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Category: FAQs

Florida Will Signing

FAQs Aug 31, 2021
post about Florida Will Signing

If a Florida will was not signed properly–or not signed by the person and witnesses in the proper order– it is not valid. What do you need to know about a Florida will signing? Well, many heirs and family members often have questions about a will challenge. Knowing how to make a claim is super important. In some cases, you may have less than 3 months to object to a will. Let’s talk about the legal requirements for a valid Florida will signing. For a free video on objecting to a will, CLICK HERE. Florida Legal Requirements For a will to be valid in Florida, most probate lawyers know the rules. Here they are in a nutshell: The person must sign the will in front of two witnesses, who likewise sign the will in front of the person and each other. The will must be signed at the end. And that’s it ! Or, you could simply read Florida Probate Statute 732.502. That law is the law for how to sign a will. (For a free Florida probate video on over-turning a will, click HERE.) Don’t Forget the Self-Proving Affidavit But, how do you prove that this was done? Well, most probate lawyers have a self proving affidavit. Florida Probate Law 732.503 even gives you the form. The self proving affidavit includes a statement from the notary that the person and the witnesses actually signed the will in the notary’s presence. What’s the big deal with the Florida self-proving affidavit? […]


Will Forgery Florida — what you need to know

FAQs Aug 30, 2021
post about Will Forgery Florida — what you need to know

Do you believe a will was forged? Or a signature to the will was? If so, you may only have a limited time to act. How will you exercise your rights or make your claim? To view a FREE WILL FORGERY FLORIDA video, click HERE. To learn more about this topic, including an important appellate opinion on Florida forgery law, keep reading. Appellate Case On September 6, 2017, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal issued an important opinion. While it is not a will or trust case, it tells you “all” you need to know about forgery in Florida. Bennet v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Services, Inc. goes into depth explaining this topic. But wait, there’s more! If you want to read a will case that explains and discusses the requirements for signing and witnessing a will, click HERE. The case of Jordan v. Fehr is from the 1st District Court of Appeal. It is a 2005 appellate opinion dealing with a will appeal. Will Forgery Florida If a will is not executed with the formalities required by the Florida Probate Code, it is not valid. And any document such as a will or trust which is forged is not valid. When someone comes forth with a will, how do you know the signature is valid? Well, usually you have witnesses and a notary and a self-proving affidavit. But, you have to tell the court what is the product of a forgery. Is the signature of the now deceased Florida resident […]


Federal Court Interpleader– will you get the insurance money?

FAQs Aug 29, 2021
post about Federal Court Interpleader– will you get the insurance money?

Did you get served with a federal court interpleader suit? Somebody, most probably a financial company, wants to put money into the court registry. Insurance proceeds? Annuity? Bank account? Whether you inherit or can make a claim may depend on how you act and handle this unique type of lawsuit. To understand what this is all about, keep reading. For free Florida legal commentary on interpleader law in general, check it out by CLICKING HERE. What is Federal Court Interpleader? Interpleader is an action where someone with property wants to get rid of it. And avoid any liability. Or avoid spending more time or money dealing with “who gets it.” Interpleader actions are filed in both Florida state courts and also Federal Courts. In Florida, literally millions and millions of dollars are subject of interpleader actions. Insurance policy proceeds, IRAs, bank accounts, annuities, financial accounts. You name it. It’s common that a life insurance or annuity company or bank is holding a lot of money. And there may be competing claims. In other words, there’s a question of who inherits it. And potential litigation. What does the “stakeholder” do? State and federal law permit the life insurance death proceeds or the annuity to be deposited into the federal court registry. The stakeholder wants to be discharged or relieved of liability. The money is left there to be resolved by those who make a claim to it. But your claim needs to be based upon the law and filed properly with […]


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 […]


Probate Malpractice Florida

FAQs Jul 25, 2021
post about Probate Malpractice Florida

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, […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Florida Breach of Fiduciary Duty

FAQs Apr 15, 2021
post about Florida Breach of Fiduciary Duty

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 […]


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 […]