client portal
  • Blue Forbes logo
  • AVVO 10.0
  • Top 100 Lawyers badge
  • Daily Business Review Newspaper
  • Legal Elite 2012 Badge
  • Top Rated Lawyers
  • The American Lawyer, Adrian Philip Thomas

Florida Probate Blog

The Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas

Power of Appointment

Written by on Jan 2, 2014| Posted in: Probate Litigation

A Cautionary Tale from the First District Court of Appeal:  exercise a power of appointment with great care to avoid harsh results. In general, Florida Circuit Courts sit in equity over trust and will disputes and are thus empowered to look to the intent of the settlor of a trust or testator of a will when deciding the rights of litigants.  However, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal recently authored an opinion which indicates that, in situations regarding powers of appointment, strict compliance with the written instrument is absolutely necessary, regardless of the apparent intent of the testator attempting to exercise the power through a provision in her will.  The case, Cessac v. Stevens, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 18525 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Nov. 20, 2013), is one of only two Florida cases which speak directly to this issue. A power of appointment is, generally speaking, the authority […]

read more

WILL DISPUTES AND MEDIATED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

Written by on Dec 19, 2013| Posted in: Estate Litigation

by Adrian Thomas When can a mediated settlement agreement be set aside? The First District Court of Appeal recently decided Pierce v. Pierce (In re Estate of Pierce), 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 19597, 2013 WL 6438955 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Dec. 10, 2013), which succinctly addressed the issue of when a mediated settlement agreement may be set aside or vacated. Pierce involved a will dispute between two sisters, Linda and Tamra Pierce.  After contentious litigation, the parties went to mediation.  The morning after mediation, Linda had second thoughts about the settlement agreement and sought to set it aside (vacate) it.  The lower court judge held that he could not find that Linda had “freely, knowingly and intelligently entered into the agreement.”  The First DCA reversed, not only because the lower court’s finding was unsupported by competent substantial evidence, but also because the lower court applied the wrong standard.  […]

read more

Priority in Florida Probate Proceedings

Written by on Nov 26, 2013| Posted in: Probate Litigation

It is often the case that people pass away with real property located in various states.  What occurs when there is a bona fide dispute over where your loved-one was actually domiciled on the date of his or her death?  What if there is a question as to which state should administer the estate?  The 4th District Court of Appeals recently heard a matter where there was such a dispute.  The late mother of the appellant died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2011.  The appellant subsequently opened a probate proceeding in Philadelphia seeking to probate a 2010 Will.  When the mother’s surviving husband received notification of this proceeding, he subsequently filed a petition to open a probate administration in Palm Beach County, Florida, asserting that this 2010 Will was invalid due to undue influence and requested that the estate probate her 1991 Will instead. The appellant (son) objected to the Florida […]

read more

Disposition of Property by Handwritten Will

Written by on Oct 26, 2013| Posted in: General

SECOND DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS CERTIFIES QUESTION OF GREAT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT REGARDING FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT FOR A PERSON TO DISPOSE OF PROPERTY BY WILL              Florida will lawyers and trust lawyers frequently assert the rights of a deceased person to dispose of their property by a will.  The United States Constitution grants no right to dispose of property by a will; however, since 1968, Florida has recognized this fundamental constitutional right under the State Constitution.              Recently, the Second District Court of Appeals was confronted directly with how far the constitutional right applies in the context of legislation requiring certain technical formalities with regards to Wills.  In Lee v. Payne, 38 Fla.L.W. D1969, (Fla. 2nd DCA Sept. 18, 2013), the Decedent’s fiancé sought to admit to probate Mr. Payne’s Colorado holographic will.  A holographic will is a will in testament that has been entirely handwritten […]

read more

COMPARING FLORIDA AND OHIO WILL CONTESTS

Written by on Oct 25, 2013| Posted in: Probate Litigation

Ohio and Florida share many characteristics:  love of college football and family values, among others.  But when it comes to the procedures to evaluate the validity of testamentary instruments, Ohio and Florida part ways significantly.  The most glaring difference is the availability of pre-death will contests in Ohio, a statutory animal that does not exist in Florida, and is available in only four other states in the country. The Ohio Statute allows a testator or testatrix of a will executed in accordance with Ohio law, to file a lawsuit seeking the court to declare during their life that the will is valid.  The statute requires the testator or testatrix in Ohio to name as defendants all people who would be entitled to an inheritance under the laws of intestacy as well as all of the beneficiaries specifically named in the will.  The court then conducts a hearing and if the […]

read more

Do I have a will contest case?

