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Category: In the News

Statute of NonClaim — creditors claims in Florida Estates

In the News Nov 30, 2021
post about Statute of NonClaim — creditors claims in Florida Estates

If you are owed anything from a dead person in Florida, file a statement of claim absolutely no later than 2 years after the date of death. Wow, that’s an earful. A November 24, 2021 Florida Appellate Opinion on estate claims reminds us about Florida’s Statute of Nonclaim. And why you need to file a statement of claim ASAP in a Florida probate. To read more about creditors claims in Florida estates or probates, you can click HERE. Claims in a Florida Probate If you are owed anything from someone who dies, you need to open a probate. And make your claim ! If a probate is opened, that saves you a step! Now, you need to file a timely statement of claim. (If you don’t want to open a probate, consider filing a CAVEAT. But be careful of the 2 years time frame.) If you lent money to a person who is now deceased, break out the loan agreement. It probably has a provision on what to do if the borrower dies. But money lent or loans are just one example of a claim that must be filed in a probate in Florida. If you have rights under a prenup, a contract, or an operating agreement, like a Florida LLC, you need to file a statement of claim. And the law limits how much time you have to do that. If you don’t file your claim properly and timely, you are out of luck. For a free Florida probate […]

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Undue Influence Lawyer Florida

FAQs Nov 18, 2021
post about Undue Influence Lawyer Florida

Need an undue influence lawyer Florida? Understanding this legal concept can assist in finding an experienced attorney for your will contest or trust contest. To see a free video on undue influence, you can click HERE. To read more about undue influence, click HERE. Now, let’s discuss this topic in light of a November 17, 2021 opinion from the Miami-Dade Appellate Court. What is Undue Influence? Undue influence is a form of fraud that can cause a will or trust to be void. If someone caused a will or trust to be signed by undue influence, it’s void. Undue influence is over-pursuasion, force, coercion. Pressure. When that pressure or force or influence is so great, the “undue-influencer’s” desire and intent replace the victim’s. To read more about this legal topic, click HERE. To read about the warning signs of undue influence, click this FREE Florida probate legal commentary. Recent Appellate Opinion Undue Influence Lawyer Florida On November 17, 2021, the 3rd District Court of Appeal issues its opinion in the case of In Re: Estate of Tien. You can read that opinion for free . That case dealt with related issues involving a challenge to the will, a voluntary dismissal and a caveat.

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Disqualifying an Attorney in Florida — in a nutshell

FAQs Nov 7, 2021
post about Disqualifying an Attorney in Florida — in a nutshell

Even though attorneys are often the brunt of jokes, they do serious work. And are held to high ethical standards. They owe duties of loyalty to clients. As they should, right? And they should be disqualified if they are presented with a conflict of interest. This Florida legal commentary will discuss disqualifying an attorney in Florida. Including a November 3, 2021 appellate opinion. (We have previously discussed this subject HERE and HERE.) Even if you are a FORMER client, you have rights. Ethical Duties of Florida Lawyers Lawyers in Florida are held to high ethical standards. Lawyers owe clients a duty of loyalty. The Florida Bar has an Ethics Hotline that consumers and attorneys can call. You can review, search, and read, for free, Florida Bar Ethics Opinions online. A lawyer must always act in the best interest of her client. And while a lawyer is not required to be perfect, she must always seek to put the client first. That’s what a fiduciary does. You place your client’s interest over everyone else’s, including your own. And when your interests as a lawyer conflict or collide with a client’s, the lawyer must disclose that conflict. In most instances, the lawyer must also end the representation. Although, some conflicts may be knowingly (and voluntarily) approved of, or consented to, by the client. To read more about ethical duties of Florida lawyers, read the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Focus on Chapter 4 Rules of Professional Conduct. Disqualifying an Attorney in Florida […]

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Trust Standing Florida — who can attack a trust?

In the News Oct 22, 2021
post about Trust Standing Florida — who can attack a trust?

