WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A POWER OF ATTORNEY

Do you need to create a power of attorney? A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes someone (called an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to conduct personal business on behalf of another person (called the “principal” or “grantor”).

The abilities and powers given to an agent may be extensive, such as handling all of the principal’s financial affairs, or those abilities may be narrow, such as merely paying the bills each month on behalf of the principal. If you have questions about these specific roles you will want to seek out a West Palm Beach estate planning attorney.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF POWER OF ATTORNEY DOCUMENTS?

People create a power of attorney for many reasons, but before any discussion of those reasons – and whether establishing a power of attorney is something you need to do with the help of a West Palm Beach estate planning attorney – it’s important to define some confusing legal terms:

  1. A general power of attorney authorizes an agent to handle all types of financial business on a principal’s behalf.
  2. A special or limited power of attorney restricts an agent’s authorization to certain dates, certain transactions, or particular types of transactions.
  3. A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney that is not voided if the principal becomes incapacitated. Typically, it is a healthcare or medical power of attorney. (You’ll read more about that below). It is a widely-used document in south Florida.
  4. A power of attorney in Florida goes into effect immediately, but a “springing” power of attorney only takes effect when a principal becomes incapacitated. A springing power of attorney is no longer recognized in Florida unless it was created before October 1, 2011.

HOW IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY LEGALLY ESTABLISHED IN FLORIDA?

 

Florida law requires a principal to have his or her power of attorney document notarized and to sign it in front of two witnesses, although the notary public who notarizes the document may be one of the witnesses. Powers of attorney established legally in other states are valid in Florida.

A power of attorney must be filed with the county clerk’s office in the Florida county where you reside if it authorizes your agent to purchase or sell real estate on your behalf.

Conducting business on another person’s behalf can be time-consuming. Florida law entitles an agent to receive compensation. Spouses, heirs, financial institutions, attorneys, and CPAs who are licensed or registered in Florida may be named as agents and paid for their efforts.

WHAT IF YOUR SPOUSE IS YOUR AGENT, AND YOU’RE DIVORCING?

Filing a petition for divorce in Florida immediately removes the authority of a principal’s spouse to act as the agent under that principal’s power of attorney. The divorce merely has to be initiated, not finalized.

Florida law does not spell out what can or should be included in a power of attorney, except that a durable power of attorney must state, “This durable power of attorney is not terminated by subsequent incapacity of the principal except as provided in Chapter 709, Florida Statutes.”

Florida law requires your agent to be either a person age 18 or older or a Florida-based financial institution that is authorized to do trust business in this state. Your agent should be a person or institution that you trust to act in your interests and make sound business and financial decisions.

AN AGENT’S POWERS MUST BE SPELLED OUT PRECISELY

Under Florida law, any powers that are granted to an agent by a power of attorney must be spelled out precisely in the document. Broad grants of authority are not legally valid. The law lets an agent perform only those acts specifically allowed by the document.

In Florida, a healthcare or medical power of attorney is called a “Designation of Health Care Surrogate.” It lets you name a surrogate and an alternate surrogate to make healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes to healthcare providers.

What legally constitutes incapacitation in this state? Florida law defines incapacitation as: “The inability of an individual to take those actions necessary to obtain, administer, and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income.”

WHAT POWERS MAY BE GRANTED BY A FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A financial power of attorney allows a person to designate an agent to assist with his or her finances. Specific powers granted to the agent may include the power to:

  1. conduct financial transactions, deal with legal claims or manage properties
  2. manage retirement and insurance benefits, submit tax returns, or fulfill contracts
  3. collect social security benefits, plan Medicaid, and manage a trust

WHAT DOES AN AGENT NEED TO KNOW?

 

An agent in Florida must act in good faith, maintain the principal’s estate plan, and may not delegate responsibilities to a third party. Agents must maintain comprehensive records of all disbursements and transactions made on behalf of the principal.

If the power of attorney gives an agent access to a safe-deposit box, that agent is required to complete an inventory of the contents whenever he or she has accessed the box.

An agent must adhere to a principal’s oral and written instructions – or the agent may be liable for damages. You should also name a secondary agent in case your agent dies, resigns, or suffers incapacitation.

WHAT IF A POWER OF ATTORNEY ISN’T ACCEPTED BY A THIRD PARTY?

Some third parties may hesitate to act or may even refuse entirely to do business with an agent. Often in these cases, the third party is uncertain about the validity of the power of attorney. Third parties may ask an agent to sign an affidavit affirming that the agent is acting properly.

In Florida, a third party must provide a written explanation regarding why he or she is unwilling to work with an agent. Third parties must offer this explanation within a “reasonable” amount of time. Third-party financial institutions have four days to provide a written explanation.

If a power of attorney was lawfully created and has not been terminated, suspended, or revoked, third parties in Florida may be ordered by a court to honor the document.

If a third party’s unreasonable or undue delay causes financial losses or damages to the principal, a third party may be held liable for those damages (as well as for attorney’s fees and court costs).

TO GET STARTED – OR TO LEARN MORE

Powers of attorney may be created as single documents, but a power of attorney is also one of the key documents in a well-drafted estate plan.

Don’t try to write up your own power of attorney using the various forms or estate planning “kits” that are available online. The law is way too complicated in Florida, and if you make a mistake, it could cost you.

If you need to establish a power of attorney in South Florida, or if you need to learn more about estate planning, it’s important that you work with the right West Palm Beach estate planning attorney. It’s never too early to consider the future.

Read one of our recent blogs here: THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION (AND HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS)

 

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION (AND HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS)

Federal law bans most employers from discriminating against their employees. The rules are intended to keep employers from discriminating against a worker on the basis of that worker’s membership or perceived membership in a protected class.

Discrimination can include failing to hire someone, terminating or demoting someone, failing to train an employee properly, reducing an employee’s pay, or any other action that may be deemed discriminatory. A West Palm Beach employment rights attorney should be contacted if you need a better understanding of how workplace discrimination works.

WHICH FEDERAL LAWS PROTECT WORKERS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION?

Employers violate the law when they discriminate on the basis of religion, race, gender, national origin, pregnancy, disability, or age (if you’re over 40). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the EEOC – enforces the following federal laws that identify protected classes:

  1. the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991
  2. the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  3. the Equal Pay Act of 1963
  4. the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  5. the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  6. the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

As well as prohibiting on-the-job discrimination, these laws also prohibit discrimination in employment advertising, compensation, benefits, and recruitment.

FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT LAWS DO NOT APPLY TO EVERY EMPLOYER

The Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act apply to private and public employers with fifteen or more employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act covers employers with twenty or more employees.

If you are a victim of employer harassment because you belong to a protected class, you must document the conduct that you believe constitutes discrimination or harassment. Keep copies of any documents, memos, or emails that may indicate discrimination or harassment.

Here are some important additional details about the most common types of employer discrimination reported in Florida.

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 forbids disability discrimination by employers. When a private employer has fifteen or more employees, the ADA applies.

The ADA also compels employers to offer reasonable accommodations to disabled employees and job applicants unless the accommodation puts an undue hardship on the employer. Illegal discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act includes:

  1. refusing or failing to hire a qualified applicant because of a disability
  2. refusing or failing to provide reasonable accommodations
  3. terminating an employee because of a disability

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment is illegal under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a number of other statutes. Isolated incidents or words are not usually considered sexual harassment, but repeated incidents may create a hostile work environment and constitute harassment.

Sexual harassment includes leering, offensive jokes, and obscene emails, but it may also include assault, wrongful termination, and more. The specific behaviors vary, but sexual harassment is always intended to harass or humiliate someone because of that person’s gender.

Depending on the details of a sexual harassment claim, the cost for an employer found liable for sexual harassment can range from $100,000 to a million dollars or more, and that doesn’t include the loss of an employer’s reputation and ability to attract customers, employees, and investors.

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION

Employers cannot discriminate against employees or employment candidates because of pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition.

Employers also cannot discriminate in hiring, benefits, compensation, training, promotions, or any other employment-related opportunities because an employee might become pregnant in the future.

Under federal law, if an employer provides paid leave to workers with temporary disabilities, the employer must also offer paid leave to those employees who become pregnant.

WHAT IS THE RECOURSE FOR VICTIMS OF EMPLOYER DISCRIMINATION?

If you are the victim of employer discrimination in Florida, in most cases, the first step you must take is to file a formal discrimination claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Let a West Palm Beach employment rights attorney help you. You will not be allowed to sue for employer discrimination until the EEOC has investigated your claim and provided you with a “Notice of Right to Sue,” which allows you to sue an employer for discrimination in civil court.

The EEOC enforces federal employment laws, so it deals only with employers who have fifteen or more employees (and twenty or more employees for age discrimination claims). If you work for a smaller employer, have your attorney suggest the best way for you to move forward.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE EEOC INVESTIGATES A DISCRIMINATION CLAIM?

Before you can sue, you must file a claim of employer discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the discrimination incident. In some cases, that deadline may be extended to 300 days. When your claim has been processed, the EEOC may:

  1. request that both you and your employer take part in a mediation proceeding
  2. ask the employer for a response in writing, which is then forwarded to an investigator
  3. reject the claim if the EEOC has no jurisdiction or if you missed the filing deadline

When the EEOC has concluded the investigation of a claim, in most cases, it will issue a Notice of Right to Sue. When you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, you must act swiftly. A workplace discrimination lawsuit must be filed within ninety days of receiving the notice.

Workplace discrimination can trigger anxiety, depression, stress, sleeplessness, and reduced productivity. Do not try to deal with employer discrimination by yourself. Seek some counseling if you need help with the distress that workplace discrimination can cause.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF AN EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ATTORNEY?

If you have suffered workplace discrimination, having the advice of the right employment attorney is a must. If you bring a legal action under federal anti-discrimination laws, and if you prevail, you may receive back pay, reinstatement, and/or reasonable accommodations.

You may win additional damages for quantifiable monetary losses including your court costs and lawyers’ fees. If the discrimination was intentional, malicious, or committed with reckless indifference, you may also receive punitive damages meant to deter discrimination in the future.

Don’t let embarrassment or anxiety keep you from taking action against employer discrimination. No worker in Florida should ever be an employment discrimination victim.

In south Florida, if you have been or if you are currently a victim of workplace discrimination, take your concerns to an attorney. Employment attorneys have several strategies for challenging workplace discrimination.

HOW WILL AN EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS LAWYER HANDLE YOUR CASE?

Usually, after you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, the first step is to try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the employer. Settlements save time and money for everyone. When employer discrimination is provable, an out-of-court settlement usually resolves the matter.

But if an employer will not resolve your discrimination claim outside of the courtroom, your lawyer will probably recommend taking the case to court. The right lawyer will negotiate an acceptable settlement or provide aggressive representation in the courtroom on your behalf.

Workplace discrimination simply is not tolerated by the people of Florida. If you’ve been a victim, exercise your rights and speak to an attorney. You can be confident that the law is on your side.

Read one of our latest blogs here: Can Temporary Employees Sue For Work Injuries?

Do All Attorneys in Florida Take the Same Amount from Accident Settlement?

If you were involved in a car accident in Florida that was not your fault, you might want to hire an experienced and affordable personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach. However, you may also be at a loss on the amount of money you’ll need to come up with for their legal services.

Read on to find out what you can expect to pay a personal injury lawyer that you hire to work on your case.

Contingency Fee for Car-Accident Cases

Car accident lawyers in Florida use a unique method to charge for their services. The attorneys will most likely take your case based on a contingency fee arrangement. 

With a contingency fee payment agreement, an attorney agrees to represent you and only gets their payment once the case is resolved in your favor. For the case to be in your favor, you must receive:

  • A settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance firm

OR

  • A judgment that favors you from the court if you filed a lawsuit against the defendant

You’ll only pay the attorney if your case results in either of the two successful outcomes.

How Much Contingency Percentage Do Personal Injury Attorneys Take?

Your lawyer will receive a contingency percentage of the money you will be awarded after a successful claim. 

The standard contingency percentage is 33 percent, or a third, of your settlement. However, the percentage may vary between 25 and 40 percent, depending on several factors, including:

  • If the attorney files a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, the percentage may rise to 40%
  • If the matter is settled out of court, the percentage may reduce to 25%
  • If a lawsuit is filed but the claim is settled before the trial begins, the percentage may be set at 33%
  • The amount of recovery. For instance, a settlement of more than $2 million may attract a 20% contingency fee while recovery of $1 million may attract a 40% contingency fee

Why is Contingency Fee Arrangement Preferred in Car Accident Cases?

