Carpenter & Brown, P.A. http://www.carpenter-brown.com 40 Years of Experience in Probate & Real Estate Law Thu, 09 May 2019 13:05:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hiring a Probate Lawyer in Broward County Helps Families Navigate 5 Common Issues That Arise During the Probate Process in The State of Florida. http://www.carpenter-brown.com/hiring-probate-lawyer-broward-county-helps-families-navigate-5-common-issues-arise-probate-process-state-florida/ Tue, 25 Dec 2018 06:18:54 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1298 Probate Lawyer in Broward County – Death is an uncomfortable topic and without a probate attorney, the process of probate leaves a chill in the room after a loved one has passed on. Closing the final legal and logistical chapter of someone’s life is a task left to the living; ensuring they know exactly what [...]

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Probate Lawyer in Broward County – Death is an uncomfortable topic and without a probate attorney, the process of probate leaves a chill in the room after a loved one has passed on. Closing the final legal and logistical chapter of someone’s life is a task left to the living; ensuring they know exactly what their relative wanted after their passing may ease the tension of fulfilling this task.

 

An experienced probate attorney in Broward County may take a significant amount of pressure off of the surviving family members assigned to carry out the last wishes of a relative.

Probate Lawyer in Broward County

Conflict seems inevitable when emotions are already strained by grief; families are rarely in a position to act rationally around the potentially sentimental objects and procedures involved with the probate process.

Hiring a probate attorney will go a long way to reducing the debates and upsets within one’s family after passing away. With years of experience informing compassionate, but, decisive action in the closing and distribution of the estate, families may have fewer arguments regarding to what they are entitled when a probate lawyer helps a client make his or her wishes clear and legitimate prior to passing on.

 

5 Good Reasons to Hire a Probate Lawyer/Attorney in Broward County, Florida.

Reducing the emotional and administrative duties on the family is likely the leading reason most people choose to hire a probate lawyer. There is a minimum of five other significant issues regarding the probate process which may make it advisable to seek specialized legal counsel prior to time of death.

 

#1: Hiring a probate attorney in Broward County, Florida will ensure one’s last will and testament is clear and valid.

Without a valid will, a family is weighted with choices regarding distribution of the estate which they may not feel qualified or content enough to make. During a time of mourning, it is a lot to ask of a person to make decisions which may cause rifts within the family. Making certain one’s will is in proper order to be accepted by the court will reduce the availability of legal conflict. Stating exactly how one wishes to carry out the conclusion of a legal presence in this life is best drafted and verified by a licensed probate lawyer.

 

#2: Protecting one’s estate against legal claims is best accomplished by hiring a probate attorney in Broward County, Florida.

It’s unfortunate to hear there are companies who will scavenge for payments following the passing of a loved one. Creditors may attempt to contest the will and the process of defending what was left by a departed relative could be confusing. Ensure not only the security of following the wishes outlined in the will, but, also pay no more than is legally required from the estate with the assistance of a probate and estates lawyer. Particularly for the executors, debt settlement is a process which may cause avoidable delays. An experienced estate and probate attorney will know the proper timeline for debt settlement and will assist with avoiding and, in some cases, is capable of expediting the probate process.

 

#3: A probate attorney in Broward County will help ensure an executor is protected from potential consequences of errors made during the probate process.

Executors who understand they are taking on a critical role in the closing of a relative’s or friend’s affairs may not realize their personal interests are at risk if an error is made during the probate process. Unfortunately, mistakes made in this difficult process have often led to legal action on the part of other family members. While there is never a guarantee an upset relative will not attempt to sue, having a probate lawyer will limit the risks of the suit threatening personal wealth.

 

#4: Court filings and more technical procedures can be delegated to a probate attorney in Broward County, Florida.

