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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Estate Litigation Matters
Stolzenberg Gelles Flynn & Arango, LLP

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know if I have a case to challenge a will or a beneficiary designation?

A: Whether you have a case depends on many factors, including:

  1. whether you were the prior named beneficiary of the document being challenged;
  2. whether the decedent was competent when the will, or beneficiary designation, was changed;
  3. whether the modified or new will, or change in beneficiary designation, resulted from undue or improper influence or an altered state of mind/health due to medication, illness, dementia or other factors;
  4. whether others witnessed the change in the will or beneficiary designation and the events leading to such changes;
  5. whether the decedent was isolated from loved ones and family members by the person benefiting most from the change;
  6. whether the change to the will or beneficiary designation was made shortly before the decedent's passing;
  7. whether the current beneficiary designation is a natural and expected disposition of assets (for example, it is natural for a parent to make gifts to their children but less natural to make substantial gifts to acquaintances, caregivers and friends).
  8. if there is no prior will or trust, whether you are an heir at law;
  9. whether the person benefitting from the will or trust was active in its procurement

While the existence of some or all of the above factors may give rise to a claim, the strength of theyour case will depend on its specific facts. Please understand that neither we, nor any attorney, can predict with accuracy how a judge, or jury, will rule on the facts of your particular case.

Q: If I want to pursue a claim against my relatives, do I have to sue them?

A: Not necessarily. Many cases of this nature are often confidentially resolved prior to filing a lawsuit, sometimes with the assistance of an impartial, professional mediator. However, if all settlement efforts fail and you still wish to pursue your claim, it is likely you will have to file a lawsuit.

Q: How are attorneys' fees paid in these types of cases?

A: Fee arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis and can be paid on an hourly, contingency, or blended fee basis. An hourly fee is simply the number of hours worked by the attorney on your case multiplied by the attorneys' hourly rate. Contingency fees are usually paid as a percentage of the gross amount recovered for the client. Blended fees are a combination of a reduced hourly fee and a lower contingency fee percentage. In most cases, the client is required to provide a cost retainer, to pay for costs such as filing fees, deposition transcripts, service of processes, investigative fees, etc.

Q: Is there a minimum amount a case must be worth for the lawyer to consider it?

A: We encourage you to contact us regarding any potential case. However, cases involving lower dollar amounts often cost more to pursue than can be recovered. If your case is not suitable for our firm, we will let you know promptly so you may look for more suitable counsel at once.

Q: A long time has passed since the decedent's passing, can I still call you regarding my case?

A: The passage of time is very important when it comes to making claims and filing lawsuits - especially in the context of probate litigation. If you believe you have a case, or if you receive a "Notice to Creditors," "Notice of Trust" or "Notice of Administration," you should contact us or the lawyer of your choosing immediately, in order to avoid having your claim barred under applicable statute of limitations or other claims period deadlines. Please be advised, however, that by simply calling us, we are not your counsel. Only upon the entry of a written engagement agreement do we become your counsel. 

Q: I do not live in Florida, can I still file a lawsuit there?

A: You do not need to live in Florida to file a lawsuit here. If a suit is filed in Florida, you may be compelled to come here to give testimony at a deposition or trial and to attend mediation. Until we hear the facts of your case, we can not determine which state your case should be filed in. However, if the decedent died here, has assets here, or a wrongful act was committed here, Florida may be the proper forum.

Q: I think my case is in a state other than Florida, can you handle it?

A: We are only authorized to practice law in Florida. However, in certain cases we may become authorized to handle your case in another state, together with a local laywer from that state. After we learn the facts of your case, we can advise you as to which state we believe your case should proceed.

All inquiries are considered highly confidential, are subject to conflict clearance and the entry into a written retainer agreement. This web site is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing herein may be construed as providing legal advice to you in your particular case. We are not your counsel unless and until a written retainer agreement is entered into between all parties. To confirm we received your email, please put "Estate Inquiry" as the subject of all emails. If you do not receive a response from us by the end of the next business day, please call to confirm we received your email. We will respond to all inquiries.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free, written information about our qualifications and experience.


Copyright 2018 | Stolzenberg Gelles Flynn & Arango, LLP.