Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog

Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog

By Juan C. Antúnez of Stokes McMillan Antúnez P.A.

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Category Archives: Trust and Estates Litigation In the News

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What litigators can learn from the OCC’s “Comptroller’s Handbook for Fiduciary Activities”

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News, Trustees In Hot Water, Will and Trust Contests
The fiduciary duty of care sets the minimum level of diligence and competence we expect of trustees, objectively measured by reference to what a “reasonable” or “prudent” person would do in like circumstances, and informed by industry norms and practices. As I previously wrote here in the context of trustee investment decisions, the duty of … Continue Reading

Miami attorney Patrick Lannon on undue influence claims challenging inter vivos (lifetime) gifts, and how we (and our courts) can do a better job of connecting the dots

Posted in Gifts and Charities Litigation, Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Most inheritance litigation involving claims of undue influence arise in the context of a will or trust contest, and most of those cases revolve around whether the primary beneficiary actively procured the contested instrument. Active procurement can be difficult to prove (or disprove) because your single most important witness, the grantor, is dead, which means we have … Continue Reading

An Economic Theory of Fiduciary Law

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News, White Papers - RPPTL Comm
Professor Robert H. Sitkoff of Harvard Law School published an article that should warm the heart of your favorite law-and-economics geek who also happens to make his or her living as a trusts and estates lawyer. The article’s entitled An Economic Theory of Fiduciary Law, and below are a few excerpts I found especially interesting … Continue Reading

Top picks for trusts and estates lawyers: “Sycamore Row,” by John Grisham and “Devil in the Grove,” by Gilbert King

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
If your law practice involves inheritance disputes, you’ll want to read “Sycamore Row,” by John Grisham. In his latest novel Grisham returns to his roots, revisiting: small-town Mississippi lawyer Jake Brigance, who we first met in Grisham’s break-through thriller turned Hollywood blockbuster “A Time To Kill” (Jake is played by Matthew McConaughey in the movie version); … Continue Reading

NEW CHART: 2011-12 Probate Court Filing Statistics

Posted in Musings on the Practice of Law, Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
If you make your living in and around our probate courts (or as an estate planner, doing everything possible to avoid our probate courts), you’ll find the FY 2011-12 Probate Court Statistical Reference Guide interesting reading. Below I’ve charted the “cases filed” data for three of our largest circuits/counties: Miami-Dade (11th Cir), Broward (17th Cir), and Palm … Continue Reading

AAA’s new Wills and Trusts Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
As end users of Florida’s court system, trusts and estates lawyers know all too well the negative consequences of an underfunded judiciary. What may not be as clearly apparent is that our clients do have the power to largely “opt out” of the public court system. How? Think alternative dispute resolution or ADR. In Florida there are no jury … Continue Reading

Before the Party’s Over: Arguments For and Against Pre-Death Will Contests

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Certainty. It’s the Holy Grail of estate planning and non-existent in any will contest. Here’s how one judge put it over a century ago: "[P]ost mortem squabblings and contests on mental condition . . . have made a will the least secure of all human dealings, and made it doubtful whether in some regions insanity is not … Continue Reading

The Domestic Asset Protection Trust: Ranking the Jurisdictions

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
A decade ago states were racing to pass legislation making dynasty trusts possible. According to one 2005 study I wrote about here, the winners of that legislative race (including Florida) reaped roughly $100 billion in new trust business. So yes, the stakes are high. Today, the legislative race is all about asset protection trusts. The concept originated offshore in … Continue Reading

What Marilyn Monroe’s recent estate battles can teach us about posthumous publicity rights under Florida law

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
The stakes are high. Forbes Magazine lists Marilyn Monroe as the third-highest money-maker in its annual ranking of “The Top–Earning Dead Celebrities,” with an annual income of $27 million in 2011 alone. This income stream has been growing since Ms. Monroe’s death 50 years ago in 1962, and if Forbes’ 2011 figures are any indication, it isn’t going to … Continue Reading

