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Category: Probate Information

Civil Contempt, Sanctions + Miami Lawsuits

Probate Information Jan 17, 2021
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Are involved in a Miami lawsuit ? Did you hear the word “contempt” or “sanctions“? Not a good thing. A recent 3rd District Court of Appeal opinion from January 13, 2021 deals with civil contempt. It reminds all Miami trial lawyers about this sensitive subject. If you were found in contempt, one question which you have no doubt asked your Miami litigation law firm is: “Can I appeal this order of contempt?” Florida Civil Contempt Has an order of civil contempt been filed against you in a Miami lawsuit? If so, have you spoken to a Florida appellate attorney about seeking a writ of certiorari before Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal? A writ of certiorari is a “request” by a litigant, non-party, or party, asking the appeals court to review a trial court’s order. A recent, January 13, 2021 opinion from the appeals court for Miami-Dade deals with contempt. It reminds us of one important tenet of Florida law. Most Miami business litigators know this. “A party cannot be held in contempt for non-compliance with a court order if there party did not have the present ability to comply with the court order.” This quote is from the case of Children’s Home Society of Florida v. K.W., et al. You can read the entire opinion here: What is Contempt? A trial judge may enter an order of contempt for parties that don’t comply with court orders. Sanctions in a Miami lawsuit are a related but different concept of punishment. […]


Florida Trust Lawsuits and Attorney Client Privilege

Probate Information Dec 15, 2020
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What is attorney client privilege? What does attorney- client privilege have to do with a Florida trust lawsuit? A trustee may have a different “privilege” than the “executor” of the trust creator’s estate. What should I know about ACP if I am involved in a Florida Trust Lawsuit? Can the other side request documents directly from my Florida trust lawyer? Can a Florida trial court compel my probate law firm to disclose records of a trust or estate? These are all issues which John Pankauski and his team of trust experts deal with each week. Attorney Client Privilege and Estate Planning Files Disputes regarding this matter may occur during a Florida trust or probate lawsuit. This is because, during inheritance litigation, trust beneficiaries, and other party’s to the lawsuit, usually have their Florida lawyer conduct extensive discovery. To read about serving as trustee of a Family Trust, consider this. Pankauski wrote the book on it. Pankauski’s Trustee’s Guide: 10 Steps to Family Trustee Excellence. During discovery, a party to a trust lawsuit may request the disclosure of financial documents. Or your mom or dad’s estate planning file. After all, don’t you want to see what they were talking to people about ? And you probably want to see notes on their estate plan. A party may also try to request other documents from the law firm that represents the trustee or opposing party. This may include email communications, internal notes about the case, etc. Can a Florida law firm just […]


Florida Surviving Spouse Rights and The Importance of Timely Filings

Probate Information Nov 23, 2020
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Every year, widows, widowers and surviving spouses inherit billions from Florida probates. Florida Surviving Spouse rights are very valuable for Florida estates. But most don’t want to leave money on the table. And you should know exactly how much you are entitled to. After all, the three most valuable rights a spouse has to a Florida estate are straightforward. First, Florida Homestead. Second, intestate share. Third Elective Share. Has your wife or husband recently passed away in Florida? Are you a surviving spouse? To read more FREE FLORIDA PROBATE COMMENTARY about rights of a surviving spouse, CLICK HERE. If you are the surviving spouse in an inheritance dispute in Florida, you may want to read Florida Statute 732.401 and a March 15, 2019 Second DCA opinion, Samad v. Pla. Don’t Sit on Your Inheritance Rights Florida law does not help those who sit on their rights. Florida Estate Law helps those who speak up and who EXERCISE their rights. Silence is often not a friend to surviving spouses’ inheritance rights. Florida probate lawyers know that surviving spouses in Florida have many inheritance rights. However, it is important to act on those rights, and act quickly. John Pankauski, managing law partner at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, always reminds prospective and current clients that the law doesn’t reward those who sit on their rights! In Florida probate proceedings, there are many deadlines that must be met. For example, surviving spouses must make certain elections within a certain time frame. In addition, objections or […]


Surviving Spouse Inheritance Rights and Homestead

Probate Information Oct 28, 2020
post about Surviving Spouse Inheritance Rights and Homestead

Does a surviving spouse have rights when it comes to inheritances? Yes ! Those inheritance rights can be worth billions of dollars in Florida ! No exaggeration. A wife or a husband can, at first, be dis-inherited. But, if you did not sign a prenup you can claim your inheritance. Sometimes, the window of time is very short. We have previously provided solid Florida law commentary on inheritances and personal financial data. After all, you need to know where your inheritance is coming from. We also blogged about a surviving spouse’s rights. What happens if my husband doesn’t include me in his Florida will or trust? What happens to my wife’s homestead property now that she has passed away? Can my husband’s adult children take away the house that I live in just because it was only in my husband’s name? Florida Surviving Spouse Rights In Florida, surviving spouses have inheritance rights to property of a deceased spouse.  In fact, there are statutory minimum benefits to ensure that surviving family members are provided for, regardless of the decedent’s intent.  What are these benefits? Homestead, elective share, and family allowances are three of the main inheritance rights of surviving spouses in Florida. Are there exceptions? As with almost every Florida law, there are exceptions. If a surviving spouse waived his or her inheritance rights in a prenuptial or other agreement, he or she may be out of luck. However, it never hurts to consult with a Florida probate lawyer to make sure that the inheritance rights or homestead […]