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Florida Probate Blog

Posts Tagged: probate

Undue Influence: Lawyers Who Name Themselves or Family Members as Beneficiaries of Wills

Written by on Oct 21, 2008| Posted in: Probate Litigation

All too often I am asked to investigate and ultimately prosecute will contests which involve attorneys playing an active role, not only in the procurement of the will, but in having themselves or their relatives named as beneficiaries under the will. The Florida Supreme Court has adopted a portion of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, and in particular, the prohibition against lawyers playing a role in the drafting and execution of a will or trust where they are named as a beneficiary. Rule 4-1.8. Conflict of Interest; Prohibited and Other Transactions (c) Gifts to Lawyer or Lawyer’s Family. A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of a client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift unless the lawyer or other recipient of the gift is related […]

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Amazing Grace: Religion and Undue Influence

Written by on Oct 17, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

It is no secret that many priests, clergyman, and spiritual advisors, share a deep, committed and trusting relationship with their followers and church congregation. The degree and extent of this trust grows with time, and recent cases I have handled in Florida lead me to conclude that the elderly often share a very special relationship with their spiritual advisors and others who the elderly person views as in a position of religious authority or spiritual leadership. Because the nature of this relationship often equates with what the law defines as a confidential relationship, some legal commentators have recently suggested that the law creates a per se rule raising the presumption of undue influence when an eleventh hour will is executed and religious leaders are active in its procurement, or involved in the will’s preparation and are named as beneficiaries. As Professor Jeffrey G. Sherman recently stated: “The best solution to […]

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Revocation of Will

Written by on Oct 15, 2008| Posted in: Probate Litigation

A Look at the Requirements of Will Revocation by Physical Act Flush It Down the Toilet! The Law Florida is one of several states that have a strict requirement for revocation of a person’s Will. Florida law allows a person to revoke their will by either written instructions, or by physical act. For revocation by writing, the document must be a subsequent Will, codicil, or other writing executed with the same formalities required for the original Will (signed at the end and witnessed.) See Fla.Stat. §732.505. Florida Statutes section 732.506 sets forth the requirements for revocation by act: “A will or codicil is revoked by the testator, or some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, by burning, tearing, canceling, defacing, obliterating, or destroying it with the intent, and for the purpose of revocation.”

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What is Probate Law?

Written by on Oct 14, 2008| Posted in: General

Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a decedent, specifically resolving all claims made by creditors (for example, credit card companies, hospitals, automobile loans) and distributing the decedent’s property to the beneficiaries named under a valid will or, if there is no valid will, to the beneficiaries named in the state intestacy laws.

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Do I Have a Case? The Presumption of Undue Influence?

Written by on Oct 14, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Do I Have a Case? (Part Four) As I have indicated in prior posts, there are certain categories of evidence that I look for in order to prove undue influence, which has been defined by Florida courts as conduct amounting to overpersuasion, duress, force, coercion, or artful or fraudulent contrivances to such a degree that the free agency and will power of the testator is destroyed. In re Carpenter’s Estate, 253 So. 2d 697 (Fla. 1971). In Florida, the legislature has created a presumption of undue influence.  What does this mean?

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Missing Last Will & Testament: Lost or Revoked?

Written by on Oct 10, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Lost Will: Evidence Has To Be Sufficient to Overcome Presumption that Will Was Revoked When It Cannot Be Located After Death. On October 1, 2008, The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed a Broward County Probate Court ruling in Balboni vs. LaRocque 33 Fla.L.Weekly D2314a ( 4th District. Case No. 4D07-3991. October 1, 2008) holding that the evidence presented was legally insufficient to rebut the presumption of intentional revocation.

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Probate Attorney’s Fee Petitions

Written by on Oct 9, 2008| Posted in: Probate Litigation

Fourth District Opinion Suggests Attorney Fee Petitions Are Subject to De Novo Review: An examination of Section 733.106 fee petitions and Duncombe v. Adderly, –So.2d–, 2008 WL 4489234, 33 Fla.L. Weekly D2367a (4th DCA October 8, 2008). The Law The Florida Probate Code provides, at Fla.Stat. §733.106(3), that “any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.” Thus, an attorney who has rendered services to an estate may apply for an award of attorney’s fees. The petition for fees is then reviewed by the probate court, and after hearing, either approved, denied or modified by the probate court.

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Do I Have a Case? What Evidence Points to the Conclusion of Undue Influence?

Written by on Oct 8, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Do I Have a Case?  (Part Three) As I have indicated in prior posts, there are certain categories of evidence that I look for in order to prove undue influence and then the case develops and follows the facts that are discovered. Undue influence has been defined by Florida courts as conduct amounting to overpersuasion, duress, force, coercion, or artful or fraudulent contrivances to such a degree that the free agency and will power of the testator is destroyed. In re Carpenter’s Estate, 253 So. 2d 697 (Fla. 1971).

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What Evidence Points to the Conclusion of Undue Influence?

Written by on Oct 2, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Do I have a Case? (Part Two) As I have indicated in prior posts, there are certain categories of evidence that I look for in order to prove undue influence and then the case develops and follows the facts that are discovered. Undue influence has been defined by Florida courts as conduct amounting to over-persuasion, duress, force, coercion, or artful or fraudulent contrivances to such a degree that the free agency and will power of the testator is destroyed. In re Carpenter’s Estate, 253 So. 2d 697 (Fla. 1971).

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