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Palm Beach Estate Lawyer Helps Out of State Families

Our Attorneys Dec 12, 2022
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Many times, a relative passes away in Florida with a lot of out of state beneficiaries. Do you need a Palm Beach Estate lawyer to get your inheritance? Do you even need to come to Florida? The probate process may be easier than you think to get your inheritance. To learn a lot right away, consider reading the Florida Probate Code. The Florida Probate Process Lots of Floridians pass away each year. Often, family members and beneficiaries are located outside of Florida. “Many of my clients do not live in Florida” says John Pankauski, a Palm Beach estate lawyer who helps clients get their inheritance. “The truth is that you really don’t need your own lawyer if you trust the person running the estate.” That’s what they call the “personal representative” in Florida. Sometimes called an “executor” in other states. In truth, you don’t even need to come to Florida to get your inheritance. And you won’t need to if the estate is run correctly. However, if there are objections or “contested” matters, you may need to testify. Whether you can do that from your home via Zoom, or whether you have to come to Florida depends. It all depends on what you want to do, and what the personal representative is doing –or not doing. Who do you trust? The personal representative, or “PR” for short, is supposed to be a fiduciary. She has fiduciary duties to work for the family and beneficiaries. Part of her duties is to […]


Palm Beach Trust Lawyer

Our Attorneys Dec 11, 2022
post about Palm Beach Trust Lawyer

Many Floridians are leaving your inheritance in a revocable trust. Here are some steps to help you find a Palm Beach Trust lawyer. You should first consider whether you even need one at all. Why and when? Why do you need a Palm Beach trust lawyer? The truth is that you may not. Confident and experienced trial lawyers will tell you this. Not to be coy or play hard to get. It’s because they have the business and law practice to be upfront with potential clients. And, most will tell you that if you can avoid litigation, you should save a lot of money, time and angst. If you are inheriting from a trust, ask yourself: do you trust your trustee? If your trustee is responsible, attentive and responsive, you probably don’t need a lawyer. However, if you need to understand your rights, or file a trust contest or objection, consider whether you can afford the time and patience needed. After all, trust litigation takes time, is costly, and some people find it anxiety-ridden. Sometimes, people have different interpretations over a trust or want to void a trust amendment. (To read the Florida Trust Code, click here.) Yes, many trust beneficiaries want some so called “fire power”. A pitbull on their side who can explain and advocate for them. But try working things out with your trustee first. She is supposed to give you information about your trust and inheritance. Communicate. Be reasonable. Try to avoid the time and expense […]


Inheriting Homestead

Probate Information Dec 10, 2022
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The rules of homestead in Florida are complicated. But heirs may have more rights than you realize. You may end up inheriting homestead which is valuable. Don’t worry if you don’t get along with your family co-owners. You can sell the property even if others disagree. File a partition action. Your rights If you inherit part of your mom’s house, and you don’t want to live there, sell it ! And take your inheritance from the sale proceeds. How? Read on…. Any part of a decedent’s estate that does NOT pass by a will, passes according to the laws of intestacy. Intestacy means that someone died without a will. Under the intestacy laws, heirs inherit. Who are heirs? Heirs are those who inherit under the laws of intestacy. Sound circular? Heirs include descendants and the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then the descendants inherit. What about homestead? It has its own rules and laws. Inheriting homestead — the “ugly” (confusing) truth Homestead is the one true house of the dead Floridian. You know, that place where she always returned after being away. Sometimes, a Florida resident has multiple residences. But only one homestead. You can inherit by selling it, even if your co-owners don’t want to sell it. And even if they are living in it. So, you can file a petition to determine homestead. Homestead is generally considered OUTSIDE OF PROBATE. And not a probate asset. (Click HERE for commentary about the probate process). Although you […]


