Can a court, carrying out the terms of a will, control the disposition of a non-probate asset? A recent federal case explains that non-probate assets are not controlled by the terms of a will, even if the will explicitly attempts to dispose of the asset. Instead, if the non probate asset has a beneficiary designation, that beneficiary designation will control the disposition of the asset.
Very often, especially in a probate, trust, or guardianship matter, a crucial witness will be out of state. Routinely in Florida, for example, we find it necessary to take testimony of witnesses located in New York. Under New York law, there are two methods for doing so.
Creditor claims in Florida probate actions are often the topic of litigation, particularly when it comes to the timely filing of a statement of claim by a creditor. In United Bank v. Estate of Edward Frazee, the Florida court of appeal ruled that even though a creditor claim was timely received for filing by the clerk of court in paper format, the creditor claim was untimely because the attorney did not e-file the creditor claim.
Most lawyers use standard forms for agreements, at least some of the time. These standard forms are useful so that lawyers do not have to re-draft language that usually remains the same in every agreement. Such language, often referred to as "boilerplate," often controls the outcome of disputes over the meaning of an agreement, whether or not the language was specifically tailored for the circumstances of the parties. A recent Florida appellate decision shows the importance of boilerplate language in resolving an estate dispute with a surviving spouse.
A revocable trust is in many ways like a will, as both can direct the transfer of property on death. When someone wants to revoke a will, the law provides many ways to do so, including destroying the will and throwing away the will. Indeed, if the original of a will cannot be found, Florida law presumes that the will was destroyed with the intent to revoke it. A revocable trust is trickier, especially if the trust was funded by the settlor during death. How can one be sure whether the trust was revoked by the settlor?
With fifty percent of all marriages ending in divorce, it is common for people to pass away with unfulfilled obligations from an earlier divorce, be those unpaid child support or alimony, or to provide certain benefits to the prior spouse at death under a divorce agreement.