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Category: Blog

What does it mean to be a fiduciary, and what does it look like to breach fiduciary duties?

A ward’s guardian, an estate’s personal representative, and trustees of trusts are all considered fiduciaries within the guardianship, probate, and trust administration processes.  Fiduciaries are held to a high ethical and legal standard. They are charged with the obligation to manage the property of the ward, or the estate, or the trust, for the best interest of the beneficiary of such property.  …

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What to do about Retrieving Digital Assets – Particularly Apple iCloud Stored Information

One often wonders what happens with our social media accounts and digital information, such as photos, after death.  Photographs used to be kept in physical photo albums, but now they are kept on our phones, posted on social media, and/or stored in “the cloud.”  Our social media accounts are used to keep track of milestones, big events, and even the day-to-day of our ordinary lives, by way of photos and videos….

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What if you don’t like the nominated personal representative and believe there’s a conflict that would prevent their appointment?

The trial court cannot refuse to appoint the nominated personal representative of an estate based on an alleged conflict where the record contains no competent substantial evidence from which the court can conclude that there is a conflict of interest.  See Werner v. Estate of McCloskey, 943 So.

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Examining Committee Reports in a Contested Incapacity Proceeding

If you have sought the determination of capacity and the appointment of a guardian with respect to a loved one by filing the appropriate petitions with the guardianship court, and these petitions are contested, you should be cognizant of this trap with respect to the examining committee reports. 

When a petition to determine incapacity is filed, the guardianship court will appoint an attorney for the alleged incapacitated person, appoint 3-person examining committee to meet with and evaluate the alleged incapacitated person, and schedule a hearing on the petition to determine incapacity….

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Safeguards in Probate to Protect the Decedent’s Family: Exempt Property & Family Allowance

Among others, Florida’s Probate Code includes two particular safeguards to protect a Decedent’s surviving spouse and children – the exempt property and the family allowance. These two things are intended to provide immediate relief to the surviving spouse and children during the estate administration period, without having to wait for the three-month long creditor claims period to expire….

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Larry King died in January 2021, so what is this news about his estate?

Various recent news headlines – such as the Los Angeles Times, and other press – have given Larry King’s estate some attention.  Larry, together with his wife, Shawn Southwick King, had executed estate planning documents in 2015, where he named her the personal representative of his estate. However, Larry filed for divorce in August 2019….

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The Use of Text Messages and Emails in Litigation Proceedings

A trend in court proceedings, and particularly in probate litigation matters, is the use of copies of text messages and emails between individuals in court proceedings.  From an evidentiary standpoint, and for the use of said text messages and emails in court proceedings, an important question becomes the authenticity of the text messages and emails….

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Contracts to Make a Will

A will must be the result of a person’s free will.  It must be signed voluntarily and not under threat or duress, or it could be deemed invalid, which issue is often the bread and butter of a typical probate litigator’s case work.  However, a person may execute a contract during their lifetime to include certain terms and/or beneficiaries in their will, which is enforceable under Florida law….

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The Last Phases of a Probate Administration: The Petition for Discharge and Final Accounting

After the personal representative has discharged their fiduciary duties in the probate administration, including locating the estate’s assets, noticing the creditors, providing an inventory, paying any creditors or debts of the decedent, and selling or distributing the assets to the beneficiaries, it is then time to proceed the last part of the probate process, which is the petition for discharge and final accounting. …

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Estate Planning Upon Divorce

People typically designate their spouse as the primary beneficiary in their will, trust, or beneficiary designation of their financial accounts and retirement accounts.  However, what happens in the case of divorce?  

Many times, someone may neglect to update their estate plan following a divorce and leave their ex-spouse as a beneficiary of their estate plan and of their financial or retirement accounts. …

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