Experienced Probate Litigation Attorney Representing You In Probate Court
When people pass away, their estates generally enter probate. If there are estate planning documents in place, the administration of the estate will follow the normal probate process. However, not all wills are valid, and conflicts between heirs in the absence of an estate plan or disputes relating to the administration of the estate may require litigation to sort out all the issues.
At Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison, our probate litigation and administration attorney can help you navigate this challenging probate process. We assist the personal representative in the administration of the estate. We also represent surviving spouses, beneficiaries and heirs to protect their interests in the estate and the administration process. The issues relating to probate proceedings and estate administration can be complicated. The attorney representing your interests must not only possess the knowledge and experience to navigate through the probate process, but the attorney must also be a skilled attorney. At Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison, our board-certified specialist in wills, trusts and estates, who has also been selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers every year since 2015 in trust and estate litigation, can help assist you through the most complicated issues that you will face.
Common Reasons For Probate Litigation
If an estate enters into probate, a personal representative is appointed to oversee the administration of the estate assets. Depending on the size of the estate, this can be a simple process or a difficult, monthslong endeavor. If you have been put in charge of probate administration for an estate, you need a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer to guide you through the requirements of the estate administration and your duties to the estate, the estate beneficiaries and creditors of the estate. An attorney also helps ensure that you do not get sued, because of a simple mistake or for failure to perform your duties.
There are a number of reasons why an estate may require probate litigation, including the following:
- Will contest: If the will was not created properly or there is reason to believe that someone exerted undue influence on the testator, it may be necessary to file suit in probate court to have the will invalidated. We can help with will contests in Florida.
- Determining heirs: If the deceased has left no will or estate plan and had little contact with family members, you may need to engage in litigation to identify the rightful heirs. This is especially common when paternity or maternity needs to be proven for unacknowledged children or the will is not updated after marriage or the birth of a child.
- Breach of fiduciary duty: A personal representative has a number of legal duties and financial obligations while managing the administration and distribution of the estate. Failing to uphold these responsibilities may result in the personal representative being sued to comply with these responsibilities, being removed or surcharged.
- Homestead: The Florida constitution both protects homestead property from creditors and restricts the manner in which it can be devised. The creditor protection extends to the heirs of the law of the decedent. The constitution prohibits the devise of the homestead if the decedent is survived by a spouse or minor child. Proper estate planning and knowledge of alternatives available upon a decedent’s death are essential in devising homestead property. In the event the decedent failed to properly devise the homestead, the surviving spouse may make certain statutory elections. If estate planning is not structured properly, the homestead can be subject to creditor claims, distributed to unintended beneficiaries or create a life estate or co-tenancy trap for the surviving spouse.
- Elective share and other statutory rights: Florida has established complicated statutory provisions which permit a surviving spouse to elect or to receive the benefits under the estate plan of the decedent or 30% of the decedent’s estate as defined by statute. A properly drawn nuptial agreement can eliminate all spousal rights and define the rights of both spouses. In all situations, the personal representative, the beneficiaries and the surviving spouse should secure experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. The surviving spouse may also assert rights to exempt property, a family allowance and other statutory rights. Most of these rights must be asserted within a specific time frame or will be waived. In almost all situations where the surviving spouse is not the personal representative, the surviving spouse should retain his or her own attorney in the probate proceeding.
We Will Help Protect Your Rights In Probate Administration And Litigation
Do not go through the complex probate administration or litigation process without knowledgeable and skilled legal counsel. At Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison, our board-certified specialist in wills, trusts and estates, can help assist you through these complicated legal matters. We have decades of experience to assist in resolving the dispute or fully litigate the dispute in court, if necessary.
Call Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison at 941-366-3282 or contact us online to make an appointment and discuss your issues. Our office is conveniently located at the corner of Main Street and Orange Avenue in Sarasota, Florida.