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Category: What We Do

Arbitration Of Disputes in Florida

What We Do Mar 19, 2021
post about Arbitration Of Disputes in Florida

Have you heard of arbitration of disputes in Florida? Would you give up your right to appear before a Judge in a public courtroom? Do you think being in front of a private arbitration panel is better? Well, we have written about Powers of Attorney and arbitration before. Now, we will consider a March 2021 3rd DCA case on arbitration. It is not a will or trust case, but it is worth reading. Why? Because it considers the issue of making third parties “go” to arbitration, who prefer to be in federal or state court. In this 3rd DCA case, a motion to compel arbitration was denied at the trial level. Another issue which trial courts deal with, with a pending motion to compel arbitration, is whether a stay should be entered. Finally, this legal commentary has some authority below regarding arbitration of will and trust disputes in Florida. Florida Arbitration Law Florida has its own Arbitration Code, Chapter 632. To read a March 10, 2021 3rd District Court of Appeal opinion on arbitration, CLICK HERE. The case of City of Miami v. Ortiz repeated a number of bedrock legal principles regarding arbitration in Florida. But what makes this recent Florida arbitration opinion interesting is that it discusses one of the “hot topics” of arbitration. Can you compel a non-signatory to arbitration? Let’s put that another way. Can you make someone who is suing you go to arbitration even when they don’t want arbitration, and they never signed any arbitration […]


Florida Quiet Title Action

What We Do Mar 18, 2021
post about Florida Quiet Title Action

What do Florida residents do when there is a real estate dispute over title? A March 12, 2021 2nd DCA opinion reminds us what a Florida Quiet Title Action is and what you need to prove. We have previously commented on Florida Homestead Litigation . Now, let’s talk about Florida Deeds that are confusing or contradictory. (For a FREE VIDEO on Florida Real Estate Litigation and the related issue of lis pendens, CLICK HERE.) Multiple Florida Deeds What do you do when there are multiple Florida Deeds? Well, first, ask yourself: will a Title Company issue a title policy? Many good Florida Real Estate Litigators consult with title companies to see if they would issue a policy. When Florida real estate is going to be sold, most buyers want a title policy. Insurance that supports what the buyer is buying is real. That the seller owns what she is claiming to own–and sell. And if the buyer is borrowing money to fund the purchase, most lenders absolutely require insurance on the title. A title policy. “Many times, we get calls from sellers who want to sell but have a title issue” says Palm Beach litigation attorney John Pankauski. “We have filed a number of quiet title or ‘dec’ actions recently.” Pankauski and his team of expert litigators often litigate over Florida Homestead and estates, but also quiet title actions and Florida deeds. Pankauski also recommends reading two Florida Chapters or sets of Statutes. He suggests reading Chapter 689 which deals […]


Florida Trustee Fees — when are they too much?

What We Do Mar 14, 2021
post about Florida Trustee Fees — when are they too much?

When are Florida Trustee Fees too much? When are they “excessive”? We have previously written about Florida Trustee Compensation. In this legal commentary, Florida trust litigator John Pankauski will provide insight. We will consider the factors under Florida law. Trustee Compensation Factors to Consider in Florida The Florida Supreme Court has told us what factors to consider when it comes to Florida Trustee Fees. And trust expert lawyer John Pankauski has given us a roadmap. First, read the trust document! What does it say about compensation? If the Florida trust document says nothing about fees, then we know to follow the West Coast Hospital case factors. (See commentary below about the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation case.) If the trust document explains what the trustee fees should be, then read Florida Trust Code Section 736.108. The Florida Trust Code is a body of statutes created by the legislature for trustees and beneficiaries to follow. You can read it for free. Just CLICK HERE. In 1958, the Florida Supreme Court issued a trustee fee opinion. That trust case is called West Coast Hospital Association vs. Florida National Bank of Jacksonville. Want to know what trustee fee factors are to be considered? Check out this from the West Coast Hospital Case. Some of the factors to be considered for trustee fees in Florida are: amount of money in the trust; comparable fees for trustees in the community; success or failure of trustee at her job; whether unique or unusual skills which the trustee had […]