Want to object to a trust? You need trust standing Florida to bring a trust contest. Also called a “trust challenge.” That means you have to have some connection to the trust, a prior trust, the trustee, or the dead person who created it. A recent Florida Appellate Court decision tells you more about whether you can attack a trust. It’s worth a read whether you want to have the trust voided, or if you are the trustee, and you have to defend the lawsuit. 1st Steps 1st — what is standing and why do I need it? What is trust standing Florida? Why does it matter? Think of standing as the legal connection one has to the trust. After all, everybody in the world can’t come in and object to a trust or launch a trust challenge. You need some connection. You have to have an interest that was affected by a trust before you can file a trust lawsuit attacking it. And it matters for two reasons. 1st, family members and prior beneficiaries may want to challenge a change to the trust if there was undue influence or fraud. And — 2nd — let’s face it, there are a lot of trusts in Florida! Holding billions and billions of dollars. And many times, a trust will be “restated” or “amended.” Or revoked ! And a new trust created. Not surprisingly, those trust documents often leaven out certain family members, or beneficiaries. Sometimes they leave more to another family […]

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Undue Influence Florida

In the News Oct 20, 2021
post about Undue Influence Florida

There are dozens if not hundreds of claims each year of undue influence Florida. Learning about this concept will assist you in understanding how you lost your inheritance in a trust or estate. If you have been sued for this, a recent, October 13, 2021 opinion will help you get your arms around what you have been accused of. Who Stole My Inheritance? A claim of undue influence Florida is serious business. After all, if you make that claim, you are calling out some probate fraud. Undue influence is when someone causes another to sign a document or do something that really isn’t there idea. It’s the idea of the “undue influencer.” If someone is “undue-influencing” another, the person who does that is trying to take financial advantage of another. The person who is doing it may be referred to as the financial predator. The recipient of the undue influence may be called the victim. Think of it in the context of will signing or changing a bank account beneficiary. “Put my name on the bank account or I’ll put you in a home and you’ll never see the grandkids.” Did someone use force, or coercion to have you sign that will? Even over-pursuasion counts. Does Your Case Have the Warning Signs? Here are some warning signs to look for to help determine if there was undue influence in a will signing, beneficiary change, bank account change or trust document: WHO came up with the idea to do this — […]

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What is Aiding and Abetting a Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

In the News Oct 11, 2021
post about What is Aiding and Abetting a Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

Lots of trust beneficiaries know that you can sue your Florida trustee for breach of trust. But can you sue the trustee’s lawyers too? How about those that assist a trustee in doing bad things? A recent appellate opinion discusses what is aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty. We have written about this topic before. To learn more, click HERE, and keep reading. Getting the Background: what it’s like to be trustee in the State of Florida Lots of family members and trust beneficiaries take issue with their trustee. Whether or not trustee criticism is justified depends on your case. And your trust. And your attitude. Candidly, not every trustee is necessarily bad. And a lot of beneficiaries don’t like the idea of asking a trustee for money. Let’s face it: most people want their inheritance “outright“….and not in a trust. But being a trustee is serious business. A Florida trustee is managing property of another for beneficiaries. She is a fiduciary who is supposed to place the interests of her beneficiaries above everyone else’s–including her own. And, in fairness to trust beneficiaries, the Florida trustee has a lot of duties they owe to beneficiaries. It’s all in the Florida Trust Code. Trustees are actually not required to serve as trustee. You can decline. Just because you are named in a trust document does not mean you have to be the trustee. Now, let’s get back to those duties a trustee owes its beneficiaries. If you breach, or […]

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Mediation Settlement Agreement in Florida Probates — how to read them

In the News Oct 10, 2021
post about Mediation Settlement Agreement in Florida Probates — how to read them

Mediation settlement agreements in Florida probates are intended to END your estate dispute. So, why is there so much litigation, and many appeals, over these documents? This free legal commentary will discuss a recent, 2021 case involving an estate settlement. In writing ! What do you do when a court order says one thing, and your settlement agreement says another? [ For those of you who have not attended mediation yet, get ready ! Retired judges say repeatedly that it’s your best chance to get an inheritance. Or end a fight–with a lot less risk than trial. To see a FREE FLORIDA PROBATE VIDEO on how to win at mediation, CLICK HERE. ] How To Read a Settlement Agreement In Florida probate disputes, judges will order the parties to attend a mediation. A mediation is a settlement conference. There is a neutral, third party facilitator, called a “mediator.” She will attempt to foster discussion and see if the parties want to settle. If a settlement is reached, it will be reduced to a written and signed settlement agreement. What happens if there is a dispute over the document? AFTER you settled ? How do you read a mediation settlement agreement ? Here are some bullet points: Read the plain language of the agreement. That’s the starting point. Don’t read too much into it. If the language is clear and unambiguous, then it says what it says and means what it means. Just because you and the other side to your […]