The state of Florida has the third most complex probate codes and procedures in the country. A skilled lawyer may have experience with numerous fields of law; however, a specialized probate attorney will have a reliable understanding of the complexity of the legal probate process. To avoid costly and/or time-consuming mistakes in a complicated probate system, hiring a probate attorney offers executors peace of mind in a time of crisis.

 

#5: Hiring a probate lawyer in Broward County, Florida offers the surviving family a delegated counselor for their questions about the process.

Inevitably, questions arise whether one is the executor or a relative of a deceased loved one. Having an impartial, compassionate professional available to pose questions during this difficult time may alleviate the strain of emotions. An experienced wills, trusts, estate, and probate attorney is able to explain what to expect and verify one’s understanding of the probate process.

 

Florida native Roger Brown is a probate attorney in Broward County with 40 years of experience in probate and real estate law.

Roger Brown is a long-time community member and supporter of Broward County and Fort Lauderdale. He attended the University of Florida, served in the U.S. Army, and personally invested in his local Floridian community. He holds the highest “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is a member of the Probate Law, Real Estate Law, and Construction Law committees of the Broward County Bar Association.
Hiring a probate lawyer prior to death may be one of the best ways to provide for your family after your passing. Speak to an experienced and highly qualified probate lawyer to assist your family during a time of mourning.Visit Roger Brown of Carpenter & Brown online or call 954-771-1850 to set up a consultation.

 

 

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Need help with Estate Planning? Things to consider when looking for a probate lawyer http://www.carpenter-brown.com/need-help-estate-planning-things-consider-looking-probate-lawyer/ Tue, 27 Jun 2017 19:48:31 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1295 Dealing with a death in the family is difficult enough and the legalities that come afterward should not cause more unnecessary pain. Finding an experienced probate lawyer is essential when dealing with the complex issues and legalities involved in wills, trusts, and estate administration that could arise after the death of a loved one.   [...]

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Dealing with a death in the family is difficult enough and the legalities that come afterward should not cause more unnecessary pain. Finding an experienced probate lawyer is essential when dealing with the complex issues and legalities involved in wills, trusts, and estate administration that could arise after the death of a loved one.

 

Probate laws differ by state; and probate law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is the third most complex state in the United States. There are approximately 25,000 senior citizens in the city of Fort Lauderdale, and more than half are approaching seventy-five years in age. Whether you are seeking a probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale in preparation or you are dealing with the aftermath of the loss of a loved one, finding a trustworthy and experienced probate lawyer is vital.

 

When choosing a probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida you should consider the following:

 

  • How many years of Florida probate law does this individual have?
  • What is their legal and personal reputation?
  • What kind of experience did their past clients have?
  • What is their education background?

 

Remember, each state has different probate laws, be sure your lawyer is well versed in Fort Lauderdale probate laws. Do they have any specialties? Have they worked in public services in the past? Remember, not all lawyers can practice probate law, which is why finding an experienced local probate lawyer is so important.

 

When looking for a probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale you want to find a lawyer who can and will adapt to the needs of each individual client.

 

You’ll also want to look for a lawyer that encourages said possible client to ask any and all questions before taking on your case. Questions you might want to keep in mind are:

 

  • How much/ how does this lawyer charge?
  • What kind of documents will I need?
  • How many probate cases has this lawyer handled?
  • What is their success rate?
  • Does this lawyer assist with the distribution of assets?
  • How long does the probate process take?
  • How do you go about handling estate tax returns?

 

Asking any and every question you may have is important for both you and your potential lawyer, there needs to be a strong sense of trust and dependability between you and your lawyer.

 

Your Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer should be able to communicate with you in layman’s terms in order to keep you informed and allow the process to be as simple as possible for you and your family in an already difficult time. In some states a family or individual may be able to go about the probate process without a lawyer; however, since Florida has some of the most complicated probate laws, a higher population of elderly persons, and with all the other possible complications that could arise (ex: a family member contesting the will, estate taxes, trust) working with a lawyer you completely trust is going to make your experience far less stressful in the end.

