I represent beneficiaries, personal representatives and creditors in all matters of probate litigation and probate administration in the probate courts of Florida.
Probate litigation typically involves the challenge to the validity of a will or trust, the meaning and construction of a will or trust, the proper administration of a will or trust, creditor claims, the rights of surviving spouses, and determining what assets are included with the probate estate.
I handle probate litigation and other types of fiduciary litigation for clients in Florida and nationwide for the following matters:
- Will Contests
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty / Probate Fraud / Beneficiary Rights
- Elective Share
- Abuse of Power of Attorney
- Trust Litigation
- Rights of Surviving Spouses in Florida
- Joint Bank Account Litigation / Pay on Death Disputes
- Estate Planning Malpractice
- Probate & Trust Appeals
- Reformation of a Florida Will
How do I know when to contact a Florida probate lawyer? The time frames for certain actions in a probate estate are quite limited. Failure to timely act can cause a permanent bar to protecting one’s rights in the probate estate. The following are some of the key triggers for taking action and contacting a Florida probate attorney:
Receipt of Formal Notice. Formal notice in probate can be sent when one party wants to take action that is likely to be contested. The formal notice will state that the recipient has 20 days within which to file written objections, or the action proposed may be taken without further notice. Attached to the formal notice will be a petition asking for the relief requested. This could be a Petition for Administration, which states that the last will and testament will be admitted to probate unless an object is made within 20 days. There are many other petitions in probate that will be received with a formal notice, such as a Petition to Remove a Personal Representative, Petition to Determine Beneficiaries, and a Petition to Surcharge Personal Representative.
Receipt of Notice of Administration. A Notice of Administration states that the recipient has three months within which to challenge the will (that has already been admitted to probate) and to challenge the appointment of the personal representative (who will already be appointed at this time.) Failure to act on time could eliminate the ability to litigate the issue later.
Receipt of Notice to Creditor. The personal representative is required to publish a Notice to Creditors in the local newspaper, in order to give the public notice that someone has passed away and that the creditor claims period has started to run. The standard claims period is 90 days. The personal representative is required to send an individual Notice to Creditor to any creditor that is reasonably ascertainable. So, if you are in receipt of a Notice to Creditor, you may have as little as 30 days (and sometimes less) within which to file a creditor claim in the probate estate. If the estate objects, the creditor has 30 days to litigate the claim by filing an action in the civil court.
Probate Estate Open – You Receive No Notice of Anything. If the probate estate of someone has been open for a month and you receive no notice of anything, it could be because you have been cut out of the estate plan. If such event, you may have several months within which to challenge the will or estate plan. In some instances, litigants have been able to wait until the probate estate was just about to be closed before filing a contest to the will or other probate litigation. We typically recommend filing early in probate litigation so as to avoid the inadvertent loss of important rights in the probate estate.
If you or a loved one have questions about a will or trust, please call the Florida probate lawyer Jeffrey Skatoff at (561) 842-4868 for a no-charge consultation. If you have received a Notice of Administration from a Florida probate estate and are unsure of your next step, I can help.