There are a few reasons why contingency payment is ideal for car accident claims. These include:

  • The injured party may have to undergo costly medical care, leaving them with nothing to offer for legal services
  • The arrangement provides the lawyer with an incentive to work harder to win the case and get a higher settlement 
  • Since lawsuits attract higher settlement claims from the plaintiff lawyers, insurance firms representing the at-fault driver may opt to settle the claim out of court

Other Fees and Expenses You Should Know About

Depending on the fee contract that you sign with the lawyer, you may have to pay other fees and expenses apart from the contingency percentage. 

Study your contract in detail to find out whether you’ll be responsible for paying for the costs associated with your claim. Such costs may include photocopying fees, filing fees, court reporter fees, the cost of obtaining your medical records, among others.

The contract may state that you are to pay these fees as they become due. In such a case, so you can expect the personal injury firm to call you once these fees arise. Failure to pay such fees may see your case halted.

However, some firms will cater for all the fees and expenses as they arise. The firms will then sum up the costs and deduct them from your settlement. 

For instance, let’s say your settlement for a car accident case was $70,000 and your contract stated that any costs incurred should be deducted from your final settlement. If your lawyer incurred $10,000 in expenses, then they will be reimbursed the $10,000 for the costs and expenses. They will also get $20,000 as legal fees based on the 33 percent contingency arrangement. Therefore, the total you’ll receive as your settlement will be $40,000.

The attorney should take their contingency percentage from the amount left after the deduction of the incurred expenses. If the contract states that the lawyer will take their fee before the expenses are deducted, look for a different lawyer.

Don’t Be Fooled by Billboard and TV Advertisements

There are many misleading advertisements on car accident lawyer fees. Some of the ads state that you will only have to pay for your lawyer’s contingency percentage when you win. This is not always true. 

The fine print of the lawyer fee agreement will indicate who will be responsible for other fees and costs incurred during your case. In most cases, the fees will be subtracted from the recovery amount. 

Are There Other Fee Arrangements?

Yes, there are other fee arrangements as not all lawyers will follow the pure contingency fee option. For example, some attorneys may require you to pay a retainer fee first, before they start working on your case. The lawyers may later collect their contingency fee after the case is settled. 

If you opt for such a fee arrangement, ensure the attorney subtracts their retainer fee from the percentage owned to them once the case ends.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate the Attorney Fee

The contingency fee percentage is negotiable, and so is everything else in your contract. Many injured parties usually want to get their compensation as soon as possible. As a result, they often fail to negotiate the attorney’s fees.

If you are injured in an accident, you may be worried that if your case doesn’t go to court, you may not receive fair damages. On the other hand, your attorney may worry that if the case results in a lawsuit, they may end up catering to the different expenses incurred. Therefore, do not be afraid to negotiate with the attorney, whether your case ends up in a lawsuit or the settlement is done out of court.

If you have a pretty straightforward case, negotiating can result in you paying a lower contingency percentage. For instance, if there is clear evidence that the other driver was at fault and the defendant’s insurance company is willing to pay for the damages, you can negotiate a lower contingency percentage since the case isn’t complicated.

Finally, always request the attorney to provide the fee agreement in writing. If a lawyer isn’t willing to provide a written contract, this may be a red flag. Professional attorneys do not offer oral agreements.

Why You Should Get a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will do its best to minimize your injuries and give you a low settlement. After all, the company isn’t in the business of giving out money. 

A personal injury attorney will help you build a strong case and ensure that you get the highest compensation possible for your injuries. The value of hiring an attorney is even higher when your injuries are serious. For such cases, your settlement should be higher, and the insurance adjuster will try all they can to reduce this settlement. 

Rather than leave your case at the mercy of the insurance adjuster, get a personal injury lawyer that has successfully handled car accident cases in the past. Working with an attorney will be your best option for getting a reasonable settlement.

West Palm Beach Parking Lot Attorneys

Did you know that you have a right to be compensated when you are injured in a parking lot in Florida? Personal injury attorneys in West Palm Beach can help you recover the costs you incurred for medical expenses and other damages as a result of the accident.

During the summer, there is no better way to spend the day in Florida than at the beach or one of the city’s parks. However, everyone seems to come out to enjoy the great weather, and this means one thing: overcrowded amenities. 

Most parking lots are usually crowded with pedestrians and vehicles. This explains why parking lot collisions are common in Florida during the summer.

Parking lot collisions can either be minor or severe. If you sustain serious injuries from a parking lot collision, you should hire an attorney to help you. 

Types of Parking Lot Collisions

Florida parking lots are usually full of vehicles and pedestrians. Therefore, it is no wonder that parking lot collisions are reported nearly every day. Here are the most commonly-reported collisions:

  • A vehicle backs into another when exiting its parking space
  • Colliding directly into other vehicles that may be around when pulling out from a parking spot
  • Rear ending other vehicles parked in the parking lot
  • Two drivers trying to pull into the same space at the same time 

What to Do When Involved in a Parking Lot Collision

When you are involved in a parking lot collision, it is important to know what to do. From the onset, you should document the event by gathering as much information as possible. Thoroughly documenting the event can be beneficial for your case in the long run.

Follow the following steps after a collision:

Call the Authorities

The first step to take after a collision is to call Florida authorities. If the accident occurred on private property, a law enforcement officer may be sent to the scene.

If the accident was in a parking lot of a privately owned store of business, the police may not necessarily make a report. However, you should still call to find out what the officers suggest should be done to handle the situation.

Confirm any Injuries

In most cases, parking lot accidents are low speed. However, they can still cause injuries. When your car is rammed by another driver, check whether you and the other passengers in your vehicle have sustained any injuries. Whether or not you have been injured, go to the hospital for a checkup on the same day.

According to Florida’s no-fault laws, personal injury victims are required to get treatment as soon as possible before filing a claim. It can be difficult for the insurance party to know how much settlement to offer when you don’t have a physician’s report outlining the extent of your injuries.

Document the Scene of the Accident

Use your phone to take pictures of the accident scene. In particular, take photographs of the vehicle, showing where it has been damaged. Also, capture the surrounding areas. 

If the other driver is claiming that he/she was obstructed when driving and this led to the accident, take a photo of the obstructing object. If you believe that poor weather or parking lot conditions contributed to the accident, take photographs to back up your claim. 

