1-561-514-0900 FREE CONSULTATION

Finding a Florida Bank Account Lawyer: 5 tips on how to select a lawyer for your bank account lawsuit

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2017
post about Finding a Florida Bank Account Lawyer: 5 tips on how to select a lawyer for your bank account lawsuit

You might be surprised by all the inheritance lawsuits filed by probate litigators in Florida over bank accounts.  And, there is a growing number of published Florida appeals court opinions on these lawsuits, providing more legal guidance to estate attorneys who litigate bank account suits.

Here are 5 tips on finding that lawyer who can handle a bank account lawsuit for you from Miami to Palm Beach or throughout Florida.  And remember, you don’t want to hire a foot doctor for brain surgery, right? So, if you have a lawsuit on your hands, or there is money that is worth fighting over, consider looking for an attorney who limits his or her practice to ESTATE LITIGATION.  Not a lawyer who writes wills and trusts.   And, a quick note on how to pay for estate litigation. If you are worried about the expenses of a bank account lawsuit, well, that’s understandable.  Good lawyers are expensive.  But, ask about finding an estate litigation law firm that is experienced, competent and confident !  Ask them if they will take your case on a contingency fee if you don’t have money to pay a probate litigator.

  1. Know what type of bank account lawsuit you have. Your case depends on it!  First of all, there are generally two types of bank account lawsuits for probate litigators in Florida.  The first deals with who inherits the bank account when the will says one thing and the bank account says another.
  2. The second type of lawsuit involving who inherits a bank account is mis-appropriation or civil theft of the bank account. Sadly, many probate lawyers in Florida learn that someone improperly took money from a bank account just before the account owner died.  Maybe they improperly used a Florida power of attorney (POA) document to withdraw money.  Maybe they went to an ATM, or just withdrew money improperly.  Knowing what type of bank account lawsuit you have on your hands will help you prepare a more proper lawsuit or complaint.  And, this will permit your estate or bank account litigation attorney to use the law to your advantage and try to help you get your inheritance.
  3. Beware of probate lawyers who don’t litigate. There are many fine estate planning and estate lawyers in Palm Beach and all over Florida. But, admittedly, some of them want your business but they don’t really handle trials & appeals.  They might say that they are in court every day and that they know the judge.  Big deal!   Who cares?!  I want to know if they know how to introduce evidence, impeach a witness, and keep evidence on the other side from coming in. So, if you are interviewing probate lawyers to help you with your bank account lawsuit, ask them: how much of your practice is litigation?  Ask them how many trials they have had in probate court in the last 6 months or a year.  Ask them how much they know about Chapter 90, Florida’s evidence code. How many depositions have they personally conducted over the past 6 months?  How many witnesses have they called to testify?  And can they make evidence objections?  A probate lawyer who knows about the Probate Code and administering estates is different than a probate litigation lawyer who actually handles trials and appeals.  An estate planning attorney who writes wills and trusts and who knows about the Estate Tax is different than an estate litigator Palm Beach who only handles trials and who calls witnesses, cross examines witnesses and who sets a trial strategy.
  4. A little known fact. So, there is a weird part of the law in Florida about Joint Accounts with a survivorship feature.  If you are named on the joint account, and it’s truly a joint account with a survivorship feature, then you inherit the account if the owner dies.  BUT….. if you withdraw all the money in the account 1 second before the account owner dies, you don’t keep the money!  That’s what estate litigation law firms call “conversion” and  you have to give the money back. Why?  Because if you did not contribute any money to the joint account, and the account was opened up by another (the owner), and you were simply, or just, named as the JTROS survivor, you don’t have a right to take that money before death.   Why? Because the Florida appellate courts have said this.  There is a famous case in Palm Beach County, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, which my West Palm Beach estate litigation law firm uses all the time in these types of bank account lawsuits.  It is often over-looked or mis-understood.
  5. Appealing a bank account lawsuit. Ask the lawyer you are interviewing how many appeals they handle, and whether they have personally been involved in appealing bank account cases and lawsuits.  It may make sense to have a lawyer who understands trials involving bank accounts in Florida, as well as what to do if you win, but the other side appeals.  And likewise, if the judge in your bank account case makes an error, don’t you want your attorney to know how to appeal?

Good luck.