 

Find your solution for the best Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer by hiring Carpenter and Brown P.A.

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Florida: One of the Most Complex Probate States in America http://www.carpenter-brown.com/florida-one-complex-probate-states-america/ Wed, 03 May 2017 06:28:22 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1292 Florida is listed as the third most complex probate state in the U.S.— preceded by California and New York—  making the need for an experienced probate lawyer more important than 94% of the country. Other factors— that many people fail to acknowledge— also factor in to the need for a skilled probate lawyer in Florida. [...]

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Florida is listed as the third most complex probate state in the U.S.— preceded by California and New York—  making the need for an experienced probate lawyer more important than 94% of the country.

Other factors— that many people fail to acknowledge— also factor in to the need for a skilled probate lawyer in Florida.  Of the 19, 552,860 residents (the fourth most populous state in the U.S.), 19% are over 65 years old. That means there are nearly 4 Million residents in Florida who are considered to be senior citizens.

In the Fort Lauderdale area alone, there are approximately 25,000 seniors; more than half of which have passed the median life expectancy of 75 years.  With age, comes wisdom, and the people in this age category know that having a good probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale is as necessary as health care. Of course there are many people who neglect legal matters before they die and that’s when the decedent’s assets become the sudden responsibility of family or friends. In that case, the probate process can seem overwhelming, especially when in mourning.

There are many factors that determine whether a probate lawyer is qualified to navigate complicated probate laws, while also attending to the individual needs of the clients and their families. The short list of things to consider is: the years of experience with probate law (in the Fort Lauderdale area, specifically), legal and personal reputations, public reviews and ratings, education and specialties, professional and personal public service records, etc.

There are personal qualities to look for in probate lawyers, who are trusted with a lifetime of assets too.  Like great leaders, your probate lawyer should be focused and transparent, while also possessing integrity, patience and insightfulness.

The best probate lawyers know that clients are faced with the some of the most difficult legal decisions they’ll ever have to make. Wills, trusts and estate administration are probate services that reflect individual accomplishment. There are many lawyers in the Fort Lauderdale area, but not all of them are experts in probate law, and even fewer who have decades of experience.

Many probate lawyers in Fort Lauderdale have a preferred way of working, but the best ones adapt to individual needs and encourage potential clients to ask questions before hiring them. Probate lawyers who answer questions such as: How many probate cases have you handled, how do you charge for your work, what type of documents will you need to get started, do you help with the distribution of assets, how long will the probate process take, how do you handle estate tax returns— instill a sense of trust and competency.

A lot of attorneys, including probate lawyers in the Fort Lauderdale area, also tend to speak in legal jargon, using terms clients have no way of understanding. It isn’t necessary. While probate laws can be complicated it is the responsibility of the probate lawyer to make sure their clients have a clear understanding of the entire process.

 

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Probate Attorney in Broward County http://www.carpenter-brown.com/probate-attorney-broward-county/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:29:02 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1289 Broward County probate attorney can guide you through the difficult process Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. The complexity and duration of probate depends upon whether the decedent had a will or not. The process includes: proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid, identifying and inventorying the [...]

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Broward County probate attorney can guide you through the difficult process

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. The complexity and duration of probate depends upon whether the decedent had a will or not. The process includes:

  • proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid,
  • identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property,
  • having the property appraised,
  • paying debts and taxes, and
  • distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.

Typically, probate involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which are a priority expense payable from the estate assets.

If a will exists, it will specify a person to be the Personal Representative who is given the legal responsibility to take care of the deceased person’s remaining financial obligations. This means taking care of everything from disposing of property to paying bills and taxes. If there is no will, a Personal Representative (or administrator) will be appointed by a judge, and usually is the closest capable relative or person inheriting the bulk of the deceased person’s assets.

The Representative files papers in the local probate court, proves the validity of the will and presents the court with lists of the decedent’s property, debts, and heirs.  Relatives and creditors are then officially notified of your death.

