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Probate Appeal

Probate Information Jan 14, 2023
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When does a probate appeal in Florida make sense? Well, for some orders, you actually MUST appeal right NOW– within 30 days of the order. Or you can’t later. Here are some pointers for beneficiaries, family members, creditors and personal representatives. For legal commentary on appeal attorneys fees, click here. Probate Appeal and the “secret rule“ OK, so you are involved in a probate. A Florida estate. And the probate court judge just handed down a ruling that you don’t like. And, maybe that ruling affects one’s inheritance, or some important estate assets (like homestead), or how the estate will be administered. (like, who will be the administrator or personal representative). Maybe there was a will contest. Anyway…… You want to know if you can, or should, file an appeal. There is a lot to consider over a short time frame. Remember, in the Florida probate process, time is almost never on your side. Super short deadlines requiring you to act. For a free Florida legal video on this subject, click HERE. There are two things which you need to know right away. One, how much time do you have? Two, is the order that was handed down, one subject to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.170? A few years ago, probate litigation attorneys were introduced to a new appellate rule. This “new” rule (not so “new” anymore, right?) made certain probate court orders IMMEDIATELY “APPEALABLE.” That also means that if you don’t appeal now, you end up living with […]


Homestead Florida

Probate Information Jan 14, 2023
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One’s true and single abode, or home, is your Florida homestead. And family members inherit millions, if not billions, of dollars each year from this unique asset. How do you get yours? For more on homestead litigation, click that link. Understanding the Basics Here’s a list of important bullet points that will start you on your way to understanding homestead. To assert your right to an inheritance, you may need to file two things, if everybody cannot agree. A petition to determine homestead or beneficiaries. And maybe a partition action. The truth is that lots of Florida residents, even really rich ones, die without a will. All the time. That means that millions of dollars are going to “heirs.” Most of the time, one of the most valuable assets in the estate is the house. Here are things you need to know : Each Florida resident has one homestead. Only one, no matter how many houses you have. There are three areas of legal importance: creditor protection, real estate taxes and who gets it when when you die. This commentary is about the last topic. There are restrictions on how you can, must or may leave it. (it’s often referred to as restrictions on “devise”) If left one way, the house is said to automatically “descend” to the heirs. (a spouse is included in the class of heirs) You cannot dis-inherit your spouse from your homestead unless he agrees in writing. Yes, spouses in Florida have automatic rights to homestead […]


Homestead Appeal

FAQs Jan 13, 2023
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A homestead appeal often means that there are millions of dollars on the line. So, you need a probate lawyer who understands both the intricacies of Florida homestead and also appeals. (To read about getting attorneys fees for your appeal, consider reading this). Experience Counts Let’s face it. Experience Counts. Homestead law is confusing. So are appeals. And sometimes there is “tension” between a 2nd, 3rd or 4th spouse and the deceased Florida resident’s adult children. But, in Florida, a surviving spouse or widow has VERY VALUABLE PROPERTY RIGHTS. Unless you signed a prenup. But even then, folks “fight” over what the prenup says. What its terms are. Who gets what? That’s why it makes sense to find a law firm that has handled appeals for years. And specifically homestead litigation and appeals. Here is a recent homestead appeal that got the client millions of dollars. The adult children of the deceased Florida resident “fought” the surviving spouse, who signed a prenup. The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the Palm Beach County probate judge (who gave the spouse nothing). The DCA agreed with the lawyers for the spouse –she should get half of the homestead. When the appeal finished, the real estate market was on fire. The residence was worth millions. And the spouse got millions. Homestead Rights So, the surviving spouse has very valuable homestead rights. This includes a right to live in the deceased Florida resident (spouse’s) home. See Florida Probate Law 732.401. Or, under limited 6 […]


