Estate Litigation

Estate Litigation in Ocala, Florida

Emotions can run high during estate litigation. There are many elderly people in Florida, and often their loved ones live elsewhere. It is unfortunately all too common for people to work their way into an elderly person's life to obtain that person's property or be put in that person's will. Estate litigation covers a range of actions, including will contests, trust contests, removing a personal representative, and more. The main concern is whether a beloved family member's estate plan reflects his or her wishes. The Ocala estate litigation attorneys of Dean Law Firm are dedicated to helping people with estate litigation cases in Florida. Our clients live all around the country, but usually the person who wrote the will lived in Florida.

Strong Legal Representation During a Difficult Period

Estate litigation can stir up powerful emotions that were simmering below the surface. A loved one's death may cause long-standing grudges between siblings to turn into open hostility. Or the death may exacerbate existing tensions between adult children and their stepparents.

One common issue in estate litigation is undue influence. This is a cause of action to challenge the validity of a will or a trust. Undue influence means that someone has over-persuaded or used duress, force, coercion, or artful or fraudulent contrivances in order to affect the person drafting the will. Somebody with declining health or disabilities may be more susceptible to undue influence.

Often, the only evidence of undue influence is circumstantial rather than direct. Usually the conduct described as undue influence happens in private rather than in situations where there would be witnesses. A presumption of undue influence exists when there is 1) a confidential relationship (as between a nurse and a patient or a lawyer and client), 2) a beneficiary who “actively procures” the will, and 3) substantial benefit to a beneficiary.

What is "actively procuring” the will? In Florida, there are seven factors that courts consider when determining whether this happened. These factors are: 1) the beneficiary was present when the will was executed, 2) the beneficiary was present on occasions when the testator expressed a desire to draft a will, 3) the beneficiary recommended the attorney who drew the will, 4) the beneficiary knew the will's contents before the will was executed, 5) the beneficiary instructed the attorney to prepare the will, 6) the beneficiary secured the witnesses for the will, and 7) the beneficiary was charged with safekeeping the will after it was executed.

If some of these factors appear in your case, we can evaluate the best estate litigation strategy and fight on your behalf to honor the deceased person’s true wishes.

Litigating Estate Issues in The Villages

Trust and probate litigation can be distressing, stirring up emotions you may not have known were there. We accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we share the risk with clients and don't accept attorneys' fees unless we are able to recover for you. The attorneys of the Dean Law Firm work hard in Crystal River, Marion County, Sumter County, and surrounding areas to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 352-387-8700 or via our online form for a free consultation.