Sometimes, Litigation is the Only Option
When probate and estate planning matters can’t be resolved in other ways, litigation may be the only option. We assist clients in attempting to resolve disputes out of court, before we go to court, including those involving:
Will Contests: We represent clients in will contests involving challenges to the validity of wills based on such things as:
- Lack of proper drafting, signatures, or witnesses
- Claims that the testator lacked mental capacity to understand the nature of the assets or the terms of the will, as in cases involving Alzheimer’s, dementia, psychosis, or irrational conduct
- Claims of undue influence that arise when the testator was compelled or coerced to sign the will by a friend, relative, or health care worker
- Actions for the minimum elective share for a surviving spouse under the provisions of Florida law
Trust or Estate Administration Contests: The executor (personal representative) of an estate or administrator of a trust owes the beneficiaries a fiduciary loyalty—the responsibility for being fair and honest in administering the assets involved. If the executor makes improper investments, unfairly administers assets to benefit him or herself, if he or she fraudulently transfers real estate, or if the administrator receives excessive compensation—heirs and beneficiaries can apply to probate court for relief, charging breach of fiduciary duty.
Probate Fraud: The law requires a personal representative, administrator, guardian, or person claiming rights to an estate or trust to observe the law and avoid fraudulent or dishonest statements, including fraudulent financial reports.
Abuse of Power of Attorney: Financial powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney give the holders the capacity to make major decisions on behalf of another. In some cases, the holder of the power uses it inappropriately and not to the benefit of the wards. This misuse gives rise to a cause of action against the agent who holds the power.
Guardianship and Abuse: It is not unusual for the courts to grant family members guardianship over an incapacitated relative, especially in the case of adults who show signs of dementia or in families with disabled minors. This is a serious measure removes all decision-making power from the ward. It can be a useful tool to allow the guardian clean up improper payments and recover assets for the estate prior to the death of the estate owner. It can also be a tool allowing a guardian to exploit the estate for personal gain.
If you need help with any of the above legal issues, please contact us today to discuss your matter.