William (Bill) Glasko of Miami, Florida was on the winning side of Golden v. Jones, — So.3d —-, 2013 WL 5810360 (Fla. 4th DCA October 30, 2013), a case I wrote about here.

For those of us lucky enough to know Bill and the rest of his colleagues at the probate power-house team of Golden & Cowan PA, it’s no surprise they were the masterminds behind this very impressive appellate court victory.  I invited Bill to share some of the lessons he drew from this case with the rest of us and he kindly accepted.

[1] What strategic decisions did you make in this case that were particularly outcome determinative at the trial-court level? On appeal?

After the Curator was appointed, we filed a Motion seeking payment of the claim on grounds that no objection had been filed, and the Personal Representative of the Broward County Estate filed a Motion to Strike the Claim based on Morgenthau and Lubee. In preparing for the trial court hearing, I knew that the law was squarely in our opponent’s favor. At that time, I heard a rumor that the RPPTL Section was considering throwing its support behind the appeal of a trial court case in west Florida that was poised to address these issues. I contacted the lawyer, who would have been the Appellant in that case, who told me that his facts fell short of a clear known creditor. Ultimately, that case did not go up. While the legal theory in opposition to Morgenthau and Lubee was clear to me, it also became clear that (a) the trial court was going to follow existing law (making appeal inevitable); and (b) the underlying facts of the case had to be crystal clear for the appellate court. We were very lucky to have, what I considered to be, perfect facts and we needed a trial court record which would make the appellate court understand very clearly at the outset that this was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a known creditor. When I presented the case to the trial court judge, the trial court record was really made for the appellate court. As expected, the trial court judge correctly denied the relief based on the existing law before him and thankfully wrote a clear order citing the specific authority to be attacked on appeal.

[2] If you had to do it all over again, would you have done anything different in terms of framing the issues for your trial-court judge? On appeal?

No.

[3] Any final words of wisdom for estate planners and probate lawyers of the world based on what you learned in this case?

The attorney for the Guardian who filed the Statement of Claim which was the subject of this appeal is a seasoned and experienced probate practitioner. The claim was filed in January of 2009. The two primary cases interpreting this procedural anomaly upon which the trial court struck the claim were entered after the claim was filed (Morgenthau in December of 2009 and Lubee in January of 2012). The lawyer for the Guardian in this case who filed the claim had not read Morgenthau or Lubee prior to filing because they did not exist. We must all be vigilant and conscientious in maintaining a clear and current understanding of the law. And, as in this case, we must also sometimes be psychic.