Alternatives to Formal Probate

Probate can benefit beneficiaries, although there are associated costs, and the process will require time.Probate makes sense if the estate has complicated problems, such as many debts that can’t easily be paid from the remaining property.

The trauma of dealing with the death of a parent, sibling, or spouse is a reality that we will all face at some point in our lives. The emotional angst is often exacerbated by the legal issues death often brings. Dealing with insurance companies, locating and reading the will, and coming up with a fair process are a few of the draining but necessary things to handle. Add in money, assets, investments, and contentious family members, and it is no wonder that many families are overwhelmed by this life event. Looming over it all is the specter of probate, a process that few people understand but is crucial in the tying up of your loved ones’ affairs.

You may be able to reduce the complexity of probate with proper knowledge and planning. First, you start by understanding which assets bypass the probate process, and which ones are included in it.

Some assets that bypass probate are:

  • Life insurance
  • Pension plans
  • IRAs
  • Personal annuities
  • Buy/sell agreements

Any and all assets, such as homes, investment accounts, boats, cash, jewelry, and other assets owned by a single person (usually a surviving spouse or single person), must pass through probate. That is, unless you set up a trust which can reduce the complexity and simplify .Setting up a trust allows your heirs to comply with less formality than the formal probate process. Skipping over portions of the probate process saves your heirs time, money, and retains your privacy and their privacy. However, it can be very complicated and confusing, so consulting with an attorney like Carpenter & Brown, who has years of experience dealing with these issues, can definitely resolve your questions and provide peace of mind.

Contact Carpenter & Brown in Broward Countytoday to learn more about how they can help you with probate or to set up a trust.

With over 40 years of experience, Carpenter & Brown can assist you with the cumbersome legal process that the probate process entails.They can also help you set up a trust if you want to relieve your heirs from going through the process upon your demise. Call us today at (954) 771-1850 or visit our website to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Wills Attorney Ft. Lauderdale http://www.carpenter-brown.com/wills-attorney-ft-lauderdale/ Tue, 01 Nov 2016 14:39:33 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1270 Wills lawyer needed? Everyone should definitely have a will. A will is a legal document that specifies who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist anything you wish to include, whether it be items of great value, or items that might hold sentimental value, such as photographs. The person named in [...]

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Wills lawyer needed?

Everyone should definitely have a will. A will is a legal document that specifies who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist anything you wish to include, whether it be items of great value, or items that might hold sentimental value, such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes wishes you specify in the will.

A will can also specify who you designate to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents. It can specify who gets items that you own; for example, your sister gets the china, or your daughter gets the silver. These people are referred to as “beneficiaries”.

Most insurance policies and retirement accounts generally aren’t covered by wills. Beneficiaries should be designated on these policies and accounts when you open them. You should make sure that they are, and you update them if and when necessary.

You are not required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will. As long as the will meets the legal requirements of the state in which you die, it will be valid. However, an attorney like those at Carpenter & Brown will ensure that everything is complete and accurate in your will. They can also provide very useful advice on estate-planning strategies, possibly recommending a living trust.

Wills attorneys can help you avoid some common mistakes

Following are some common mistakes that could possibly make your Florida will invalid, or, at the very least, cause many headaches upon your demise for your loved ones:

