Elder Law represents individual fiduciaries, personal representatives, trustees, and others in connection with the administration of probate estates and trusts. Being cognizant of the emotional stress fiduciaries are often under as a result of the death of a loved one, our attorneys and staff members approach every service and client contact with a great deal of empathy and understanding.
We serve as the liaison between the court in the county in which the decedent resided and the fiduciary of the estate. We act timely in accordance with court orders and probate code time frames to efficiently distribute and administer the estate. In addition, we are careful to consider all beneficiaries and comply with all notice requirements. In short, we seek to make the probate process less frustrating and more satisfying to our clients by being responsive and proactive with the estate as a whole.
We represent interested parties of an estate administration in court proceedings when they are not being fully informed and when their interests require protection. We draft creative pleadings and engage in effective advocacy, which are integral to ensuring all parties protect their interests when a loved one passes away. In the event that these types of matters become complicated or entangled, we challenge the status quo and think outside the box to reach a satisfactory resolution for our clients.
We handle trust and estate litigation including actions to remove fiduciaries, for accountings, and to preserve beneficiaries’ rights. We also handle actions to assert or defend an expected inheritance. Furthermore, we engage in litigation to protect and preserve homestead rights wrongfully removed.
For example, we have represented numerous beneficiaries of a trust to remedy improper actions which took place. We seek to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their inequitable actions and force repayment of assets back into the trust, when applicable.
We represent spouses, adult children, and others who may be wrongfully accused of interfering with the estate plan of a spouse or parent or have a claim against someone who wrongfully interfered with an estate plan. We can defend a claim of this nature if there was no fraud involved and/or the decedent had capacity. Likewise, we institute proceedings against wrongdoers where fraud, undue influence, or incapacity may have been present.
We also represent beneficiaries of a trust who are not receiving the full accounting and information regarding the distribution of trust assets. Florida law mandates accountings and disclosure of trust transactions. A beneficiary has a limited time to object to possible improper handling of trust assets, so time may be of the essence.
There may be instances where two people are serving as co-trustees or co-personal representatives of a trust or under a will. If one of the persons is behaving improperly by refusing to cooperate and/or unilaterally making decisions without the other person, we advocate on behalf of that other person to protect and preserve their rights and responsibilities as a fiduciary.
When a beneficiary under someone’s will is not receiving their inheritance, there may be actions taken by the personal representative that are improper and/or causing delay. We represent the interests of those beneficiaries in an estate administration action.
In some cases, guardianship matters are adversarial due to family conflicts. We have handled many contested guardian proceedings. We guide our clients through very difficult and often emotional proceedings.
Guardianship litigation is unique in that traditional litigation preparation must be combined with knowledge of statutory guardianship regulations and procedures. We zealously represent our clients while always keeping the best interests of the alleged incapacitated person or ward in mind.
Guardianship litigation may be brought on behalf of an alleged incapacitated person who is disputing the need for a guardianship. In other circumstances, a family member or interested party may object to the appointment of a particular individual as a guardian, or even the need for the guardianship where alternative estate planning documents sufficiently provide for the incapacitated person’s needs. Similar litigation also may arise out of a guardian’s mishandling or abuse of the ward or the ward’s property.
Potential clients should be aware that without proper representation in a guardianship court, an individual may lose the opportunity to be properly heard, or very quickly become overwhelmed and/or disadvantaged due to the expeditious handling of these matters in the court system. In contrast to many other types of litigation, time is of the essence in these matters.
Homestead litigation typically occurs under one of two circumstances. One is where a property owner’s homestead rights are improperly removed by the Property Appraiser’s office. The other circumstance is when someone moves to Florida from another state and his/her homestead application is wrongfully denied because the Property Appraiser’s office fails to recognize the finality of the move. Elder Law assists its clients in establishing homestead status.
Ellen S. Morris has represented numerous individual and professional clients involved in the following types of cases:
Elder Law provides Probate, Trust and Estate Administration Litigation, Guardianship Litigation and Homestead Litigation services throughout Florida, and particularly in the following cities/municipalities and surrounding communities in South Florida near our offices:
For more information, contact us at (561)750-3850. We give families peace of mind.