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Is a Trust Accounting Order Appealable?

FAQs Apr 4, 2021
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Trust beneficiaries want to know their rights. How much do they get from the trust? And trustees have an obligation to give their beneficiaries relevant information and annual accountings. So, what if a Florida Probate Judge orders the trustee to complete an accounting? What if the trustee does not want to do that right away? Is a trust accounting order appealable right now? A March 31, 2021 appellate opinion from Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal sheds light on trust appeals. We have previously provided solid, insightful Trust Law Commentary on BENEFICIARY RIGHTS, Removing a Florida Trustee, and even Suspending a Florida Trustee. Florida Trust Code Whether or not you can appeal a trust case order depends on two things. First, you need to understand Florida Trust Law. Florida Trust Law is found in the Florida Trust Code at Chapter 736. To watch some great FREE TRUST VIDEOS on beneficiary rights and getting information about your trust, CLICK HERE. The other thing you need to understand is the Florida Appellate Rules. Read the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Focus on Fla. R. App. Proc. 9.170. That appellate rule creates opportunities and potential pitfalls. Some trust orders must be appealed within 30 days or you lose your right to have them reviewed later. If you miss the deadline, then the order you don’t like becomes a final, non-appealable order. But understanding whether or not you can appeal now can be less than clear. Florida Trust Accounting Appealable Now? In this March […]

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What is an Heir in Florida Probates?

FAQs Apr 4, 2021
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What is an Heir in Florida Probates? Heirs inherit millions and millions of dollars from Florida Estates each year !! Heirs is a similar topic to NEXT OF KIN. The definition may just surprise you. Florida Probate Code Definition– understanding the legal definition of what is an heir in Florida probates The Florida Probate Code has a set of definitions. What is the definition of 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 An estate that has no will is called an intestate estate. Put another way: a probate of a Florida decedent that died without a will is called an intestacy. Property passes to Heirs by way of intestacy. The intestacy laws in the Florida Probate Code are found RIGHT HERE. Or, to phrase this another way: the statutes of intestate succession can be found by CLICKING HERE. Now, before we move, let’s focus on what is an heir in Florida Probates. Spouses are heirs !! Does it matter if the spouse of the decedent was only married for 10 seconds? No! 50 years? Nope. Does it matter if the surviving spouse, widow or widower was a nasty person? No. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is whether a spouse signed a PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT or a POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT. If you think the marriage was the product of fraud, read THIS. To watch a great, FREE […]

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Probate Foreclosure Case

Probate Information Apr 3, 2021
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A March 31, 2001 appeal sheds light on heirs at law dealing with a foreclosure case. In Florida, lots of wealthy people die. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there is a foreclosure case. That’s not the end of the world. Heirs can still inherit. Remember. Foreclosure cases are only the lender saying “hey, I want to get paid.” Sometimes, because the homeowner is dead, mortgage payments are missed. That can innocently cause the property to go into foreclosure. That does NOT necessarily mean that the heirs lose the house. And it does NOT mean that the family loses all that money. To the contrary, if you have a good probate litigator. Many times, EXPERIENCED, TOUGH FLORIDA PROBATE LAWYERS can negotiate for you and work through the foreclosure. The goal is to try to get an inheritance for beneficiaries and family members. Yes, HEIRS can inherit. Anyway, read this Florida Appeals Court opinion about a motion for a continuance and a probate foreclosure case. Foreclosure Appeal The owner of the Florida residence died. He had a reverse mortgage on the property. The lender sued. The heirs responded. They mediated their case. They settled. There was actually no probate opened to clear the title. They wanted to open a Florida Probate. But here’s where the interesting part of this Probate Foreclosure Case is. No one continued the trial. This 2021 2nd District Court of Appeal opinion sheds light on seeking a continuance from a trial. You have to file a motion for a […]

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Florida Power of Appointment Trust Case

Probate Information Mar 29, 2021
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A January 11, 2021 1st District Court of Appeal appellate opinion sheds light on Florida Power of Appointment Law. A power of appointment is a great power to give, or not give, money and property to others. But remember, an attorney reminds us that they can also be a power of dis-appointment. Many family members want to know what went wrong when they are not left trust money. This can cause trust lawsuits. The power has to be exercised properly, or they don’t work. Recent Caselaw from 1st DCA The 1st District Court of Appeal issued its opinion on January 11, 2021. The case is Ammeen v. Sjogren. This recent case dealt with two important Florida legal issues for probate and trusts. First, can someone who has a power of appointment bind others, even potential trust beneficiaries? This is an issue of REPRESENTATION. Second, who has standing to bring a trust lawsuit when there is a power of appointment? Florida Statutes The Florida Legislature has specific statutes on Florida Power of Appointment law. Fla. Stat. 709.02- 709.07 can be read for free by CLICKING THIS LINK. Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes deals with Powers of Attorney and also Powers of Appointment. Don’t get them confused. Part I of Chapter 709 deals with Florida Power of Appointment Law. A Power of Appointment is a power given by someone typically called the “grantor” of the power. The one who can exercise the power is often called the “grantee” or “powerholder.” You […]