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Probate Appeals Attorneys Fees

FAQs Oct 10, 2021
post about Probate Appeals Attorneys Fees

An October, 2021 probate appellate opinion reminds you about probate appeals. Can you get attorneys fees for a probate appeal? Sure ! But don’t ask the appellate court. Here is your key to getting probate appeals attorneys fees in Florida. This is particularly important if you are involved in a will contest or an undue influence case. 3 Things You Need to Read OK, so you are involved in a probate appeal. Hopefully, you had an appellate specialist at your trial. That way, you are prepared for any potential appeal. Whether you lose or win. Remember: if you WIN, the other side can appeal. One issue that you have to consider is: are you going to file a cross-appeal? And, remember, the worst time to think about an appeal is AFTER your probate trial. You need to think about an appeal BEFORE (and at) your estate trial. But, I’m sure that your Florida probate lawyer already explained all of this to you, right? So, you need to read three things when considering Probate Appeals Attorneys Fees. First, read the Florida Probate Code and determine what statute you are going to seek fees under. In Florida, we follow the “American rule”. You only get attorneys fees if you have a statute or a contract. That’s right, you can’t just “ask for” fees. You need authority. [ Hint: start by reading 733.106 and 733.609 depending on your case. ] 2nd, read the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure so you know how to […]

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Punitive Damages in Trust Cases

In the News Sep 12, 2021
post about Punitive Damages in Trust Cases

Every let-down trust beneficiary wants to know if you can get punitive damages in trust cases. The answer is “yes.” You can sue your trustee for punitive damages. ……… But you need to understand the procedure for seeking punitive damages + the basis for wanting them. Otherwise, an appellate court could dismiss your claim for punitive damages. This happened on September 10, 2021 in a Florida appellate opinion. For more information on punitive damages against a trustee, click HERE. For a free video, click HERE. Understanding Punitive Damages in Florida Trust Cases You can’t get punitive damages automatically in Florida. No matter how bad your trustee acted. You have to ask permission from the judge. You have to file a motion to amend your complaint. To now include a claim, or a “count,” for punitive damages. You can read the statute about pleading for punitive damages, which is Florida Statute 768.72. Then the judge will hold a hearing on this. And that’s when the work begins ! There’s 2 reasons for punitive damages: to punish a bad trustee and to deter future wrongdoing. But be mindful that seeking, let alone obtaining, them is not a layup. Go in with your eyes wide open. While seeking punitive damages can be one of the most powerful things an experienced trial attorney can do you for you, know this. Even if you get ’em. There are limitations and the damages can’t be excessive. That’s why many advise trust beneficiaries in Florida to get […]

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Florida Arbitration — must I ?

In the News Sep 6, 2021
post about Florida Arbitration — must I ?

Florida arbitration or a trial in state or federal court? Seasoned trial attorneys reveal that arbitration is not necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. While there may be some perceived advantages, can you really be compelled to arbitrate a matter? Let’s consider arbitration in light of a recent Florida appellate opinion. The Arbitration Code Chapter 682 of the Florida Statutes is the Florida Arbitration Code. Arbitration has been described as “private judging.” It’s a quasi-judicial proceeding in a private forum, as compared to a public state court or federal court. It is a forum to resolve a litigation. A lawsuit. Instead of a judge, you get an arbitrator. Sometimes you get a panel of three arbitrators. Who each charge you hundreds of dollars an hour for their services. Yes, that’s right ! Arbitration costs money ! Clauses in Contracts Many times, there are clauses in contracts, and even in wills and trusts, which mandate arbitration. In other words, if you have certain disputes, you cannot have that resolved in a Florida court. Often, there is a disagreement over whether a particular claim, or lawsuit, or dispute, is covered by the arbitration provision. Do you have to arbitrate a fraud claim? And if you start out in state court, if the proceedings keep going, did someone WAIVE the right to arbitrate? And who decides if a claim is “arbitrable” or not: a judge or an arbitrator? (For a brief September 8, 2021 3rd DCA appellate opinion on waiving the […]

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