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How To Execute a Will in Florida

Probate Information Mar 15, 2021
post about How To Execute a Will in Florida

How do you execute a will in Florida? Put another way, what is required for a valid Florida will? To read about who may create a valid will in Florida, CLICK HERE. For more Florida probate perspective about signing a will in Florida, read below. How to Sign a Will in Florida A will should be signed only by intent & consent. That means that the persons signing the will should know it’s a will and wants to sign it. A will that is signed by undue influence is void. In fact, if the person signing the will does not know what she is doing, the will is also void. The will cannot be the product of fraud or any over-persuasion or force. That’s an important part of the will execution process. It must be free of anyone forcing or lying to the person signing the will. We also previously provided commentary about a will not being valid based on an insane delusion. A will that is not valid may be addressed in the Florida Probate Court by a Petition to Revoke Probate. To see a FREE VIDEO ON WILL CONTESTS in Florida, click the highlighted area. To read about what a POUR OVER WILL in Florida is, CLICK HERE. If a current will is not valid, what happens? “There may be prior wills that are valid, or the entire estate may go to heirs under the intestacy laws of Florida” says Pankauski . Executing a Florida Will: requirements and […]


Petition to Determine Heirs in Florida Probate

Our Attorneys Mar 14, 2021
post about Petition to Determine Heirs in Florida Probate

If a personal representative, or any other “interested” person, is unsure who the heirs are, what can you do? A Petition to Determine Heirs in Florida Probate may be filed. See Florida Probate Law 733.105. Sometimes there is a real need to determine the heirs. For example, the will may be ambiguous or confusing. There may be multiple children, with various spouses, some deceased children with grandchildren, and some adopted persons. A marriage may even be called into question. There may be no will !! So, there are 4 things which an heir to a Florida estate must read. Previously, we wrote about who inherits if there is no Florida will. Now, we’ll talk about the legal mechanism to get an answer for you. But, before we do. If you want to read about estate fights from a top notch Florida probate litigator, John Pankauski, read his book. Asking A Probate Court to Determine Heirs When There’s No Will There is a special Probate Rule for determining who inherits. Check out Florida Probate Rule 5.385. If there is no will, then the estate is said to be an “intestate” estate. That means that the heirs inherit under the laws of intestacy. Who is an Heir? “Heirs” or “heirs at law” means those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent. The intestate succession laws in Florida are found at Florida Probate Code 732.101-732.111. Click to read the definition […]


3 Month Time Limit to Contest Florida Will? (maybe you have more time)

Probate Information Mar 14, 2021
post about 3 Month Time Limit to Contest Florida Will? (maybe you have more time)

There is a time limit to contest a Florida will. This is sometimes referred to as the “3 month rule” by probate litigators. Knowing how long you have to contest the Florida will is crucial to evaluating your inheritance rights. We have provided Florida probate legal commentary previously. We even wrote about whether “prior” will beneficiaries have “legal standing” to contest a Florida will. (Beneficiaries under a prior will who are now cut out). Now, we will discuss your very short time frame to petition to revoke probate. If you did not object within 3 months, don’t despair. There may be chances to still file. Particularly if you did not receive a Notice of Administration. Understanding Probate Law Before You Contest the Will The Florida Probate Code is one of two things which a Florida estate beneficiary must understand. The other is the Florida Probate Rules. These rules and laws will guide you to understand how to protect your inheritance rights. For example, Florida Statute 732.501-732.526 lists just about everything you need to know about making a valid will in Florida. Florida Statute 733.109 talks about a petition to revoke probate. That’s the “official” court-filed document that objects to a will. 3 Months to Contest Florida Will Florida Statute. 733.212 sets forth the time limit to contest a Florida will. You can read that Florida probate law by clicking on THIS LINK. That probate statute says that you must object to the validity of the will within 3 months. 3 […]


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 […]


Florida Trustee Compensation — everything you need to know (almost)

FAQs Mar 14, 2021
post about Florida Trustee Compensation — everything you need to know (almost)

