Articles Posted in Probate Litigation

When a close relative is no longer able to manage his or her own affairs, many difficult choices must be made. One of those is the type of authorization necessary to handle one’s affairs for them – the two most obvious being guardianship and power of attorney (POA). guardianship lawyer

As a Ft. Lauderdale guardianship lawyer can explain, the terms are sometimes referred to as interchangeable, but in fact they confer very different rights for very different purposes.

Both power of attorney and guardianship can be used when a person is unable to pay their bills, cash checks or make important decisions. One can obtain both guardianship and power of attorney, but sometimes only one or the other is necessary. Continue reading

With baby boomers increasingly aging into their golden years, issues of elder financial exploitation are being paid more attention. Many schemes involve caregivers who take advantage of elder dependents. One means of this that has recently come to light are marriage scams. This involves caregivers or others marrying older dependents for the sole purpose of obtaining power over their finances.probate lawyer marriage scam

These cases can be tough to prove, but some are occasionally successful. Perhaps the most infamous of these cases was that of Marshall v. Marshall, a U.S. Supreme Court case that involved the estate of an elderly billionaire, of which his son was executor, and his much younger wife, former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith.

It was difficult not to see the fact pattern in that case and jump to the conclusion that Smith had married the 89-year-old oil tycoon for his riches. But state law gives spouses broad legal powers over one’s estate and assets after they die. Proving that they shouldn’t receive it can be difficult, though not impossible. Continue reading

The death of alleged sexual predator/billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 66, in a New York jail cell of apparent suicide has left his estate, with assets reportedly valued at $560 million, the subject of intense interest. Women who were allegedly his child victims had pending civil lawsuits against him. Elderly retirees are trying to recoup the losses incurred when he invested their life savings into bonds and notes he later sold as part of a $470 million scam 25 years ago. Other creditors will inevitably come knocking too.probate litigation lawyer Fort Lauderdale

With so many competing claims, the case is likely headed for a protected and messy contested probate amid an ongoing federal investigation into the activities of Epstein and purported co-conspirators. It will be imperative for each of those staking a claim to work with a civil injury lawyer who has extensive experience with probate litigation, as The Ansara Law Firm does.

Although the Epstein case is unfolding on a stunning scale, it is not so uncommon for probate litigation cases to involve decedents who had been embroiled in legal trouble. That’s often a big part of what leads their estate to probate in the first place. Continue reading

Florida’s guardianship system has come under fire amid revelations of numerous abuses and reports of exploitation, damaging relationships and leaving wards financially and emotionally worse-off.guardianship lawyer Fort Lauderdale

A Fort Lauderdale guardianship attorney can assist individuals looking to intervene in a potentially damaging guardianship arrangement. Although Florida law requires a three-person committee (at least one a physician or psychiatrist) be responsible to examine a person before he/she can be deemed incapacitated, that exam is all it takes before a guardian is suddenly granted broad powers over their ward. Almost every decision in their life can be controlled by a guardian.

What is being discovered in some of these cases is that there is lack of transparency and impartiality. for example, in a case out of Central Florida reported by The Orlando Sentinel, in the case of an elderly man whose sons pushed for guardianship under the care of a “professional guardian” – one whose attorney is not only the son-in-law of a panel doctor who declared numerous individuals incapacitated. The son-in-law also works at the law practice the doctor (who is also a lawyer) founded, the same one at which his wife and daughter still work.

This, ethics experts say, simply “doesn’t pass the smell test.” Is the system designed for the protection of Florida’s elderly and vulnerable people? Or for the benefit of a small group of insiders? Continue reading

Hollywood theatrics have most people convinced there is some type of formal “reading of the will” in which all concerned parties gather around the desk of a wills and trust attorney’s desk to hear what each has been bequeathed.Fort Lauderdale wills and trusts lawyer

In reality, there isn’t any legal mandate requiring said records to be read aloud. Rather, what happens is a Florida wills and trusts attorney will review these records to ascertain who is entitled by law to receive a copy of the trust – and who probably should be sent a copy even if state law doesn’t require it.

Trusts aren’t considered public record, and thus trustees may deny a contesting party’s request to review certain records. However, that decision could be challenged in court, particularly when those documents are central to the basis of the will contest.

In plain English: If the named trustee refuses to produce copies of the will and documents pertaining to the trust, you can take it to a judge. Continue reading

After several attempts to upload electronic wills in Florida, a measure approving them has passed and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.electronic will lawyer

HB 409 amended numerous sections of the state probate code pertaining to wills.  Florida’s e-will law:

  • Redefines the term “will” to conform to the changes made in the act;
  • Exempts e-wills from provisions that govern revocation of wills and codicils;
  • Lays out the manner by which e-wills and codicils can be revoked;
  • Defining e-wills and establishing how it has to be executed;
  • Outlining the requirements and duties necessary to serving as a qualified custodian of an electronic will.

Undoubtedly, there will be concerns about vulnerable adults, and it will be imperative for Floridians to contact an experienced probate litigation attorney regarding their rights and responsibilities where electronic wills are concerned. Continue reading

A dispute between aunt-nephew over the validity of their father-grandfather’s half-signed will has resulted in a Florida appellate court ruling affirming state law mandating wills strictly adhere to all statutory requirements – or else they’ll likely be deemed invalid. The case underscores a point of critical importance when planning your estate: Have an estate planning lawyer help you. Otherwise, you may leave loved ones with little choice but to pursue probate litigation.probate litigation lawyer

There are a lot of areas of state law that allow a fair amount of judicial discretion. Florida will execution is one area where judges don’t have a lot of wiggle room.

Wills that do not strictly comply with Fla. Stat. § 732.502(1) or other provisions of that statute will likely be deemed void. There has been ample case law on this issue because disputes have arisen on almost every detail:

  • “Can a will be signed with a mark rather than a signature?” (Yes.)
  • “Does the testator’s signature need to be on every single page of the will?” (No.)
  • “Does it matter in which order the witnesses sign the will?” (No.)

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You may have already had concerns that someone you know was exploiting an elder relative financially while they were alive. Now that they are gone, it may now be confirmed or you are just now beginning to grasp the full scope of it. Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyers know this happens more often than you might think. Florida probate litigation lawyer

The AARP reports roughly 3.5 percent of all older adults suffer some form of financial exploitation (actual numbers likely higher as not all cases are reported) costing more than $2 billion annually. (The Elder Financial Protection Network puts it at closer to 10 percent.)

It’s worth consulting with a probate attorney, even if you don’t plan on hiring one. It’s essential because your time to legally act and contest a will is very brief, so it’s best to preserve your challenge to a will early on if there is any chance you might do so. In the case of elder financial exploitation prior to death, your attorney will most likely assert some form of undue influence as grounds for contesting a will. Continue reading

Sometimes family relationships don’t always go the way we hoped. Although the emotional fallout of this can be messy enough, Fort Lauderdale estate lawyers know it can get even dicier when it comes to the question of inheritance – or disinheritance. Fort Lauderdale disinheritance lawyer

The fact of a biological tie is not necessarily a guarantee that one will be entitled to an inheritance in Florida. The first question will be whether the decedent had a will.

As noted in Part 1 of Chapter 732 of Florida Statutes on Wills and Succession, if a person dies intestate (with no will), biological children are among the first in line to collect an inheritance, aside from one’s surviving spouse.

Florida Inheritance Rights of a Biological/Adopted Child: Limited

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