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Florida Trust Contest

What We Do Mar 28, 2021
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Are you involved in a Florida Trust Contest? Do you know how to set aside a Trust Document in Florida? Successor Trustees of a living trust are a “necessary” or “indispensable” party to a Trust Contest. Most family members or beneficiaries who got short-changed want to know what their rights are. If you are a beneficiary who was cut out, here are some things to understand. But first. If you would like to see a FREE TRUST CONTEST VIDEO, then CLICK THIS LINK. Trust Code in Florida Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes is the Florida Trust Code. There is a specific Florida Trust Law on Trust Contests. You can read Fla. Stat. 736.0207 by CLICKING HERE. If you would like to read the entire Florida Trust Code, Chapter 736, CLICK HERE. We have previously discussed how to “go on the offense” for your Probate Case. While we won’t discuss strategy in this commentary, strategy is important. “But” says John Pankauski, “you first need to know the trust document and trust law cold.” How To Try a Trust Contest Case Remember that a challenge to a Florida trust is begun by filing a lawsuit. Why? Because Florida Trust Law 736.0201 says so. And, “Remember” says Trust Litigation Lawyer John Pankauski “that means you have a trial on your hands.” Pankauski knows a lot about Florida Trust Contests and Trust Trials. Just last November, he and his team of expert trust litigators & trust appeals attorneys had a week long Trust […]

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Florida Probate Lawsuit — 5 ways to go on the offense

What We Do Mar 28, 2021
post about Florida Probate Lawsuit — 5 ways to go on the offense

Is your Florida Probate Lawsuit stuck in the mud? Maybe you are sick of sports analogies. But, consider these 5 ways to go on the “offense” for your estate case. But, you need to be ready for a probate trial. If you are not ready for a trial, maybe you should consider a “Plan B.” There is a small group of excellent trial attorneys who limit their practice. They have explained HOW THEY APPROACH A PROBATE CASE. And it’s OK that this group of Experienced Trial + Appellate Attorneys is not for everyone. You need to find the right fit. Knowledge is Power: Understanding Your Probate Case First, consider your Florida Probate Lawsuit as a whole, the facts and the law. “I can’t tell you how many times I get a call from prospective clients who want to change attorneys” says Probate Litigator John Pankauski. He advises taking a step back and getting a “30,000 foot” view. There’s two things that those new or potential clients always talk about. “First, they want to go on the offense and get aggressive. Second, they don’t know exactly how much they are fighting over.” How much are your damages? How strong is your case? How weak is your opponent’s? These are all basic questions you need hard and fast answers for. If you don’t have them, maybe you don’t understand your probate case. If you are filing a WILL CONTEST, what is the basis to attack the will? A complete and thorough analysis […]

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Florida Lawyer Disqualification + Conflict of Interest

In the News Mar 28, 2021
post about Florida Lawyer Disqualification + Conflict of Interest

Filing a motion with the court to disqualify your opposing counsel is serious stuff. A March 26, 2021 opinion from the 5th District Court of Appeal, Florida, sheds light on this. We have previously discussed ATTORNEY CONFLICT OF INTEREST before. Now, let’s get an update. Lawyers and Ethical Duties The Florida Bar imposes many ethical duties on lawyers. They can be found HERE. Check out Chapter 4 on Professional Conduct. Not only is a lawyer required to be loyal to clients, and work hard, but you should avoid conflicts of interest. A Florida lawyer who is “adverse” to an existing client may be disqualified from that case. After all, a Florida attorney is not supposed to be adverse to, or against, an existing client. In other words, lawyers don’t sue clients. Or take a position that hurts a client. Now, this does NOT mean that a lawyer has to do everything a client wants. We are not talking about a sincere fundamental disagreement on a case, for example. In many situations, a Florida attorney is also prohibited from being adverse, or against, many former clients. A March 26, 2021 Florida Lawyer Disqualification opinion was issued by the 5th District Court of Appeal. To read this opinion CLICK HERE. This DCA case also speaks about lawyers’ conflicts of interest. Florida Probates + Florida Lawyer Disqualification We have previously written about Florida probate matters and Florida Lawyer Disqualification . And there has been good legal commentary on CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. Perhaps one […]

