Prenup Trials in Florida Probates
Prenup trials are not always during life. That’s right, many times heirs and the personal representative of a Florida probate will have a prenup trial about the validity or terms of a prenuptial agreement. A December 18, 2020 opinion on prenup trials from Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal https://www.5dca.org/ dealing with summary judgment reminds Florida probate lawyers about interpreting a prenup.
How Do You Interpret Florida Prenups? The case of Baldwin v. Harris https://www.5dca.org/content/download/695652/opinion/192791_DC08_12182020_084856_i.pdf reminds probate lawyers in Florida how to interpret prenuptial agreements. Is a Florida prenup valid? Well, a prenuptial agreement in Florida is interpreted like a contract — because it is a contract.
If a contract or prenuptial agreement is clear and unambiguous, it must be read without any testimony or other evidence — often referred to by Florida probate litigators as “parole” or “extrinsic” evidence. In that case, the Florida probate judge simply reads the prenup and tells you what it says.
Getting What You Are Owed. Prenups can create obligations which can only be satisfied in a Florida probate. How? Well, some prenups provide for a distribution or inheritance to the other spouse upon death. Remember: Florida prenups may be effective upon divorce or death. If you are owed something when your spouse passed away, you may have to go to probate if the Personal Representative of the Estate, or the Trustee of the decedent’s Revocable Trust, won’t pay. Do you know how to navigate those legal waters to try to avoid a prenup trial in a Florida estate? To learn more about interpreting prenups, consider reading the opinion of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in this Seminole County, Florida case.
Are You Ready for a Florida Prenup Trial? Finally, if you are defending a prenup or want it upheld, or want a probate judge to overturn it, or “void” the prenup, are you ready for the prenup trial? Consider hiring a probate litigator who has actually tried cases involving prenups. Remember: a lot of Florida estate lawyers are really good at administration but they don’t litigate. And, watch out for probate lawyers who suggest that they litigate, but really don’t. Don’t be forced to settle your case unless you want to. Consider interviewing a law firm that restricts its practice to litigation & appeals of Florida estate + probates. Look for someone with sincere, real courtroom experience of calling witnesses, introducing evidence, objecting to questions, and handling probate + prenup appeals.