Probate is the process of legally settling a decedent’s estate. In Florida, the personal representative of an estate is required to hire a local attorney to handle the probate process. An individual with an interest in the estate may also wish to hire a Fort Lauderdale probate attorney if they plan to challenge a will, trust, or guardianship.
The Business Trial Group understands that legal obligations can add stress to an already difficult time. We strive to make the probate process as efficient as possible while protecting the rights of our clients.
Our attorneys get paid directly from the estate, so you incur no out of pocket expenses of any kind.
Our probate attorneys handle all trust and estate matters on a contingency-fee basis. You pay no up-front fees for our services, and no fees at all if we do not make a recovery in your case. Because our attorneys get paid directly from the estate, you incur no out of pocket expenses of any kind for any matter.
Discuss your probate, will, trust, or guardianship matter with an experienced probate attorney during a free initial case review.
Probate Cases We Handle
A Last Will and Testament provides instructions about how a decedent’s assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries. But when the contents of a will are revealed during probate, family members may take issue with the document and file a probate lawsuit seeking to amend or invalidate the will.
Only a person with inheritance rights may challenge a Florida will, and then only on certain grounds, including:
- The will was not executed in accordance with state law
- The creator of the will was not of sound mind
- Somebody inappropriately influenced the creator of the will
- The will is written in a way that makes the creator’s intentions open to interpretation
The window to challenge a Florida will is only 90 days after you receive a notice of administration from the court, so if you are considering challenging a will, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney right away.
Trusts are commonly used to avoid sending assets through probate. But trust beneficiaries—as well as relatives who believe they were wrongly left out of a trust—may file a lawsuit seeking to amend or dissolve the trust.
Trust litigation is often filed on these grounds:
- Breach of fiduciary duty: The beneficiaries allege that the trustee is not faithfully serving their interests. For example, a beneficiary may claim that the trustee is self-dealing, incurring excessive administration costs, or not providing a full accounting of the trust.
- Trust contest: This type of claim may allege problems with trust itself (i.e. the trust does not comply with state law, or it contains ambiguous language). A trust contest can also allege that the person who created the trust lacked the mental capacity needed to do so or was the subject of undue influence.
The Business Trial Group represents individuals who are challenging a trust or trustee.
The decedent’s Last Will and Testament typically names an individual to serve as the estate administrator. The administrator works closely with a probate lawyer to handle matters such as the settling of the decedent’s debts and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. In the absence of a will, the court appoints an administrator.
The time frame for settling an estate varies from weeks to months to years depending on the estate’s complexity and whether disputes arise.
It is not necessary for the personal representative to appear in Fort Lauderdale probate court, with the exception of a dispute that requires a hearing. The time frame for settling an estate varies from weeks to months to years depending on the estate’s complexity and whether disputes arise.
A beneficiary or heir may challenge the administrator on the grounds of unfitness to serve or misconduct, such as breach of fiduciary duty. In the event of an administrator challenge, the challenging party, as well as the administrator, should have legal representation.
The Business Trial Group handles probate administration with no upfront or hourly fees. Our experienced probate attorneys are only paid from the estate, so our clients do not need to pay out of pocket or pay a retainer for a lawyer to handle administration.
Guardianship is a legal arrangement that places an “incapacitated person” (someone who lacks the capacity to manage their own affairs) under the care of a court-appointed guardian, who has the legal authority to make decisions on the other’s behalf and manage their assets.
Guardianship is a court-supervised process that requires attorney representation. A guardianship attorney may also be needed if a guardianship dispute arises, such as accusations of elder exploitation or breach of fiduciary duty.
A guardianship proceeding is the legal process of determining the capacity of an allegedly incapacitated person. If the court determines that a person is no longer able to manage their affairs independently, they deem that person a ward of the state and appoint a guardian.
Guardianship disputes can arise at the inception of the guardianship arrangement, or later. In some cases the person seeking to have an elder declared a ward of the state may have an ulterior motive for doing so, such as trying to assert control over estate planning. This can result in a challenge to the guardianship proceeding. Another possibility is that, once a guardian is appointed, he or she does not meet their duties and responsibilities to act in the best interests of the ward. A guardian’s breach of duty could be considered elder exploitation, which has serious penalties under Florida law.
If you have concerns about a guardianship proceeding or guardian, our attorneys can advise you of the best course of action. We can also assist in matters involving power of attorney abuse.
Contingency-Fee Probate Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale
The Business Trial Group’s contingency-fee model uses a results driven approach to litigate probate, trust, and guardianship disputes. Our priority is protecting our clients’ inheritance rights, but we also know that these matters require a compassionate advocate.
Our attorneys strive to be a source of confidence during a time of grief and uncertainty. No matter where you live in the United States, our Fort Lauderdale probate lawyers can help settle the estate of a loved one who lived or owned property in Broward County and throughout Florida. Learn more during a no-cost, no-obligation case review.