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Probate Litigation & Sibling Rivalry: weighing the personal cost

Uncategorized Sep 26, 2013

In Florida, divorce attorneys and probate attorneys are faced with dealing with not only the law and financial matters of the parties involved, but also the personal matters of the parties.   For Florida probate attorneys who handle litigation, they know that while family members may “fight” over money and property, often times, there are very strong personal feelings involved among brothers and sisters.  How you deal with those feelings, and weather your attorney knows how to deal with those emotions is/are important.  Yes, non legal issues, non financial issues, such as disdain for family members, are prevalent and often major “influencers” to litigation.   Sibling rivalries are common. 


Lost and Destroyed Florida Wills– who destroyed it?

Uncategorized Sep 25, 2013

What do you do if you know, or if you believe, that someone who just passed away had a will, but you can’t find it?  What do you do if you can’t find someone’s will, but you know he or she had one?  In Florida, probate lawyers know that you may be able to admit to probate a lost or destroyed will.  This process, or proceeding, is a creature unto its own, with unique rules and procedures, as well as interesting legal presumptions.  If the decedent (who just died), passed away with the will in his or her possession, there may be a presumption that he or she destroyed the will.  


Sanctions Against Attorneys For Mis-Stating Facts

Uncategorized Sep 24, 2013

Florida attorneys have a duty of candor to the court.  We are required to tell the truth, and to reveal facts which we believe the court may want to know.  This is an important part of our obligation as Florida attorneys to judges, to our opposing parties and their counsel, and to our judicial process. When an attorney mis-states facts, that attorney, and that attorney’s client, may be subject to sanctions by the court.   A recent case where an order from a trial court was mis-stated to an appellate court, and where sanctions were imposed, was before Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeals.  The opinion was handed down on September 11, 2013.


Daughter vs. Mother: when contested Florida guardianships get difficult

Uncategorized Sep 23, 2013

When someone files a guardianship action, they are asking a court to intervene –in a substantial way — in a person’s life.  That person is often referred to as the “alleged incapacitated person”, who later is referred to as the “ward” if that person is found to be incapacitated by a judge. Florida probate litigators and Florida probate lawyers know that everyone’s role is to protect and look out for the best interests of the ward.   Guardianships are an attempt to restrict the ward’s basic human and personal rights:  such as the right to marry, to contract, to vote, to manage one’s finances, to choose where to live, etc. 


Objecting to a Florida Will: when is a penalty clause a penalty clause?

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2013

In Florida, many probate attorneys know that a clause in a will which penalizes a beneficiary from objecting to the validity of a will is invalid. In other words, if a will “gives” you, say, 10% of the estate, and you want to object to the invalidity of the will, what do you do if the will states that any beneficiary who objects to the will “loses” their inheritance?  Well, most Florida probate lawyers know that such a “penalty” clause is in invalid.  You can still inherit or “get” your inheritance, and you can still object  (although there are a number of important requirements to do so, and some risks which the client should know about.)  There are also a number of tactical or strategic considerations.  Nonetheless, how do you know if a clause in a will is an invalid penalty clause or not?  Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals dealt with this issue in July of this year, in the Dinkins case.  Advocate hard.  Litigate smart.


Pankauski to Speak on Elder Abuse at 2013 Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys at FAU

Uncategorized Sep 21, 2013

Florida probate litigator John Pankauski will speak at and facilitate conferences on elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly at today’s 2013 Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys Elder Concert, held in Boca Raton, Florida at Florida Atlantic University. Pankauski’s law firm represents wards, guardians and family members who have been the victim of financial abuse.  His firm also handles a number of contested guardianship proceedings in Florida. Pankauski is expected to lead a discussion of topics to include mis-use of powers of attorney and trusts, lawsuits involving financial and economic wrongs and torts,and how family members may be involved in Florida guardianship proceedings when dealing with one’s property and personal rights.


Pankauski Attends American Bar Assoc. 2013 Joint Fall Meeting

Uncategorized Sep 20, 2013

Managing Member John Pankauski has continued his involvement with the Fiduciary Litigation, Ethics and Malpractice Committee of the Real Property, Trust & Estate Division of he American Bar Association. He is attending the 2013 Joint meeting of that Division and the Taxation Section this weekend in San Francisco. Pankauski is just one of a handful of Florida probate attorneys, and the only Florida probate litigator, to be actively involved.


Pankauski Book on Trustees Set for December Publication

Uncategorized Sep 20, 2013

Florida probate attorney John Pankauski literally wrote the book on being a trustee. He and his publishing house are working feverishly to make it available for publication this December 1st.  It will be available in soft back and e-book version. Pankauski’s book is tentatively, and simply, titled The Trustee Book, and is a plain English, straightforward guide for individuals who may be a trustee.


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