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Is the Florida Will Valid: a free legal video for family members, heirs & beneficiaries

FAQs Mar 28, 2021
post about Is the Florida Will Valid: a free legal video for family members, heirs & beneficiaries

Heirs, adult children and beneficiaries of Florida probates + estates have asked for this ! A definite guide + legal commentary that answers the question: is the Florida Will Valid? For a free video on this Florida probate topic, CLICK HERE. What Makes a Will Valid? Under Florida law, a will is valid if it was signed properly and the person signing knew what she was doing. 2 witnesses are needed. The person signing the will and the two witnesses must all sign at the same time in “the presence of each other.” The person making the will needs to have a general understanding of what she is doing. This means that they should understand that the document is a will, that they are disposing of property at death. Leaving property at death. When they die. One should have an idea of what property they own, and who their family members are. Not only is mental competency important. But the will signer must be free of any pressure, force or UNDUE INFLUENCE. A will that is caused by an INSANE DELUSION or fraud is void. For more commentary on how to sign a Florida Will, CLICK HERE. Florida Probate Code The Florida Laws on wills are found online, free of charge. Just google Chapter 732, Part V. Or, you can CLICK HERE. This part of the total Florida Probate Code sets forth the rules for valid wills. Those laws tell you who may make a will in Florida. And how […]

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What is a Florida Revocable Trust?

FAQs Mar 27, 2021
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Everyone has a Florida Revocable Trust ! Billions and Billions of dollars are put into them. And family members, in-laws, outlaws, heirs and mis-fits all inherit from revocable trusts every day. So, what really is this estate planning tool or vehicle? For an authoritative, easy-to-understand, Plain English and FREE “one stop shop” on revocable trusts, CLICK HERE. To read more about Family Trusts, consider reading John Pankauski’s book, Pankauski’s Trustee’s Guide: 10 Steps to Family Trustee Excellence. Want more, including a recent revocable trust opinion and statutes? Keep reading. 2020 Palm Beach Trust Case A revocable trust is often an important part of one’s Florida Estate Plan. Like a Last Will, it can leave money and property to select beneficiaries. It has been described as an instrument, an estate planning vehicle, a document. A revocable trust is all of that and more. Most wills today are POUR OVER WILLS which leave everything to a rev trust. The rev trust then distributes inheritances out. The creator of a trust is called the “grantor” or “settlor.” Typically, you are your own trustee when you create such a trust. When you are longer a trustee, you can appoint a successor in your trust document. On August 5, 2020, the Palm Beach Appeals Court issued an important opinion. This appeals court is known as the 4th District Court of Appeal. They issued their opinion on Florida Revocable Trust in the case of Schlossberg v. Estate of Kaporovsky. This trust appeal explained what a revocable […]

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What is Florida Trustee Discretion?

FAQs Mar 27, 2021
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Billions of dollars are in Florida trusts. And most trustees have the discretion to give beneficiaries money — or not ! What is Florida Trustee Discretion? We have previously provided commentary on Florida Trustee Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Now let’s consider the power of a trustee to exercise its discretion to give you trust money. Florida Trust Code Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes is the Florida Trust Code. It tells you all about the law of trusts in Florida. This law also speaks about a trustee’s discretion. “There are two important things for any beneficiary to read” says trust litigator John Pankauski, author of Pankauski’s Trustee’s Guide– 10 Steps to Family Trustee Excellence. “One is the trust document itself. The other is the Trust Code.” Specifically, Pankauski says to read Florida Trust Law 736.0814. This trust law talks about a trustee’s discretionary powers. Pankauski knows a thing or two about trust lawsuits. His firm of expert litigators and appellate lawyers restrict their practice to litigation and appeals of trusts and estates. “A lot of out of state trust beneficiaries need assistance reading the trust document” says Pankauski. “And understand whether their Florida Trustee acted properly.” We have previously provided commentary about SUSPENDING your trustee vs. REMOVING your trustee. Now, let’s focus on Florida Trustee Discretion. Appealing Trustee Discretion What are the rules if you don’t like a trustee’s decision? Let’s say that the trust document says the trustee may distribute money to you for health, education, maintenance and support. […]

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