You can also take videos of the scene to get a 360-degree view of the aftermath of the accident.

Record Information from Witnesses

Unless you were getting in or out of the parking lot very late at night, it is likely that other people witnessed the accident. If there are people around, talk to them to find out what they saw. Record short statements from the witnesses and obtain their contact information, if they agree to it. 

Collecting personal information from the witnesses is important just in case you need to reach them in the future to ask something about the accident.

Exchange Information with the Other Driver

After an accident, it is standard practice for the people involved to exchange contact information. At the minimum, ask for the other driver’s contact information, their license, and insurance company. To make your work easier, simply photograph the IDs or cards that the driver will provide instead of writing information down.

Florida Law Regarding Parking Lot Driving

Some Florida parking lots do not have speed limit signs. However, the law requires car owners not to exceed 10 to 15 miles per hour when driving in parking lots. Apart from that, the standard traffic rules, such as obeying one-way traffic arrows and signage, apply when driving in the lot.

How is Fault Determined?

Florida authorities do not typically respond to accidents that happen in private property. Therefore, the parties involved have to determine who was at fault on their own. This is why it is important to take photographic evidence as well as witness statements to build your case. If the parking lot has surveillance cameras, the footage will prove helpful in determining fault.

If you are injured in a parking lot accident in Florida, contact a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney for an evaluation. While you can file a claim without the help of a lawyer, you are likely to be overwhelmed with the process. Moreover, the insurance companies and their adjusters are likely to take you for a ride, to the extent of denying your claim.

The law affords you certain rights when you sustain injuries in a parking lot accident. However, to ensure those rights are protected, you need an experienced attorney on your side.

How Much Compensation Are You Entitled To?

The damages you are entitled to after a parking lot accident will vary depending on various things. In most cases, the settlement will be determined based on:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Whether you had any role to play in the events that led to the accident
  • How quickly you want to settle
  • Your negotiating skills 
  • The total cost of medical bills resulting from your injuries

It is prudent to hire a personal injury attorney to take over your case and handle the negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. The attorney will keep your interests first and ensure you end up getting a fair settlement.

What Is Florida’s Statute of Limitations Deadline for Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you are involved in an accident or an incident that results in a personal injury in Florida, your West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer may advise you to file a lawsuit or an insurance claim against the defendant. 

The attorney may also inform you of some laws that may affect your injury claim. One such crucial law is the statute of limitations. This law comes into play in personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims in Florida. You should have an idea of how the statutory law works and why you need to act quickly when filing a lawsuit. 

Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know about Florida personal injury statutes of limitations. 

What is the Florida Personal Injury Statutory Law?

Statutory law, also known as the statute of limitations, provides the time limit after your injury before which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. 

It is important to know the statute of limitations for your injury case. This is because if the time limit passes before you file a lawsuit, you will lose your rights to pursue the claim in a civil court or to receive compensation for the injuries.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida

Statutory laws vary from state to state. According to Florida Statutes Annotated Section 95.11 (3), personal injury victims have up to four years to file a lawsuit to get compensation. The deadline starts immediately on the date of your injury.

What if You File a Lawsuit After the Deadline of the Statute of Limitations?

If you don’t file a lawsuit within the four-year deadline, the court will dismiss your case. 

Even if you go ahead and file a lawsuit after the deadline and the defendant finds out, he/she can propose a motion to dismiss your case. The court will most likely agree with the defendant and dismiss your lawsuit. 

The statute of limitations also applies when you decide not to file a formal lawsuit against the defendant but, instead, choose to negotiate with them outside the court system. When the defendant’s insurance company realizes that the four-year deadline has passed, they may fail to compensate you. 

After the expiry of the deadline set in statutory laws, you have no leverage on a claim or entitlement to any amount of compensation. 

Exceptions to the Florida Personal Injury Statute of Limitation

There are exceptional cases when the personal injury statute of limitations’ clock may be delayed or paused. 

In such scenarios, the deadline to file your lawsuit may be extended past the four-year period. These exceptions are outlined in Florida Statute Section 95.051 and include:

1. When the Rule of Discovery Applies

The discovery rule applies in instances where a personal injury victim wasn’t aware that they were injured until much later. In such a case, the discovery rule will extend the time over which you can file a lawsuit.

For instance, suppose you were working at an asbestos company and the frequent exposure to harmful chemicals leaves you with mesothelioma. However, you may not have discovered the illness until many years after you had left the asbestos company. In such an instance, the statute of limitations deadline will begin the day you discover the link between working at the asbestos company and the disease.

2. Tolling Cases

Tolling refers to temporarily delaying or pausing the statute of limitations due to situations that are beyond a victim’s control. These situations often make it impossible for a lawsuit to move forward. As a result, the deadline will be paused in the interest of justice. 

Examples of cases where tolling may apply include:

  • If you are incapacitated due to a permanent or temporary mental or physical injury that happened at the time of the accident. However, this extension is not open-ended. There is a 7-year limit from the time the accident happened and the time you will have to file the lawsuit. This means that you should file the lawsuit within seven years after the incident.
  • If, after the accident, the defendant left Florida for another state before you could file the lawsuit. In this case, you’ll have to wait for the person to become a Florida resident to file the lawsuit.
  • If you were a minor at the time that the incident occurred. However, the 7-year deadline also applies in this case.
  • If the defendant tried to conceal their identity such that it was impossible for you to serve them the lawsuit summons or to file the lawsuit

3. Statute of Response

The statute of response law applies to medical malpractice and product liability injuries. For medical malpractice incidents, the statute gives victims up to four years to file a lawsuit, regardless of the date when the injury was discovered. 

However, there are cases when the statute of limitations may be extended, e.g., when the doctor commits fraud to conceal the patient’s injuries. In such a scenario, the statutory deadline will be extended by two more years. However, the claim must be filed within seven years after the injury occurred.

For product liability injuries, the statute of limitations deadline is four years after the date of the injury. However, according to Florida statute 95.031, the useful years of most products is ten years or less. Therefore, injured persons in product liability cases can only file their claims within 12 years after they purchased the product.

4. Personal Injury Claims Against the Government

If your personal injury claim is against the government or a public entity, the statute of limitations may be different. 

