uses the word “Heirs.” See Florida Probate Code 731.201 (20) for the definition of Heirs for Florida inheritance purposes. “Heirs” inherit from an intestate estate. The word “Heirs” is defined in the Florida Probate Code HERE. Heirs or heirs at law means those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent. The word “kin” under Florida probate law, is really not used any more. What if there is a will […]

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What is Undue Influence in Florida Wills and Trusts

FAQs Mar 15, 2021
post about What is Undue Influence in Florida Wills and Trusts

Undue influence is a serious topic for estate litigators. And, perhaps more so, for family members and heirs. Have you been dis-inherited by a last minute will? This Florida probate commentary will explain what undue influence is and point you to an important Florida Estate Law. If you want to see a FREE UNDUE INFLUENCE VIDEO by estate and trust litigation attorney John Pankauski, CLICK HERE. Voiding a Florida Will Based Upon Undue Influence A will that is caused by undue influence is void. Florida Probate Law makes that very clear. Read Fla. Stat. 732.5165. Likewise, a Florida Trust that is caused by it is also VOID. If you want to read more about Florida probate and trust law, you can read the Florida Probate Code and also the Florida Trust Code for free. Here, also, is a free link to the Florida Probate Rules. The Florida Probate Rules are different than Florida statutes. There is a special procedure to follow to have a will or trust declared void . “You have to file papers in the Probate Court to contest the will” says veteran estate litigation attorney John Pankauski. “For trusts, you have to file a separate civil lawsuit.” In some instances, like with a Pour Over Will, you have to do both. How Do You Define It? Undue influence is defined as a form of coercion, over-persuasion and force. It is not always the same. It can vary from perpetrator to perpetrator. Undue influence can also have different […]

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Florida Trustee Compensation — everything you need to know (almost)

FAQs Mar 14, 2021
post about Florida Trustee Compensation — everything you need to know (almost)

Are you the beneficiary of a Florida trust? And wonder if the Florida Trustee Compensation is too much? Welcome to your new club ! Virtually no beneficiary likes to pay their trustee compensation. And a lot think that their trustees take too much in trustee fees. But, a trustee is entitled to be compensated. So, what are the rules for Florida Trustee Compensation? There are 3 things which Florida Trust Beneficiaries need to read about trustee compensation. We have written before about trustee fees and trustee removal. Now, let’s focus a bit more on trustee compensation. Florida Trust Law on Trustee Compensation Florida trustees are ENTITLED to reasonable compensation. Florida Trust Code Statute 736.0708 tells you about reasonable compensation. But most experienced expert trust trial lawyers, like John Pankauski, will tell you that the devil is in the details. “Each trustee compensation case is so fact specific” says Pankauski. He should know. He tries cases involving trustee fees and trustee compensation. And if an estate is involved, that’s important, too. Many times, a person will have a POUR OVER WILL which leaves everything to their Revocable Trust. A Florida Revocable Trust may also be known as a Living Trust or a Revocable Living Trust. To see a FREE VIDEO about whether an amendment to a revocable trust is valid, click HERE. Trustee Compensation Appeals in Florida As a trust litigator who also handles Trust Appeals, John Pankauski knows that opinions from appeals courts are important. That’s why you should consider […]

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Florida Family Law and Inheritances: do I inherit from my ex?

FAQs Dec 13, 2020
post about Florida Family Law and Inheritances: do I inherit from my ex?

Have you inherited a trust from a Florida estate? If you were you married at the time you received an inheritance in Florida, be careful if you get divorced. This legal commentary will focus on equitable distribution of inheritances. While you are at it, you may wish to consider how family law and estate law overlap. Family Law and Divorce Property If you are in the process of hiring a Florida law firm to assist you with Miami probate litigation, you may want to look for a law firm that is experienced in both 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 a trust or divorce lawsuit and the other side decides to appeal? You will want to make sure you have an appellate attorney, who is knowledgeable about the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure and familiar with the Florida appeals courts. 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. Florida Equitable Distribution If you want to know what is considered to be a marital asset in Florida, you should read Florida’s equitable distribution statute. The statute provides the following in part: (a) 1. “Marital assets and liabilities” include: a. Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them. b. The enhancement […]

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Miami Inheritances and Alimony

FAQs Dec 7, 2020
post about Miami Inheritances and Alimony

What do Miami family law or alimony modification lawsuits have to do with Florida inheritance matters? Why are Florida divorce cases relevant to probate cases? What do South Beach estate litigators need to know about prenups and alimony? How important is it to hire an experienced Miami Beach appellate attorney for an alimony appeal? How can an appellate attorney help me to appeal a court order denying an alimony modification? Miami Prenups and Inheritances Your Miami estate planning lawyer or probate attorney can tell you that a prenuptial agreement (prenup) can protect your inheritance from your spouse in the case of death or divorce. In a prenup, you can specify how to divide up property and inheritances at the end of a marriage. Miami family law and probate lawyers know that inherited assets can be considered in the award of alimony. However, by fixing the term and amount of alimony in a prenup, entangling an inheritance with a divorce can be avoided. In the case of death, inherited assets are treated just as any other asset. Therefore, in the absence of a prenup, inherited assets are subject to spousal claims just like any other asset. If you don’t have a prenup, you may find yourself needing to hire a Miami family law attorney to represent you in an alimony battle, a probate attorney to fight for your inheritance, and even a West Palm Beach appellate attorney if the modification lawsuit leads to an appeal. Florida Alimony Modification Appeals If you are involved in alimony litigation, or questioning whether or not you should […]

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Florida Inheritance Lawsuit and Personal Financial Data

FAQs Nov 24, 2020
post about Florida Inheritance Lawsuit and Personal Financial Data

Are you involved a Florida Probate case? And it is about Florida Inheritance Lawsuit and personal financial data? One of the pressing issues is how much can you learn about money. Finances. And Personal Financial Data. Can a beneficiary request personal financial records from a Florida trustee? When can the opposing party request personal financial records from me? We have previously provided FREE FLORIDA LEGAL COMMENTARY on your Florida Right to Privacy . In Florida, there is a Constitutional right to privacy which includes financial information. Florida Trusts & Relevant Information West Palm Beach probate lawyers know that beneficiaries of a Florida trust have a right, under Florida probate and trust law, to “relevant information.” For one, beneficiaries have a right to receive an annual accounting from the trustee. In Florida, trustees actually have a duty to provide an annual accounting. Florida Statute 736.0813 (d) says that “a trustee of an irrevocable trust shall provide a trust accounting, as set forth in s. 736.08135, from the date of the last accounting or, if none, from the date on which the trustee became accountable, to each qualified beneficiary at least annually and on termination of the trust or on change of the trustee.” If you are the beneficiary of a trust in Florida, and your trustee is not providing you with requested relevant information or accountings, you should consider consulting with an experienced West Palm Beach inheritance attorney. Unfortunately, as trust and estates litigators, we know that there are “bad” trustees out there. Sometimes, […]

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