Written by on Oct 18, 2013| Posted in: Uncategorized

Florida is an ideal location for retirement.  Retirees from all over the country migrate to Florida to enjoy the beaches, laid-back lifestyle, seemingly endless entertainment options, favorable tax laws, and most of all, the weather.  Unfortunately, a surplus of elderly residents means plenty of targets for predatory relatives, friends or caretakers seeking to take advantage of the elderly. When elderly Floridians are preyed upon and unduly influenced or coerced into changing their estate plans, the attorneys at Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. are ready to step in and make sure that the rights of family members and the true beneficiaries are protected.  We receive inquiries every day from potential clients who want to know, “Do I have a case?” Before our office can make that determination, we have to examine the facts.  Some of the relevant material that should be gathered in order to diligently scrutinize the case includes: All testamentary […]

read more

UNDUE INFLUENCE AND THE BURDEN OF PROOF

Written by on Oct 14, 2013| Posted in: Probate Litigation

A large number of cases that we litigate regard a will or a trust that our client believes should be invalidated on the basis of undue influence.  In order to prove such a case, it must be shown that that the testator’s mind was so controlled by persuasion, pressure, and outside influences that he or she did not act voluntarily, but was subject to the will of another (the defendant) when the execution of the document took place.  In re Estate of Starr, 125 Fla. 536 (1936).  Moreover, an important aspect of any case regarding undue influence is the establishment of a presumption of undue influence, which is created by showing that the defendant is a substantial beneficiary under the will or trust, that he/she possessed a confidential relationship (or close relationship) with the testator, and that he/she was active in the procurement of the will or trust.  In re […]

read more

Removal of Personal Representative

Written by on Oct 2, 2013| Posted in: General

What are the Grounds for the Removal of a Personal Representative? Florida Statute 733. 504 lists the causes for which a personal representative may be removed. Those are: 1)      Adjudication of incompetency or, even without adjudication, physical or mental incapacity rendering the P.R. incapable of discharging his or her duties; 2)      Failure to comply with an Order of the probate court unless the order is superseded on appeal; 3)      Failure to Account for the sale of property or to produce for inspection the estate assets; 4)      Wasting or other maladministration of the estate; 5)      Failure to give bond or security; 6)      Conviction of a felony by an individual personal representative or insolvency of a corporate personal representative; 7)      Revocation of probate of a will that names the personal representative; 8)      Conflicting or adverse interests against the estate; 9)      Removal of domicile from Florida if domicile was a requirement of initial appointment; […]

read more

Termination or Suspension of Durable Powers of Attorney

Written by on Sep 19, 2013| Posted in: General

Often times we are contacted by clients that inquire as to whether or not a Power of Attorney can be terminated and/or suspended for their elderly loved one who becomes incapacitated.  Typically this issue presents itself when an elderly loved one is requested or coerced to execute a Power of Attorney in favor of another family member during a period of time when their capacity may be compromised.  In some circumstances, the Power of Attorney may validly executed and later abused after elderly loved one’s capacity comes into question.  A valid Power of Attorney is a very valuable tool when properly utilized and likewise can be disastrous if abused.  It is not uncommon for us to receive inquiries from clients who discover that their elderly loved one is being financially exploited by someone abusing a Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney is a writing that grants authority to an […]

read more

Last Will Mistake

Written by on Sep 18, 2013| Posted in: Probate Litigation

I Made a Mistake! Particularly in their later years, people begin addressing how their assets will be distributed amongst their loved-ones.  Whether by creating a trust for the first time or by amending a previous one, people try to make sure that everyone they want to take care after their death is actually provided for in their testamentary documents.  However, what happens if a mistake is found in the trust?  What happens if that mistake is found after the testaor passes away?  Is there any recourse provided by Florida Statutes or in case law that allow for some type of relief in such instances? The Florida legislature codified the reformation of a trust instrument based upon a mistake in 2007 by the passing of Fla. Stat. 736.0415, which reads as follows: Upon application of a settlor or any interested person, the court may reform the terms of the trust, even […]

read more
Page 6 of 36 First...345678910...Last

We can make a difference.
Call now for a complimentary consultation.
Toll Free 1-800-249-8125

Phone: (954) 764-7273
Fax: (954) 764-7274

Suntrust Center
515 East Las Olas Blvd, Suite 1050
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301