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Florida Probate Blog

Yearly Archives: 2011

Lineal Descendants?

Written by on Jan 12, 2011| Posted in: Probate Litigation

Are step-children considered “lineal descendants” of the decedent? A Florida appellate court recently held that the term “lineal descendants” does NOT include stepchildren.  Timmons v. Ingrahm, 36 So.3d 861 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2010). In the Timmons case, the decedent’s Will defined the term “children” to include the decedent’s adopted children and the children of his spouse, whom he had never adopted.  The Will went on to create two trusts – a marital trust and a family trust.  The surviving spouse had the right to withdraw principal from the marital trust (subject to some limitations) during her lifetime and upon her death all of the trust property was to be added to the family trust and distributed to the decedent’s children (as defined above).  Unfortunately, the decedent also gave his spouse a limited power of appointment over the family trust allowing her to appoint the trust property to the decedent’s “living lineal descendants.”  Naturally, […]

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Florida Probate Litigation

Written by on Jan 12, 2011| Posted in: Probate Litigation

What is probate litigation?  The word probate is an odd one, coming from the Latin word “probatus” which means “to prove.”  Originally, probate was the process to prove a Last Will and Testament of the decedent.  However, probate courts have expanded their jurisdiction to include guardianship and trust law, too.  So “probate litigation” encompasses guardianship, probate, and trust disputes My firm has handled hundreds of probate litigation cases over the past ten years.  With that experience, we have learned that in a probate litigation case the facts are always the same in a general sense, but have infinite variety as to the particulars. There is always an elderly person, usually alone, and a predatory relative, friend, or caretaker who takes advantage of the loneliness and dependency of old age. Probate litigation (remember that means estate, guardianship, and trust litigation) is a rapidly-developing area of the law in Florida. The large elderly population has created […]

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Florida Slayer Statute

Written by on Jan 11, 2011| Posted in: Probate Litigation

CONVICTED KILLER TO COLLECT A FORTUNE FROM HIS VICTIM An interesting case out of New York is making headlines.  It involves a young man, heroin addict who admitted to killing his mother-in-law after she caught him trying to steal jewelry from her Long Island home.  He subsequently entered a plea agreement for 25 years in jail, avoiding life in prison.  Prior to the victim’s murder, she had prepared a Will bequeathing all of her estate to her only daughter.  The daughter, married to the murderer, was never charged in the crime.  After the man was arrested for the murder in November 2009, he remained in jail during which time his wife, the victim’s daughter, died in February 2010, leaving everything in her Estate to her jailed husband.  The victim’s family is, needless to say, outraged and attempting to set aside the plea bargain made with the murderer unless he agrees to […]

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Partition Actions in Florida

Written by on Jan 4, 2011| Posted in: General

When joint owners of real estate in Florida disagree as to how their property should be handled, one owner may wish to sell it while the other owner does not.  Florida law provides for a specific mechanism to force the sale of the property – the partition action.  In a partition action, the Court will either force the property to be divided into pieces, awarding each piece to one of the owners, or it will require that the property be sold at auction, dividing up the proceeds among the owners.

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