About a month ago, this blog touched briefly on the fact that a recent case in one of Florida’s appellate districts had pointed out the fact that settlement agreements during probate cases should be specific in what representations the parties relied on in coming to the agreement. As you may recall, the reason for this is that oral representations made during the settlement process are not admissible later if they are determined to be incorrect, as probate settlement negotiations are privileged in Florida.
The above is just one of many aspects of probate litigation that may seem overly complex to some people. Because of the tangle of state and federal law that governs how estates are probated, when they must be probated and what property is subject to probate, the process can seem, at times, incomprehensible. For example, in this blog we have discussed elective shares for spouses and children, improper devising of homestead properties, how out-of-state property must be handled and who has the burden in proving undue influence in a will contest.
While all of these problems may not exist together in one case, they are all potential pitfalls to understanding how the probate process works, and how it might end up in litigation. Experienced Florida probate attorneys have seen these problems and had to deal with them in previous cases. Even more importantly, these professionals have the tools to analyze and react to novel situations that may crop up.
As we often say in this space, every case is different. The potential complications in many types of probate cases, especially for large estates, are legion. Dealing with the intricacies of wills, probate property, elective shares and other aspects of probate court can be mind-boggling. One way to possibly avoid this is solid estate planning and drafting. Anyone who would like more information on probate litigation and the estate planning process is invited to peruse our website on the subject.