For instance, if you were injured due to the negligence of a worker who was responsible for maintaining a municipal property, you may have to sue the municipal council. Your injury case against the public entity will be subjected to different laws from the standard personal injury cases. The statutory limitations for this case may also be shorter than the four years.

Get Help from a Florida Personal Injury Attorney

The above are not the only scenarios where the statute of limitations deadline can be extended. To learn more about the limitations and how they apply to your case, consult a personal injury attorney. The lawyer will advise you on other exceptions that may be valid in your injury case.

Even if you choose to negotiate with the defendant out of court, talk to an attorney. The lawyer will keep the statutory laws in mind and ensure the negotiations don’t continue past the four-year deadline. This means you will have leverage, in case you aren’t satisfied with the direction that the negotiations are going and opt to file a lawsuit.

Personal injury lawyers are skilled and experienced in handling various types of injury cases. Your attorney will build a strong case to increase your chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN SABOTAGE YOUR CLAIM

Are you a victim of a case of personal injury? There is a certain step you need to take before searching for West Palm Beach injury attorneys. The process might look like this: getting adequate treatment, calling West Palm Beach attorneys, and spending the required period of time to recover from the injury. Where in that chain of steps does social media come in?

In the priority of things here, your health is important. Immediately, after an accident, you should seek adequate treatment, ‘safety first’ should be the watchword. If you now decide to go to social media to post pictures even before seeking treatment, you are putting the horse before the cart. In fact, this will seem like you are not concerned about your health at all. But we are in an attention-driven world.

You want to tell your friends the latest happenings around you. You want to be liked. You want to earn some sympathy, a lot of likes and a lot of followers to make Mahatma Gandhi bow at your feet. Big mistake! Social media can sabotage your injury claims if you don’t know.

Insurance companies do not want to pay you the amount you deserve in terms of compensation. Without the services of West Palm Beach attorneys, you might be given pennies and stipends instead of the required amount. To find a way to cut this cost, insurance companies have developed many ways to negotiate and bring your claim for compensation down. Your social media is one of their tools.

In this post, you will read extensively about how your actions on social media can be a hindrance in processing your claims. West Palm Beach attorneys will also explain all the details you are about to read.

Posting incriminating evidence on social media especially Instagram

Reading the new trend about the popular social media platform, Instagram, there are now more than 1 billion users, actively sharing videos and photos. In a month, the record says about 800 million of the users are posting. 71 percent of the total population of America is using the platform. And 60 percent of the said population check-in at least once in a day, uploading more than 95 million pictures between every 24 hours. Looking at this, it now seems Instagram is a fast way to connect with the majority in a short time. There is bad news for someone who is seeking personal injury claims.

Some pictures aren’t meant to be online for people who are putting up claims of injury. The pictures can be the beginning of the end of your claims of personal injury. A report, according to one case of personal injury in New York, shows that posting pictures online can sabotage your claims. In fact, that is worth rephrasing as ‘they will sabotage your claims.’

Reviewing a case of personal injury as an attorney: Smith V. Pasquale

Charisma Smith was involved in an accident and she posted pictures on her public Instagram account. The accident caused Smith an (alleged) enjoyment of her personal life. The pictures wouldn’t have been a course for concern, but some of the pictures show the woman engaging in activities that include walking on a sidewalk and mountain climbing. Also, Smith said in her claim that the injury was sustained to her knee and spine which had made enjoying life difficult.

During the case, Frank Pasquale is one of the defendants. He used the Instagram post of Smith to admit that if the pictures were truly that of Smith then her injury is not as serious as she claimed. He went further saying that Smith at some point after the accident changed her account from public to private. Seeing how this might turn out, Smith legal team ignored Pasquale motion and chose to seek a protective order instead.

John Higgitt, the court justice, denied the protective order, discovering that the motion to admit is about ‘clear-cut matters of facts.’ Smith was to answer if she has an Instagram account or not. If the incriminating pictures are checked, they could ruin Smith’s case.

Should this be allowed? Checking social media evidence in search of evidence?

Old tricks arrive in the modern age

Repeating what you have read earlier, insurance companies do not want to pay for what you claim. Lately, they have been defeating personal injury claims. They will aggressively find ways and tactics to cut down or completely ruin your claims. In that attempt, they will lift every table; turn up every rug to find evidence. And since one of the locations of finding information about someone is social media, they check that place too. 

Though we see surveillance as a debatable tactic used in the prosecution of crime, insurance companies depend on it in their effort to dismiss as many claims as they can. This might look wrong; a company that should be trusted with information is using surveillance tactics. The law, however, did not frown at it.

In fact, the law allows insurance companies to

  • Shoot video
  • Record audio
  • Capture still photos

So once an injured person can appear in public places, they can as well be taped. Does that mean you should be scared? No, there is a limit to the level of surveillance accessible to the insurance company. You are allowed to have complete privacy inside your house.

How does this information relate to social media?

Insurance companies are allowed access to your information in public places. For your social media account, if it is open to the public, insurance companies are allowed to access it. So, as you post pictures and videos on the internet and you make them public, know that this stuff can be accessed by many people and companies. It can serve as a tool for a defendant if you ever become a plaintiff.

Back to Smith’s case, once she has put the pictures online for public consumption, the defendant has the freedom to check them and used them to dismiss her claim. And so, she provided her opposition with the evidence which was used to defeat her.

Finally, it is advisable to be careful about what you put out there. West Palm Beach attorneys are always available to help in every situation. But they can not help when you have dug a trap for yourself and fallen completely inside as the example in this post. Stay safe. Whatever you put in a public place can be used to sabotage your claims.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLORIDA DOG BITE LAWS

A West Palm Beach attorney can help a person claim for compensation from a dog bite. Who is at fault or how to go about is another question. First, what is the situation and how can it happen?

Dog bites are predominately non-fatal injuries. The bite cannot lead to death easily, but that doesn’t mean it is an exciting experience to be bitten by a dog. In some cases, children are the victim. So imagine how painful and dangerous the dog bite is to a 3-year old. Now you see, dog bite should be prevented and avoided at all cost. 

Humans are not perfect. We make mistakes due to negligence or carelessness. So if someone else’s mistakes lead to a dog biting another person; this calls for the attention of a West Palm Beach attorney. They will help with their understanding of the dog bite laws.

