Jacksonville Probate Lawyers
Trusted Jacksonville Probate Attorneys Ready To Serve Clients Throughout the State
Our Probate lawyers primarily serve clients in Clay, Duval, and St. Johns counties with Florida probate cases. We also help probate wills in almost every county in Florida. In most probate cases, our clients do not have to attend court to be appointed as the personal representative or administer the estate.
Probate & Estate Administration Lawyers for Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach
A top concern for Jacksonville Probate clients is keeping the process simple. Many of the best probate lawyers in Jacksonville create a simple method for their clients. In most Florida probate cases, the personal representative must hire an attorney or lawyer who is licensed in Florida. At the Jacksonville Florida law office of David M. Goldman PLLC, we make most probate cases in Florida easy.
Because we provide asset protection services, we can often help protect assets in a Florida probate from creditors who may have filed invalid or improper claims.
When representing clients in a Jacksonville probate case, our Florida Probate Handbook helps clients understand the steps and process and addresses many of the issues that arise during a Florida Probate case.
The probate lawyers and staff at our office are friendly and willing to talk in person, over the phone, or by video chat with our clients. These initial discussions and our easy to complete Florida Probate Intake form help us to understand family dynamics and address probate questions quickly and efficiently. We help our clients to understand the steps involved in an efficient probate process. An initial intake is a top tool for the best results from our Jacksonville Probate lawyers. The initial probate intake form helps guide you through the probate process. The probate process in Florida includes gathering and valuing property subject to probate, creating a list or inventory of probate assets, finding determining the creditors of the estate, and determining which creditors to object to for a more efficient probate case.
At the Jacksonville, FL law office of David M. Goldman PLLC, our firm has years of experience with probate cases, and our in-depth knowledge of Florida probate case law and procedures will make your job easy.
Will Contests by Jacksonville Probate Lawyers
We see the worst circumstances you could imagine, so if your family has treated you wrong, we can help. It is essential to realize that a Florida will contest can be difficult. Sometimes the battle is with a step-parent, sibling, niece, nephew, or caretaker. Our goal with a Florida will contest is to help those who have been wronged. It is essential to understand the long-term damage and evaluate that as part of the risk and reward analysis. As experienced Florida probate litigation lawyers, we know that these disputes can be emotionally and financially painful and can create stress amongst the family. Often money clients tell us that money is not their primary concern, but they want to do what the person who made the will would have wanted. If you think someone may have changed their will recently and it went against their real wishes, our Jacksonville probate litigation attorneys can help review the circumstances and evaluate your rights.
Who Can Challenge a Will in Florida?
In Florida, anyone who has legal standing can challenge a will in a probate case. In a Florida probate litigation over a will, only an interested person has standing. Florida Probate statutes define an “interested persons” as “anyone who may reasonably be expected to be affected” by the estate’s administration.
Every case is unique, but as a general rule, the following parties can qualify as “interested persons” and therefore challenge a will in Florida:
- Heirs – those who would take under Florida’s intestate statute. An heir could be a spouse, child, grandchild, a parent, or the next class of family members.
- Beneficiaries (anyone named in the will as a recipient of the deceased person’s assets or legal interests)
- Creditors (i.e., anyone to whom the decedent owed a debt)
The probate court in Florida will determine if you are an “interested” person. You should talk with an experienced Will Contest Attorney about Florida Probate litigation to see if you have standing and justification to explore a will contest or other probate litigation.
When Is a Florida Will Valid?
In Florida, a will is only valid if it complies with the Florida Statute of Wills. (unless it was valid where created, or the person was in the military when the will was created. There is an exception for holographic wills, which are invalid in Florida unless they comply with the Statute of Wills). For a Florida Probate court to admit a will that was drafted and signed in Florida the will generally must be executed according to the formal and procedural requirements of Florida estate law, as follows:
- The will must be in writing
- The will must be signed by the testator
- The testator must have the legal capacity to sign
- The testator’s signature must be witnessed by two qualified witnesses
- The signature must be at the end of the will
- The two witnesses must sign the will in each other’s presence and in the presence of the testator
Sometimes a will appears to be valid, but there may be a dispute over the signature. Other times, there may be more than one will, and clients want to know if how the court will interpret multiple wills or modifications to a single will. There are also situations where what is written in a will is not valid, and clients want to know what the effect of these invalid clauses are. An experienced Jacksonville Probate lawyer who handles wills contest in Florida can help you understand how a will may be interpreted by a Probate court.
Grounds for Challenging a Will by a Jacksonville Probate Lawyer in Florida
Sometimes the first challenge is obtaining a copy of the will. Many people do not understand that the person who is the custodian of a will is required to file it with the probate court within ten (10) days of death. In most will challenge cases, a demand letter written by a Jacksonville Probate lawyer will be sufficient to have the will recorded. Once the will is recorded, the Jacksonville Probate attorney can obtain a copy from the probate court.
Often the first sign of a problem is when someone is delaying depositing a will or refused to disclose it to those mentioned in the will or the family members who would normally inherit (the qualified beneficiaries).
In Florida, you can’t have a Jacksonville Probate Lawyer challenge a will simply because you don’t like what the will says or if the terms of the will are not what you expected. There must be additional circumstances to have a valid will contest in Florida.
Your Jacksonville Probate Lawyer will need to have specific grounds for a will contest to be able to bring an action for a Florida will contest.
The grounds for challenging a will in Florida are:
- An invalid will
- An improperly executed will
- Lack of testamentary capacity (the person who created the will was not competent when signing the will)
- Undue influence (when someone uses a close relationship with the person creating the will to procure a benefit under the will)
- Fraud in the inducement (when someone includes terms in the will because of something that is not true, but they believe)
- Fraud in the execution (when someone is tricked into writing or signing a will)
Timeline for Florida Probate Litigation (When Can You Challenge a Will?)
Many of the best Jacksonville Probate lawyers have experience with probate litigation in Florida stress the importance of not delaying when deciding to challenge a will.
Often a will challenge must occur within three months of Formal notice of administration. The good news is with many will challenges; the individual who can challenge a will are not given Formal Notice. Sometimes there are actions for will contests as well as trust contests.
An Experienced Jacksonville Probate Lawyer Can Help Evaluate a Potential Will Contest
Sometimes the answer to whether to proceed on a will contest depends on the value of assets that are in dispute. Multiple beneficiaries can join together to increase the amount in dispute and efficiency of the will contest.
In other cases, making sure someone’s wishes are carried out is more important than the money. An important role of your Jacksonville Probate Attorney is to help you to understand the timeline and costs involved with a will contest in Florida.
If the amount of money is large enough, our experienced Jacksonville Probate Lawyers can consider a contingency fee arrangement, so the out of pocket expenses are reduced.
To Schedule, a Consultation with an Experienced Jacksonville Probate Attorney Contact us Today.
Contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC by calling us at 904-990-8000 or completing a contact us form on this website to speak with our helpful Jacksonville probate litigation lawyers. Our Jacksonville Probate Lawyer can help determine what the next steps should be to help with the Florida probate or Florida probate dispute.