Florida Probate Appeal

Probate Information Jan 13, 2023
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A Florida Probate Appeal may be your only way to get justice if you just lost on an important issue. In some instances, you MUST appeal a probate order within 30 days. Read on to learn more about this. (For a free video on a complex estate appeal, click here.) How long do I have to appeal? Most people know that you generally have 30 days to file a notice of appeal. But, in the context of estates and probates, it can be confusing. Why? Because over the last decade, there was an important Florida probate appeal rule change. (Check out the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure). This new rule (not so “new” anymore) is rule 9.170. Why is that important ? Because, generally, you can’t appeal matters until the end of your lawsuit. And you can generally only appeal “final” orders. You know, those judgments or orders which finally determine a right. BUT, with this “new” probate appeals rule, this new change permitted the IMMEDIATE review of probate court orders. In other words, for certain rulings, you don’t have to wait until later. What that also means is that if you want to appeal a certain ruling by a Florida probate court, you MUST do so know. Failure to file a timely appeal means that, generally, you have abandoned further judicial review of that order or judgment. If an order or judgment is not appealed, then that becomes a final, “un-appealable” order. That means that you can’t later try […]


Florida Probate — secrets from the experts

FAQs Dec 28, 2022
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Do you really need a lawyer for the Florida Probate that you are involved in? You may not, after all. Find out some secrets from the experts to help you stay informed, up to date, and to receive your inheritance. (Yup, that’s right: it should not be that difficult!) For more perspective on this topic, click HERE. Florida Probate Process Explained Previously, we have written about the whole “estate-probate-inheritance” process. To read more about this topic, you can click here. But, let’s quickly go over some basic, important aspects that you NEED to know. First, if there is no will, then “heirs” inherit through intestacy. This includes the surviving spouse unless he signed a prenup or some waiver of inheritance rights. Second, in an intestate estate, adult children — NOT just minor children– inherit. And maybe even some grandkids. Intestacy is the passing of property from an estate to heirs. It’s a process with its own special rules. Why talk so much about this topic? Because today, lots and lots of people die without a will. Even those who had the money to afford an attorney to write one. It happens all the time. Third, to get your inheritance, you probably need to “open” a probate. Why? Because you probably want two things: first, a “personal representative” appointed to administer the estate; and two, orders from the probate judge that say you inherit. (This is true especially for real estate or homestead. When you go to sell it, the title […]


Florida Intestacy — understanding it in 5 steps

Probate Information Dec 25, 2022
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Family members inherit if there is Florida intestacy. But understanding how much you inherit, and how you inherit, are both important. You may get more than you expect! But, remember: there is no will ! Understanding Florida Intestacy OK, here are the 5 main points that you need to know about Florida intestacy. And, to read or learn more about this Florida inheritance topic, there is a list of resources at the end of this blog. No will !! Intestacy means that the probate administration of a deceased Florida resident’s estate is done according to the Florida Probate Laws on intestacy. The estate will be administered as an “intestate” estate. There is no will. So, any “interested” person can ask the probate judge to “run” or administer the estate. Any property which is not disposed of by a will “goes” according to those special Florida intestacy laws. Family inherits— including short term 2nd spouses. (see next bullet point). Who inherits in a Florida Intestacy? Family members do. What the statute or law calls “descendants”. Like the spouse and the children. For children’s share, see Florida Probate Law 731.103. For the spouse’s share, see 731.102. And these inheritance rights are NOT limited to minor children. ADULT children inherit under the Florida intestacy laws. What if a child is dead? If a deceased child leaves children or grandchildren, those family members inherit the deceased child’s share. Or, it goes to the estate of the deceased child. (It depends when the child passed). […]


Intestacy in Florida

Probate Information Dec 25, 2022
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Intestacy in Florida means that someone dies without a will. The “heirs” inherit. Who is an “heir“, and what to do about old wills, are keys to understanding who inherits. What about old wills? In Florida, most people open a probate when someone dies. Opening a probate means that you file a Petition for Administration for the estate of the deceased person. You can have a “testate” estate, meaning someone died with a will. In the case of a valid last will, the estate gets administered according to the will’s terms. The will tells us who inherits. (Note: you can’t disinherit a Florida spouse absent their consent, like a prenup or a postnup or waiver). Or you can have an “intestate” estate. This means the person died without a will. That’s intestacy. In that case, the spouse gets either half or all of the estate depending on children. See Florida Probate Code 732.102. (Unless there’s a valid waiver or contract). Note: adult children can inherit A LOT and have valuable property rights. Especially for second or 3rd marriages. But, many times family members come forward claiming there was an old will. What about those old wills? If you have the original will, you should file it. Where? With the probate clerk for the county of the deceased Florida resident. What is there are multiple wills? If the wills are originals, file them. Let the probate court sort them out and handle it. What if you only have copies? That’s a […]


