Probate and Trust Litigation
A Probate and Trust Attorney Can Help With Will and Trust Disputes
Wills and trusts are the two primary types of legal tools that Florida residents use to plan for the future and ensure that their assets are directed in accordance with their wishes upon their death.
At Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene, our attorneys have extensive experience in representing parties in a wide range of will and trust disputes. We have accomplished attorneys who combine decades of experience and a track record of successful results. Our attorneys utilize a variety of approaches to resolve disputes in an efficient and effective manner.
Probate is the legal process used to settle a person’s estate, whether they die with a will in place or not.
Disputes can and do happen during the probate process. Often, they involve challenges to the legal validity of the will. The most common grounds for contesting a will in Florida include:
- Undue influence where the distribution of assets identified in a testator’s will was the product of inappropriate persuasion, duress, fraud, force, or coercion such that the will does not represent the testator’s knowing and free will;
- The person making the will lacked testamentary capacity due to age or illness;
- Execution requirements (signatures, witnesses, etc.) were not met;
Probate Disputes Where No Will Exists
In cases where a person has died without a will or other estate plan, disputes may arise over who is legally entitled to the person’s assets. A surviving spouse is first in line as an heir under Florida law, followed by the deceased person’s children, grandchildren, and parents.
The probate process may also generate disputes between the estate’s personal representative and the estate’s beneficiaries. A personal representative is appointed by the probate court to be responsible for overseeing payment of an estate’s creditors and distribution of the estate’s remaining assets to its beneficiaries. A personal representative is charged with certain fiduciary responsibilities in administering the estate and communicating with the beneficiaries. If a personal representative breaches his or her duties to the estate and its beneficiaries, the personal representative may be removed and/or ordered to repay to the estate any damages caused.
Trusts are a common estate planning tool utilized in conjunction with a will or as a stand-alone estate planning strategy.
As with wills, disputes over trusts often concern whether the document creating the trust is legally valid. A person creating a trust must have testamentary capacity, the document must not be the subject of undue influence, and the document must be properly executed. Likewise, a legally valid trust may not be the result of fraud, forgery, or mistake.
Disputes may also arise over a trustee’s administration of the trust. The trustee is considered a fiduciary who owes certain legal responsibilities to the trust’s beneficiaries. Because the administration of a trust may occur over a longer period than the administration of a will, the potential for disagreements between a trustee and a trust’s beneficiaries may be greater.
Speak with a Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Lawyer
The attorneys at PFHG Law serve clients throughout Northern Florida and across the state.
Our offices are conveniently located in Jacksonville’s Riverside, Ponte Vedra Beach, and Amelia Island. Contact us to speak with an attorney today.