Harvard law professors on why the interference-with-inheritance tort was never a good idea and why it’s time to get rid of it

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
I’ve been a fan of T&E Harvard Law professor Robert Sitkoff‘s work since he co-authored a groundbreaking article in 2005 entitled Jurisdictional Competition for Trust Funds: An Empirical Analysis of Perpetuities and Taxes, using banking data to demonstrate how states (including Florida) compete with each other for billions in new trust business by tailoring their trust legislation to attract this business. (I … Continue Reading

Sherlock Holmes as trusts & estates teaching tool

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Prof. Stephen Alton, of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, recently published The Game is Afoot!: The Significance of Gratuitous Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and you happen to be a trusts and estates lawyer, you’ll want to read this essay. Prof. Alton writes … Continue Reading

Don’t Miss George Clooney in The Descendants, Made to Order for Trust Buffs

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Celebrities are great for the trusts and estates field. They focus popular attention by bringing to life in dramatic fashion the abstract principles T&E lawyers deal with every day. The latest celebrity to step up to the plate for the T&E world is George Clooney in “The Descendants.” T&E lawyers can go on ad nauseam about the legal and … Continue Reading

Join me in December at upcoming NBI seminar: “Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step Is Important”

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
In December I’m scheduled to teach a one-hour segment on probate & trust litigation at an upcoming NBI seminar entitled "Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step Is Important." Click here for more information about the seminar and the other speakers. The dates and locations for the seminar are: Miami, FL - December 6, 2011 Fort Lauderdale, FL - December 7, … Continue Reading

I was there when Venezuelans buried ex-President Carlos Andrés Pérez

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
This I believe: “Always go to the funeral.” This philosophy took my co-counsel, Alex Gonzalez, and me to Caracas, Venezuela where we witnessed first hand the fruit of our labor in this high profile case: thousands of ordinary Venezuelans, jubilantly taking to the streets, welcoming home the remains of their ex-president, Carlos Andrés Pérez. Our clients, President Pérez’s widow, Blanca de Pérez, … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court: No Oil Millions for Anna Nicole Smith’s Estate

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Former Playboy Playmate, model, aspiring actress and professional celebrity Anna Nicole Smith probably wanted to be remembered for a lot of things, but her most lasting impact may have been in the court room. In a 2006 win at the US Supreme Court, Anna Nicole Smith’s battle over her late husband’s $1.6 billion estate redefined the "probate exception" to … Continue Reading

9th Circuit: No Oil Millions for Anna Nicole Smith’s Estate

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
In this latest opinion from the 9th Circuit, the spotlight turns once again on the record-shattering trust-and-estates litigation the late Anna Nicole Smith a/k/a Vickie Lynn Marshall (she died in 2007) and and her former step-son, E. Pierce Marshall (he died in 2006), waged over the vast estate of her former husband, J. Howard Marshall. As I’ve … Continue Reading

WSJ: The Unseen Victims of No Estate Tax

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
Here’s something you don’t see every day: an acknowledgment by a credible source usually not associated with the "liberal media" (Rupert Murdoch’s the WSJ) reporting that repeal of the estate tax is not a free ride, there are consequences: taxes will be shifted from a wealthier segment of the U.S. population to a less wealthy segment of the … Continue Reading

Billionaire’s Will Sparks Family Feud: Spousal Undue Influence?

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
The WSJ’s Wealth Report Blog posted here on litigation swirling around the trust/estate of billionaire mall magnate Mel Simon. What I found especially interesting was the implication of possible undue influence by his surviving spouse, Bren Simon. Here’s an excerpt: Months before he died of cancer last September, billionaire mall magnate Mel Simon made some big changes to … Continue Reading

Just out: International Succession

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News
I recently worked with one of my partners on drafting the Florida Chapter of the newly released International Succession, published by Oxford University Press. The list of contributors is a “Who’s Who” of prominent probate lawyers in the world today. Good place to start if you’re ever looking for expert local counsel in anyplace from Dubai to Brazil … Continue Reading