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The Villages Estate Litigation

Experienced Attorneys for Will and Trust Disputes in The Villages

The Villages is a census-designated place in Sumter County, Florida. It is a high growth area filling 5.6 square miles. According to census data from 2018, it was ranked 10th in a yearly list of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Currently, The Villages is home to close to 125,000 people. Estate litigation can involve will contests, trust administration disputes, and much more. An estate litigation lawyer serving The Villages can evaluate the facts of your situation and help you determine the best course of action. At the Dean Law Firm, we represent those pursuing estate disputes in court, as well as those defending against it.

Estate Litigation in The Villages

Many different kinds of lawsuits are considered estate litigation in Florida. They include will contests, trust contests, and removal of trustees or personal representatives. During probate, family members and creditors can file lawsuits to challenge how a decedent’s will or trust is structured.

Will Contests

Will contests are especially common in the estate litigation context. There are many different grounds on which wills may be challenged. These include exertion of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, failure to observe formalities, fraud, and delusion. The circumstances will dictate whether and on what basis you can bring a will contest. It may be appropriate to bring a will contest, for example, if the testator failed to have two witnesses, and only had one. It might also be appropriate to bring a will contest on the grounds of undue influence when a caregiver for an elderly person with dementia winds up a beneficiary of a large quantity of property while the elderly person’s relatives are omitted. In this scenario, it may also be appropriate to challenge on the grounds of lack of capacity.

You only have a narrow window of time after you get notice of probate or notice of administration to file a will contest. An estate litigation attorney in The Villages can help you comply with the applicable deadlines.

Removal of a Trustee

When a settlor creates a trust, he or she must select a trustee to manage the estate. Often settlors make themselves the trustee, but when they pass away or become incompetent, someone else will need to be named to take over as trustee. Florida law marks trustees, as well as personal representatives and guardians, as fiduciaries. That means they have heightened duties to the beneficiaries of an estate. If a fiduciary doesn’t fulfill his or her duties and the result is financial injury, the beneficiaries can sue to recover compensation for losses. Breaches of fiduciary duty may include stealing, excessive payments to trustees, improper investments, mismanagement of assets, and self-dealing. Sometimes a trustee does not take his or her fiduciary obligations seriously.

Trust mismanagement can give rise to litigation to remove a trustee, and beneficiaries may see significant losses and wonder what their options are. There are situations in which these losses are not the result of mismanagement, but of market forces outside the trustee’s control. However, it may also be the case that the trustee repeatedly failed to invest cautiously. Or it may be the case that a trustee doesn’t provide reasonable information upon request. These actions may constitute a breach of fiduciary duties, which may give rise to removal of the trustee. A seasoned estate litigation attorney in The Villages can assess whether this sort of breach has occurred in your case.

Trust instruments can also list particular contingencies that specifically call for the trustee’s removal. Trust instruments may include a provision whereby beneficiaries can vote for a trustee’s removal under certain circumstances. The beneficiary, fellow trustee, or a settlor can request that the court remove a specific trustee. Sometimes a substantial change in circumstances warrants a trustee’s removal. In addition, the court is able to remove a trustee where this serves the beneficiaries’ interest and removal wouldn’t be out of line with a material reason for the existence of the trust.

Consult an Experienced Estate Litigation Lawyer in The Villages

Recovering damages in estate litigation in The Villages can be emotionally strenuous, particularly since the battle may be waged against a family member or long-time, trusted friend. It is wise to have skillful attorneys on your side. At the Dean Law Firm, we provide knowledgeable legal representation. Call (352) 387-8700 to set up a free consultation or contact us online.