Understanding a Florida Estate Claim

Probate Information Dec 10, 2022
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Do you know how to make your Florida estate claim? Filing the proper paperwork is crucial. You need to know the difference between filing objections and a creditor’s claim. Florida Estate Claim — the basics When you have a probate, the “executor” or personal representative will “run” or administer the estate. This involves gathering assets, paying the decedent’s last expenses, dealing with the will and beneficiaries, and creditors. There’s a difference between objecting to a will and filing a creditor’s claim. If you are an “interested person” in the Florida probate, you can object to an improper or incomplete accounting, or inventory or petition. Heck, you can even object to a will. You can also object to who is the executor. Yes, you can even object to a creditor’s claim. What is a creditor’s claim? What is a Creditor’s Claim? A creditor’s claim is a statement, or a claim, by someone who is owed something. From the dead person. It might be money. The most common example of this is. The dead person borrowed money from me and I want to get paid back. Or, you could have rights which you want to exercise. Such as rights under a contract, a prenuptial agreement, or an operating agreement for an LLC. Get in the Game There is a whole process to correctly filing your objection or estate claim and getting what you want. A creditor’s claim has an entirely unique process with very short time frames. Not all creditors are created […]


Safe Deposit Box Florida

Probate Information Dec 9, 2022
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Why do family members fight over the Florida safe deposit box? Here’s 10 things to know about this asset in a Florida probate. (For information about an estate inventory, click HERE.) Finding Treasure? First of all, LOTS of Floridians have a safe deposit box. Yes, even in this day and age of digital currency and home safes. Sometimes they store jewelry, important documents, family heirlooms and other valuables. And………….many times there’s nothing of value there. But, how do you know unless it’s inspected and accounted for? Probate lawyers often deal with safe deposit boxes. Some family members are convinced that mom or dad had gold bars or millions in there. Always read the will first. And see if there are any “memo’s” which dispose of tangible personal property. Note: that memo may NOT deal with the box if they box is a “will substitute” and passes outside of probate. Florida Probates + Safe Deposit Box Second, there is a statute, or law, found in the Florida Probate Code. Section 733.6065 deals with opening them. Third, there’s a whole procedure that should be followed. 4th, you should have witnesses. 5th: (recommended), video tape the opening and contents. 6th, it’s best to get bank employees or dis-interested witnesses to watch this. 7th, the contents should be on the official estate inventory. If they are not, make sure that the personal representative (estate executor) files an amended inventory. 8th, if you suspect foul play, file a motion or a petition. 9th, look for […]


Probate Inventory — what you need to know

Probate Information Dec 5, 2022
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A probate inventory in Florida is not only required. It’s important. Here are 10 things which you need to know if you are a beneficiary, family member, “inheritor” or personal representative. Who knows, maybe you inherit more than meets the eye. What do I need to know? If you are a beneficiary or an “interested person” in a Florida probate, you WANT to know what’s in the estate. (For more on what an interested person is, click that link, or here.) The most common or “easiest” way to do this is to read the probate inventory. The executor or personal representative is required by law to provide an inventory. In fact, she must “verify” it. This means that what she files is based upon her best knowledge. She swears to it. If there is anything missing, or mis-leading, file your objections. Probate Inventory First, an inventory is required by law. See 733.604 of the Probate Code Second, it has to contain a description of property and a value as of the date of death. That means that you don’t have to list every single item of clothing or furniture, but you have to give the reader some idea of what’s there. Third, you can supplement, improve or amend the inventory. This is done when you want to correct something or if new assets are found. Fourth, the inventory is confidential. That means that you won’t see it online when you do a case search at the clerk’s website. You have […]


Estate Accounting

Probate Information Dec 4, 2022
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Where’s your money? Who’s got your inheritance & what happened to all the property? You need an estate accounting. For a Free Florida Accounting Legal Video on this topic, click that link. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about your rights and what you can do to claim your inheritance. Where’s the money? “They are not telling me anything about my parent’s estate!” Do you know how many family members complain about the probate process? Many times, adult children are entitled to inherit a big part of the estate. But, there’s no information. Someone is either not communicating something, or maybe hiding something. While this discussion is not about probate fraud, you should know what your rights are and how to exercise them. After all, it’s YOUR inheritance, right? The truth is that you don’t have to wait. Either to get information or to start the probate process. If your family member died, you can “open a probate” and find the assets. You don’t have to wait for others to act. Even if there is a will naming someone else as “executor.” Many times, the person named to run the estate sits on their hands. They don’t file the will nor open probate. That’s not fair to beneficiaries or family members. So,……open probate yourself. But, follow the rules ! You have to give notice to certain people. Whether there is a will or not. (If there’s no will, heirs inherit under an “intestate” estate). There is a straightforward procedure for […]