  1. Unqualified Executor – Most states have no residency requirement for executors; however, but in Florida,a Personal Representative (“PR”) must be either a Florida resident or related to the decedent, within the prescribed range, by blood or marriage. Many retirees and snowbirds get caught on this problem when they name their attorney, accountant or best friend from up North to be their PR.  Naming an unqualified PR can result in the attorney for the estate acting as both PR and attorney for the PR and charging a double fee.
  2. Improper homestead devise –In the state of Florida, you cannot leave your homestead to anyone if you have a spouse or minor child. The limited exception is that you can leave your homestead to your spouse, but only if you have no minor child.  Sadly, many will “kits” or “forms” that Floridians use to draft their own wills often fail to recognize this peculiarity.
  3. Wills – Leaving unconditional specific cash bequests – No one knows how much their estate will be worth when they die. So if your will should not specify significant cash gifts in a certain amount.  For example, your estate may be $500,000 when you draft your will, so $100,000 in gifts to secondary beneficiaries still leaves a good amount to the residuary beneficiaries.  However, add in some large medical or nursing home bills before you die, and suddenly your residuary beneficiaries (the persons to whom you intended to leave the most) will receive little or nothing.
  4. Directing the Executor to sell the homestead -There is a critical difference between devising a homestead (see #2) and directing a personal representative to sell the homestead and distribute the proceeds.  You may owe creditors at the time of death and the homestead sale will be necessary to pay off those debts. While there may on occasion be good reason to not vest title directly in the heirs, any drafting which deliberately loses the homestead exemption should be made after full disclosure of the risk.
  5. Leaving the original Last Will exposed to disfavored heirs -Many wills have the same disposition of assets as intestacy laws (as if there was no will), and it is no great loss if those wills disappear. However, wills which favor some children over others, or leave assets to a “significant other” may tempt the “next of kin” if left unsecured at the time of death.  Florida law holds that the absence of the original will creates a presumption of revocation. Even a beneficiary with a copy of the lost will may have real difficulty establishing a lost will.  Better to leave the original will with the person who is being favored and who is motivated to protect, not shred, the will.

Contact Carpenter & Brown in Ft. Lauderdale today to learn more about how they can help you with your will.

Our attorneys can make sure that your will and estate is legal and encompasses all the stipulations necessary in the event of your passing, so that your heirs do not have to be burdened.    Call us today at (954) 771-1850 or visit our website to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Duties of Administering an Estate http://www.carpenter-brown.com/duties-of-administering-an-estate/ Wed, 23 Mar 2016 19:21:16 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1255 General. Protecting assets of a person who has died is an important job. In Florida that person is called a Personal Representative. That person may have been designated in a Will or, if there is no will or designation, usually by those family members provided for by statute. The Personal Representative is appointed by the [...]

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General.

Protecting assets of a person who has died is an important job. In Florida that person is called a Personal Representative. That person may have been designated in a Will or, if there is no will or designation, usually by those family members provided for by statute.

The Personal Representative is appointed by the probate court and must take an oath of office, and posts bond (if required). The Personal Representative is authorized to administer the decedent’s estate. The probate court will issue documents called “letters of administration”which are the evidence that the person named therein has the authority to deal with and manage the decedent’s property.

Duty to Administer Fairly.

A duly appointed Personal Representative is a fiduciary. Acting as a fiduciary means the Personal Representative has a duty to fairly carry out the administration of the Estate. The Personal Representative stands in a position of trust to the estate and its beneficiaries, and is personally responsible to the valid creditors (including the taxing authorities) and beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate for a proper administration. If the estate is administered properly, the Personal Representative is not, however, personally responsible for the payment o f the debts of the estate.

The Personal Representative must not commingle any of his or her own funds with the assets of the estate and must act in a reasonable manner with all assets of the estate and must act in a reasonable manner in every aspect of the administration of the estate.

The guidance to administer an estate is important. Selecting an attorney with experience to guide you through the process will make your Personal Representative’s task easer and with less peril.

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Probate Attorney in Ft. Lauderdale http://www.carpenter-brown.com/probate-attorney-in-ft-lauderdale/ Tue, 15 Sep 2015 14:59:55 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1244 Do you really need a Probate Attorney for your estate? No state requires you to use a lawyer to probate an estate, but probate can be complicated, and you can be personally liable if you do something wrong. One minor omission, one failure to send a copy of the petition, or a missed deadline can [...]

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Do you really need a Probate Attorney for your estate?

