Florida Probate Tip #1: Read the Will carefully!

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No, I’m not starting a series on probate tips, but I do want to highlight this particular point.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as both the personal representative of the estate or as a Florida probate attorney, is reading the will too quickly or not reading it at all!

I just completed a probate case for a client who had previously sought the services of another probate attorney. Unfortunately for both lawyer and client, they missed a crucial four word phrase in a very unassuming clause of the will which led to all kinds of havoc and chaos. I did manage to unravel the mess, but it wasn’t fun.

When I first talked to this client during our initial phone consultation, she did not have a lot of nice things to say about the attorney. That’s pretty typical for any client that has abandoned his or her previous attorney, but when I found out about the oversight in the will, frankly I felt bad for the previous attorney. It was a mistake anyone could’ve made.

Our office policy is to not take any cases if we have not yet thoroughly reviewed the last will of the decedent.

If and when you call our office, be prepared to discuss the finer points of the last will and testament of the decedent, if one exists. If you don’t have it handy during our consultation, you’ll be asked at some point to fax it to our office, or scan and email it to us. No attorney should take a probate case if he or she hasn’t actually read the will.

Surprises can be expensive and time-consuming for everyone.

3 Responses to Florida Probate Tip #1: Read the Will carefully!
  1. Paula
    July 1, 2009 | 7:21 am

    Is ther any way I can rad a will of another perseon that has resent died in Florida? I don’t want to pay for something that is not avalible to me.

    • Long
      July 8, 2009 | 2:47 am

      Florida law requires that whoever has the Will must deposit it for safekeeping with the clerk of courts in the county where the decedent last resided. Once the Will is deposited, it is public record – you can go to the clerk’s office and they will let you view it under supervision or order a copy of it.

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