What is a Personal Representative and What are their Responsibilities in a Florida Probate?

Importantly, in a Formal Administration a Personal Representative is nominated.  Often referred to as an “executor” in other states, Florida requires that a person be appointed as the Personal Representative to administer a Formal Administration probate proceeding.  Whether you are being nominated as the potential future Personal Representative in a Last Will and Testament or if you are about to open a Florida Probate proceeding, you should understand the role of a Personal Representative and the responsibilities required of you. (more…)

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Dealing with Denied Insurance Claims Based on an Allegation of Late Notice in Florida

One of the primary justifications used for the blanket denial of coverage for many insurance claims stems from a general policy requirement contained in most Florida Homeowners’ Insurance policies that an insured must provide the carrier with prompt notice of the loss.  “Prompt notice” as you would probably guess is an undefined term and not specifically identified within your policy.  Two years? Three years? More? The answer is unclear but in part shaped by the specifics of the loss and in part by the general guideposts laid out by our Florida Courts.  (more…)

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Suing on Behalf of the Estate: Wrongful Death Actions and Other Claims in Florida Probate

The general duty of a Personal Representative to faithfully gather the assets of the decedent also includes an obligation to make a determination regarding litigation on the decedent’s behalf after death and the continuation of litigation that the decedent initiated prior to his or her passing. These enumerated powers are set forth in Florida Statute 733.612(20) as follows:

Except as otherwise provided by the will or court order, and subject to the priorities stated in s. 733.805, without court order, a personal representative, acting reasonably for the benefit of the interested persons, may properly (more…)

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Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Florida Probate Litigation

One of the common themes that we encounter in dealing with probate litigation in Florida is an unsupervised family member in charge of a probate administration.  Through the course of the typical probate administration in Florida, as an heir or beneficiary you may be presented with several documents collectively known as “waivers” that allow for the expeditious administration of the Florida Probate but in turn allows the designated Personal Representative to avoid the otherwise required accounting disclosures.  Remember, to close out a Probate Administration the Personal Representative will submit a document known as a “Petition for Discharge” alleging that under penalty of perjury the estate was properly administered.  What we have frequently seen in Florida is a Personal Representative who has filed this final petition but has not fairly distributed all of the probate assets to the proper heirs and beneficiaries.  Then, at some point thereafter, by dealing with the third party institution, through hearsay or otherwise, the beneficiaries or heirs learn that they didn’t receive their full distributive share of the total assets.  (more…)

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Florida Property Insurance Law Basics for Homeowners and Building Owners

General Considerations common to most Florida Homeowners Insurance Policies :

In Florida, the policy of insurance covering your home or commercial building is a contract, even though the terms and conditions are not really bargained for.  This type of contract, where the drafter provides it to the insured on a take it or leave it basis is known as a contract of adhesion.  Importantly, what that means is that under Florida law, an ambiguous term in your insurance policy will be construed in the manner favoring you, the insured, in order to afford coverage.  This is important for a myriad of different types of cases that will ultimately turn on the interpretation of undefined, ambiguous terms in your policy. (more…)

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Probate and Estate Planning Considerations for the Different forms of Real Property Title Available in Florida

Florida law allows owners of property to hold title to real property in various ways.  Each type of ownership has varying characteristics that impact succession and rights to Florida Property.  When deciding how to hold title consider asset protection, taxation and succession.

Fee Simple/ Sole Ownership:

Holding title in an individual’s name only.  You can sell, gift or devise in your estate plan through a will or other estate planning mechanism. (more…)

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Power of Attorney Litigation in Florida: An Overview

Dealing with probate litigation and administration, we frequently observe how poor estate planning and/or unscrupulous family members destroy the intentions of a decedent and ultimately cause fall out among the remaining family members.  One tool we commonly see abused in Florida is the power of attorney document.  This article is meant to provide a brief overview of the power of attorney document and the statutory mechanisms by which an injured beneficiary or estate may bring a cause of action to recover from unlawful deeds.  (more…)

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Handling Partial Denials of Roof Claims in Florida

One of the primary sources of property damage claims in Florida includes damage to a roof system caused by windstorm or hail.  Hurricanes and storms are prevalent in Florida, so you might find your residential structure or commercial building in need of filing an insurance claim to repair your damaged roof and/or the resulting water damage on your ceiling or structure. One of the problems you may encounter deals with a common insurance company practice of limiting repair of the roof structure to only those damaged areas.  (more…)

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Challenging a Will: When Can You Contest a Will in Florida?

If you’ve just discovered the contents of a relative’s Last Will and Testament and are not happy with the results, you may have grounds to contest it via a probate court. However, it’s important to note that it’s unlikely you’ll have any success if it’s simply the case that you think you should have received more. In order to contest a Will successfully, you’ll need to have a good reason to do so.

Questioning the Validity of the Will

The most solid reason for contesting a Will in Florida is if you believe that its validity is compromised. For example, if you suspect that your relative was forced to change the Will under duress, or if they acted in error, without real knowledge of what they were doing, these may be suitable grounds for challenging the contents.

Also, if you have evidence to suggest that the Will has been altered fraudulently, this is also good reason to contest it. (more…)

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Agreeing to Divide Inheritance in Florida: What Does the Law Say about Oral Agreements?

If you’re not an expert in legal matters, understanding probate law in Florida can be difficult. A common question that people want to know, after the death of a parent or even grandparent, is: Can the inheritance be legally divided, just based on a verbal agreement among siblings?

Oral Agreements and the Law

In Florida, it’s generally acknowledged that if an oral agreement is to be accepted as legally binding, it needs to feature consideration. (more…)

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