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Category: FAQs

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
post about What is a contingency fee?

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
post about Is a Trust Accounting Order Appealable?

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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What is an Heir in Florida Probates?

FAQs Apr 4, 2021
post about What is an Heir in Florida Probates?

What is an Heir in Florida Probates? Heirs inherit millions and millions of dollars from Florida Estates each year !! Heirs is a similar topic to NEXT OF KIN. The definition may just surprise you. Florida Probate Code Definition– understanding the legal definition of what is an heir in Florida probates The Florida Probate Code has a set of definitions. What is the definition of an Heir? “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 An estate that has no will is called an intestate estate. Put another way: a probate of a Florida decedent that died without a will is called an intestacy. Property passes to Heirs by way of intestacy. The intestacy laws in the Florida Probate Code are found RIGHT HERE. Or, to phrase this another way: the statutes of intestate succession can be found by CLICKING HERE. Now, before we move, let’s focus on what is an heir in Florida Probates. Spouses are heirs !! Does it matter if the spouse of the decedent was only married for 10 seconds? No! 50 years? Nope. Does it matter if the surviving spouse, widow or widower was a nasty person? No. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is whether a spouse signed a PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT or a POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT. If you think the marriage was the product of fraud, read THIS. To watch a great, FREE […]

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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. Understanding What Is a Florida Revocable Trust ? 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. Read About this 2020 Palm Beach Trust Case 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 […]

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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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