The case of dog bites has been in existence since the beginning when dogs start living with a human. For a problem existing as long as this, there should already be a lasting solution. But no, there is no solution yet; children and adults are still liable to experience dog bites provided there are dogs around. Some communities and towns have taken the issue seriously, developing strict rules for raising a dog or banning the presence of these canines totally. If you live in a place like Florida, you will know there are no such laws or bans. So you have to act and protect yourself and your kids accordingly.

In some parts of the United States like the Miami- de county, some breeds of dogs are considered to be dangerous and have been banned completely. This is called the legislation of specific breeds. The ban has not yielded the result it was aimed to achieve because cases of dog bites are still occurring. So you might think of something better.

What if the dog owners are held responsible?  Dogs aren’t aliens falling from heaven. They are raised by someone, and if such person takes adequate care of their pet in terms of restricting their movement, feeding, and protecting them, then there would be no reason to meet a West Palm Beach injury attorney for a case of dog bites. 

Holding the owners responsible will make them be more concerned about the behaviour and the damages their dogs can cause. The more responsible they become, the more there would be a reduction in the cases of dog bites.

Will the owner take responsibility if her dog bites me?

Under the law, owners of dogs are responsible for dog bites. This is supported under the pursuant of Florida’s Dog Bites Statute section 767.04. There is a liability policy that strictly says that dog owners are to be held responsible if their dogs bite someone else. It doesn’t matter if the owner has been previously warned that her dog is likely to bite others. In simple terms, this says that dog owners should see it as a duty to protect other citizens from their dog’s bites.

No one is exempted from a dog bite. Dogs do not care if you are the oldest person in the city or the youngest, gentlest soul on earth. They could bite anyone. When it happens, the injured person won’t need to explain that the dog is poorly raised or lacks adequate care. The dog owner will be responsible, even if the dog has a clean record or not, the owner will be responsible. (A clean record can be in the form of past behaviour of the dog. Does it usually growl at people, has the dog bit someone else before?)

There can be a valid claim if and only if someone else dogs bite or cause damage to another person, and the injured is lawfully in a private place or in a public place at the time of the bite.

When there is a bite, the first step is to call the animal control in your locality. They would help treat the wound and verify the dog vaccination history so that the injured is not infected with other issues. Dogs bite can be infectious and the infection can be prevented using antibiotics.

Are there exceptions or other conditions that will not be considered?

Yes, there are exceptions. And you can find them under Florida’s dog bite strict liability rules. The strict liability will not be effective if:

  • The injured person has trespassed
  • The police or military dogs are performing their duties
  • A dog is vicious and damages to properties

If the injured has been acting negligently in some ways, there would be a reduction in the burden of responsibility on the dog owner. The percentage of fault will determine the size of each of the victims and the owner’s responsibility.

The negligence of dog owners in West Palm Beach

The law that affects West Palm Beach is the same as that of the whole of Florida. Owners of dogs will be held guilty or considered to have been negligent if any of their actions disobeyed the Florida law under the statutes related to dog bites. Examining the laws closely, below are the situations when the owner of a dog can be considered to be negligent:

  • The dog is found to be roaming freely without supervision around West Palm Beach
  • They allow their dog to walk around without using a leach
  • The owner is not acting reasonably about their dog’s behavior

Intentional tort

Most times the dogs make their own decision to bite or not. But their owners could also make them bite another person. This can be in the form of an action that provokes, incites, pushes, orders or encourages the canines to use their teeth on someone else.

This is classified under intentional tort. And the injured or victim can seek compensation for the injury which is best done with the help of a West Palm Beach injury attorney.

The Statute of limitation for dog bites.

You should act fast when considering when to choose a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney. The period for filing the case is within 4 years from the date of the incidence. If you stayed too long before you decide to seek compensation and four years elapsed, the law barred you forever from seeking compensation or any other legal restitution.

 

HOW FLORIDA DRIVERS CAUSE INJURIES TO CYCLISTS

Cycling is cheap. In Florida, like many parts of the world, cycling is considered to be a healthy and convenient way of traveling around town. It is, however, possible to have cases of an accident with these bicycles. And the best people to talk to are the West Palm Beach injury lawyers.

If there is no accident at all, cycling is safer for the environment because it doesn’t give up harmful substances. It indirectly improves the quality of life of people living in the environment, because looking at a life that is not harmed is stable and safe.

If you live in West Palm Beach, you will notice the relationship between motorists and cyclists. It is either you hear complaints from motorists that cyclists do not obey traffic laws or you hear cyclists saying motorists are too selfish, wanting all the length of the road for themselves.

Both complaints are not true of course, but let’s look at it closely to see what’s going on around the town.

Certainly, there are a number of crashes between cars and bicycles in West Palm Beach. Usually, the bicycles are exposed to greater injuries and damage than the cars involved.  Looking closely at the causes of the accident, it was established that negligent and reckless driving is one of the main causes. The bicycle and its rider are prone to bigger challenges and damages during a crash, with many sustaining serious injuries or death.

A bicycle is a small means of transportation especially when you compare the size with other vehicles on the road such as cars, lorries and even motorcycles. Do you want to know the severity of the damage that could happen? For instance, in 2017, the number of cyclists who died after being involved in an accident with cars in the United States was recorded to be around 700. 

You might ask why the car drivers are somehow at fault. Why?

A driver has a duty to other road users which is to ensure the road is safe for everyone. As he drives, he should have it at the back of his mind that he has a responsibility to ensure the road is safer and secure for other road users and that he wouldn’t serve as a source of trouble. This responsibility also covers cyclists among the other road users.

So if the drivers act or take actions that lead to an accident, he could be charged with negligence. If he drives carelessly such as disobeying traffic laws or take any other action that is deliberate, he might be charged for negligence.

Many situations can be considered as negligent. They will be discussed below

Drunk driving or intoxicated driving

A person can be drunk with alcohol or intoxicated with other drugs. When in this state of trance, the ability of such a person to drive perfectly will diminish. They won’t see all the things required to be seen such as the traffic signs and that little cyclist riding in front of them, and they could easily knock the cyclist over.

Turning dangerously

Some drivers would turn suddenly at an intersection when a cyclist is coming from behind. They would do this as if the cyclist is not in the picture and should not be considered. If the cyclist isn’t careful, she might run directly into the car. The cyclist can even crash into the car if the driver has miscalculated the speed of the bicycle.