Florida Probate Process — 6 steps

Probate Information Dec 23, 2022
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What is the Florida Probate Process and how long does it take? Background OK, here’s a concise background to the Florida probate process. When a Floridian dies, there are different rules. Why? Because that’s what the legislature says ! Leaving property at death is serious stuff. After all, you are not around any more to tell us what should really happen to your property. So, the “signing” of a will requires witnesses and an entire procedure that must be followed for the will to be valid. See Florida Probate Law 732.502. Otherwise, you may have an objection to will. The rules are different when you are not here. They are different, than, say, during your lifetime, when one makes lifetime gifts. Same for the post-death probate process of dealing with a will or intestacy. It’s serious stuff to get property in the correct hands. And there’s special rules. So, what are these rules? Well, there are two main things to read. The Florida Probate Code is a set of statutes and laws. The Florida Probate Rules are (as you guessed!) a set of rules to guide you through the Florida probate process. To see a short video on how revocable trusts work with a will, click HERE. For info on what out of state beneficiaries and family members may need to know, click HERE. The Florida Probate Process God knows that you could talk for days about the probate process. Will contests, creditor’s claims, prudent investing, duties of a fiduciary. […]


What is an Interested Person in Florida Probate?

FAQs Dec 18, 2022
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To raise an objection, to object to a will, or file something in a Florida probate, you must be an interested person. And while we have discussed this “weird”, obscure, estate concept previously (click HERE to read more for free), we are going to explain this in 5 easy steps or lessons. Heirs vs. Interested Persons What’s the difference between an “heir” and an “interested person?” To read about Florida heirship for free, click this LEGAL LINK. Heirs inherit the property of a Florida resident who dies without a will. That’s called intestacy. Or “intestate succession.” (For a free Florida video, click here. ) You can also read the legal definition at Fla. Probate Code Section 731. 201 (20). That’s DIFFERENT than an interested person. Yup……………….. the answer to your question that you are thinking about is “yes.” (An heir might not be an interested person). Why Does It Matter ? Well, first of all, you might want to participate in the probate. And, if you are an “heir”, and there is no will, you inherit! (probably !!) There is a special statute on what family members inherit. Actually there are two. See 732.102 and 732.103. Heirs who are a surviving spouse have one statute. Other heirs have another. Think of heirs as the surviving spouse + descendants or “blood” relatives. When you die without a will, that’s called “intestacy.” Think it’s not possible? Think again says Palm Beach probate lawyer John Pankauski. “I can’t tell you how many estates […]


Palm Beach Probate Lawyer

Our Attorneys Dec 17, 2022
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Knowing when you need to “lawyer up” to get your inheritance may be tricky. After all, you have to balance spending money on a Palm Beach probate lawyer vs. going it alone. Is it worth the money? Inheriting from a Florida Probate If you inherit from a Florida probate, you should expect to get your money within a year. After all, estates are supposed to be “expeditiously” administered. (Read Florida probate law 733.602). Find the assets, pay the last expenses, and distribute everyone’s inheritance. But some people want their own lawyer. Their own advocate or pit bull or “firepower” to stand up and fight. Fight for what? Candidly, in some cases, you don’t need to fight. You need the Florida Probate Code explained to you. The process. The Florida Probate Rules can be read for free online. Heck, you can read all about the Florida probate process online for free. You don’t need a Florida probate lawyer for that. But, if there’s a will contest, or some “contested” matters, you may want your own counsel. When do you need your own Florida probate lawyer? First of all, if you trust the person running the estate, why do you need to pay for a lawyer? The personal representative will have her own lawyer and pay for that lawyer from the estate. But many times, information is with-held. Or things are going nowhere. The “PR” is not disclosing information about the assets, the estate, and what she is doing with YOUR money. […]