Estate Inventory for Florida Probates

Probate Information Dec 3, 2022
post about Estate Inventory for Florida Probates

Where’s the money? Lots of family members, heirs and beneficiaries want to know more about the estate inventory in Florida probates. Here’s all you need to know in 1 minute and 55 seconds. (For more about this topic, you can click HERE to read free Florida probate commentary with no sign-up.) What’s in the Florida estate? Everyone wants to know “where’s the money?! ” Well, if a Florida probate is opened up, the Personal Representative is required to file an estate inventory. Florida Probate Rule 5.340 requires that an inventory be filed. When? Within 60 days of the court issuing “letters of administration.” (Letters is actually a single court document signed by a judge that gives the executor, or Personal Representative, the power to act.) Amendments, and updates to a Florida estate inventory are expected. Getting what’s yours So, what do you do if no inventory was filed? You file a motion with the probate judge. What does the motion say? It asks the judge to compel the executor to file an inventory forthwith. (see below, too) What do I do if there are missing assets? “You need to do two things” says probate litigation attorney John Pankauski. “File a motion to compel or file a Petition for Return of Probate Assets.” To read more about Florida probate inventories, you can read two things. Florida Probate Code statute 733.604. This will give you a quick introduction to this topic. This is the law, or statute, on inventories. Next, you can […]


How to Object to the Will in Florida

In the News Nov 28, 2022
post about How to Object to the Will in Florida

There are short time frames in Florida probate court to object to a will. Or to contest the validity of a will. But, what’s the difference between “objecting” and asking questions? A recent Palm Beach appeals court case discusses this issue. (To read about ESTATE OBJECTIONS, click that link.) How to exercise your rights If you want to object to a Florida will, you need to get to probate court. And file a petition. It might be a petition that objects to the will. (To know what you need to do, click HERE.) When you object to a will, you are calling into question its validity. Many times, a will will be set aside if it was caused by undue influence, lack of “mental capacity” or an insane delusion. Those wills can be void. Get in the game But how do you exercise your rights? File a petition in the probate court. What if there is no probate? (Open one !) Well, how do you know there’s even a valid will? After all, you are supposed to file a will with the clerk of the county of the residence of the dead person. And not all wills are filed. Sometimes, people are convinced there is a will, but there is none. In that case, the HEIRS INHERIT IT ALL. If there’s no probate, open one up. Give notice. File a petition and make your claim. But……………be careful of the 3 month window. Are you limited to 3 months? You may […]


Trust Contingency Lawyer

Our Firm Nov 20, 2022
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What is a Trust Contingency Lawyer and can she help you with your Florida Trust Case? Understanding a contingency fee in your Florida Trust Case A contingency fee is where the client pays the lawyer a % of their Recovery. If there even is a Recovery. A Recovery is a jury verdict, a judgment or a settlement. No Recovery. No Fee. To read more, click HERE. Is a contingency fee right for you? We have written about the pro’s and con’s of contingency fees in the past. You need to understand the risks and rewards. In the Florida Trust context, the trustee has trust money to use to hire lawyers. How does a beneficiary compete? There are a handful of select trust litigation lawyers who do take a select number of cases on a contingency fee. How do you know if you are getting a good one? How to find a trust contingency lawyer in Florida. Fist of all, contingency fees are governed by the Florida Bar Rules. Those rules regulate what lawyers can charge. 2nd, consider trying to find a firm that SPECIALIZES in trust litigation. They should know The Florida Trust Code and also the Florida Evidence Code. After all, you need to be prepared for your trust trial. 3rd, they should actually try cases and handle appeals. Be wary of so called “trust lawyers” who say they go to court. Ask them: how many trials they have had in the last year? Or during Covid. And don’t […]