Types of Florida Estate Litigation
When you think about estate planning and probate, you don’t necessarily think about litigation and the issues that can arise. Litigation can involve a variety of parties, including beneficiaries, creditors, personal representatives of the estate, and more. You may need to file a lawsuit to protect your interests, or you may be facing a lawsuit as well. These are situations where you need the assistance of a skilled West Palm Beach estate planning and probate attorney who also litigates. Many don’t have substantial litigation experience so be careful about this.
Here is a look at some of the issues that can arise, resulting in litigation.
Contesting a Florida Will
One of the most common disputes in probate administration is someone contesting the will in court. There are a variety of reasons someone may need to challenge a will, or a trust or a change of a beneficiary or an account, which include:
- Undue Influence
- Lack of Mental Capacity
Florida Trust Lawsuits
The idea behind creating a trust or designating beneficiaries on bank and brokerage accounts is to avoid probate court and ensure it’s a simple process to distribute assets when the creator passes away. However, there can be issues and complications that arise, including everything from beneficiaries who claim the trustee is not fulfilling their fiduciary duty or individuals looking to have a trust or change of beneficiary declared invalid. A beneficiary may challenge the trust or change to an account and allege the person lacked mental capacity at the time it was created or was unduly influenced by someone.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
An allegation of breach of fiduciary duty can occur with more than just trusts. Personal representatives, or executors, of the estate and guardians are also subject to fiduciary duty. A breach of that duty can involve violating a provision of the Florida probate law, making improper investments, mismanaging assets, stealing, or making excessive payments to a trustee or the personal representative.
Power of Attorney Abuse and Elder Financial Exploitation
As people age, especially if they are ill, they can be vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. There is even an increased risk if their mental faculties are reduced. Financial exploitation can occur in a number of different ways. Perhaps a court-appointed guardian misuses, takes, or misappropriates an elderly person’s assets through coercion, fraud, or deception. Another example involves power of attorney situations where the person holding the power of attorney is abusing that position by embezzlement, unlawful gifting, self-dealing, and more.
It is important to consult with an attorney who not only who has experience with the preparation of an estate plan which is right for you and your circumstances, but also has substantial experience litigating estate contests. Not only does litigation experience make the estate planner a better draftsman to avoid pitfalls but it also makes things more cohesive and easier if a dispute does arise.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
If you have questions or need assistance with estate planning or litigation, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today at 561-571-8970 to schedule an initial consultation.