Do I need a Will; do I need a Trust: what is Probate?
These are all questions that the attorneys at the Pearl Law Firm have been answering for decades.
Estate Planning is one of the most important aspects of the financial life of our clients and their families. Whether it is the simplest will to ensure that your property goes as you intend or that your young children have the Guardian you want, to more complex Estate Planning with Trusts and provisions to minimize or eliminate the need for Probate of an Estate, the attorneys of The Pearl Law Firm bring their combined experience to the table to ensure that the client receives the best possible advice.
Since our attorneys has extensive experience in Civil Litigation, Business Law, Commercial and Residential Real Estate, we have the background to employ our knowledge all of those areas when creating an Estate Plan. For example, for those of our clients residing in Florida on a full or part-time basis, we often recommend the establishment of a Florida Land Trust to minimize or eliminate the need for an Ancillary Probate for a non-resident or to minimize the Probate Estate of a resident.
Probate of an Estate is a Court supervised process whereby the non-trust assets of a deceased person are gathered; any tax or other liabilities are satisfied and the assets of the Estate are distributed in accordance with the decedent’s Will and Estate Plan. The Probate process can be very complicated but is necessary to pass title to any of the decedent’s property. If there is no valid Will, it is said that the person died “intestate.” In that event, the property of the decedent will pass to the heirs in order of priority which is established under Part I, Chapter 732 of the Florida Statutes.
The Administration of the Estate is done by the Personal Representative of the decedent. This is a person who has been nominated by the decedent in the Will, if qualified, or another entity, such as a Bank or Trust Company. The Judge will determine if the Personal Representative is qualified and will then make the appointment. The Personal Representative will then retain a qualified attorney to assist in obtaining all necessary information and prepare all documents for service or filing.
Estate Litigation is another area with which our firm has extensive experience. In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to pursue litigation in order to bring assets into the Estate or to defend the estate from the claims of creditors or the tax authorities. Since one of the Firm’s strengths is litigation, we are well qualified in the area of estate Litigation. One example of this type of litigation is where a person dies with a partial interest in a business or company. In order to obtain the decedent’s full share of the interest, it may be necessary to engage a forensic accountant to examine the books and records of the company to determine the true value and then proceed with the litigation in Probate Court to have that interest ordered into the decedent’s estate by the Probate Judge.
Another example is litigation in the probate arena against Trustees who have violated their duties to the beneficiaries of the Trust. The Firm has an active practice in pursuing such remedies for its clients.
Our Firm is available to consult and advise clients in all of these areas and qualified to assist our clients through all aspects of Estate Planning, Estate Administration and potential related Estate or Trust Litigation.