How to Suspend a Florida Trustee

What We Do Mar 13, 2021
post about How to Suspend a Florida Trustee

Florida trust beneficiaries always seem to want to REMOVE a Florida trustee. But, do you know how to suspend a Florida trustee? And, what’s the difference? Well, we have provided prior commentary about removing a Florida trustee. Now, we will discuss suspending a Florida trustee. We’ll also provide some insight from one of Florida’s top trust litigation attorneys, John Pankauski. Pankauski leads an elite group of trust and estate litigator lawyers and appellate attorneys. Heck, Pankauski literally wrote the book on family trustees. Start at the Beginning: Understanding Florida Trust Law Did you know Florida Trust Law gives great discretion to a judge? Yes. Florida Statutes §736.0201(2) permits Florida Courts to intervene in the administration of a trust. Fla. Statutes 736.0706 shows you how to remove a trustee. Trust Courts Have Great Power This authority granted to our judiciary is very broad.  It is only limited by a Court’s sound discretion.  In fact, a Court may “appoint or remove a trustee” or “determine any other matters involving trustees and beneficiaries.”   Florida Statutes §736.0201(4)(b),(g).  Want to read more?Here is a Florida trust appeal opinion that you can read for free. For a Miami-Dade appeals court case about removing a trustee, read the McCormick v. Cox case. The 3rd District Court of Appeal wrote a thorough opinion in 2013. “We often use the McCormick case” says trust litigator John Pankauski “when we are suing a bad trustee.” The McCormick case dealt with trustee removal, breaches of fiduciary duty and “unilateral” payment of […]


How to Remove a Florida Trustee

What We Do Mar 12, 2021
post about How to Remove a Florida Trustee

Listen up Florida trust beneficiaries. What is the most common question that a Florida trust litigation lawyer gets? Well, it is most probably about how to remove a Florida trustee. So, if you are a trust beneficiary, here is a guide to removing your Florida trustee. And it’s straight from the mouth of one of Florida’s most experienced trust trial attorneys, as well. Read on. Trustee Removal in Florida — the steps “If you want to remove a Florida trustee” starts trust litigator John Pankauski “You need to realize that it will be a trial.” What Pankauski means is that evidence is required in a court of law. And Pankauski should know. He is the Managing Member of an elite trust litigation law firm that also handles Florida trust appeals. He suggests you read as much as you can about Florida Trust Law. If you’d like to see a FREE VIDEO of removing a trustee based upon FITNESS, then click THIS LINK. To see a FREE FLORIDA TRUST VIDEO on trustees stealing from Florida Trusts, CLICK HERE. The 1 Law You Need to Know Florida law has a specific statute on how to remove a Florida trustee. The Florida trustee removal law is 736.0706. You can read about the circumstances which should exist to remove your trustee. And, Pankauski reminds us, “Get ready for a trial.” After all, removing a trustee requires evidence. So, Pankauski tells us, get your witnesses lined up and assemble all the documentary evidence you need […]


Florida TOD Accounts + Federal Court

What We Do Feb 15, 2021
post about Florida TOD Accounts + Federal Court

Were you supposed to inherit a Florida TOD account from a bank or financial company? Is the probate executor making a claim to your Florida TOD account? This recent federal case on Florida TOD accounts may prove helpful to understanding your rights. If you still have questions, be sure to find a litigation law firm that has experience trying TOD and pay on death cases, as well as handling TOD appeals. Federal Case Sheds Light on Florida TOD Accounts + Federal Court While most Florida probate lawyers only practice in state court, there are some expert probate litigators who also handle federal court cases in Florida. Just ask John Pankauski, Managing Member of the boutique firm Pankauski Hauser Lazarus PLLC. “We have a federal court trial in March of 2021 in the Middle District of Florida . 2020 was very busy for us in Federal Court in Florida. We had a few matters in the USDC Southern District of Florida.” Pankauski should know. After all, TOD accounts and pay on death bank accounts are a unique area of the law. “Look out for so called ‘probate’ lawyers who say they go to court, but who actually never try a case” warns Pankauski. “Don’t get me wrong. Mediation and settlement may make a lot of sense, but they are not for everyone.” he continues. “There are a lot of Florida probate lawyers who just want you to settle everything.” Well, needless to say, that’s not him. Florida TOD Accounts + Federal […]


What does TOD mean?

What We Do Feb 13, 2021
post about What does TOD mean?

What does TOD mean to heirs, family members and Florida probate beneficiaries? Transfer on death accounts are a way that Florida residents pass millions & millions of dollars, automatically, without probate. Sometimes ! We have previously written about this pay on death will-substitute and posted a number of Free TOD and Pay on Death Videos . Hopefully those help you understand beneficiary rights and inheritance rights for such Florida accounts. In short, TOD means “transfer on death” and generally gives the other name on the bank account 100% ownership when the other (or first) owner dies. Something so easy has never created more lawsuits about Florida bank accounts, both in federal and state court. If you think you are entitled to a bank account, consider reading three things that will tell you (almost !) all you want to know about these accounts. Everything You Want to Know About TOD Bank Accounts in Florida To learn all about such accounts in Florida, consider reading three things. First read the Florida TOD Law which tells you about pay on death accounts and bank accounts when there are two or more names. You may also hear the term “totten trust” or “POD” or pay-on-death. That’s Florida Statutes 655.78- 655.825. Second, there are two good appellate opinions from Florida’s appeals courts which will tell you a lot. Consider reading Keul v. Hodges Blvd Presbyterian Church, a 2015 Florida appeals court case from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. Finally, consider reading the case of […]