No state requires you to use a lawyer to probate an estate, but probate can be complicated, and you can be personally liable if you do something wrong. One minor omission, one failure to send a copy of the petition, or a missed deadline can cause everything to come to a grinding halt. Among other problems, this kind of mistake is likely to make you unpopular with the beneficiaries.

If the estate you are working with is simple and you have clear instructions and copies of the forms you need, you may be able to go through the probate process without getting legal advice, but if complications arise you will need legal help of some kind.

For example, if any of the following circumstances exist, it is recommended that you seek legal counsel:

  • If there is a complicated tax situation, such as a dispute over past taxes;
  • Ambiguities in the wording of the will;
  • Disputed claims, such as a spouse who says property left to someone else is community property;
  • Problems with disputed debts or unfinished contracts, such as the sale of a business that wasn’t completed;
  • A significant amount of property left to a minor who needs to have a guardian appointed; or
  • If the estate doesn’t have enough assets to pay all the debts.

You can avoid probate by setting up a Living Trust

Do you need a will or a living trust?  Even if you are a person of modest means, you have an estate—and several strategies to choose from to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and in a timely fashion: your estate plan. Carpenter & Brown can help you determine the right strategy, based on your individual circumstances.

A will is a written document—signed and witnessed—that indicates how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. It also allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children.

A living trust provides lifetime and after-death property management. If you are serving as your own trustee, the trust instrument will provide for a successor upon your death or incapacity. Court intervention is not required.

Livings trusts also are used to manage property. If a person is disabled by accident or illness, the successor trustee can manage the trust property. As a result, the expense, publicity, and inconvenience of court-supervised distribution of your estate can be avoided.

If a living trust is properly written and funded you can:

  • Avoid probate on your assets
  • Plan for the possibility of your own incapacity
  • Control what happens to your property after you are gone
  • Use it for any size estate; and
  • Prevent your financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record

Contact Carpenter & Brown in Ft. Lauderdale today to learn more about how they can help you with probate or establishing a living trust.

If you are a family member dealing with probate, our attorneys can assist you with the cumbersome legal process that it entails.  If you want to spare your loved ones the trouble of dealing with probate after your demise, we can help you set up a living trust.  We have the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a directory and community for legal counsel.  Call us today at (954) 771-1850 or visit our website to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Following the Statute in Signing a Will http://www.carpenter-brown.com/following-the-statute-in-signing-a-will/ Wed, 19 Aug 2015 07:08:20 +0000 http://www.carpenter-brown.com/?p=1238 The Last Will and Testament is a very important document for everyone.  It allows a Maker of a Will to distribute property in the manner the Maker desires.  Our office has been helping people do this for over 40 years.  The Maker of a Will is referred to as an Executor if a man and [...]

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The Last Will and Testament is a very important document for everyone.  It allows a Maker of a Will to distribute property in the manner the Maker desires.  Our office has been helping people do this for over 40 years.  The Maker of a Will is referred to as an Executor if a man and an Executrix if a woman.

Some court case have ruled wills invalid for failing to follow the Florida Statutes rules.  Although people may write their own wills, they must comply with the procedure set forth in the Florida Statutes for the Will to be valid.

Recently a case decided by a Florida court ruled a Will signed in a bank invalid.  The case was appealed and the appellate court agreed that the will was invalid. The procedure set forth in the Florida Statutes for signing the Will by the Maker of the Will (an Executrix because it was a woman) and the witnesses did not follow the procedure set forth in the Florida Statutes.  Consequently, the Maker of the Will intent was frustrated and the estate was distributed in accordance with a prior will.

It is a sad to read these cases where a Maker of a Will intent was frustrated by a failure to follow the Florida Statutes.  Our desire for every person’s intent for their estate to be carried out.  We hope that people will consult with an attorney in the future to avoid the mistakes some individuals are making that jeopardize the validity of a Will and are avoidable.

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