Jacksonville Florida Probate Litigation Lawyers and Estate Litigation AttorneysFlorida Estate and Probate Litigation The Jacksonville Florida probate lawyers and estate attorneys at The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC represent beneficiaries and personal representatives in all courts of Florida dealing with probate litigation and estate litigation matters. If you need assistance with a Florida estate or probate matter, please contact your Jacksonville lawyer for probate matters at 904-448-1969, toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.net. The firm represents beneficiaries, personal representatives, creditors, or other interested persons in Florida will contest cases typically on an hourly basis. In some situations probate litigation attorneys and estate litigation lawyers with The Coleman Law Firm will undertake representation of a beneficiary or others involved in a will contest or other probate litigation on a contingency fee basis, or other alternative billing arrangement. Please contact us to learn more. There are two major types of litigation in probate, one is a will contest and the other involves estate litigation. If you need a probate lawyer in Florida, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099. Will Contests A will contest is a form of probate litigation challenging the admission of a last will and testament to probate or seeking to revoke the probate of a will that is already pending before the Florida probate court. A person cannot challenge the validity of a will simply because he or she does not like its provisions, or did not, in their opinion, get what they wanted. Challenging the validity of a will is not contingent on the elements of “fairness” or the reasonableness of its provisions or on the timing of distributions from the probate estate (such as if you prefer an immediate distribution, but the will provides for you to receive your distribution in multiple distributions at several year intervals). A last will and testament is likely to be attacked on the basis that a person lacked mental capacity (senile, dementia, delusional, unsound mind) at the time the estate planning documents were created, that the will maker was subjected to fraud, coercion or undue influence during its creation and implementation, that there are ambiguities in the document, or the will is a forgery or does not conform to legal requirements, such as the manner in which it was signed, or the number and nature of the witnesses.
(1) the last will and testament was not properly written, signed or witnessed, according to the Florida statutory requirements;Lack of Proper Formalities. Proper execution of a last will and testament requires that the will be signed by the testator and witnessed by two unrelated witnesses, who also sign the last will and testament. A last will and testament can be contested through a probate litigation attorney or estate litigation lawyer on the basis that it was not properly drafted, signed, or witnessed in accordance with the applicable requirements of Florida law.
(2) the decedent lacked mental capacity at the time the will was signedLack of Capacity. Under Florida probate law, a testator is required to have mental competency to make a last will and testament and to understand the nature of his or her estate assets and the people to whom the estate assets are going to be distributed. A last will and testament can be declared void if lack of capacity can be proven. Typically, incompetence is established through a prior medical diagnosis of dementia, senility, Alzheimer’s, or psychosis, or through the testimony of witnesses as to the irrational conduct of the deceased around the time the last will and testament was executed. If you need a Florida probate attorney to represent you in a case concerning lack of capacity in a Florida probate court please call us toll free at 1-866-510-9099.
(3) there was fraud, duress or undue influence exercised by someone who had a special relationship with the deceasedUndue Influence . Undue influence occurs when the testator is compelled or coerced to execute a will as a result of improper pressure exerted on him or her, typically by a relative, friend, trusted advisor, or health care worker. In many cases, the undue influencer will upset a long established estate plan where the bulk of the probate estate was to pass to the direct descendants or other close relatives of the decedent. Some undue influencers are new friends or acquaintances of the decedent who “befriend” the decedent in the last months or years of life, typically after the decedent has suffered some decline in mental ability. In other situations, one child of the decedent, often a caregiver, will coerce the decedent to write the other children out of the last will and testament. Undue influencers can also be health care workers or live in aides who implicitly or explicitly threaten to withhold care unless the estate plan is changed in favor of the health care worker.
(4) the will was a forgery;
(5) breach of fiduciary duty;Breach of Fiduciary Duty. The personal representative of a Florida probate estate owes the beneficiaries of the estate certain fiduciary duties of honesty, prudence, and loyalty. When those duties are violated by a personal representative, a bequest may be put in jeopardy. The Jacksonville, Florida probate litigation lawyers and estate litigation attorneys at The Coleman Law Firm can represent beneficiaries, creditors, and personal representatives of probate estates with the following issues:
a .Failure of the personal representative of the Florida probate estate to follow Florida Probate Code, Rules of Probate Procedure, or an order of the Florida probate court;
b. Probate Fraud;
c. Improper investments;
d. Self dealing and conflicts of interest;
e. Excessive compensation;
f. When the personal representative’s negligence or probate fraud results in a financial loss to the probate estate, the probate court can remedy the situation through a monetary award against the personal representative or others involved in the wrongdoing. The Florida probate court can also remove the personal representative if cause can be shown.If you need a Florida probate attorney to represent you in a claim for breach of fiduciary duty in a Florida probate court, please call us toll free at 1-866-510-9099.;
(6) elective share;Florida Elective Share. The Florida elective share provides surviving spouses with a portion of a deceased spouse’s estate according to a detailed formula, based on the total of probate and non-probate assets of the deceased. If the surviving spouses is displeased with the inheritance created by the estate plan, the surviving spouse can instead take the Florida elective share, if the election is made in a timely manner. Under Florida law, the elective share is 30% of the augmented estate. The augmented estate includes not only the decedent’s assets in the probate estate, but all assets owned by a revocable living trust established by the decedent, as well as certain other assets that include gifts or other estate assets transferred within a year of the decedent’s death, and certain other assets. Most surviving spouses can benefit from hiring a Florida probate lawyer or estates attorney to ensure that the Florida elective share is computed properly and distributed according to Florida law. The surviving spouse has 6 months from the receipt of the probate estate’s notice of administration to make the Florida elective share election. Once the spousal elective election is made, the personal representative of the Florida probate estate is required to prepare and file the elective estate inventory, which is filed with the Florida probate court. The time for filing a will contest, or other probate litigation or estate litigation, in Florida is short, typically 90 days after the Notice of Administration of the Florida probate estate has been provided by the Personal Representative. Therefore, prompt action is required to file a law suit to recover your lost inheritance. Not only can a will be challenged on these grounds, a trust can be challenged for the same reasons, as well as the probate of a real estate deed or a change of a beneficiary designation on a financial account, annuity or life insurance policy. There are many situations where the undue influencer will cajole, trick or persuade a weakened person to sign over valuable real estate, a bank account, or other property directly to the influencer, with the hope that they will have left the scene before the wrongdoing in the estate can be discovered. Sometimes, the undue influencer will be added as a beneficiary on bank accounts in place of the heirs to whom the decedent intended the account to pass. If the wrongdoing is discovered prior to the victim’s passing, a common way for a loved one to start to clean up the situation will be to create a Florida guardianship, which will allow the guardian to use the probate court’s jurisdiction to reclaim estate assets that were fraudulently removed. If an estate planning document was also changed because of undue influence, the guardianship will allow evidence to be collected for use at a subsequent will contest proceeding or other estate litigation. If you need a probate litigation lawyer in Florida to represent you in a litigation matter in a probate court in Florida, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099.