Usually, if the car driver does a sudden left-turn, this might cause panic, cut the cyclist path and cause a collision.  If the turn is a right-hand, the cyclist might have little options which are both dangerous; the cyclist might be knocked over by the car or forced to take the path of other vehicles. Whether it is a right or left turn; the cyclist might get injured or killed in the process.

In any case of the situations, the best set of action is to consult with a group of West Palm Beach injury lawyers. 

Improper yielding   

Some drivers would rather turn a deaf ear to the demands of other road users such as the cyclist even if the suggestion would benefit both of them. On the other hand, there are drivers that will yield in absolutely every situation. While totally opposite, these could both result in an accident.

Passing dangerously

Despite that a cyclist only needs a small space to move around on the road, many of the drivers will not give the cyclists enough space. This can lead to side-sweeping of the cyclist by the car’s side mirror. Imagine the car is a bigger one; the cyclist might be forced into traffic or pushed into other situations.

Ignoring the side mirror in a serious situation

Perhaps this is still part of the unwillingness to yield to the cyclist’s request. Some drivers will ignore the side mirror completely when making a turn or driving off the main road. Imagine a cyclist is driving beside such driver; there will be a lot of problems for the cyclist such as crashing, being knocked down or the car might hit the cyclist.

Not giving regard to the designated bicycle lanes

This is another cause of conflict between cyclists and drivers. Drivers are often too aggressive in approaching bicycle lanes. This can either scare the cyclist or cause a physical interaction between the two. It’s best if drivers respect the lanes designated for cyclists. 

Opening doors without much care for what is coming

This commonly happens when the car is parked. When such drivers open the door without looking out for the cyclist coming behind, he might knock him down, the cyclist running into the opened door. This could have been prevented by checking behind especially when the car is parked parallel to the road. All the driver could have done is to look at the mirror, wait when there is a cyclist coming at a close distance, and open when the bicycle rides past.

A cyclist can talk to a lawyer

If you are ever involved in an accident as a cyclist and the fault is that of the driver, you have the right to demand compensation. Schedule a consultation with a West Palm Beach injury lawyer to find out your legal rights..

 

WILL A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY BE SUBJECT TO PROBATE? (HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW)

Seventy-five million families in the United States rely on life insurance policies to protect their financial security and future. The residents of Florida own eight million individual life insurance policies, and their coverage averages approximately $130,000 per policyholder.

While estate planning, lawyers routinely handle matters pertaining to wills and trusts, after a person dies, most families are depending on life insurance. Moreover, the party who receives the payout from a life insurance policy is not determined by anything written in a will or in a trust.

IS A LIFE INSURANCE BENEFIT SUBJECT TO PROBATE?

As you know, when you buy life insurance, you name one or more beneficiaries who will receive the death benefit. Is that benefit subject to probate – and thus to taxes and debt collection? And what happens to a life insurance policy if the beneficiary has passed away or cannot be located?

Exactly what happens in the probate process? Should probate be avoided if possible? If you keep reading, you will learn some answers in this brief discussion of life insurance and probate.

WHAT HAPPENS TO LIFE INSURANCE IF THERE’S NO BENEFICIARY?

In most cases in Florida, life insurance will be paid directly from a life insurance company to the policy’s beneficiaries, and probate usually is not required or necessary. Because it is not subject to taxes or debt collection, life insurance is not deemed to be a part of a policyholder’s estate.

But what happens if a policy’s beneficiary cannot be located – or is now deceased? If no beneficiary claims the benefit, it may be added to the deceased policyholder’s estate, and that makes the life insurance benefit subject to the probate process.

WHAT, PRECISELY, IS PROBATE?

Probate” is the legal process that distributes a deceased person’s estate. The probate process typically uses the deceased person’s will as a starting point, because the will names the beneficiaries who will be entitled to a part of the estate when it is distributed by an executor.

Particularly with high asset estates, probate is often a lengthy and contentious process as multiple parties claim parts of the deceased person’s assets. If it is at all possible, probate is something to avoid – even if, in the end, the process has been fair and the estate is distributed properly.

WHAT ARE PROBATE ASSETS?

Probate assets are those assets that a deceased person owned singularly and exclusively in his or her name at the time of death and any assets owned by both the deceased person and one or more co-owners that lack a legal provision for automatic succession.

If someone dies in the state of Florida with outstanding debt, that person’s estate will pay off (or will go toward paying off) the debt, and federal estate taxes may also have to be paid. (There is no state-level estate tax in Florida.)

However, when a death benefit is paid directly by an insurance company to a policy’s beneficiary, the beneficiary is paid the benefit in full, and there is no tax or debt obligation.

According to the Florida Bar Association, in this state, “A life insurance policy … that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset, but a life insurance policy … payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset.”

IF THERE’S NO BENEFICIARY, WHO GETS THE LIFE INSURANCE?

Here in Florida, scores of people do not name a life insurance beneficiary. If no beneficiary has been named, if no beneficiary can be located, or if the designated beneficiary has passed away, the insurance company pays the estate, and the death benefit is subject to probate.

Probate is a complex and difficult process. Surviving family members who need help regarding any life insurance or probate matter should contact an experienced West Palm Beach estate planning attorney at once. Any failure to act promptly could be costly.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER?

What is important to remember is that your life insurance policy’s beneficiaries need to be alive and locatable at the time of your death. This means that you may occasionally need to update the names of the policy’s beneficiaries.

Keeping your policy up-to-date ensures that the death benefit will not be subject to probate. Naming a second (or a “contingent”) beneficiary is a smart idea – in case your primary beneficiary dies or disappears before you can make an update.

What is also important to remember is that you are reading only a general discussion of life insurance and probate in Florida. Everyone’s situation is unique, so you must have the insights and personalized legal advice that an experienced south Florida estate planning lawyer can offer.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF THERE’S A DISPUTE AMONG BENEFICIARIES?

Beneficiary disputes over life insurance benefits can emerge when a deceased person changed a beneficiary before his or her death and there is a dispute regarding the validity of that change.

The courts in Florida will invalidate a life insurance beneficiary change if the change involved any type of fraud or undue influence or if the policyholder lacked the mental capacity to make such a change competently.

Most insurance companies have strict procedures in place for changing a beneficiary. A Florida court will consider the deceased person’s medical records, the statements of witnesses, and other evidence to help determine the person’s mental state when the change was made.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK WITH AN ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER?