Are you the beneficiary of a Florida trust? And wonder if the Florida Trustee Compensation is too much? Welcome to your new club ! Virtually no beneficiary likes to pay their trustee compensation. And a lot think that their trustees take too much in trustee fees. But, a trustee is entitled to be compensated. So, what are the rules for Florida Trustee Compensation? There are 3 things which Florida Trust Beneficiaries need to read about trustee compensation. We have written before about trustee fees and trustee removal. Now, let’s focus a bit more on trustee compensation. Florida Trust Law on Trustee Compensation Florida trustees are ENTITLED to reasonable compensation. Florida Trust Code Statute 736.0708 tells you about reasonable compensation. But most experienced expert trust trial lawyers, like John Pankauski, will tell you that the devil is in the details. “Each trustee compensation case is so fact specific” says Pankauski. He should know. He tries cases involving trustee fees and trustee compensation. And if an estate is involved, that’s important, too. Many times, a person will have a POUR OVER WILL which leaves everything to their Revocable Trust. A Florida Revocable Trust may also be known as a Living Trust or a Revocable Living Trust. To see a FREE VIDEO about whether an amendment to a revocable trust is valid, click HERE. Trustee Compensation Appeals in Florida As a trust litigator who also handles Trust Appeals, John Pankauski knows that opinions from appeals courts are important. That’s why you should consider […]


Should I Resign as Florida Trustee

Probate Information Mar 14, 2021
post about Should I Resign as Florida Trustee

Many family members are appointed as a successor trustee of a Florida Trust. Is it worth it? Should you decline to serve? Or, if you are already serving as trustee, should you resign? We have previously provided numerous FREE FLORIDA TRUST videos and other written commentary. We have even provide professional webinars on defending trustees, which were approved by the Florida Bar. Now, let’s discuss why you may want to resign as Florida trustee. 5 Reasons To Resign as Florida Trustee Why? Why in the world would someone want to take on the job of being a trustee? It’s work! A Florida trustee has to communicate with her beneficiaries. And I’m not talking about responding to emails only. You have to provide relevant information in a timely manner. And a Florida trustee has to provide annual accountings. To read more about Florida Trust Law for free, click on THIS LINK. To read about signing a trustee declination, CLICK THIS LINK. Time. Secondly, do you have the time to devote to investing trust assets, understanding the trust document? And, of course completing the annual accountings? A bad trustee ignores her beneficiaries. A good trustee follows Florida Trust Law and responds adequately within the proper time frame. Understanding how you do this is important. Being upfront with yourself is also important. “I can’t tell you how many clients were hell-bent on being trustee” says trust litigator John Pankauski. “And then the fighting starts and they want out.” To read Pankauski’s book on […]


Pour Over Wills in Florida

Probate Information Mar 14, 2021
post about Pour Over Wills in Florida

What is a pour over will in Florida? You may have heard about wills and trusts and revocable trusts. What in the world is a pour over will? Here is everything you need to know about pour over wills (almost !) Read on for free legal links and videos. There is also a word of caution for heirs and family members if you are involved with a revocable trust, too. Get perspective from top notch will litigator, John Pankauski. Pankauski leads an elite group of trial lawyers and appellate attorneys. He used to write wills and now he only litigates them. Florida Pour Over Wills “A pour over will is a will that leaves almost everything to one’s revocable trust” says Pankauski. He should know. Pankauski graduated from the prestigious Graduate Program at the University of Miami School of Law. In 1993, he received his LL.M. or Masters of Law. Pankauski was actually writing pour over wills since the early 90’s. Most wills have a basic, limited amount of information. Who do you want running your estate? (that’s called a Personal Representative in Florida) Who gets your “stuff”? (that usually means tangible personal property like household effects, and jewelry and furniture). To read, for free, the Florida Probate Rules, click HERE. Pour Over Wills & Revocable Trusts Then, most pour over wills leave everything to the person’s revocable trust. The revocable trust then distributes the estate. Or, sometimes the property stays in trust and is distributed over a number of […]


Insane Delusion Can Set Aside Florida Will

Probate Information Mar 13, 2021
post about Insane Delusion Can Set Aside Florida Will

Many heirs and family members know the term “undue influence.” Especially if they did not get an inheritance ! We have written about undue influence before. (To watch a free undue influence video, from top-notch estate litigator John Pankauski, click HERE). But not as many people know about “insane delusion.” How do you set aside a will based on an insane delusion? Well, there is one statute and two cases that you can read, for free. These will help you understand this concept to void a Florida will. Voiding a Florida Will A will that is improperly signed is void. A Florida will may be void if the will was caused by undue influence or an insane delusion. The person who presents the invalid will has the initial burden to prove that it was done properly. Florida estate lawyers call this the “burden” to prove “due execution.” To start, read the Probate Code in Florida. Then, focus on Chapter 732 to learn about the Florida laws about wills. If a will is on file with the Florida Probate Court, is it valid? If you honestly believe that it was not valid, then you need to attack the will by filing a petition to revoke probate. Why? Insane Delusion Voids Will If a will was the product of bad acts or improper procedures, it’s not valid. Read 732.5165 of the Florida Probate Laws. That’s the law that says a will is not valid if it was caused by undue influence or […]


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 […]