disputes involving wills, trusts, estates, account beneficiary forms, elective share, power of attorney, life insurance, breach of fiduciary duty and related matters

disputes involving wills, trusts, estates, account beneficiary forms, elective share, power of attorney, life insurance, breach of fiduciary duty and related matters

Our probate litigation department represents the interests of heirs, beneficiaries, personal representatives and trustees in connection with inheritance disputes, probate claims, will contests, and litigation involving fiduciaries, trust accountings, life insurance, homestead and elective share litigation.

Our Probate Litigation Services Include

  • Establishing or Contesting the Validity of Wills, Trusts and Related Estate Planning Documents
  • Issues Concerning Lack of Capacity, Undue Influence, Fraud, Duress, Coercion, Elder Abuse, Improper Execution, Forgery, Dementia, Cognitive Impairment and Delusion
  • Establishing or Challenging Beneficiary Designations, including Pay-On-Death, Life Insurance, Retirement Accounts, Checking and Savings Accounts and Brokerage accounts
  • Actions to Partition Real Property
  • Abuse of Power of Attorney
  • Fraudulent Deeds
  • Elective Share and Life Estate Disputes
  • Advocating for Clients in Disputes among Relatives, Caregivers and former Friends, relating to the Division of Assets
  • Establishing the Right to Inherit under Intestacy Laws when there is no Will
  • Establishing or Contesting Homestead
  • Tax Apportionment among Beneficiaries’ Shares
  • Actions by or Against a Trustee including Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Accounting, and Objections to Accountings
  • Entitlement to Distributions from a Trust
  • Principal and Income Act, Fiduciary Accountings, and Objections thereto
  • Claims against Estates for Recovery of Amounts owed by an Estate to an Individual or Entity
  • Judicial and Non-Judicial Modification and Termination of Trusts
  • Unwinding Transactions in which the Personal Representative / Trustee had a Conflict of Interest
  • Imprudent Investment Decisions of the Personal Representative / Trustee
  • Legal Malpractice in Drafting Wills and Trusts and Related Estate Planning Documents
  • Disputes Concerning Self-Dealing by a Trustee / Personal Representative, Improper use of a General or Special Power of Appointment, and Imprudent Investment Decisions

Jared Gelles, Esq.

Probate litigation matters are often heart wrenching, complex and contentious. With three decades of experience Jared and his team have developed the experience, strategies and relationships to help clients reach successful outcomes and peace of mind. Call Jared today for a free case evaluation, (305) 458-8675.

Relationships Matter

Stolzenberg Gelles Flynn & Arango, LLP has relationships with neurologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals whose expertise relates to confirming or contesting mental capacity to make a gift and susceptibility to undue influence. Our Firm also maintains relationships with hand-writing experts, forensic accountants, and other respected experts who are often called upon to defend or prosecute contested claims in the unique field of probate litigation.

Frequently Asked Estate and Probate Litigation Questions

What are my rights to receive my deceased relative’s assets under a will, trust or other estate planning document if I am not named in the document or was to receive a larger gift under a prior version of the document?

Whether you have rights depends on the validity of document at issue and includes many factors, such as:

  • Whether you were a named beneficiary under a prior version of the will, trust or other estate planning document at issue (all such documents are called the “contested document” for purposes of the answer to this question);
  • Whether the decedent was competent or subject to fraud, duress or undue influence at the time the contested document was executed;
  • Whether the decedent suffered from dementia, cognitive impairment, physical infirmities, altered state of mind or delusion at the time of execution of the contested document;
  • Whether the Decedent utilized the services of a new attorney in connection with the preparation and execution of the contested document, particularly if such attorney was recommended by the beneficiaries under the contested document;
  • Whether the beneficiaries receiving new or increased gifts under the contested document were active in obtaining the new estate planning document;
  • Whether the beneficiaries receiving new or increased gifts under the contested document occupied a position of confidence or trust with the decedent;
  • Whether the decedent was isolated from loved ones and family members by the person(s) benefiting most from the change in the contested document;
  • Whether the change to the contested document was made shortly before the decedent’s passing;
  • Whether the final estate plan under the contested document, departs in either amounts or percentages from prior estate plans;
  • Whether the beneficiary under the contested document is a natural and expected recipient of assets at death (for example, it is natural for a parent to make gifts to their children and less natural to make substantial gifts to acquaintances and caregivers).

While the existence of some or all of the above factors may give rise to a claim, the strength of each case depends on its specific facts.

If I want to pursue a claim, will the matter remain a private family matter?

If the claim is made in a lawsuit (including probate proceedings), the claim will be a matter of public record (in other words, not private). If you have privacy concerns, please inform us the first time we communicate. Many cases of this nature can be confidentially resolved prior to filing a public lawsuit through, for example, mediation with the assistance of an impartial, professional mediator such as a retired judge.

How much will I have to pay you, as my attorney, and when will I have to pay your fees?

Fees for our services are determined on a case-by-case basis and subject to a written engagement agreement. In general, attorneys’ fees can be paid on an hourly, contingency or blended fee basis. An hourly fee is simply the number of hours worked by the attorney and other billing professionals (such as paralegals) multiplied by the applicable hourly rate. Hourly fees are generally due and payable monthly. Contingency fees are fees paid as a percentage of the gross amount recovered for the client and are paid at the time of recovery. Blended fees are a combination of a reduced hourly fee (payable monthly) and reduced contingency fee (at time of recovery). In cases where real estate, business interests and other less liquid assets are expected to be recovered, we will work with you in advance to address a realistic timing schedule for liquidating the asset and paying the fees due.

Is there a minimum amount a case must be worth for the lawyer to consider it?

We encourage you to call us regarding any potential case. However, cases involving lower dollar amounts often cost more to pursue than can be recovered. If your case is not suitable for our firm, we will let you know promptly so you may look for alternative counsel.

A long time has passed, can I still call you regarding my case?

The passage of time is very important when it comes to making claims and filing lawsuits – especially in the context of estate and probate litigation. If you have received any type of notice (such as a Notice of Administration, Summons, Notice of Hearing, Formal Notice or any other notice document) you should contact a lawyer immediately. Even if you have not received any written notice, the death of your loved one or your knowledge of duress or other matters that may give rise to a claim, can trigger a period during which you must file a claim. Failing to file your claim prior to the expiration of applicable statute of limitations or other claims period deadlines will result in the loss of your claim or your ability to recover under such claim (even if your claim is valid and supported by evidence). Please be advised, however, that by simply calling us or sending us an email inquiry, we are not your counsel and have no obligation to file a claim on your behalf. Only upon the entry of a written engagement agreement do we become your counsel.

I do not live in Florida, can I still file a Lawsuit there?

Yes, you do not need to live in Florida to file a lawsuit here. If a lawsuit is filed in Florida on your behalf, you may be compelled to come here to give testimony at a deposition or trial and to attend mediation. Following the Covid pandemic, many judges and mediators conduct certain proceedings via Zoom and other virtual platforms which in many instances can avoid your physical appearance in Florida.

I think my case is in a State other than Florida, can you handle it?

We are only authorized to practice law in Florida. In certain cases, we may direct you to counsel in another state and ask the other state to accept us as your co-counsel for your particular case.

Contact Our Experienced Florida Estate and Probate Litigation Attorneys

We have helped many clients with their Florida probate and estate disputes. You may reach out to us by phone at (305) 458-8675 or you can complete our consultation request form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you.