Florida probate disputes are not uncommon. They can arise when someone passes away without a valid will, or when there is a disagreement over the interpretation or execution of a will, or they can involve claims of undue influence, fraud, lack of mental capacity, or breach of fiduciary duty by the personal representative or trustee of the estate.
These disputes can be stressful, costly, and time-consuming for all parties involved, not to mention they can damage relationships among family members. That is why it is important to handle Florida probate disputes the right way.
Below, you will learn how.
What are Probate Disputes?
Before teaching you how to handle Florida probate disputes, let us start by explaining what these disputes are and how they arise.
Probate disputes are essentially legal conflicts that arise during or after the probate process. They can involve various issues, such as:
- The validity of the will: Some parties may challenge the will on the grounds that:
- It was not properly executed, witnessed, or notarized;
- It was revoked or superseded by a later will;
- It was made under duress, coercion, or undue influence;
- It was forged or altered; or
- The testator (the person who made the will) lacked mental capacity or testamentary intent at the time of making the will.
- The interpretation of the will: Some parties may dispute the meaning or intention of certain provisions or terms in the will, especially if they are ambiguous, vague, or contradictory.
- The administration of the estate: Some parties may object to how the personal representative:
- Manages, values, sells, or distributes the assets of the estate;
- Pays the debts and taxes owed by the estate;
- Accounts for their fees and expenses; or
- Communicates with the beneficiaries.
- The rights of the beneficiaries: Some parties may claim that they are entitled to a larger share of the estate, either under the will or under the law (if there is no will or if they are omitted from the will). They may also claim that they have been wrongfully disinherited, excluded, or treated unfairly by the testator or by other beneficiaries.
How to Properly Handle Florida Probate Disputes
Florida probate disputes can be resolved in different ways, depending on the nature and complexity of the conflict, as well as the preferences and goals of the parties involved.
Some of the most common ways to handle probate disputes in Florida are:
- Negotiation: This is a direct and informal way of resolving probate disputes, where the parties communicate with each other and try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement without involving third parties.
- Mediation: This is a voluntary and confidential way of resolving probate disputes, where a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates a dialogue between the disputing parties and helps them find a mutually satisfactory solution. The mediator does not impose a decision on the parties but rather assists them in reaching their own agreement.
- Arbitration: This is a binding and enforceable way of resolving probate disputes, where an impartial third party (the arbitrator) hears both sides of the dispute and makes a final decision based on the evidence provided and the law. The arbitrator’s decision is usually final and not subject to appeal.
- Litigation: This is a formal and adversarial way of resolving probate disputes, where a judge or jury decides who is right and who is wrong based on the evidence provided and the law. Litigation can be lengthy, expensive, and unpredictable, so it should be considered as a last resort when other methods fail or are not feasible.
If you are involved in a probate dispute in Florida, you need a team of experienced and reputable probate attorneys to protect your rights and interests.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle any type of probate dispute, whether it is simple or complex, friendly or hostile, or involving small or large estates.
We will listen to your concerns, evaluate your situation, advise you on the best course of action, and work with you to find the most efficient and effective way to resolve your probate dispute, whether it is through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation.
We will advocate for your interests and goals with professionalism, integrity, and compassion.