Prenup Trials in Florida Probates

What We Do Jan 18, 2021
post about Prenup Trials in Florida Probates

Prenup trials are not always during life. That’s right, many times heirs and the personal representative of a Florida probate will have a prenup trial about the validity or terms of a prenuptial agreement. A December 18, 2020 opinion on prenup trials from Florida’s 5th DCA dealing with summary judgment reminds Florida probate lawyers about interpreting a prenup. Interpreting Florida Prenups How Do You Interpret Florida Prenups? The case of Baldwin v. Harris reminds probate lawyers in Florida how to interpret prenuptial agreements. Is a Florida prenup valid? Well, a prenuptial agreement in Florida is interpreted like a contract — because it is a contract. If a contract or prenuptial agreement is clear and unambiguous, it must be read without any testimony or other evidence — often referred to by Florida probate litigators as “parole” or “extrinsic” evidence. In that case, the Florida probate judge simply reads the prenup and tells you what it says. Getting What You Are Owed. Prenups can create obligations which can only be satisfied in a Florida probate. How? Well, some prenups provide for a distribution or inheritance to the other spouse upon death. Remember: Florida prenups may be effective upon divorce or death. If you are owed something when your spouse passed away, you may have to go to probate if the Personal Representative of the Estate, or the Trustee of the decedent’s Revocable Trust, won’t pay. Do you know how to navigate those legal waters to try to avoid a prenup trial in […]


Keeping Your Personal Finances Confidential in a Miami Lawsuit

What We Do Jan 17, 2021
post about Keeping Your Personal Finances Confidential in a Miami Lawsuit

If you are involved in a Miami lawsuit, does your Miami litigation law firm know how to keep your personal finances confidential? A January 13, 2021 opinion from the Third District Court of Appeal https://www.3dca.flcourts.org/ reminds Miami lawyers, especially Miami probate lawyers, how to protect one’s private personal finances in the middle of litigation, even probate litigation. Discovery of personal financial information And, this Miami Dade appellate court opinion also reminds us what the law is when the other side wants to see your personal finances. Discovery. Can one party to a lawsuit issue a subpoena or a request for production under the rules of civil procedure including Fla. R. Civ. Proc. 1.350 to a party or non-party and get to see all your personal finances? Are you even comfortable showing them your tax returns, financial statements, loans, investments? Must you? Well the Miami-Dade appeals court case of Thomas v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co. reminds us that many times your personal finances are confidential. What’s the Test to Get Financial Information?: In Miami probate matters, where there is a will contest or an undue influence case, many times, one side wants to see all of your personal finances. But in Florida, our courts recognize that such data is private and typically kept secret. While the rules of discovery in probate lawsuits, and, indeed most lawsuits, are wide, your Miami lawyer must be careful regarding personal financial data. There is a “heightened standard” to get to see all that information. […]


Do You Need Legal Representation in Your Miami Guardianship Case?

What We Do Dec 20, 2020
post about Do You Need Legal Representation in Your Miami Guardianship Case?

Are you involved in Miami guardianship litigation? Are you a family member trying to become the guardian or prevent someone from being guardian? If you understand the difference between an “elder law attorney” and a serious guardianship trial lawyer, you are on your way to understanding Florida guardianship law! http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0744/0744.html Adult Guardianships in Miami-Dade At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, we handle many guardianship cases throughout Florida. When people hear the word ” guardianship”, they tend to think of minors. However, our firm handles guardianships over adults, not minors. Adult guardianships in Florida are frequently filed by friends or family. Sometimes they believe that someone is incapacitated and can’t care for him or herself. For example, a daughter may choose to file for guardianship of her mom who is struggling from severe Alzheimer’s or dementia. In certain circumstances, adults may be deemed incompetent, or in need of a guardian. Sometimes a disability or mental illness is preventing them from being able to carry out daily life tasks and/or make financial decisions. Miami guardianship lawyers know that guardianship law is governed by Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes. If you are involved in guardianship litigation in Dade County or anywhere in Florida, you should refer to this chapter of the Florida Statutes. You should also consider interviewing an experienced Miami guardianship lawyer. Contested Guardianships There are different types of adult guardianships in Florida. Your Florida lawyer can tell you that there are limited guardianships and plenary guardianships. A limited guardianship allows a guardian to handle […]