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Florida Probate, Trust and Estate Blog

Is An Assisted Living Facility Responsible When Employees Coerce Residents Into Making “Gifts”?

Elderly individuals move to Florida at a higher rate than anywhere else.  As a result, predatory individuals such as caregivers, aids, and others prey on the elderly or infirmed.  The predatory actions frequently result in changes to the elderly individual’s estate plan including procuring lucrative gifts, obtaining deeds to their benefit, beneficiary designation changes on life insurance policies, transfer or pay on death accounts, among others. 

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Florida Conservatorships For Property of Missing Persons and Absentees

In practice, we routinely deal with probates (concerning a decedent’s assets) and guardianships (concerning a ward unable to care for his person and/or property).  A conservatorship is a lesser-known proceeding available to deal with the property of an absentee, or to care for or address judgments concerning an absentee’s family. 

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Another Great Review for Clark Skatoff

A client of Clark Skatoff recently shared with us her review of the firm: "Thank you for all you and your staff's hard work in helping me during the most difficult thing I could have ever imagined.

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Personal Representative Cannot Waive Privilege Between Guardian and Attorney

A recent federal case holds that the personal representative of an estate cannot waive the attorney-client privilege between a guardian and the guardian's attorney.

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Partially Incapacitated Ward Makes Valid Deed

When a person is found incapacitated and placed under a guardianship, the exercise of some or all of that person’s rights are exclusively delegated to the guardian.[1]  That is, those rights which the court finds the person (ward) unable to personally exercise can only be exercised by the guardian.  Thus, when a ward takes an action which he or she has lost the right to take, that act is typically void ab initio and treated by the courts as if it never happened. 

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When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Required for Personal Injury Settlement

Florida law has very strict rules regarding the representation of the economic interests of minors in legal proceedings.  For instance, a minor’s parents can settle claims on their child’s behalf without court intervention when the gross value of the settlement is $15,000 or less.  When a minor has an interest in a settlement whose gross value is greater than $15,000 but less than $50,000, the court has discretion to require appointment of a guardian or guardian ad litem.  If a minor has an interest in a settlement whose gross value—irrespective of the portion to which the minor is entitled—exceeds $50,000, the court must appoint a guardian or guardian ad litem. 

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Jeffrey Skatoff Prevails in Guardianship Trial Over Less Restrictive Alternative

Jeffrey Skatoff prevailed in a guardianship dispute in Palm Beach County, over the issue of less restrictive alternatives. 

Most guardianship litigation is over who is entitled to control the financial affairs of an incapacitated senior.  In some cases, the senior has previously executed a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.

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Attorney Brian Spiro Wins Guardianship Trial

Attorney Brian Spiro prevailed in a highly contentious guardianship trial in Florida.   The case was tried in the Probate/Guardianship/Mental Health Division of the Sarasota County Circuit Court.

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Conflict From One Attorney Representing All Victims of Helicopter Crash Can Be Set Aside

Can an attorney represent the estate of a deceased accident victim and potential tortfeasors in a settlement with an insurance company?  According to the Third District Court of Appeals in Miami, in the absence of full disclosures of potential conflicts, obviously not.

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How to Challenge a Pay-On-Death Designation or “Will Substitute” in Florida

The law of undue influence in Florida is not limited to will contests alone. Trusts, beneficiary designations and any other testamentary instruct can be challenged under the reasoning and logic of the seminal Florida Supreme Court case of Estate of Carpenter.   The reasoning in Carpenter, if “a substantial beneficiary under a will occupies a confidential relationship with the testator and is active in procuring the contested will, the presumption of undue influence arises” applies to challenges to testamentary transfers and “will substitutes” as well.

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