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Ocala Estate Litigation

Ocala Attorneys for Will and Trust Disputes

Ocala is the seat of Marion County, Florida. It has a population of around sixty thousand, and is known for being home to one of the leading horse industries in the country. It is also the site of Fort King National Historic Park, and boasts a close proximity to Silver Springs State Park. The median age in Ocala is 39, and 20.4% of the population is 65 or older. After a loved one passes, estate litigation can pit close family members against each other. In some instances, family members band together against somebody outside the family who has exerted an improper influence or otherwise taken control of a loved one’s assets. At Dean Law Firm, our attorneys are brothers and business partners. Our father founded the firm and worked as an attorney for many years. We understand the special nature of family relationships and in addition to providing tenacious legal representation, we can assist you in separating legal issues from the emotional issues that may arise during estate litigation. If you are concerned about a will or trust dispute, consider contacting our experienced Ocala estate litigation lawyers.

Estate Litigation

Estate litigation in Florida can include many different types of lawsuits including will contests, trust contests, and removal of personal representatives or trustees. Will contests are among the most common forms of estate litigation. Wills can be contested or challenged on many grounds including undue influence, fraud, insane delusion, a failure to observe proper formalities, and lack of testamentary capacity.

The appropriate grounds upon which to bring a will contest depends on the particular circumstances. Sometimes a testator (the person making the will) fails to sign it or fails to have it witnessed and signed by the two witnesses, and in that case it may be appropriate to challenge the will for failure to observe formalities. Where a testator has been coerced or pressured by a caregiver, advisor, or relative to execute a particular will, there may be a claim for undue influence. Often the person suggesting an altered will in which assets are passed to him or her faces a challenge from the direct or close relatives of the testator. Additionally, the testator must have mental competency to make a will and determine who should receive his or her assets. If a testator had dementia, psychosis, or Alzheimer’s at the time of making the will, it may be appropriate to raise lack of capacity as the grounds for the will contest.

There is a limited window of time after receiving formal notice of probate or a notice of administration to bring the will contest, so it’s important to talk to an estate litigation attorney in Ocala right away if you are contemplating bringing a challenge. Trusts can also be contested on similar grounds.

Trustee Removal

Sometimes trustees mismanage an estate. There are situations in which a trustee’s mismanagement is blatant, such as where a trustee repeatedly fails to provide reasonable information and accountings or doesn’t invest prudently. Trustees can be removed for any reason specified within the trust instrument. For example, some trust instruments specify contingencies for the removal of trustees or include provisions to vote for a removal of a trustee. Additionally under section 736.0706 of the Florida Statutes, a settlor, co-trustee, or beneficiary can ask the court to remove the trustee. A skilled Ocala estate litigation lawyer can represent you in proceedings of this nature. The court can remove a trustee for perpetrating a serious breach of trust; where lack of cooperation among co-trustees substantially impacts the trust’s administration; or where the trustee is unfit, unwilling, or persistently fails to administer the trust effectively, such that the court decides trustee removal best serves the beneficiaries’ interests.

Alternatively, where there’s been a substantial change in circumstances or all the qualified beneficiaries agree and request removal, the court may remove the trustee where it finds this would best serve all the qualified beneficiaries’ interests and the removal isn’t inconsistent with a material reason according to the trust. A suitable successor or cotrustee must be available where the removal is made on this basis.

Consult an Estate Litigation Attorney in Ocala

We represent clients from across the country in estate litigation in Ocala and elsewhere in Florida. Our goal is to make the legal process as easy as possible. We are known for aggressively pursuing the rights of our clients and providing stellar service. If you retain us, we will keep you informed about the progress of your case and give candid, pragmatic legal counsel. Call us at 352-387-8700 or contact us through our online form.