Fort Lauderdale Probate Litigation Lawyer
As experienced courtroom litigators, Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can handle your Florida probate dispute with skill and efficiency. Probate matters are difficult and emotional for many people even where there aren’t any problems with the estate administration. When disputes arise among family members, or allegations of abuse appear, or where there is a great deal at stake in a high-value estate, skilled legal representation is essential to protect your rights and interests in the face of high-conflict litigation. Edward J. Jennings and his associates have more than 40 years of combined legal experience in Florida courtrooms and are ready to help you resolve your Fort Lauderdale probate matter.
Wills can be challenged on a number of grounds, including allegations that the testator lacked capacity to make a will at the time it was created, or that the statutory procedures required to make a valid will were not followed. Another common challenge is that the testator was subject to undue influence by a family member or caregiver. These claims are often made in cases where the will was created or modified by someone when they were already advanced in years. Omitted or disinherited heirs are frequently the ones making these claims, especially in cases of blended families where there is a later will that favors the spouse or children of a second marriage. These disputes are further complicated when the testator attempted to devise property subject to the Florida homestead exemption.
Modified or revoked wills, or the existence of multiple wills, can create a complicated legal situation. Whether challenging or defending a will, our probate litigation attorneys provide knowledgeable, incisive representation in the most complex probate matters.
Trust and Beneficiary Disputes
As with wills, trusts are subject to attack on the basis of undue influence in the trust creation, and these attacks are more common when the settlor of the trust was in declining health at the time the trust was created, or if the trust was drafted after a second marriage. Other attacks on the validity of a trust include allegations regarding the settlor’s competency to make a trust, whether the trust was created for a valid purpose, whether the trust contains beneficiaries who are unidentified or unascertainable, and whether the trust designates only one person as the sole trustee and beneficiary.
Probate litigation may also involve actions to remove a trustee for negligence or misconduct and to recoup losses to the estate occasioned by trustee mismanagement. Trustees owe fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of the trust, including duties of loyalty and impartiality to all beneficiaries, prudence and competence in investments, and avoiding conflicts of interests and self-dealing when handling trust assets. We represent parties in probate litigation involving trustees, including accounting disputes and surcharge actions.
Challenges to Personal Representatives
Like a trustee, a personal representative (executor, administrator) of an estate owes fiduciary duties to the heirs of the estate, and litigation can arise from the alleged violation of fiduciary duties. Problems are most likely to arise when the personal representative is also an heir of the estate. If such a representative takes actions to increase the value of the estate, was this action taken for the benefit of the estate or the benefit of the personal representative? The probate attorneys at Edward J. Jennings, P.A. are experienced in unraveling complicated probate litigation matters such as these.
Experienced Legal Representation in Broward County Probate Litigation
For help with wills, trusts, probate and estate administration disputes in Broward County, contact Edward J. Jennings, P.A to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer.