Trust Litigation: Victorious Removal of Trustee Trial — our firm successfully had a sitting trustee removed from further administration of a seven figure trust. Our probate litigation lawyers represented two trustees at trial, seeking, and obtaining, the removal of the third trustee from continuing to serve. The law firm successfully filed a trustee removal action under Florida Trust Code Section 736.0706 on behalf of two trustees whose work was frustrated by the actions of the third trustee. The Probate Court in West Palm Beach agreed, and removed the trustee who we sued. The law firm’s trustee clients also received attorneys fees and trustee compensation at and after trial. The trustee who was removed chose not to appeal.
Guardianship Litigation: Successful Guardianship Appeal at 4th DCA — Florida Bar Appellate Law Specialist Robert Hauser successfully handled a guardianship appeal at the Palm Beach appeals court, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, causing the probate court judge to be reversed. Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. v. Guardianship of Jennifer Jaffee, 178 So.3d 527 (Fla., 4th DCA, 2015). Robert Hauser is Florida Bar Board Certified in Appellate Law and handles a number of appeals in addition to business litigation, and probate & guardianship disputes. Understanding possible appellate issues, before trial, during trial, and certainly after someone files an appeal, is an important litigation strategy.
Probate Litigation: Life Insurance Lawsuit Leads to Settlement for Widow — our firm was retained by the personal representative of an estate to sue over disputed life insurance proceeds. The main beneficiary of the estate was the decedent’s surviving spouse, or widow. Siblings of the deceased Florida resident, and business partners, made a claim to a high dollar life insurance policy. Our firm was hired to sue the brothers-in-law and business partners, and to recover the life insurance death proceeds for the estate, and the widow. After filing a lawsuit and engaging in aggressive discovery, we then set the matter for trial. With a trial date certain, the court ordered us to go to mediation. The other side gave up, and a settlement acceptable to both the estate and the widow was accepted.
Probate Litigation: Will & Trust Contest in Delray Beach — after a multi-day will and trust challenge, our firm was victorious in helping the son of a golf course owner keep a very valuable piece of real estate and a trust inheritance. Our client was sued by his sisters, claiming that their father improperly signed a will or trust while he was ill, and made a transfer of valuable development land to our client. The sisters tried to attack the estate planning documents, but lost at trial. This probate lawsuit has been described as a typical “sibling rivalry” case involving lifetime gifts and whether a will or trust signed in a hospital is valid or not.
Business Litigation: Sanction Order Upheld on Appeal at 4th DCA — Board Certified Appellate Attorney Robert Hauser prevailed at the 4th District Court of Appeal, when they affirmed a trial court’s sanction order in favor of the firm’s client. The client was successful at the trial level in getting a sanctions order entered against the other party. That other party was required to pay sanctions of over a quarter of a million dollars, and appealed, but lost. The 4th DCA upheld the sanctions order of the trial court. Huber v. Disaster Solutions, LLC., 180 So.3d 1145 (Fla., 4th DCA, 2015, rehear. den. January 4, 2016).
Probate Litigation: Bank Account Lawsuit — after a multi-day trial in the Delray Beach probate court, our firm successfully obtained a bank account for the 90 year girlfriend of a now deceased companion. The deceased companion had listed our client as the pay on death beneficiary of the Palm Beach County bank account, but the estate claimed the money. The daughter of the deceased companion took the bank account right after her father passed away. However, the trial court made the daughter, who was the personal representative of the estate, return the money, plus interest, to our firm’s client, after a successful trial.
Probate Litigation: Temporary Restraining Order Reversed on Appeal — our firm got a trial court’s “freeze” order reversed, successfully appealing an ex-parte temporary restraining order issued by a Broward County probate court, which froze certain assets of the estate beneficiary. While many people think of restraining orders as pertaining to keeping people away from another, in Florida probate litigation circles, many times a party to an inheritance lawsuit seeks to “freeze” money, a trust, or estate assets. Such a freeze on money or property is a temporary restraining order, which has very specific legal requirements. We were victorious on appeal, with the 4th DCA reversing the probate court and dissolving the improper temporary restraining order. McKeegan v. Ernst, 84 So.3d 1229 (Fla. 4th DCA, 2012).
Probate Litigation: 2nd Spouse Sues Estate — our firm successfully fought off a claim by the 2nd spouse of our client’s late father. The 2nd spouse signed a prenuptial agreement before marriage, waiving all inheritances and property rights to our client’s father’s estate. When our client’s father passed away, the 2nd spouse who waived her rights to an inheritance filed a claim in the estate. After an aggressive strategy, numerous court appearances, depositions and setting the matter for trial, our client was successful. The 2nd spouse asked to settle the case for pennies on the dollar, to the great satisfaction of our client, and the family.
Successful Brother Sues Other Brother Over Family Trust: finding the missing money— our firm was retained by a brother who was a co-trustee, and co-beneficiary, of a family trust with his brother. Our client suspected that his brother, while co-trustee, mis-used or improperly took, trust money. Our firm engaged in focused, aggressive financial discovery to learn the truth. Our trust law firm’s work revealed that the defendant co-trustee brother had improperly diverted trust funds to pay off credit cards and used trust money for his girlfriend. At a court hearing called for by our trust law firm, the judge, on the spot, ordered money returned to the trust. The probate court judge also, at this hearing set by our firm, ordered the parties to mediation. The other side settled, resulting in a victorious settlement and pay day for our client, who was a substantial trust beneficiary.