If you believe that you are rightfully entitled to a loved one’s life insurance benefits, and if your claim to those benefits is denied for any reason, discuss your situation with a good Florida estate planning and insurance attorney. You may be able to take legal action and obtain justice.

And if your family depends on you, it is not too early to begin planning your estate. Proper estate planning requires an experienced West Palm Beach estate planning attorney who will help you create legal documents which ensure that your wishes are carried out with minimal interference.

No one can know what tomorrow may bring, but a good south Florida estate planning lawyer will work with you diligently until your estate planning process is complete and meets entirely with your satisfaction.

And if the responsibility for a loved one’s financial affairs falls on you after that person’s death, reach out to an experienced Florida estate planning and probate attorney for the timely advice and legal help that you will very much need.

What Families Need To Know About Trust Disputes

Here in Florida, smart estate planning requires help from an experienced estate planning attorney to create the legal documents that you’ll need. Irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts are among the most popular estate planning tools.

What are the advantages of irrevocable and revocable trusts in this state? How are trust disputes handled in Florida? When is an estate planning attorney in West Palm Beach needed?

An estate planning attorney can create a trust to avoid probate and to expedite the distribution of assets after your death. Trusts in Florida are also a good way to protect certain assets and to avoid particular taxes.

WHAT BENEFITS DOES A TRUST OFFER?

Smart owners of extensive assets have used trusts successfully to avoid the probate court in Florida and to save beneficiaries money, time, and aggravation.

probate court in palm beach county

However, trusts are not a guaranteed way to avoid courtroom acrimony. Trusts are subject to litigation – meaning that they can be legally contested – in Florida. Trustees, beneficiaries, or others may challenge a trustee’s actions or the trust itself – and lawsuits will emerge.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A LAWYER REGARDING A TRUST?

In South Florida, an accomplished estate planning law firm should be contacted when:

  • You begin the estate planning process.
  • A trustee needs help administering a trust.
  • A trust is challenged or contested legally.
  • A trustee breaches his or her fiduciary duties.

HOW ARE THE TERMS “SETTLOR” AND “TRUSTEE” DEFINED?

A trustee and a settlor are two different roles, but one person can perform both functions. A settlor is the person who creates the trust and reserves powers with respect to the trust. A trustee manages the trust until it is terminated.

trustee

In Florida, the document that creates a trust that a settlor uses for asset distribution after he or she has died must be signed and must meet the same legal requirements as a will. The settlor must be of sound mind and free of undue influence when the trust is created.

WHAT CAN TRIGGER LEGAL ACTION REGARDING A TRUST?

There are a number of possible disputes and causes of action arising from revocable and irrevocable trusts. A cause of action may be brought for the following reasons:

  • The trust doesn’t meet Florida’s legal requirements for a trust.
  • The settlor was not of sound mind or mentally capable of making the trust.
  • Undue influence affected the settlor.
  • The trustee violated Florida law when trust assets were distributed.
  • The language of the trust document is confusing, unclear, and vague.
  • The trust should be changed or revoked.

WHEN DOES A TRUSTEE COMMIT A BREACH OF DUTY?

A beneficiary in Florida may take legal action if a trustee breaches his or her fiduciary duty. Trustees have the duty to administer a trust properly and in the best interests of its beneficiaries.

lawsuit over trust

A breach of duty happens when a trustee:

  • does not make proper asset distributions
  • does not make a timely accounting
  • does not administer the trust in the manner specified by the trust
  • does not invest the assets of the trust properly
  • uses trust assets for his or her own advantage
  • pays him or herself excessively for service as a trustee

The Florida Trust Code allows a person who prevails in a trust litigation matter to recover lawyer’s fees and the costs of litigation from the trust estate.

HOW CAN TRUSTEES MAKE THEIR OBLIGATIONS EASIER?

When you are the trustee of a revocable or an irrevocable trust, your task will be easier from the start if you have cordial relationships with the trust beneficiaries – the people who benefit from the trust money. The wisest way to handle the concerns of beneficiaries is to:

  • Contact them early.
  • Explain to them your role.
  • Help them understand how long it takes to administer a trust.
  • Treat beneficiaries’ questions as opportunities to create good will.
  • Do not hide the trust document or the assets.

HOW CAN AN ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER HELP WITH A TRUST DISPUTE?

Here in South Florida, an experienced West Palm Beach estate planning attorney can help you in the prosecution or defense of any claim involving Florida trust law, such as:

  • A claim against a trustee: Your attorney can work to hold a trustee accountable for a breach of trust or for an abuse of power.
  • A claim against a trust itself: If you have been deprived of assets because of undue influence over a decedent, an estate planning attorney with trust litigation experience may be able to help you.
  • Third party lawsuits: A Florida estate planning attorney can defend the estate against claims filed for unsettled debts or for personal injuries.

emotional trust dispute

The disputes that can arise over a trust may be emotionally difficult for a family. If your loved one’s instructions have not been followed, or if a breach of fiduciary duty has occurred in some other way, an estate planning lawyer will help you act and help you resolve the problem.

CAN DISPUTES OVER TRUSTS BE RESOLVED OUT-OF-COURT?

Florida’s Trust Code, which took effect in 2007, provides several options – beyond having a trust declared invalid – for beneficiaries or others considering legal action:

  • Out-of-court settlements: Under the Florida Trust Code, parties may agree to a binding nonjudicial settlement regarding virtually any trust matter. Many lawsuits can be avoided when the parties can reach a private, out-of-court agreement.
  • Trust modification or termination: Trust disputes are often settled by a simple reformation, termination, or modification of the trust. The Florida Trust Code allows for trust modifications that are consistent with the settlor’s intentions.
  • Termination of uneconomic trusts: A court may terminate or modify a trust or may remove or appoint another trustee if the court finds that the value of the trust property is inadequate to justify the continuing expense of administration.
  • Trustee removal: The Florida Trust Code additionally allows the removal of a trustee at the request of all of the beneficiaries. Removal by request does not require evidence of malfeasance but only a showing that removal serves the best interests of the beneficiaries.

WHO SHOULD SPEAK TO AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY IN FL (AND WHEN)?

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding estate planning and trust litigation should speak as soon as possible with a skilled West Palm Beach estate planning attorney. Whether you are a settlor, a trustee, or a beneficiary, an estate planning lawyer’s help is your right.